There are plenty of obvious similarities between House of the Dragon and its HBO predecessor, Game of Thrones. House of the Dragon’s first episode, which aired this past Sunday, even goes out of its way to make sure viewers feel like they have reentered the fantasy world they came to know and love in Game of Thrones. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t some major differences between the two fantasy shows.
As a matter of fact, House of the Dragon’s premiere places a heavy emphasis on the fact that it’s got more dragons and Targaryens in its cast than Game of Thrones ever did. House of the Dragon Episode 1 also introduces a detail from George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books that Game of Thrones, unfortunately, kind of forgot about.
A Dangerous Position — Early on in the House of the Dragon premiere, King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) meets with a pair of maesters about a mysterious wound on his back.
While no one in the room seems sure of the source of the wound, Viserys insists that “it’s a small cut from sitting the throne.” Later, after he banishes his brother, Daemon (Matt Smith), from King’s Landing and revokes Daemon’s status as his heir, Viserys cuts his finger while sitting on the Iron Throne.
These two moments bring to life a detail about the Iron Throne that Game of Thrones chose to ignore, which is the fact that it has a history of cutting those who sit on it.
Deep Cut — In George R. R. Martin’s original Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Iron Throne is dangerous in more ways than one. Not only does every ambitious person in the Seven Kingdoms seem ready to seize the Iron Throne for themselves, but the seat itself is sharp, jagged, and dangerous to sit on. That’s a detail that makes the Iron Throne’s inherent danger literal in a provocative, fittingly brutal way.
In the books, Considine’s Viserys suffers a grievous wound from stumbling while on the Iron Throne and, without spoiling anything, he isn’t the only character in House of the Dragon who gets cut by the chair in Fire & Blood, the 2018 book that inspired the new HBO series. Outside of House of the Dragon’s cast, it’s also said that Daenerys Targaryen’s father, Aerys II Targaryen a.k.a. The Mad King, was cut so many times by the Iron Throne’s blades that he began to be called “King Scab” by some of his subjects.
King Maegor I Targaryen, a.k.a. Maegor the Cruel, was found dead on the Iron Throne at the end of his rule. It’s said that he was discovered on the throne with his arms slashed open and a blade through his neck. While some believe that Maegor was murdered by an unknown attacker, others believe he was taken out by the Iron Throne itself. Maegor is, notably, briefly mentioned in the House of the Dragon premiere when Viserys meets with his small council to discuss whether or not Daemon should be allowed to be his heir.
Some within Westeros believe that the Iron Throne cuts those it believes are not fit to sit on it. Viewers may or may not choose to buy into this in-universe myth, but, if it’s true, that would add further weight to Daemon and Viserys’ climactic argument in the House of the Dragon premiere.
The Inverse Analysis — The Iron Throne in House of the Dragon is noticeably different from the one seen in Game of Thrones. While the chair itself is largely the same in House of the Dragon, the area surrounding the Iron Throne is covered in dozens of upright, melted swords. For Game of Thrones fans, that choice may take some getting used to, but it’s worth noting that House of the Dragon’s version of the Iron Throne is actually closer to the one Martin describes in his books.
The House of the Dragon premiere makes it clear that its version of the Iron Throne isn’t just visually similar to the one Martin originally described. By having Viserys suffer injuries while on the throne, House of the Dragon has presented viewers with a version of Game of Thrones’ most iconic prop that already feels more dangerous and imposing than the one featured in its HBO predecessor.
New episodes of House of the Dragon air Sundays on HBO.
Learn something new every day
Subscribe for free to Inverse’s award-winning daily newsletter.