Brace Yourself : Season 4 is Coming

You Know Nothing.... Yet.

Who's ready for Season 4 of Game of Thrones on HBO to start on April 6th?! Are you still reeling from the Red Wedding last season?! If you love the show, then you really need to read the books. That's right. A diehard book pusher is going to badger you to read the books "because the book is always better!". Meet me after the jump for why you should read the books, and *then* I'm gonna tell you *how* to read them! That's a first, right?! (spoilers through S3 of the show and A Storm of Swords)

Last year, I finally decided to start reading A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin since it's been on my TBR list for a long time. We've got some ASOIAF fans around here, so I had to give them a try. My plan was to read each book, then watch the coordinating season of the show. So far, I'm up to books 4 & 5 (yes, both of them, I'll explain later). However, I've only watched the show through Season 2 because Season 3 was not available until recently. 

I think the show has done an AMAZING casting job. I am totally blown away. When I read the books, I can imagine the actors that portray those characters. It makes for such a fulfilling read. The show has also done a great job of filling in details for the viewer who has not read the books. For instance, Littlefinger does not have a POV in the books. Yet, we see scenes with just him and another character sometimes. Those scenes are to provide the viewer with background info or to "explain" something that they wouldn't otherwise know. I've seen it happen a few times, and as a bookie, I approved of the liberties taken.  

On the downside, as I watch the show with my husband, I'm thinking, this might be a little confusing for people that haven't read the books. I did actually have someone tell me that they sometimes got a little confused watching the show. There are so many different characters to keep track of both in the books and on the show! I wonder if my husband is tracking everything, like I am. I find myself wanting to fill him in on things that I know because I read the books, but isn't quite represented the same on the show. Another thing I might do is ask him, "Do you remember who that is?" because people *love* it when you talk all through a show! Sometimes when I ask though, he didn't remember. That's because there are a ton of characters, plots, and scheming to keep track of! 

These books are over 1,000 pages each. They really could have made more episodes per season and shown us a lot more details. How can a viewer possibly get out of the show in ten episodes the same thing I got out of a book 1,000+ pages long? I also wasn't thrilled with a couple of changes in events that they made on the show. If they weren't trying to cram 1,000+ pages into ten episodes, they could have shown the real story behind Arya leaving Harrenhal. What really happened was far more interesting than what happened on the show. Also, I wasn't thrilled with the way they portrayed Robb as angry at Catelyn for letting Jaime go. In the books, he was not angry. Actually, he was relieved a bit because he was afraid *she* would be angry at *him* for marrying Jeyne! Besides all that, there is foreshadowing in the books that you might not pick up on from the show. Picking up these clues are fun because the way GRRM rolls, we need all the warning we can get before shit goes down!  

One more thing to consider is that GRRM takes YEARS to write these books. It's nearly certain that the show will need to be completed before the final book, #7, in the series is written. I know that I'm going to have to put the books before the show. I don't want to see the watered down version with the "projected ending" on screen before I read it for myself. I don't want to be spoiled, nor do I want to be even slightly misled from the actual *real* events in the book.

Now that I have convinced you that you HAVE to read the books, there's more to it than just reading them in order like you normally would with any other series. Let me explain. For books 1, 2, and 3, you will read them like usual. However, it gets dicey when you get to book 4. Right now, I am reading both book 4, A Feast for Crows, and book 5, A Dance with Dragons, together. At the same time. Why, you ask? Well, this is my first reading of A Song of Ice and Fire series. I was having a hard time really getting into AFFC. One reason for this could be that book 3, A Storm of Swords, was so fast-paced and action packed that pretty much nothing could compare to it! I had such a book hangover when I finished ASOS. We are talking MAJOR book hangover. For days, I was thinking about everything that happened near the end of the book. I was shocked and a smidge saddened by some things, while also being shocked and happy about other things. I tell you this; these emotions are even more real when you read the books. You've been inside these characters' heads, not just watched them on the screen. I absolutely adore the multiple POVs in this series.   

I had already heard that when GRRM wrote AFFC, it was entirely too long, so he broke it up. The way he broke it up is slightly unconventional. Both books, #4 and #5 in the ASOIAF series, occur at the same time. He split the two books up by characters. He decided to tell all of the story for some characters, rather than chop the work-in-progress in half chronologically. So, if Tyrion is one of your favorite characters, you won’t be seeing him in AFFC. He got put in ADWD. That can make AFFC a tough read for some. While lamenting how much trouble I was having getting through AFFC, my wonderful friends suggested that I try this combined reading order for new readers. It is fantastic! I feel like I'm breaking all kinds of rules here, bouncing back and forth between the two books, but I'm loving it! I like that it's mostly chronological. I want to know everything that happens all in the same time period. If I didn't do the combined reading order, then I would finish AFFC and then go back in time with ADWD. Trust me when I tell you that the combined reading is more fun. I was already 40% into AFFC when I switched it up. If you've already read the series, then you can try this veteran's version with your reread. I hear it's quite satisfying. 

So, whether you watch the show only or have both read and watched, only one more week until Season 4! Since I haven't finished reading books 4 & 5 yet, very soon you might know things I don't even know yet! 

I'm not jealous

Who's with me in my A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones love? Have you read the books AND watched the show or just watched the show?


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