Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin talks about the Iron Throne, one of the centerpiece props of the fantasy series, and how the television adaptation changed its depiction. Game of Thrones premiered on HBO in 2011 and received high acclaim throughout its run, with many praising the adaptation of Martin’s lengthy novels. Its spinoff House of the Dragon recently concluded its first season and has also been met with positive reviews from fans and critics.
Game of Thrones largely centers around the question of who shall lead Westeros, with the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms sitting atop the Iron Throne in the Red Keep. Martin’s books describe the throne as being a dozen feet up in the air and sculpted from hundreds of swords. The television adaptation of Game of Thrones shrunk the size of the Iron Throne, giving it the appearance of a more conventional seat, with dozens of blades instead of hundreds.
In an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Martin explains that his vision for the throne wasn’t practical due to the limitations of the set for Game of Thrones, which didn’t allow for a seat a dozen feet in the air. Martin then points out that the design of the throne in the series is more of an icon than its literary predecessor. However, Martin goes on to say how the throne in House of the Dragon is a bit closer to his vision due to the increase in resources given to make the series. Read his quote below:
The original Iron Throne in the books is very tall, and the king sits up there, he’s 10, 15 feet above everybody, looking down on the people. It was made by blacksmiths, it’s not pretty, it’s not symmetrical, it’s full of hundreds and hundreds of swords. But when we actually got to making Game of Thrones, we didn’t have a sound stage with a tall enough ceiling in order to fit it in there, so they made the one that’s become kind of iconic for Game of Thrones. But when we had the new show, we has a little more room and were able to expand it.
With House of the Dragon receiving more creative freedom than its predecessor in its early years, it’s not surprising that the showrunners took the time to depict the throne a little more faithfully to the books. While still not a dozen feet in the air, the throne now has many more swords surrounding it, giving it a more intimidating appearance. With so much more of the action taking place in the Red Keep, and the show’s main conflict of who will succeed King Viserys, House of the Dragon’s emphasis on the Iron Throne fits thematically and visually.
Adaptation is always a tricky balance, where the source material must be considered, but the adaptation itself needs to differentiate itself enough to stand on its own terms. With the early seasons of Game of Thrones adhering so closely to the books, it was definitely jarring for some fans to see the throne in its diminished state. With House of the Dragon doing so well, it offers a chance to correct a few of Game of Thrones’ decisions, and hopefully, Martin agrees that his world is in safe hands that can handle details as significant as the Iron Throne.
Source: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert