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George R.R. Martin has not been shy about acknowledging that the novels Game of Thrones was originally based on will differ from their TV show companion as his book series finally wraps up. Ahead of the series’ eighth and final season, Martin revealed there would be “discrepancies” between Game of Thrones’ last chapter and that of his books. Now, Martin is revealing how one big death will be different when he writes it.
In James Hibberd’s Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, George R.R. Martin opens up again about his books and the TV show. Martin previously revealed that the youngest Stark sibling, Rickon, was almost left out of the series. In another portion of the behind-the-scenes tome, Martin has explained how one of Game of Thrones’ most tragic death scenes will differ from the source material. On how the beloved Hodor’s death will be different in the books, Martin explained (via EW):
I thought they executed it very well, but there are going to be differences in the book. They did it very physical — 'hold the door' with Hodor's strength. In the book, Hodor has stolen one of the old swords from the crypt. Bran has been warging into Hodor and practicing with his body, because Bran had been trained in swordplay. So telling Hodor to 'hold the door' is more like 'hold this pass' — defend it when enemies are coming — and Hodor is fighting and killing them. A little different, but same idea.
Be warned: spoilers for Game of Thrones and George R.R. Martin’s books lie ahead.
In a show which was massive on the death scenes, one of Game of Thrones’ most notorious befell fan-favorite character, Hodor. In his final moments, Hodor’s backstory and the origin of his name came into sharp and sad focus. Hodor died sacrificing his life for Bran Stark and Meera Reed, as Meera called for Hodor to “hold the door.”
This was a phrase that would turn into “Hodor” as Bran’s psyche momentarily merged with Hodor’s in the past, thus turning Wylis into Hodor. Meera and Bran accordingly survived the White Walkers’ siege on the cave as Hodor met a terribly vicious end. The death scene occurred during Game of Thrones’ sixth season in the fifth episode titled “The Door.”
As George R.R. Martin explained, the key difference in his novels is that Hodor goes out fighting as Bran wargs into Hodor’s body to use his swordsmanship skills. Hence, Hodor/Bran uses the sword from the crypts to go out swinging, killing many White Walkers before he is overrun. So, instead of becoming a physical “door” that stands idly by as he gets ripped apart, Hodor gets some hits in first via Bran.
I actually like George R.R. Martin’s version a lot better. Hodor being used as a human shield with no shot at surviving has always left a terrible taste in my mouth. It also impacted my feelings of goodwill regarding Bran becoming King of the Six Kingdoms. Hodor’s death and Bran’s choices leading up to it really hurt him. No wonder all Bran mainly did in the last seasons was stare.
George R.R. Martin’s version does not provide a lot of hope for Hodor. However, it does give Hodor some measure of self-defense by Bran having him wield a sword. To see Hodor’s best moments before his tragic demise, you can stream every season of Game of Thrones on HBO Max. While you wait for the franchise to continue with the spinoff, House of the Dragon, check out this fall's premieres.