George R. R. Martin is a stickler for historical accuracy.
This is made clear in James Hibberd’s new book, Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon, which details the inside story of HBO’s Game of Thrones from its inception to its divisive conclusion.
In the book, Martin revealed to Hibberd (via Entertainment Weekly) which scene from the show was his least favorite. “Where we really fell down in terms of budget was my least favorite scene in the entire show, in all eight seasons: King Robert goes hunting,” Martin said.
And with that, you can almost hear the GOT fanbase as they let out a collective: “LOL, really?”
Over the show’s eight seasons, there are plenty of scenes that left fans scratching their heads, rolling their eyes, or rushing to Twitter to voice their disgust. (Looking at you, Sansa and Ramsey.) I mean, is King Robert’s hunting trip really worse than Jaimie and Bronn’s cosplay adventure in Dorne? Or Cersei and Jaimie’s, ahem, “incident” at Joffrey’s funeral? Why is this relatively inconsequential hunting scene (that didn’t even appear in the books) so offensive to Martin?
“There would have been a hundred guys,” Martin explained. “There would have been pavilions. There would have been huntsmen. There would have been dogs. There would have been horns blowing — that’s how a king goes hunting! He wouldn’t have just been walking through the woods with three of his friends holding spears hoping to meet a boar. But at that point, we couldn’t afford horses or dogs or pavilions.”
Here, Martin’s priorities are on full display. He stood by and watched as GOT devolved from a faithful ASOIAF adaptation to a hollow, reductive mess. His characters, once nuanced and brimming with intrigue, now reduced to plot-armored caricatures. And still, what sticks most in his craw? King Robert only having three of his cronies accompany him on a hunt.
What’s worse, the hunting scene is actually quite enjoyable. Clocking in under two minutes, the scene is loaded with great character moments: Renley’s taking a stand against Robert’s revisionist history, the always hilarious dynamic between Robert and Lancel Lannister, and the cautious obedience of Ser Barriston. The efficiency in storytelling is undeniable.
However, without the budget to build the appropriate sets and include hundreds of extras, the scene remains, to Martin, historically inaccurate. And by his standards, that’s a cardinal sin.