Spoilers ahead. . .
George R.R. Martin responded to the growing controversy from Sunday’s Game of Thrones and the major change directors made to the disturbing incest-sex-scene between siblings Jamie and Cersei Lannister that occurred in his novel, A Storm of Swords. The HBO version had Jamie rape Cersei, which Martin makes clear was not how he wrote the characters:
Re: Jaime’s changes in Breaker of Chains
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As for your question… I think the “butterfly effect” that I have spoken of so often was at work here. In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey’s death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/ lover/ brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her.
The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other’s company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why Dan & David played the sept out differently. But that’s just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection.
Also, I was writing the scene from Jaime’s POV, so the reader is inside his head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don’t know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing.
If the show had retained some of Cersei’s dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression — but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline.
That’s really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.
It’s interesting that Martin says the directors never discussed the change with him. I’ve read the books and know what’s in store for Jamie and Cersei and I don’t see why the HBO version thought it was necessary to deviate from the original. I guess we’ll find out in the coming weeks.