Whether it’s heads getting crushed to goo or half the women in the cast getting raped, it’s not hard to argue that Game Of Thrones tries too hard to be scandalous. We’re not going to take a side there, but we will point out that anyone who’s bothered by the show should avoid reading the books, because George R. R. Martin wrote a whole mess of scenes that could never be put on a screen without triggering mass boycotts. Or doubling the ratings. The point is …
#5. Women Somehow Get Treated Even Worse In The Books
Westeros is kind of a shitty place for women to live, especially since “Eh, we’re out of ideas, so I guess let’s have a rape” was an early go-to strategy for the show’s writers. But two especially awful book plots were cut, presumably because no one wanted to see the internet become dedicated exclusively to outraged GoT thinkpieces. Still, it says something when this writing staff has to stop and go, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but that right there is almost too much rape.”
First we have Lollys Stokeworth, whom show-watchers may remember as the woman Bronn was arranged to marry last season before Jaime Lannister stole him away and forced him into an abusive relationship with the show’s terrible Dorne plot. Lollys is described as dim-witted, and in the show, Bronn isn’t shy about implying that he intends to murder her mean older sister so the two of them will inherit her father’s castle. But they got along well, and by Thrones standards, that’s practically a meet cute.
It’s just like a fairy tale — moments of cuteness in a sea of intense, visceral horror.
So how much worse could the novel version be? For starters, book Lollys isn’t merely “dim-witted” — she’d be considered borderline mentally disabled today, and she’s morbidly obese to boot. So Bronn marries a woman with special needs for her family’s money. What a lovable scamp!
Like in the show, Bronn gets to marry Lollys in exchange for not backing Tyrion in his trial. But unlike in the show, Cersei is only willing to let Bronn marry a highborn lady because Lollys was “ruined” when she was raped “half a hundred times” and impregnated during a riot. Bronn names the child Tyrion Tanner — “Tyrion” in reference to the brother Cersei hates, and “Tanner” in reference to the shop Lollys was gang-raped behind. Because nothing says love like naming your wife’s bastard child after the worst moment of her life. Classic Bronn zinger!
(which is the sound of two stabbings followed by someone crushing a skull)
But Lollys hit the husband jackpot compared to our second example, the book-only character Donella Hornwood. This intelligent, middle-aged woman loses her husband and only son to battle, leaving her an heirless widow who owns an important chunk of land. There’s a cute (by GoT standards) subplot in which one of Robb Stark’s men tries to find her a husband who will make both her and the realm happy, but that quest is put to an abrupt end when Ramsay Bolton kidnaps her, forcibly marries her for her land and title, locks her in a tower, and forgets about her. As in, she’s left locked in there with no food. Her rescue party arrives far too late, and it’s discovered that she chewed her own fingers off in a vain attempt to survive.
So the next time you’re ready to complain that Game Of Thrones goes too far out of its way to remind us that Ramsay is like Hannibal without the charm, keep in mind that at least he hasn’t made a kindly widow resort to auto-cannibalism. Hey, speaking of which …
#4. A Villain Gets Slowly Fed Pieces Of His Own Body
Hey, remember Locke?
You know, the white guy with the beard?
He cut off Jaime’s hand, made Brienne fight a bear, then got killed during a failed attempt to liven Bran’s story up with a kidnapping. He was a replacement for the books’ Vargo Hoat, because for some reason, the showrunners felt that a man with a two-foot goatee, a helmet shaped like a goat’s head, and a strong lisp that makes him slobber everywhere when he talks would look silly. Oh, and he would have singlehandedly doubled the show’s rape count, he tortured his captives by cutting off their hands and feet, and his death would be impossible to portray without making everyone nauseous.
Seen here with his trusty steed, Emo the Zebra.
Hoat — otherwise known as the Goat, because even villains can enjoy a lighthearted rhyme — was a mercenary who fought for the Lannisters before betraying them so he could rule the castle of Harrenhal. While betrayal generally has a solid track record in the GoT universe, this one backfired on him and he soon found himself captured by the Mountain. And then his little side story became the Westeros equivalent of Saw.
If Jigsaw was a serial rapist with the physique of a monster truck, that is.
The Mountain cuts off bits and pieces of Hoat one by one to mimic the way Hoat tortured his captives, then cooks and feeds the flesh to his prisoners while telling them that it’s roast goat. He starts by removing Hoat’s hands and feet, and has him carefully patched up after every bit gets cut off of him so that the torture can be prolonged. He then moves on to the arms and legs, and feeds Hoat some of himself to keep him alive. Finally, after removing Hoat’s lips, nose, and ears, the poor bastard is allowed to die. This is all reported to Jaime by a character named Shitmouth, incidentally, in case the whole affair was in danger of being too dignified.
So there you go. The Mountain, who in the show crushes skulls, beheads horses, and is infamous for bashing a baby to death and then raping the child’s mother with his blood and brains still on him, is in fact toned down from the torture cannibal he was written as.
#3. A Wildling Controls Animals, Uses Them For Rape And Murder
Show viewers only briefly meet Orell, a wildling who can “warg” (that is, remotely possess the body of) an eagle. But in the books, he’s one of several wildlings we meet with that skill. And one who was cut from the adaptation was Varamyr Sixskins, presumably both because the CG budget would have been too demanding and they would have gotten way too many angry emails.
Varamyr is basically the closest Westeros has to a furry, if that furry made America’s Most Wanted for being a career criminal. He controls three wolves, a bear, and the fantasy equivalent of a big ol’ mountain lion, and he used the giant cat to coerce women into having sex with him.
“Lions, tigers, and bears, fuck this.”
Around his parts, being stalked by a “shadowcat” was a warning sign that you needed to report to Varamyr’s place for some fucking, unless you wanted to get eaten in a bad way. He always let the women go, but he killed any of their friends or family who tried to stop him, and he kept a lock of hair from all of his rape victims. That last part doesn’t have anything to do with warging; it’s just creepy.
The warging face doubles as their o-face.
Varamyr also eats human flesh while inside an animal, routinely has wolf sex while occupying wolves of both genders, and got dogs to kill his older brother when he was a jealous little boy. Most of this information is given to us in a prologue chapter which promptly gets rid of Varamyr, by the way — it seems Martin figured that a warg abusing his powers to eat men and rape women was crucial for fleshing out his universe.
Oh, and while dying, Varamyr tries to steal the mind and body of a woman, which makes her rip her own eyes out and bite off her tongue in the madness it induces. He fails, but he does manage to get inside one of his wolves and escape, and his wolves later ended up joining the pack of Bran Stark’s direwolf. So whenever you see Bran in the show, imagine that there’s a creepy rapist hanging out in a wolf right outside the frame. We’re looking forward to seeing how that particular plot point pays off by following that classic rule of storytelling, Chekov’s Animal Rapist.
#2. Joffrey Mutilates Kittens, Has An Even Worse Death
America didn’t unite to hate someone as unanimously as King Joffrey since Hitler’s heyday. The bratty teenage monarch tortured, killed, and sneered with abandon, and he had about as many redeeming qualities as an anal cyst. He was just as much of a walking endorsement for 42nd-trimester abortions in the books, but they also took some time to explore exactly how he became so reprehensible.
He could get hit with more shit than the entire Tannen bloodline, and it wouldn’t be enough.
In addition to the whole “incest-fueled madness” chestnut, Joffrey was neglected by his supposed father, King Robert, while being so smothered in love by his mother, Cersei, that he could get away with anything. So a literal and figurative bastard by nature was twisted even further by nurture. Reading is fun, kids!
In one especially charming childhood recollection, a young Joffrey was told that the cat who lived in the castle kitchen was pregnant. This was supposed to get him excited for the prospect of owning a kitten, but, wanting to see if this fantastical claim could possibly be true, he expedited the process by cutting the cat’s stomach open and extracting the fetal kittens. Then he showed the kittens to his dad, because he was seriously desperate for some fatherly approval, and Robert responded by punching Joffrey so hard that he knocked out some baby teeth and nearly killed him. Admittedly, that’s a better dental plan than most of Westeros gets, but it’s not hard to see how that could make a kid associate violence with authority.
Kind of makes you wonder if “hammer murder champion” is truly the best criteria for becoming head of state.
But don’t worry, cat lovers. Joffrey got his. In the show, he’s poisoned, and turns blue and bleeds from various facial orifices as he dies in horrible choking agony. It’s so brutal that you might feel a little bad for him — in the end, he’s still a scared little boy. And if you’re wondering how a book could possibly make that worse, take a moment to remember who you’re fucking dealing with.
Joffrey still gets poisoned at his wedding in the books, but the poison is so suffocating that he starts clawing at his own throat in a desperate attempt to breathe. After bloodying himself up with his own hands, he eventually rips his flesh away entirely and exposes the muscles within, which sends his younger brother, Tommen, into tears. Did we mention that he’s barely a teenager in the books? Hope you enjoyed rooting for the brutal death of a child!
#1. Bran Takes Hodor’s Mind By Force … Over And Over
In the show, Bran Stark has two powers: the ability to warg into the mind of his wolf and control him, and the ability to age at twice the rate of everyone else. During his journey from scrawny moppet to boy band backup dancer, Bran also discovered that he could warg into the simple mind of Hodor, his medieval Segway.
But hey, at least with a fun, lovable character like this, there’s no chance of heartbreaking tragedy, right?
… Actually, don’t answer that.
So far, he’s barely dabbled in this ability on TV (it briefly happens during a life-or-death emergency), but on paper, Bran practically has his degree in warging. And while Hodor isn’t the most intelligent man around, he knows enough to understand that he’s not a huge fan of having someone forcibly enter his brain and take control of his body.
On the show, Bran makes Hodor break Locke’s neck and it briefly freaks the poor guy out, but then no one ever mentions it again. It’s weird, but viewers understood that it was a one-time act of desperation — Locke was going to do horrible things to them if they didn’t kill him, and now you also know that Locke would have much preferred to have his neck snapped than to be tortured and cannibalized. But in the books, Bran controls Hodor routinely so he can enjoy the whole “not being paralyzed” experience, and Hodor does not like it.
Yup, mind rape. Way to think outside the rape box, George.
Bran describes the big man as “whimpering” and “curling up and hiding” when Bran wargs, and when it’s over, Hodor acts “like a dog who has had all the fight whipped out of him.” That’s generally a sign that you should find a new hobby, but Bran keeps it up until Hodor stops fighting and lets it happen to him. Notice how you could put those words into a different context and you’d have a pretty on-point description of, say, child sexual abuse.
Okay, but there’s a lesson about abusing his power or something in all of this, right? Nope. Bran’s reaction to Hodor’s deep discomfort is essentially “Eh, whatevs.” His rationale is that he’s not really hurting Hodor, that he always gives him his body back in the end, and that being able to walk for a while is, like, super fun. And that’s that. Although it’s possible that Bran’s actions will come back to haunt him somehow in future books — we’ll ask our descendants to check and report to yours.