It’s safe to say that Game of Thrones is one of the world’s most successful literary adaptations, with the smash-hit fantasy bringing George RR Martin’s original novels to life in a manner that fans praise for its accuracy and imagination.
However, as with any adaptation there’s bound to be a few changes needed for the shift to a new medium, and Game of Thrones is no exception. From new characters, cut-down direwolves and vastly different dialogue there have been all sorts of alterations and additions made to Martin’s original text – but only one that the author says he strongly disagreed with.
“At some points, when [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] and I had discussions about what way we should go in, I would always favor sticking with the books, while they would favor making changes,” the bestselling author told TIME.
“I think one of the biggest ones would probably be when they made the decision not to bring Catelyn Stark back as Lady Stoneheart. That was probably the first major diversion of the show from the books and, you know, I argued against that, and David and Dan made that decision.”
For those not in the know, in both the series and the books Catelyn Stark (played by Michelle Fairley onscreen) is murdered by the Freys and the Boltons at the infamous Red Wedding, alongside her son Robb and his bannerman. However, in the book series she’s later returned to life using the magic of the Red God (in the same way as Beric Dondarrian and Jon Snow) and becomes a vengeful zombie known as Lady Stoneheart, murdering Freys wherever she finds them.
Michelle Fairley as Catelyn Stark in Game of Thrones
The storyline is an extremely popular one with fans, and quite important to the books – but it’s one that Benioff and Weiss decided to cut from the series.
“In my version of the story, Catelyn Stark is re-imbued with a kind of life and becomes this vengeful wight who galvanizes a group of people around her and is trying to exact her revenge on the riverlands,” Martin explained. “David and Dan made a decision not to go in that direction in their story, pursuing other threads.”
Still, the author says that there are no hard feelings about the exclusion of the storyline, which he can continue to pursue in his remaining novels anyway.
“Both of them are equally valid, I think, because Catelyn Stark is a fictional character and she doesn’t exist,” he concluded. “You can tell either story about her.”
And hey, who knows? Maybe Weiss and Benioff are just holding Stoneheart back for a surprise appearance RIGHT at the end of the series, just when we thought everything had been solved. It’d be a classic Game of Thrones move, after all.
Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres exclusively on Monday 17th July on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV at 2am, repeated at 9pm on the same day