Most shows do that terrible WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!?!? cliffhanger at the very end or just outright wrap up the storyline with little foreshadowing. Most of this episode was spent wrapping up and foreshadowing in an interesting way.
They have excellent writers, producers, and directors who are all under George Martin's supervision. Some things are thrown in there that apparently detract from the book, but that's just for entertainment value or in the Red Wedding scene to create a more dramatic effect. There's simply too much to pack in an episode or season so they extract the main points. Kry would be an expert on this since he's read all the books twice! Keep in mind there's like 25+ main characters with multiple story lines intertwined. There are no other tv shows with that depth. Another is the wardrobe and set production which film quality with the exception of the battle scenes. It's reportedly cost $6 million per episode. That's almost a feature film.
It's going to pretty darn tough to top this show in its scope. They're booking A listers on their roster too.
Marcus Aurelius: Tell me again, Maximus, why are we here?
Maximus: For the glory of the Empire, sire.
Baked, not fried... the healthy choice.