I read A Song Of Ice And Fire when I was in high school (i.e. before it hit the mainstream, you posers =) and as such I think I’m allowed to say that I think the TV show is better. In fact, I already did say it, a few years ago. But back then my thinking was that the TV show was slightly better, because, in a few isolated cases, it corrected some errors that the show had made.
Now, though, I have to say that I think it is much better, because it’s started to create new and compelling content. For instance, in the books, Grey Worm is a placeholder character. He just represents someone Daenerys can talk to when she wants to make the Unsullied do something. But in the TV show, he is shockingly compelling (and the view of Unsullied–and, by extension, human–sexuality is much more nuanced and interesting that I would’ve expected from this show).
Similarly Jon’s interactions on the wall in this latest episode, both with Tormund and with his fellow sworn brothers, were pretty engaging. Tormund, for one thing, humanized the wildlings. Up to this point, they’d come off as a bit of a noble savage caricature. But Tormund’s obvious trepidation and angst over Jon’s offer was something new. And whereas in the books the sworn brothers seemed completely unreasonable in their unwilingness to accept the wildlings, here in the show, it feels much more understandable.
The show feels like it has more room to milk all the natural human drama out of what’s occurring. For instance, the scene where Aemon Targaryen talks about Daenerys is a no-brainer, but it’s not something that did (or could’ve) existed in the book, because the book was relentlessly focused on its viewpoint characters at the expense of all the side characters. The show has also settled down into a more relaxed pace. Things aren’t happening as fast. There’s a sense of wheels spinning, in some ways. So more weight is being placed on character interaction. All in all, I’m actually very compelled.