Of all the horrible, heartbreaking events Game of Thrones has put us through, the Red Wedding remains the most difficult to watch. Robb Stark was the great hope that one day the Lannisters would pay and Ned Stark’s death would be avenged. All those hopes were wiped out in a single moment as the Freys and the Boltons orchestrated a horrifying act of treachery.
The entire sequence is an emotionally draining and heartbreaking thing to watch. But if you think reading it in the books would be any easier, you’re very mistaken. While the outcome is just as tragic in the books and show, there are plenty of differences with characters who were involved, how the massacre unfolded and the aftermath. Here are some of the details of the Red Wedding Game of Thrones left out.
10 Good Freys
House Frey was never the most respected family in Westeros even before the Red Wedding, with grouchy, perverted Walder Frey as the patriarch. After the betrayal, they became the most hated house around which led to the cheer-worthy moment when Arya wipes them all out in a single stroke (well, all the men, anyway).
However, as despicable as the majority of the Freys are, the book makes note that they aren’t all bad. Before the Freys abandoned Robb’s cause, one of Walder sons, Olyvar, serves as Robb’s loyal squire. He is so loyal in fact that he is kept away from the wedding for fear he would warn the Starks.
9 Awkward Wedding
In the show, the wedding is actually not that bad before the massacre starts. The couple seems happy, people are in good spirits and the music is good. However, Walder Frey seems much more vindictive in the books as he won’t even give his guests a satisfying evening before brutally murdering them.
In the book, the wedding is pretty much a disaster from the start. The food is described as stomach-churning and mostly inedible. Even more interesting is that the music is terrible with the musicians appearing to be incompetent. Of course, we later find out they aren’t musicians at all.
8 Jeyne Westerling
One of the most shocking moments of the show’s depiction of the Red Wedding was the brutal murder of Robb Stark’s pregnant wife, Talisa. It was also one of those rare moments where book readers were just as surprised as the show watchers.
Talisa’s character actually doesn’t exist in the books and is instead a character named Jeyne Westerling. Thankfully, Jeyne is not present at the wedding and, since her family is actually related to the Lannisters, she is spared any punishment. There are even some rumors that she is secretly carrying Robb’s child.
The Red Wedding was such a blow to the hearts of fans who lost all hope for a happy ending in that moment. The one glimmer of hope that came out of the bloody affair was that the Blackfish escaped. Brynden Tully, Catelyn’s uncle, emerges later on in the show having retaken Riverrun from the Freys. Sadly, he loses it again and is subsequently killed.
In the books, the Blackfish is another lucky soul who didn’t attend the wedding. He stays at Riverrun and holds the castle. While he loses it just as he does in the show, he manages to escape with his life and is still out there somewhere seeking vengeance.
6 Robb’s Bodyguards
It might seem impossible, but the Red Wedding in the books might actually be more devastating than in the show. As hard as it was to watch Robb and Catelyn die on the show, the event in the book features many more deaths of characters we’ve come to care about.
In the books, Robb has several bodyguards from various Northern houses. There’s Smalljon Umber, Dacey Mormont, and Wendel Manderly, to name but a few. All of them are killed along with their king at the wedding, making it an even harder moment to endure.
5 The Fakeout
By now, fans will know that George R.R. Martin likes to toy with our emotions. Whenever something seems to be going well for our favorite characters, that’s when he has disaster strike. In his depiction of the Red Wedding, Martin dangles a slight bit of hope before quickly snatching it away.
As chaos erupts at the wedding and the Starks seem to be in real trouble, the doors burst open and Northmen charge in. Through Catelyn’s narration, she experiences a moment of relief before one of the Northmen decapitates Smalljon. It was, in fact, the treacherous Boltons and the moment confirms that all hope is lost.
4 Grey Wind Attacks
The Stark children’s direwolves are a much more prominent feature in the books. They act as protectors for the children and can often sense danger. We see this in the show when Robb’s direwolf, Grey Wind, is in the kennels howling at the imminent slaughter. Sadly the Freys quickly execute the animal while he’s confined.
Grey Wind meets a similar demise in the books, but at least goes out fighting. Though confined to the kennels, one of Robb’s men manages to release him when the killing starts. Grey Wind takes out a few foes before being filled with arrows.
3 Jaime Lannister’s Regards
When it comes time to finally finish off Robb Stark, Roose Bolton adds a little insult before thrusting the dagger. His parting line, “The Lannisters send their regards” is a last-minute dig about his treachery, confirming he’s working with the enemies.
In the books, Roose’s final line is “Jaime Lannister sends his regards”, sending along Jaime’s mocking greeting. It seems like a small change but it ends up having severe consequences as a certain Stark takes this to mean Jaime planned the Red Wedding.
2 Jinglebell Frey
In a final desperate act to save her son, Catelyn grabs Walder Frey’s wife and threatens to kill her if Robb isn’t released. Unfortunately, Walder Frey isn’t a sentimental guy. Robb is killed and Catelyn keeps her promise.
In the books, it is Walder’s simple-minded grandson Catelyn threatens and, again, Walder shows little compassion and Catelyn carries out the deed before being killed herself. In both instances, it is far from an act of retribution but rather a disturbing act as Catelyn loses her mind. It’s hard to watch her final moments for obvious reasons, but this just adds to the pain.
1 Lady Stoneheart
There are a lot of interesting elements in the books that never made it to the show but probably the one fans miss the most is Lady Stoneheart.
In the books, Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood without Banners find Catelyn Stark’s body and Beric gives his life to her to resurrect her. She then leads the Brotherhood in a quest for revenge. The show seems to have substituted Arya in this storyline minus the undead part. She is the one carrying out justice and murdering the Freys. But some still hold out hope Lady Stoneheart will appear.
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