I watched the season premiere last night, and it was awesome. I read all the books even before the TV show came out (I’m just cool like that), so this is the first time the season has gone past my knowledge of what’s going to happen, and it was really awesome to actually experience a plot twist. Like, I don’t actually know what’s going on. It made the show much better in my eyes and for the first time I finally got why it’s such a phenomenon. These are human and relatable characters (much more so than in the books, honestly), and when you’re put in the position of actually not knowing what’s going to happen them, the experience is almost unbearably tense (to the point where if there were spoilers I could look up, I’d have gone off and looked them up by now).
I also am not at all unhappy that the books have now been superseded. Even when I was first reading them, I thought the books had a certain boring quality. It was often a fight for me to lose myself in them, and the books frequently did their best to kick me out, through their focus on terrible characters and on dull journeys. It is a marvelous world, and it is a marvelous set of characters, and creating them was obviously a fantastic accomplishment for George R. R. Martin. But from the standpoint of season six of this show, it feels more and more like the books were merely a very long treatment for the television show.
The characters in the show just feel so much more alive to me. Characters that were relatively bland in the books, Doran Martell, for instance, or were very one-note, like Alliser Thorne, have just really come alive in the television show, because the story understands each character’s essential conflict and gives room to that conflict.
There is also, at this point, a certain playfulness in the show that you don’t have in the books. Like, the books are all business, but in the show, it’s like, of course Daario and Jorah are gonna bro out. Of course the Onion Knight and Melisandre are gonna end up hanging out at the wall. Of course Tyrion and Varys are gonna walk around and try to rule Mereen. These are combos that can happen, because the show has accepted that a certain amount of its plot is going to be, essentially, subplot–a spinning of wheels that will eventually be canceled out by some broader movement elsewhere in Westeros or beyond the Wall–and thus there’s no reason not to let the characters play with each other in the meantime, while you’re waiting for the other pieces to line up.