When adapting a book to the big or small screen, certain liberties need to be taken. This can be for cost reasons or because the author’s imagination has run so wild their world is simply beyond what can be feasibly achieved onscreen.
Take the Harry Potter movies, if they’d included every subplot, character, and reference to the novels, they’d still be making those films now. The fantasy series Rings of Power is another good example. We’d love to see the epic battles of the First Age, but the sheer scale of the war against Morgoth would cost a fortune, and let’s be honest, it probably wouldn’t live up to the way you imagine it.
Still, there’s nothing wrong with feeling a little disappointed when the TV series or movie based on a book you love fails to live up to your imagination. This isn’t something that just happens to fans either, by the way. It happens to creators as well, and it’s something the Game of Thrones author George RR Martin has been very open about.
Specifically, he’s admitted that while he loves the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones, the prop didn’t quite live up to the version he had in his head while writing the novels.
“The HBO throne has become iconic. And well, it might. It’s a terrific design, and it has served the show very well,” Martin wrote on his blog. “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.”
“It’s not the Iron Throne I see when I’m working on The Winds of Winter. It’s not the Iron Throne I want my readers to see,” he continued. “The way the throne is described in the books… huge, hulking, black and twisted, with the steep iron stairs in front, the high seat from which the king looks down on everyone in the court… my throne is a hunched beast looming over the throne room, ugly and asymmetric… The HBO throne is none of those things.”
Martin’s not wrong. The Iron Throne described in the book is very different to the one we see in the show. For one, it’s not a little throne on a dais. In the book, the entire throne room is built around this twisted mass of swords, and it dominates the entire space.
“We have a huge throne room set in Belfast, but not nearly huge enough to hold the Iron Throne as I painted it,” Martin said. “For that, we’d need something much bigger, more like the interior of St. Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, and no set has that much room. The Book Version of the Iron Throne would not even fit through the doors of the Paint Hall.”
Marc Simonetti’s version of the Iron Throne, which he painted for The World of Ice and Fire, has been described as the most accurate picture was have of the throne, and it gives you an idea of the scale of the world’s pointiest chair.
The Iron Throne, Marc Simonetti pic.twitter.com/k9hx8auzmt
— ♰ colleen; asoiaf enjoyer. (@elenyaart) August 30, 2022
House of the Dragon has attempted to fix this problem by adding some more swords to the chair, which has made it wider, but it’s still not quite as impressive as Simonetti’s version. If you love Westeros, check out our list of the best Game of Thrones characters.