Wow, Season 3 of Game of Thrones. We’re left with triumphant Lannisters, a heartbroken Sansa, a wounded Jon Snow, and a purposeful Stannis. And we will just have to suffer until next spring (presumably) to find out about Bran’s journey north of the Wall.
But let’s comfort ourselves by knowing that there is so much ahead of us. The third book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Storm of Swords is so packed with shocking, arc-altering plots that the show’s creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, decided to split it into two seasons.
As book readers know, Benioff and Weiss have taken increasing liberties with Martin’s stories and characters. Theon, for instance, isn’t in A Storm of Swords at all; Talisa, Robb Stark’s wife, is a wholly different character in the books (Jeyne Westerling), she is not pregnant, and she does not die at the Red Wedding. Those are two of many examples of plot deviations.
So who knows how the huge Storm of Swords plot points still to come will unfold? Or even whether they will.
Whatever happens, I got very excited making this list of what from the third book wasn’t in Season 3 — and it’s not even a complete list! So commenters, instead of excoriating me for “forgetting” something, maybe just tell everybody what you’re looking forward to that I don’t mention below. Note: I did omit Daenerys on purpose. After achieving the dramatic heights of the freeing of the Unsullied, triumphantly rendered in Episode 4, the Dany character begins to wander around aimlessly and boringly until deep into A Dance with Dragons, Martin’s fifth book. Totally frustrating, and odd, considering what an awesome creation she is. Sunday’s finale ended with some fairly terrible colonial imagery of the Dany-among-the-brown-people, but I refuse to give up hope that her story can’t be bettered in the adaptation. Please fix Dany’s arc, Benioff and Weiss!
It should go without saying, but I will say anyway, that if you haven’t read the books and you don’t want to be spoiled, then a) why did you click on this story! and b) do not read another word.
3. Stop Reading Now, Really, If You Are a Spoiler Troll. This is your final warning.
4. 1. Joffrey’s Death
As the Red Wedding episode approached, I asked friends who haven’t read the books what Big Thing they thought was going to happen: They all said they thought Joffrey was going to die. Wish fulfillment! And yes. Shortly after the Red Wedding, after reaching new levels of awfulness as his own wedding approaches, Joffrey does bite it — in suitably painful-seeming fashion. In front of everybody. It could happen soon enough; the show has not yet spared anyone who dies in the books, and the finale set things up nicely.
5. 2. Sansa’s Escape
The wedding and Joffrey’s death provide the chaos needed for Sansa’s rescue to happen. In the book, Ser Dontos — the ex-knight, and current fool — is her rescuer. And then it turns out that Littlefinger has been behind the plan the whole time. (The groundwork for that has been laid already on Game of Thrones — when he, like, told Sansa that he would try to rescue her in the first episode of Season 3.) Disguised as Littlefinger’s bastard daughter, named Alayne Stone, Sansa goes to the Eyrie with Littlefinger and his new wife, Lady Lysa. Unfortunately, Lysa (and her sickly, sad son, who becomes overly attached to Sansa/Alayne) is no Catelyn Tully — as we saw in Season 1, she’s a nutter. Lysa freaks out after seeing Littlefinger kiss Sansa, so Littlefinger pushes Lysa out the Moon Door (after she spills the answers to a number of mysteries, like who killed Jon Arryn, her previous husband).
6. 3. The Trial of Tyrion
Because Tyrion hated Joffrey so much, because Cersei hates Tyrion, and because Sansa’s escape makes it look like she had something to do with Joffrey’s death, Tyrion is accused of killing his nephew. (He is innocent.) Pretty much everyone turns against him at the trial, including — heartbreakingly and predictably — Shae. With everything going against him, Tyrion opts for trial by battle. Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper of Dorne, fights Gregor Clegane to try to win Tyrion’s freedom.
7. 4. The Red Viper
Of all the things I want to see that I’m most scared of being cut or changed, the Red Viper character is at the top of the list. I basically can’t stand anything about the Dornish characters — who are, to me, overly significant in the fourth and fifth books — but I do love the swashbuckling, rage-filled, bisexual Oberyn Martell. Hell-bent on vengeance against the Lannisters and Gregor Clegane because years earlier Tywin ordered his sister and her children’s deaths, and Gregor carried out those orders, he takes up arms on Tyrion’s behalf. His repeated mantra as he tries to beat Gregor into admitting his guilt — “You raped her! You killed her! You murdered her children!” — is a thrilling highlight of A Storm of Swords. It’s also incredibly cinematic. He does, unfortunately, lose the fight! Ensuring Tyrion’s (temporary) doom. RIP, Red Viper.
8. 5. Tyrion Is Freed
In the book, unlike on the show, by the time Jaime comes back to King’s Landing, Tyrion has been imprisoned. So, these brothers who truly love each other don’t have a big heartwarming reunion. They do, however, have a heartbreaking conversation when Jaime (along with Varys, in wonderfully reluctant, Nervous Nellie mode) comes to free Tyrion from the black cells below the Red Keep. Jaime tells Tyrion that he owes him, because years before he had allowed their father to bully Jaime into helping to fool Tyrion into thinking that Tysha, Tyrion’s first wife, was a whore. (Got that?) This confession doesn’t go over well with Tyrion, who loved Tysha. He lashes out at Jaime on his way out of the black cells. It’s Tywin who really bears the brunt of Tyrion’s anger, though — because Tyrion takes time to kill him before he goes. On the toilet, no less! With Shae, whom Tyrion also murders, in his bed. Having assassinating the kingdom’s true ruler on his way out, the Oedipal Imp goes on the lam.
9. 6. The Rise of Jon Snow (and Samwell Tarly!)
With the Night’s Watch nearly decimated, Jon leads the fight against the Wildlings, who now hate him a ton. In one battle against them, Ygritte dies in his arms, breaking his heart. When it seems like Jon is about to be supplanted by dastardly forces within the Night’s Watch, Stannis, his army, and Melisandre arrive, freeing him. Meanwhile, the black brothers need a new commander after Mormont’s death. And as Samwell starts to become less scared and more of a sneaky strategist, he manipulates things so Jon ends up elected Lord Commander.
10. 7. The Evolution of Arya
After the Red Wedding, Arya is still being dragged around by the Hound, Sandor Clegane, who first tries to take her to her Aunt Lysa at the Eyrie. After that plan is thwarted, he decides to bring her to Riverrun to ransom her to her uncle, the Blackfish. Before they get there, they end up in a fight at an inn with the Tickler and Polliver — two people Arya has wished death upon in her nightly mantra. They win the brawl; Arya, in fact, gets a little psychotic while stabbing the Tickler. (We saw a hint of that side of Arya in the finale.) The Hound is injured during the fight, however, and Arya leaves him to die. She gets a ship to take her to Braavos by giving them the coin Jaqen H’ghar had given her, along with saying the code words “Valar Morghulis.” Oh, also! Earlier, Arya had a dream as Nymeria, her dire wolf; in it, Nymeria pulled a woman’s body out of a river.
11. 8. Lady Stoneheart. Yikes.
That body is Catelyn’s. And the men Arya sees approaching through Nymeria’s eyes are Beric Dondarrion and his Brotherhood. In the epilogue of A Storm of Swords, we find out that a resurrected Catelyn — who has deep scars on her face, and no vocal cords — is roaming around with the Brotherhood, taking vengeance on the Freys and anyone who betrayed her family. When I asked actress Michelle Fairley whether she will be back, she said, “No one knows, no one knows.”
I can’t wait to know.