15 Game Of Thrones Secrets Only Book Readers Know

A split image of young Cersei Lannister, Tyrion, and Littlefinger and Lysa Arryn in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is thick with mystery. Most of its sprawling cast only knows half of what is going on at any point. Almost every character has some form of secret or a profound regret that they keep hidden from the world. This is something the show draws from A Song of Ice and Fire, which lays its revelations and mysteries even thicker.

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Game of Thrones manages to adapt a great deal of its source material, but not everything makes the cut. There are some secrets that fans can only discover by reading the novels. Some are ignored in Game of Thrones, and some are outright contradicted. Either way, these mysteries remain only in the books.

Updated May 17th by Isaac Williams: Game of Thrones covers a great many of A Song of Ice and Fire’s secrets and mysteries, even those that haven’t been revealed in the books. However, there’s still plenty left out. This list has been updated with even more Game of Thrones secrets that viewers can only learn by reading A Song of Ice and Fire.

This article discusses sensitive topics like child murder and sexual assualt.



15 The Three-Eyed Crow’s Backstory

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Bran Stark’s tutor in a cave beyond the Wall has some similarities in Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, but also many differences. In Game of Thrones, he’s known as the Three-Eyed Raven, and his backstory isn’t detailed. In A Song of Ice and Fire, he’s the Three-Eyed Crow, whose true identity is a figure of infamy.

The Three-Eyed Crow is the long-dead Brynden Rivers, a Targaryen bastard known as Bloodraven. He’s infamous for using his warging to control any dissent during his time as Hand of the King and Master of Whispers, spying on lords as animals. After his exile to the Night’s Watch, he disappears beyond the Wall and becomes a powerful Greenseer.

14 Cersei Lannister’s Probable Childhood Murder

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Young Cersei Lannister visiting Maggy the Frog with her friend Melara Heatherspoon in GOT

Cersei Lannister is one of the cruelest characters in either version of the story. In both Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, characters suggest this cruelty stretches back to her childhood. However, Game of Thrones omits a horrific act Cersei most likely commits in her youth.

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Both stories show Cersei Lannister and her friend visiting the fortune-teller Maggy the Frog. After Maggy foretells Cersei’s doom, she predicts a sooner death for Cersei’s friend, Melara Heatherspoon. Cersei later recalls hearing Melara’s screams as she drowns in a well and hallucinates Melara’s eyes judging her. It’s never confirmed, but it’s suggested that Cersei drowns her friend as a young child.

13 Littlefinger’s Beliefs About Catelyn Stark

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Catelyn Stark brandishing a dagger at Littlefinger in Game of Thrones

One of Littlefinger’s driving motivations in Game of Thrones is his love for Catelyn Stark and the bitterness of her rejection. In both continuities, he claims to have had a romantic past with both Catelyn and her sister Lysa. Most assume this to be a lie. However, A Song of Ice and Fire reveals that Littlefinger genuinely believes he has slept with Catelyn.

Littlefinger’s defining backstory moment is his duel with Brandon Stark. Lysa sexually assaults Littlefinger while he’s confused and bedridden from his wound and painkillers. In his fever, Littlefinger believes Lysa to be his Catelyn. As such, while Littlefinger lies about many things, Game of Thrones leaves out one thing he believes is true.

12 The Maesters’ Plot

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Archmaester Ebrose and other Archmaesters discussing the North in Game of Thrones

The Maesters of the Citadel are a constant presence in both Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire. They’re present from Dorne to the Wall, helping and advising lords across Westeros. Many lords accept them, but others suspect them of having their own agenda. These latter lords are correct, although the Maesters’ secret has nothing to do with political dynasties.

A Feast for Crows suggests the Maesters are trying to rid the world of magic. They dislike the magical arts and try to suppress any knowledge of them. Archmaester Marwyn even suggests that the Maesters were involved in the deaths of the Targaryen dragons. There’s no hint of this in Game of Thrones other than some restrictive thinking by certain Maesters.

11 House Martell’s True Loyalty

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Doran Martell ruling Dorne in Game of Thrones

Dorne and House Martell have the least focus of any region in Game of Thrones. They appear infrequently and make minimal contributions to the plot. This is true of the first A Song of Ice and Fire books. However, they contribute to the latter half of the series in a much grander fashion, especially with the revelation of their true loyalty.

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In A Song of Ice and Fire, House Martell of Dorne are Targaryen loyalists. They support Viserys’, and later Daenerys’, claim to the Iron Throne. Game of Thrones never explores Dorne’s true loyalties in any great detail. It seems to turn Doran Martell’s guise of passivity into genuine inaction, with no hints of any grander plans.

10 Mance Rayder’s Infiltration Of Winterfell

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Mance Rayder talking to Jon Snow in Game of Thrones

Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, drives the Night’s Watch storyline for three novels and four seasons of Game of Thrones. His first confirmed appearance is when Jon Snow pretends to defect to the wildlings. In A Song of Ice and Fire, however, he suggests he appeared well before.

Mance Rayder tells Jon that he was present when King Robert Baratheon visited Winterfell. He climbed the Wall and secretly posed as a musician to inspect the other king. Game of Thrones doesn’t show Rayder being present at the event, and he never has this conversation with Jon in the show.

9 Euron Greyjoy’s Plot

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Euron Greyjoy winning the kingsmoot Game of Thrones

Euron Greyjoy appears as a significant villain in both Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire. However, Game of Thrones strips the character’s mysticism away, turning him into a more conventional pirate. In doing so, it also removes the depths of his plot with Daenerys. Euron’s initial plan in the show is to marry Daenerys for a political advantage.

However, Euron goes one step further in A Song of Ice and Fire​​​​​​. He doesn’t seek Daenerys’ allegiance. Instead, he wants to use an ancient dragonhorn to steal them away from her. Euron wants to conquer Westeros himself. Game of Thrones leaves his true ambitions vague to keep him as a wildcard.

8 Jaime Lannister’s Lies

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Tyrion Lannister and Jaime Lannister talking in Game of Thrones

Tyrion Lannister becomes a bitter and cynical person in both continuities because of the same event. In his youth, he marries Tysha, a girl he and his brother Jaime Lannister save. After a short period of happiness, his father Tywin reveals Tysha is a sex worker hired by Jaime as a gift for Tyrion. He then has Tysha brutalized and sent away from Casterley Rock.

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However, there is a significant revelation about this event in A Song of Ice and Fire. As he saves Tyrion from execution, Jaime reveals that Tysha wasn’t actually a sex worker. She was what she seemed, and Tywin and Jaime lied. This conversation never happens in the show.

7 Joffrey Baratheon’s Attempt On Bran’s Life

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Catelyn Stark confronting Bran Stark's assassin in Game of Thrones

Season 1 and the novel A Game of Thrones focus on the fallout of an attempt on the future king Bran Stark’s life. Early in the story, an assassin creeps into his room and tries to kill him while he’s comatose. This causes conflict between Houses Stark, Tully, and Lannister and helps cause the War of the Five Kings.

However, the person who orders the attack remains anonymous for much longer. In Game of Thrones, Bran Stark ultimately outs Littlefinger as the culprit. In the novel, it’s revealed that Joffrey Baratheon is actually behind it. It’s not a grand conspiracy: he hears Robert saying that Bran would be better off dead and tries to impress his father.

6 Hoster Tully’s Interference In Lysa Arryn’s Affairs

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Littlefinger with Lysa and Robin Arryn in Game of Thrones.

Lysa Arryn is Catelyn Stark’s sister and Hoster Tully’s daughter, but she’s estranged from both. Game of Thrones pins this estrangement on her own actions, like her affair with Littlefinger. However, the A Song of Ice and Fire novel A Storm of Swords goes deeper into the matter.

Lysa’s estrangement from her family is because of her father Hoster. After Lysa Arryn spends the night with Littlefinger, Hoster forces her to drink an herb that induces an abortion. This traumatizes Lysa and damages her health.

5 Wildfire Under King’s Landing

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The Wildfire underneath King's Landing in Game Of Thrones.

Jaime Lannister averts King Aerys’ plot to destroy King’s Landing in both Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire. The show leaves it unclear exactly how far he goes in this. Game of Thrones shows Cersei Lannister using wildfire under the Sept of Baelor. Later, Daenerys destroys some while laying waste to King’s Landing.

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However, A Song of Ice and Fire readers know that most of King’s Landing has wildfire underneath it still. Jaime isn’t able to remove the wildfire and kills the only people who know its location. A city of hundreds of thousands is above a literal powder keg that hasn’t been fully detonated in either the book or show.

4 The Manderlys’ Undying Loyalty

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Lord Wyman Manderly in A Song of Ice and Fire

The Red Wedding ends Northern involvement in the war for a time in both Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire. Robb Stark’s death ends their independence movement, and the Boltons take control as Lannister allies. In A Song of Ice and Fire, however, the North is much less content to swallow its defeat.

Many Northern houses side with other leaders, such as Stannis Baratheon. Most notable is House Manderly, especially its leader Wyman. The Manderlys secretly plot to restore Rickon Stark to Winterfell and possibly murder three Freys in retribution. In Game of Thrones, House Manderly doesn’t back the Starks, although he is one of the first to proclaim Jon Snow King in the North.

3 The Horn Of Winter

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Game of Thrones has dragon eggs, Valyrian steel swords, and many other artifacts for viewers to keep track of. A Song of Ice and Fire adds one more to the mix in the Horn of Winter. It’s a fabled magical horn in the North, said to be able to wake giants and bring the Wall crashing down.

The wildlings claim to have the horn, but theirs is likely a fake. Instead, the Horn of Winter remains at large and may present a threat in later books. Game of Thrones never mentions the Horn of Winter. It’s unclear if it doesn’t exist or if the show simply chooses to ignore its presence.

2 Jaime Lannister’s Regrets

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Jaime Lannister tells Brienne about Aerys II in Game of Thrones

Both Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire greatly humanize Jaime Lannister from his initial callous, arrogant portrayal. However, A Song of Ice and Fire gives much greater insights into parts of his psychology that Game of Thrones only hints at.

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Both versions of the story make it clear that Jaime Lannister doesn’t regret killing Aerys Targaryen. However, A Song of Ice and Fire has several sequences devoted to what Jaime does regret. He regrets letting Aerys burn people to death and assault his wife, and he regrets letting Rhaegar Targaryen and his children die. Jaime keeps these regrets private and Game of Thrones doesn’t dwell on them.

1 Cersei Lannister’s Love For Rhaegar Targaryen

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Cersei Lannister at a Small Council meeting in HBO's Game of Thrones

Complex Game of Thrones villain Cersei Lannister marries Robert Baratheon, but before that, there are designs to match her with another royal. For much of her childhood, her father, Tywin Lannister, tries to marry her to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. It’s more than a useful political match. Cersei also forms a deep longing for Rhaegar that borders on love.

This is one of the many factors that cause tension in Cersei and Robert’s marriage. Cersei resents Robert for killing Rhaegar in battle. Game of Thrones has a similar level of resentment and unhappiness between the two, but that particular reason is left out.

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