Game of Thrones has caught up with the books – now I can be a real fan

After years of feeling like a fraud, it's finally a level playing field, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

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There are certain TV shows and film franchises where being a real fan feels like a big deal. Call yourself a Whovian, a Harry Potter or a Star Wars super-fan and you need to know the intricate details, the insider jokes, what happened before, after and off camera. There are theories to pore over and spin-offs to read. Being a fan means being part of a fandom, and that’s a serious business. It’s not just a case of tuning in once a week and liking what you see.

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Game of Thrones has always felt that way for me. I have watched and loved every single episode but I’ve never considered myself a real fan, because I haven’t read George RR Martin’s books.

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That’s not to say I don’t want to read them, or I won’t ever read them – I normally advocate reading the source material before watching an adaptation – but in this case, I joined the party a little late. Keeping up to date with the TV show is all I’ve managed, and it’s made me feel like a Snow masquerading as a Westerosi Lord.

I’ve been afraid of unmasking myself by asking the wrong question, a question any real Thrones fan would already know the answer to; hesitant to Google anything in case I uncover some huge conspiracy I know nothing about; and painfully aware that the novel-readers already know what’s coming at every shocking, suspenseful and bloody turn.

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But, now the hit HBO series has all but overtaken George RR Martin’s book series, that’s not the case. Now it’s a level playing field, and, going into season six, every Thrones fan is just as clueless as I am.

When it comes to fan theories and fervent speculation, everyone is in the same Braavosi boat.

Book-lovers won’t be able to predict episode nine’s stomach-churning shocker. There will be no knowing looks and no smug smiles. And I can’t wait.

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Game of Thrones starts on Monday at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic