Book to Screen: 8 Things We’re Excited To See in Game of Thrones Season 4!

[This article features SPOILERS for the A Song of Ice and Fire novels and almost certainly has SPOILERS for season 4 of Game of Thrones.]

Based on George R. R. Martin’s best-selling series of fantasy novels, HBO’s Game of Thrones has proved to be one of the most rewarding and, in many ways, faithful adaptations of a story from book to screen that you’re likely to find. But naturally they have to make some changes and, whilst the spectacular third season of the show was loosely based on the first half of Martin’s action-packed third book, A Storm of Swords, the show-runners removed and re-arranged some parts of the story to take it successfully to the screen. And that begs the question – what can we expect from the adaptation of the second half of the book in the upcoming fourth season?

We list the things we’re most excited to see make it to the show and speculate on what some of the changes might be!

1. The Purple Wedding

Wedding bells in Westeros must surely be an ominous sound by now, but if there’s one person who wouldn’t heed an omen, it’s got to be the poster boy for arrogance, Joffrey Baratheon. He’s about to make a trip down the aisle, but this is Westeros and all does not bode well.

The Purple Wedding is a highlight in the books – a spectacular feast that glitters all in gold, under the high windows of the Sept of Baelor, and serves up some of Martin’s famously indulgent descriptions of food and revelry – and the event provides some of the most dramatic scenes in the whole plot. Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey will have their work cut out for them, as both Tyrion and Cersei have some impressive scenes that make for a tectonic shift in their characters’ storylines. Sophie Turner will also have plenty to get her teeth into as Sansa’s fate takes a swift change in direction. But we’re definitely excited to see Dame Diana Rigg return as wedding guest Olenna Tyrell, because who doesn’t want to hear more of that silver-tongued wit amidst all the commotion?

2. The War At The Wall

When last we saw him, a broken-hearted and arrow-riddled Jon Snow was leaving Ygritte behind and returning to his brothers on the Wall. But with Wildlings massing in the north and a betrayed band of raiders in the south, Castle Black is surrounded by her foes. In the books, Jon’s storyline is one of the most relentless and action-packed with battle scenes galore. It looks like the show will be much the same, but a significant change that happens toward the end of the book may be bumped up to become a more prominent part of the narrative this season: The Night’s Watch cannot win the war alone with their forces so depleted, but which of the many so-called-kings – if any – could truly save the Black Brothers now?

It will also be a joy for fans to see Jon and Samwell reunited, and to see how they’ve changed.

3. Arya & The Hound

A distinct change from the book was the timing of the Red Wedding. The show pulled it forward in the timeline of the story to make for a much more dramatic season arc and as such Arya has found herself in the company of the Hound earlier than expected. Fans of the books were disappointed that the Acorn Hall, Stoney Sept, High Heart, and Peach Inn scenes were cut from Arya’s story in the previous season, but since the place that Arya finds herself at the end of A Storm of Swords is a very good point to end her arc for the fourth season, we expect that the show-runners are making room to focus her story this year on a character-driven relationship with Sandor Clegane.

There’s no denying that these two make for a fascinating double act. On the one hand, their relationship might be one of the most dark and disturbing in the show. With a grieving and traumatised Arya stuck in the company of a hardened killer – who brutally slaughtered her 12 year-old friend, Mycah – it’s hard to see this ending well for either of them. But at the same time, the endless facets of their dynamic make them an oddly complementary twosome with a splash of blacker than black comedy in the air. Some of their scenes together in the books are dark, scary, and disturbing, whilst others have the capacity to be all of the above but also sad and touching at the same time. It’s a deep well to mine, but it should make for enthralling viewing.

4. Tyrion’s Trial

It’s hard to say too much about Tryion’s fate this season without giving away every possible spoiler with absolute explicitness, but suffice to say Tyrion’s waning luck takes a sharp tumble. He gets into a spot of bother, to put it mildly, and it’s a change that makes way for some of the most emotionally intense scenes of the story and builds to an iconic climax. We expect to run the gamut from hope to despair, joy to humiliation, and back again before we reach the end of the season and the trailer has already featured a tease of Tyrion in irons.

5. Dany & Meereen

The Mother of Dragons has had an epic storyline over the past season, but it’s not slowing down any time soon. She’s taken two of the Ghiscari slaver cities, having stolen the Unsullied from Astapor and freed the slaves of Yunkai, but the final of the three cities, Meereen, still poses a challenge. The books make it clear that Meereen has some of the strongest defences to overcome and some of the most sadistic slave-owners, if the grisly trail Dany follows to the city is any indication. A testament to this is Strong Belwas (a character cut from the show), who is part of Dany’s crusade and survived the vicious fighting pits of Meereen. It’s not going to be easy to take the city without a fight.

But it’s not just the seemingly impenetrable walls of Meereen that Dany must face this year. As her strength grows, so do her enemies’ numbers and even amongst her own people there’s the possibility of doubt and betrayal – all of which pushes her to question everything she believes.

6. Oberyn Martell

One of the book’s most popular characters and a highly-anticipated addition to the show this season, Oberyn Martell – the Red Viper of Dorne – is a charismatic and dangerous man. His presence in King’s Landing causes a stir, not merely because of his Dornish entourage which includes his notorious paramour Ellaria, but also because his arrival heralds trouble for the Lannisters. Oberyn is the younger brother of Prince Doran, with whom Cersei’s daughter Myrcella is warded. But he is also the brother of Prince Rhaegar’s wife Elia, who was murdered during Robert’s Rebellion by Gregor Clegane on none other than Tywin Lannister’s orders. A thirst for justice, a wickedly clever streak, and a clash of culture all make Oberyn Martell an interesting new player in the game.

7. Jaime’s Change of Heart

Jaime lost more than just his sword hand last season. (And if you’ve seen the trailer we’re not talking about how he’s chopped his golden locks off, either.) He lost everything he’d based his identity on since he was 15 years-old. Now that the knight of the Kingsguard is back in King’s Landing, the first thing fans will expect to see is how his relationships with Cersei, Joffrey and Tryion have been affected by the war. Will he find out about Cersei and Lancel? Does Joffrey know Jaime is his father? Will it make any difference?

But, whilst all of that and more is part of Jaime’s story, one of the most interesting aspects is his sudden lack of purpose. Without his sword hand, he is no longer the best fighter. He is helpless. He is adrift. He is questioning every decision he made in life to bring him to this point. The way it affects his relationships with his father, with Brienne, and with Cersei – and especially a pivotal moment with Tyrion – will change how we see him and how events unfold. But, of course, we also can’t wait to see his infamous golden hand!

8. Sansa In The Snow

Once again, there’s only so much you can say about Sansa’s story without being the spoiler of all spoilers. But the trailer has already given us a tease of an iconic moment in the books: Sansa seeing the snow again. Sansa’s story takes a dramatic change of course this season, which sees some of the relationships built up in the show paying off. Tyrion, the Tyrells, and Petyr Baelish are all key figures (wittingly or otherwise) in where Sansa ends up, but you can be sure of one thing – the drama is only beginning.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes?

Bran’s story ended at the finale of season 3 in much the same way it ends in book 3, which begs the question – what will become of him in season 4? Is it possible that the show-runners will weave plotlines from books 4 and 5 into the next season? Or will Bran be curiously absent for a while? That doesn’t really seem like an option – after all, in the books Theon stopped being a point-of-view character and dropped out of the narrative during his captivity with Ramsay Bolton, but the show turned it into a season-long torture scene! So, if it’s more likely that parts of A Feast For Crows and A Dance of Dragons will make it into the show earlier, what else might we be seeing from those books?

The casting of Mark Gatiss as Tycho Nestoris (a character who doesn’t appear himself until book 5) suggests we might be seeing quite a lot of new and unexpected things. It may well be that we do actually get to see the Free Cities of Braavos this season as (SPOILER) part of Arya’s story. Perhaps we will even get to see Dorne, the Citadel, and meet the Sand Snakes earlier than anticipated. One of the biggest questions on the lips of Martin’s readership, of course, is whether we will get to meet Lady Stoneheart.

Other changes are more unpredictable. Davos’s storyline as King Stannis’s hand has a specific arc, but how will that be impacted by Davos helping Gendry escape? And what of Gendry himself? In the books, he is a minor character. The show, however, seems to have combined his character with another of Robert’s bastards, Edric Storm. This could mean we get entirely new and fresh storylines for this character that Martin himself didn’t even write source material for.

There are so many possibilities for a world this rich and there’s lots to look forward to, but for me personally – although it’s only a small moment in the book – I can’t wait to see how people react to the fate of Lord Eddard’s sword Ice!

Game of Thrones premieres in the US on 6 April 2014 on HBO and in the UK on 7 April 2014 on Sky Atlantic.