Tue
Jul 9 2013 2:23pm

George R. R. Martin Shows Us What the Iron Throne Really Looks Like Via Terrifying Illustration

The Real Iron Throne, Game of Thrones, Marc Simonetti

“The HBO throne has become iconic. And well it might. It’s a terrific design, and it has served the show very well. There are replicas and paperweights of it in three different sizes. Everyone knows it. I love it. I have all those replicas right here, sitting on my shelves.

And yet, and yet... it’s still not right.”

So spake George R. R. Martin, who recently posted an illustration on his Not A Blog of what he’s always imagined the Iron Throne from A Song of Ice and Fire to be. It makes our collective blood run a little cold, though it certainly inspires some serious awe.

Take a look below at the full illustration, created by Marc Simonetti for the upcoming Song of Ice and Fire companion book The World of Ice and Fire.

The Real Iron Throne, Game of Thrones, Marc Simonetti

That’s... vaguely horrifying. We love it.

Here’s what Martin has to say on this rendering, after paying his respect to the HBO version:

“It’s a rough, not a final version, so what you see in the book will be more polished. But Marc has come closer here to capturing the Iron Throne as I picture it than any other artist to tackle it. From now on, THIS will be the reference I give to every other artist tackling a throne room scene. This Iron Throne is massive. Ugly. Assymetric. It’s a throne made by blacksmiths hammering together half-melted, broken, twisted swords, wrenched from the hands of dead men or yielded up by defeated foes... a symbol of conquest...”

We think this illustration did the trick in terms of capturing the words that Martin put on paper. As he points out on his blog, the throne was originally constructed of words, not metal, which might be the reason why it’s such a difficult thing to smith into reality. And if we can look forward to more gorgeous artwork like this, The World of Ice and Fire is bound to mesmerize us not too far in the future....

[via Blastr]


Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of Tor.com. Stubby think it wouldn’t kill the blacksmiths to make some cup holders for the throne. At least not like how Joffrey would kill the blacksmiths.

41 comments
Mouldy Squid
1. Mouldy_Squid
I never really liked the HBO throne. It seemed to "safe". Martin refers to the throne as not being an easy seat, and that a bad king will always fidget and cut himself on it.

This one, though, is dangerous looking. The kind of throne where the king must be awake and aware lest it slice him to ribbons.
SolarSoul25
2. SolarSoul25
God forbid you had to scratch an itch while sitting in that thing......
Scott Silver
3. hihosilver28
It's quite a bit larger than I think it would be. But otherwise, excellent and terrifying!
Chris Nelly
4. Aeryl
Why was Ice not added? The King of the North bent the knee to Aegon, seems they would have had to give up their sword. Or were Valyrian steel swords exempted?
Scott Silver
5. hihosilver28
Aeryl, I think it was just those who were conquered and vanquished.
Deana Whitney
6. Braid_Tug
Leave it to GRRM to go over the top.

First you have a 700 foot wall of ice, now this!
Scary looking as hell, however.
Chris Nelly
7. Aeryl
@5, hiho, I would normally agree, but it's right there in Martin's quote

"or yielded up by defeated foes"

Adam S.
8. MDNY
Well that looks more like a chair that will cut you than the one on HBO.
SolarSoul25
9. MrFurious
I prefer the show's version. That thing looks too rediculous.
SolarSoul25
10. bottleHeD
Why didn't the show's producers consult him before making the Iron Throne?
SolarSoul25
11. a1ay
Why was Ice not added? The King of the North bent the knee to Aegon, seems they would have had to give up their sword.

Well, that's not everyone's swords. If you took the swords off everyone the Targaryens defeated then a) you'd have a throne that weighed more than eighty tons b) the floor wouldn't support it and c) none of your new subjects would have any way to defend your new kingdom for you. The wiki says it's made from a thousand swords surrended by the defeated lords after the Targaryen conquest. That's a suspiciously round number and presumably it was a symbolic surrender rather than "here are all our actual swords that we actually use". Also it keeps the throne down to a more manageable two tons.
Chris Nelly
12. Aeryl
@11, I get that, but IDK, I guess, if you're going for a symbolic symbol(I can English) of your victory, the liege lords swords, like Ice or the missing Brightroar, would be the ones I'd want.
Adam S.
13. MDNY
Aeryl-using varyrian steel, when it is so rare and the secrets of making it are lost, would be too idiotic for Aegon to do it. There are only a few valyrian blades, even among the poweful ancient houses, so using those for the throne would essentially eliminate dragonsteel from all of Westeros. As a remnant from his family's ancient homeland, I think he would want it to remain as a status symbol among the mighty houses. Let the king of the North bend knee and retain his valyrian blade, pledged in service to the new king of the seven kingdoms, and use all the lesser swords to forge a chair as a symbol of the dragons' power overwhelming that of steel.
Sanne Jense
14. Cassanne
This throne also looks a bit like a bonfire (at least with this setting sun kind of light), and also like an ice crystal. That was my first thought.

And I wondered how many blacksmiths were killed or mutilated building this monster.
Chris Nelly
15. Aeryl
@13, I get that, I just figured something to that effect would be said. Inconsistencies BUG.

@14, I thought the dragons built the throne.
Sanne Jense
16. Cassanne
I think the dragons melted, the smiths hammered. Word of god:
"It’s a throne made by blacksmiths hammering together half-melted, broken, twisted swords,(...)" (pasted from above article).
George Jong
17. IndependentGeorge
Honestly, I prefer the HBO version. While it's a terrifying image, I just can't suspend my disbelief at the artist's rendition.

The towering throne made from all those swords just does not look physically stable to me - especially since medieval steel was generally of poor quality, and stainless steel hadn't yet been invented.

Furthermore, the weight of all that iron would have made forging it nigh impossible - since you can't move the throne to/from the fire, you have to build an enormous coal fire in the throne room itself. And since the Red Keep itself wasn't actually completed until Maegor's rule, they would have had to build the entire keep based on the original location of the throne. Hell, how do you even build the foundation for that thing?

And don't even get me started on how many king's must have died from tetanus.

Hey, get off my lawn!
SolarSoul25
18. a1ay
Furthermore, the weight of all that iron would have made forging it nigh impossible - since you can't move the throne to/from the fire, you have to build an enormous coal fire in the throne room itself. And since the Red Keep itself wasn't actually completed until Maegor's rule, they would have had to build the entire keep based on the original location of the throne. Hell, how do you even build the foundation for that thing?

No, as I say, a thousand swords only weigh about two tons. The mediaevals were quite happy about casting and moving objects bigger than that - a ring of church bells, for example, totals about four tons. A big bronze statue could weigh even more. Not to mention Tyrion's chain. And who says that it has to be moved in one piece? Statues were often built in sections and assembled on site - they could have done the same here.

Not so much an Iron Throne as an IKEA throne.
SolarSoul25
19. swlrsenn
Yeah, in a world where dragons nurse from a young woman, men and women left for dead are resurrected, and cold wraiths with blue fire eyes are coming to kill everyone, let’s try to apply real world logistics and manufacturing skills to objects in that world. Geez.

But case and point, there are thousands of examples in history of fantastical engineering in which all they did was apply a lot of manpower, usually slaves, over a long period of time.
SolarSoul25
20. Fred Zimmerman
I think it's not very practical. The king is stuck up there with no maneuverability. 5 min to even get down from the throne. And what if someone decides to fire arrows at him? I don't see it.
SolarSoul25
21. Raylion
@20

most thrones weren't pratical, as for the arrow part -- that is why everyone except a kings guard had their weapons removed. Standard practice that no one can enter a king's presence armed.

Kings tend to look down and people look up to the King.

I like this throne a lot more -- i figured the HOB throne was a little too small. and did not have enough swords - but it was a great looking throne -- and this is a better more awesome throne -- kuddos Marc Simonetti
SolarSoul25
22. daggum21dog
TOTALLY WHAT I WAS THINKING!!!!! I WISH THEY'D MAKE THIS THE SHOW THRONE!!!
Vincent Lane
23. Aegnor
The North was not defeated. Ice would not be there. The King Who Knelt...knelt. He never fought Aegon and therefore never had his sword added to the throne.
SolarSoul25
24. MichaelThunderclap
While I applaud GRRM's vision. I agree that the image above is impossible with the established tech of the era. The HBO version is far more possible and likely. That thing above would have taken months. Fantasy is fantasy and yes with that you can do anything but you need internal consistancy. If you create a mideval world that has little magic, you can't just deus ex machina a throne because you want it to be ugly monstrosity.
Mad Professah
26. madprofessah
@MrFurious

I agree, I think this throne looks ridiculous. The show's version appears much more realistic and actually closer to my imagination.
SolarSoul25
27. BtA
You do know that monuments were undertaken in much earlier times than our medieval world which took not months but decades to complete, right? Kings will be kings, and great kings (or those who believe they are great) want to have their monuments stand forever. Of course the end result eventually is the same - as this would be if eventually the framework gave way, the castle fell, the weeds grew through it -
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Marie Veek
28. SlackerSpice
Personally, I figured they didn't make it that way because it would make shooting scenes that involved the Throne a great deal more difficult.
SolarSoul25
29. Mords
I'm pretty sure it's GRRM's imagination that matters more than ours on this one.....and I'm pretty sure he wrote in his books that Balerion made the thrown with his dragonfire, which means it naturally would be HUGE, ugly, and menacing looking, which is EXACTLY what this image is.

massive kudos to the artist.
David Elliott
30. dissembly
@IndependantGeorge: "The weight of all that iron would have made forging it nigh impossible -since you can't move the throne to/from the fire, you have to build an enormous coal fire in the throne room itself."

Dude! Wait. Stop. Think about that for a minute. :P
SolarSoul25
31. Sooz
"That thing above would have taken months"

And how would that have been a problem?

That throne is terrifying. And, as commented, probably developing sentience!
SolarSoul25
32. Otturo
I definitely prefer the show's version for practicality, however this does have a much more distinct character. The artwork looks awesome, but from this view it could just as well be a throne of wooden branches.
Vivian U
33. Viviannn
What's so horrifying about a giant feather-duster?
SolarSoul25
34. Timpenin
The Seven forbid you trip on your kingly cloak on the way up those stairs...
SolarSoul25
35. JohnW
This is George Martin's world, not ours. You can't apply our medieval accomplishments or unreached goals to his world.
SolarSoul25
36. TheNotchyToad
As much as I want to love the tv series, it just can't compete with the books it is based upon. That is true of most book to tv/movie productions I realize but particularly in this case. There is just too much going on, too much said and thought and situations they can't portray or wont. This image did a consider job of showcasing the Iron Throne in a way similar to what I envisioned while reading it however.

Having read the books twice, originally when the first 3 were out then again when the current 5 were available it is my favorite fantasty setting.
SolarSoul25
37. Maya John
I prefer th HBO version.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
38. AlirozTheConfused
Man, that just looks so stupid.

I mean, the entire idea of a chair made of sharp swords is completely stupid. I mean, seriously, that is the exact opposite of what a chair is supposed to be. It's more like a torture device; and all hard and bumpy and pointy.

"A King should never sit easy" is stupid. "A King should be constantly surrounded by sharp pointy things so he can't relax or find a comfortable position or doze off or shift his weight" at least, not without being very careful; which is the opposite of dozing off or relaxing.

Why not make the King's bed out of swords, too, so he can't doze off on the job or sleep easy? Yeah, keep your kings sleep-deprived and uncomfortable all the time.

And don't get me started on a 700 foot wall of ice made eight thousand years before a midieval era in a polar region. How do you get the food to feed those workers? How do you transport the food to the workers? How do you keep the food from spoiling when you transport it? The Egyptian Pyramids worked because THEY WERE IN FRIGGING EGYPT, which was the breadbasket of the ancient world; with regular flooding and huge food surplusses (yes, they had famines sometimes, but still). There's a reason you don't see things like the great pyramid in the polar regions where resources are so much more scarce.

And so far as the heat of hte egyptian sun goes, the pyramids would have provided shade on at least one side while they were being built; and the nile would have provided water. So, you could cool off and find shade. You can't find an anti-shadow that keeps you warm in the cold region.

Also, how do you make a vertical wall like that? The Pyramids worked because it was pyramids and it made a natural ramp up in addition to the ramps the egyptians use (to get to the top, the ramp leans on the pyramid and when it reaches the end of one side, it makes a 90 degree turn and goes on the next, and so on, until it reaches the top..

How big of an inclined plane are you going to need to get a block of ice 700 feet up with a reasonable incline? How are you going to support that ramp? If you make it a zigzag, you still need support.

And the nile was extremely useful for transporting resources and food via boats (current = automatic movement source) so you don't have to worry so much about transporting the resources to Giza. The only rivers on the map of the North are the ones going south.

Also, how are you going to get logs for rollers a la
http://www.cheops-pyramide.ch/khufu-pyramid/sledge-tracks.html when you're in A) A desert (polar regions have very little rain) and B) Worship the trees that actually are there, which grow slowly.

And how are you going to keep the water from freezing? In Egypt, the heat would have kept the water from freezing, but not in this North.

And do you have workers on both sides of the wall? If so, you need to get foods to both sides of the wall, so you either have to go through the wall or around the wall, and there are difficulties with both. And you'll have to feed the people more because they'll be using their body fat to keep warm, while in Egypt you'd need to give them more drink to replace the sweat. But while egypt has a major water source in the nile, the North has no major food source like that. Get too hot? Cool off in the nile. Get too cold? Well, there's not some anti-river that makes you warm.

And if Westeros is currently equivalent to England in 1066 (technology, comet, sucession crisis, the good guys losing), then the eight thousand year old wall would be in our times from 7000 B.C.

And wait a minute, that's 3500 years before our first Iron! It's also before lead and silver, bronze and tin. We have gold and copper ornaments, but that's it as far as metal goes, non-ornamental metal artifacts and metal tools are 1,000 years away! Heck, we don't even have writing then, just Proto-writing. And the wheel won't be known for 2,000 years! The Cow is domesticated, but not the Horse, the Horse won't be domesticated for 2,000 years; and the Donkey for 3,000. We may or may not have domesticated dogs. Irrigation is 1,000 years in the future.

And what the heck, a family lineage 8,000 years old that keeps the same last name? I mean, crap; without writing, bronze, iron, the wheel, the frigging horse, non-ornamental metal, metal tools, the Donkey, or irrigation.
SolarSoul25
39. ZenNonna
I freaking love this throne! Fantasy well executed.
SolarSoul25
40. Max Gardner
@38. Because Westeros is not England? Aesthetically, it resembles medieval England. Other than that, who the hell knows? Pretty sure mention was made at some point that the wall was primarily magicked together, because magic was more prevalent back when it was made. How did food get to the workers? I don't know, how did everyone escape the ice vampires using giant spiders as hunting dogs during that winter that lasted over forty years? It's fantasy, that's how. It's not actual Earth history.

For all we know, it's in the far, far future, like The Book of the New Sun, the Wall was built by terraforming machines, the seasons turned crazy long as a result and the whole affair was lost to history over the next few thousand years, leading everyone to interpret it in a magical context.
Christopher Smith
41. Scipio Smith
Jesus, no wonder Aerys kept cutting himself on the throne (I also wondered how Joffrey and Aerys managed that...now I know) it's a friggin' death trap!

And yet it looks so very cool that I can understand why everyone wants it so badly. I kind of want it too.

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