Changes From 'A Song Of Ice And Fire' Series To HBO's 'Game Of Thrones' Upsets Book Editor, Especially Surrounding Ser Loras

When TV show creators start veering from original source material, fans are bound to get upset. But this time, A Song of Ice and Fire series book editor Jane Johnson, not book readers, spoke out against changes from the books to the HBO show Game of Thrones. Johnson, who is the books' British editor, in particular took issue with the show's portrayal of Ser Loras Tyrell as a "gay cartoon." She adds that the books are much more "nuanced."

Book series and Game of Thrones spoilers ahead, so beware.

I know, there are a thousand (literally) named characters in the Song of Ice and Fire books, so let me remind you on who Ser Loras is. You know Margery Tyrell, the badass palace shaker who has wooed not one but three future kings to solidify herself in a place of power. She's now married to Tommen Lannister, the king, much to the chagrin of his mother Cersei. Speaking of Cersei, she is bethrothed to Margery's beloved brother Ser Loras, though that whole deal is up in the air post-Tywin death. (Also makes awkward holiday gatherings.) Pre-Cersei, Loras was briefly betrothed to Sansa Stark while she was in Kings Landing. And he was Renly Baratheon's (Margery's former husband) secret lover, before Renly was killed by the Stannis smoke monster.

It's that final point that is the key to his role in the Game of Thrones show. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have somewhat used Ser Loras as a pawn in the battle between Cersei and Margery. Most recently (in the books and the show), Cersei had Loras imprisoned by the religious militia the Faith Militant for the crime of homosexuality. In reality, he's imprisoned because Cersei is trying to hurt Margery.

However, in the books, as Johnson remarks, he is much more nuanced. Loras, the heir to Highgarden is one of the most skilled knights in Westeros, notably even defeating Cersei's brother/lover Jamie Lannister. Ladies also fell all over him for his good looks, basically making him the most eligible bachelor in the land, as his sexuality was kept secret before he ran into the cunning Cersei.

All of this background is to say that Johnson's perspective makes sense.

Johnson has also said that this season is "going rogue." And to be fair, that's exactly how Benioff and Weiss intended it. Season 5 is the first outright departure from the books that the series has ever had; while things had been changed before, this season is essentially following its own roadmap. Part of the reason is because George R.R. Martin doesn't have much more material for them to work with.

The showrunners spoke up with Entertainment Weekly about this decision to morph their TV adaptation. Benioff said:

It’s always been about adapting the series as a whole and following the map George laid out for us and hitting the major milestones, but not necessarily each of the stops along the way. It’s an adaptation, it will have to adapt in order to survive. There are always going to be some people who want everything to remain exactly as in the books. For us, it was never a choice.

The showrunners have always wished to see their adaptation as a different entity than A Song of Ice and Fire, the books, as most adaptations are. However, this doesn't explain away the "gay cartoon," if you agree with Johnson, though it could be a result of his limited screen time. (And his famous confrontation with Jamie showed that he has a serious fighting spirit, though it may not have been enough.)

In the show's defense here, we can point again to the thousand named characters in the books. We already have a show that regularly follows Jon Snow, Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, Bran Stark and Hodor (though not Season 5), Littlefinger, Lord Varys, Cersei Lannister, Jamie Lannister, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre, Brienne of Tarth, Margaery Tyrell, Bronn, Theon Greyjoy and the Boltons, and that was off the top of my head. And I'm talking regularly. To get in other names and faces fully characterized on the regular would not only be a true feat, it would further muddy the waters of people competing in the, excuse me, game of thrones for power.

Not to mention this season covers not only the rise of the Faith Militant and the Sparrows (which by the way means we have two more regularly recurring characters: The High Sparrow and Lancel Lannister, remember him?), but it also covers the convergence of Tyrion and Dany, along with the revolt of the Sons of the Harpy.

Benioff and Weiss have a lot on their plates. This way, they included Loras as an piece of the story, having him arrested for homosexuality, that leads to not only a full on conflict between Cersei and Margery, but helps tell the story of the rise of the Faith Militant. It's not hard to see why his battle scenes are cut for time and storylines. He's already doing so much existing as a character.

Deviating from the books here may be the best interest in forward motion of the series, but we always need to be careful as storytellers not to reduce characters to caricatures.

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