Book vs. TV show. It's a tale as old as time (or as old as big budget HBO adaptations, so...not that old). With Game of Thrones headed back to the small screen for season seven, and Winds of Winter coming out any year now, tensions are high for fans of all things Westeros. Show fans are ready to see an action-packed smack down between Dany and Cersei. Book fans are comparing their notes on the identity of Azor Ahai. Everyone's hoping that Tyrion makes it out alive. So, in honor of the latest GoT frenzy, here are a few major differences between fans of Game of Thrones, and fans of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Now, look, as a huge nerd who has read all five books and the companion book of fictional history for a made up continent, I come down on the book side of the book vs. show debate. But I want to be clear that there's nothing wrong with being a show-only person. If George R.R. Martin's books have taught us anything, it's that we must not let petty fighting divide us, lest we all be killed by the White Walkers and forced to join their frozen army of the undead. So, with that in mind, here are a few key differences between book fans and TV show fans (spoilers ahead):
Book fans have a larger capacity for all those character names
Because if you think there are a lot of characters in the TV show, you (like Jon Snow) know nothing. Even the most devout book fan will occasionally mix up their Aeron and Euron Greyjoys, because there are a lot of characters with a lot of very similar names. But I'm betting that the show fans spends comparatively fewer hours per week pouring over the Targaryen family tree.
Show fans want to know who wins the Iron Throne
OK, OK, I know that book fans want to know this too. But for the TV watchers, it's all about the tense political intrigue surrounding that one uncomfortable chair, and it's shaping up to be a queen vs. queen battle for King's Landing. For the book fans... there's just so much going on that winning the Iron Throne doesn't even feel like the main arc anymore. Like, who is going to the new Azor Ahai? Why is there a faceless man chilling at The Citadel? What's up with the Horn of Winter and also that dragon taming horn and who the hell is this new Targaryen kid??
Book fans hate Ramsay Bolton…
...but show fans hate him even more. Sure, the books include that whole thing where he starves his first wife until she eats her fingers, and in both versions he tortures Theon until he loses his mind. But in the TV version, he marries our girl Sansa. And that's not cool. In the book, it's minor character Jeyne Pool disguised as Arya Stark who he marries and abuses. In the show it's one of the main characters, and we get a lot more from her perspective, which makes it all even more horrifying.
Show fans have a whole lot more fan theories confirmed
I mean, the books haven't even technically confirmed that Jon Snow is a baby Targaryen, even though he totally is. HBO figured out that fans like to see one or two mysteries solved every season, while GRRM just keeps piling on the mysteries while cackling maniacally to himself (I assume).
Book fans do a lot more detective work
Yes, the TV show fans still do their obsessive research and theorizing. But the book fans have to do homework to understand the full historical implications of the War of the Five Kings. Like, finding clues about the tragedy at Summerhall, and the Blackfyre rebellions, and a whole bunch of other things that happened way back before book one (Aegon is totally a Blackfyre, by the way, pass it on).
Show fans are afraid of spoilers
Whereas book fans might try to avoid spoilers...but some of us *do* actually watch the show anyway, since *technically* the show and the books are diverging after season five, so it's not really full of spoilers...sort of... it gets a little confusing. We can assume that the show isn't showing us the exact plot of books six and seven, though. TV show fans don't have to worry about being spoiled by the book fans at this point, either, because HBO is well ahead of George with the plot now.
Book fans are a lot angrier
Angry at GRRM, for taking so long with book six. Angry at the TV writers, for cutting Arianne Martell and Lady Stoneheart and torturing Sansa way more. Angry at each other, because everyone has a *slightly* different opinion on whether on not Jon and Dany should get together (even though, yes, she is technically his aunt).
Show fans are more relaxed
When you're watching the show, you can kick back with friends and have a drink. Or five drinks, if you're channeling Tyrion Lannister. Book fans can curl up in a chair with their book, sure, but reading an entire Song of Ice and Fire novel while drunk is a whole lot harder than binging a season of the show.
Book fans are in it for the long haul
I'm sure that many, many people have picked up one book and decided that the series is not for them—and that's fine. Not everyone wants to read several thousands pages on the economics of fake medieval Europe. But if you've made it through five books, you are dedicated to the series. I'm sure there are a fair number of dedicated show fans, too, but those five novels are a commitment. If you've made it this far, there's a good chance that you're going to see it all the way to spring.