You know, after watching the second episode of Game of Thrones last night (and loving every minute of it), it really sunk in that there is no way for me to watch the series obectively. To separate it and judge it on its own merits, apart from the book.
The series looks to be moving along at a breakneck pace... and I can't really fault it for that, because the books are so very complex and detailed, and there are so many characters and different threads to follow, and they only have ten or eleven episodes. However, I've read each of the existing books at least six times thus far (and in a few weeks I will start reading them a seventh to prepare for A Dance with Dragons this summer), and I think my brain fills in all of the backstory and details that may not necessarily be shown on screen.
My fiancee has been watching the show with me, and I find myself wondering "how is this coming across to her?". Does half of this even make sense yet? When the characters mention the Eyrie, or Rhaegar and Lyanna, I immediately know these people and places and what they're referring to.
For instance, I know who Rickon is, even though he really hasn't had a part in the show so far. I think he was in one scene, for a brief moment, and not even identified. Did people who haven't read the books even realize there was another Stark child until that scene in Bran's bedchamber? Theon Greyjoy has been in a number of scenes... have they even called him by name yet? Is that weird for people, to just have this guy there, with no explanation of who he is?
I feel like the dire wolves have been almost cast aside in the first two episodes... Ghost and Grey Wind and ShaggyDog haven't even been seen since they were found. The show totally glossed over the part the wolves played in Bran's recovery... suddenly Summer was there to rescue Bran, sure. But where had he been before then?
The Dire Wolves are such a core part of the stories of the Stark children, and I worry that's being lost on people as the show moves along hitting all the major plot points with incredibly accuracy, but at the same time possibly missing a lot of the deeper, important details.
I understand that you'll never get all of the details from a book captured on screen. However how are people going to understand the connection the Starks have with their direwolves, a major plot point, if they aren't shown more? How are they expected to mourn for Lady and realize what an impact that was not only on the children but the other dire wolves, when she was in one scene prior to her end.
Ultimately I think my concern for how the show is viewed by "outsiders" correlates to my concern for the show's longevity (I know it's been renewed for a second season already, but two seasons is still not the seven or eight seasons the entire series will need). Let's face it, the majority of the viewers of this show are going to be people who have never read the books before, and probably won't bother even if they enjoy the show.
So far Game of Thrones on HBO is like a dream come true for ASOIAF fans, but if the series can't capture and hold people's attention in and of itself, we may not get to see the entire run.
So out of curiosity, if you've been watching, and have not read the books (shame on you), how do you find it so far? Do you feel lost at all? Having any trouble figuring out who different characters are, or why they're around? I'm interested to know how much (if any) of the grandeur of the books is poking through in the tv series for people unfamiliar with the world.