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The Real Iron Throne

Yes, I know, that title is a bit of an oxymoron.

There is no real Iron Throne. It doesn't exist. I made it up. I said it was made of melted swords, but really, it was made of words, like all such fictional constructs.

Ah, but it's real to me. That's part of what it means to be a writer. If you don't know what I'm getting at there, go read my old short story, "Portraits of His Children." When I write about the Iron Throne, I SEE it in my head... and I try to describe it as best I can. Not being a blacksmith or an ironmonger, however, I hammer it together with words, striving to make all of you, my readers, see what I see.

Most of the time that works... though, as the recent brouhaha about the Red Viper shows, the picture in the reader's head and the picture in the writer's head do not always line up perfectly. With the Iron Throne, however, the process has been particularly frustrating. A dozen different artists have done versions of the Iron Throne over the years. Some have been very striking, some less so, but none of them have ever been quite RIGHT. Their versions never quite matched what I saw in my mind's eye.

Then came the show, and HBO's version of the Iron Throne.

I'm a realist about these things, and I know perfectly well that for millions of television viewers worldwide, the HBO Iron Throne is THE Iron Throne, and always will be. It turns up everywhere, on book covers, on magazines, in places that have no connection to the show. Say "GAME OF THRONES," and people think of the HBO Iron Throne.

And, hell, in some ways the HBO throne is more real than mine could ever be. They've actually MADE theirs (though it is not actually made of iron). There's the one that sits on the set in Belfast's Paint Hall, and at least six others that travel about the country making promotional appearances at conventions, screenings, exhibits, and the like. They turn up in train stations and parks. Thousands of people have had their pictures taken sitting on the Iron Throne, including many celebrities. And me as well, many times. Over in the UK, Sky Atlantic has their own Iron Throne, that also travels about to help promote the show. Canal + has one too, in Spain. The Spanish and British thrones are variants, somewhat different from the HBO throne, yet similar in most important respects. I've been seated on both of those at well.

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. 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. 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 assymetric...

The HBO throne is none of those things. It's big, yes, but not nearly as big as the one described in the novels. And for good reason. We have a huge throne room set in Belfast, but not nearly huge enough to hold the Iron Throne as I painted it. 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.

So what does the Real Iron Throne look like, you ask? Glad you asked. It looks kind of like this:


That's the Iron Throne as painted by the amazing Marc Simonetti (and if you haven't gotten his 2013 Ice & Fire calendar, better hurry, the year's half over) for the upcoming concordance, THE WORLD OF ICE & FIRE. 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... it has the steps I describe, and the height. From on top, the king dominates the throne room. And there are thousands of swords in it, not just a few.

This Iron Throne is scary. And not at all a comfortable seat, just as Aegon intended.

Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair.


Jul. 9th, 2013 06:20 am (UTC)
Zounds. Reminds me a bit of massive, twisting tree roots, at least in this thumbnail image (which I find ironic yet appropriate).
Jul. 9th, 2013 06:24 am (UTC)
I would have made it bigger, but computer illiterate that I am, I can't figure out how to increase the size of the images I upload to the Not A Blog.
Jul. 9th, 2013 06:32 am (UTC)
Jul. 9th, 2013 06:58 am (UTC)
That's an earlier version... powerful, to be sure, but still wrong in a couple of respects. The one I just posted is closer.
(no subject) - miko_york - Jul. 9th, 2013 07:02 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 9th, 2013 07:11 am (UTC)
If the original image was that size, there may not be a way to enlarge it without making it fuzzy.

If the original was larger, something possibly went a bit amiss in the uploading to LJ. Possibly you can: click the link below the post to edit it; make sure it's set to "visual editor" instead of "HTML;" then click on your image so it's sort of highlighted in a creepy blue; then with the image still bluish, click on the "Insert Photo" icon that looks like a little picture frame above the editing space; then go to "image size" in the box that pops up, and try increasing the number in the "width" field, then save.

Might be a long shot, and I would possibly recommend test running it on a dummy LJ if you have one, but thought it might be useful.
Bobby Schmidt
Jul. 9th, 2013 07:55 am (UTC)
When you click the little add image button, and select the image you want to upload, there should be an option in the bottom right of that screen which gives the size, and dropdown menu to choose the Original size before you add it to the journal entry. Would definitely like to see a higher resolution version.... it looks fantastic! Thanks!
Matthew Gagnon
Jul. 9th, 2013 08:05 am (UTC)
Bigger version
Here you go George - this is your Iron Throne made a little bigger: http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/grrm/7059164/169093/169093_1000.jpg
Ryan Stalgis
Jul. 9th, 2013 11:06 am (UTC)
Here's a larger version:

Jul. 9th, 2013 01:45 pm (UTC)
Bigger Pic
I don't know how LiveJournal works, but here's a link to a bigger upload of the same pic.

Jul. 9th, 2013 03:10 pm (UTC)
You can adjust the size of the image when you upload it by selecting the resize button and changing it to be a larger size.

After you have submitted the post to Not a Blog, you can right click on the image and select "open in new tab".

You'll see the url is something like:


That "_300" is the image size. For maximum size change that to be "_original"


You can then take that link and just post the link so people can download the maximum size image.
Jul. 9th, 2013 06:24 pm (UTC)
Where it says "169093_300.jpg", change it to say "169093_original.jpg" instead :D

Jul. 9th, 2013 06:27 pm (UTC)
Or, keep the thumbnail, and add a link like so:

<a href="http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/grrm/7059164/169093/169093_original.jpg">Larger version</a>

Which will look like this: Larger version
Rick Geraedts
Jul. 10th, 2013 10:45 am (UTC)
Well George, I worked some of my internet expertise on the image, and noticed the size is determined by the _300 part in the linked JPG.

So, I increased that, to magically create a properly sized image: http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/grrm/7059164/169093/169093_1000.jpg
Itamar Baum
Jul. 11th, 2013 03:07 pm (UTC)
Thousands of swords?
i can vaguely remember that in the storm of swords ptyer tells varies that he counted the swords, and its 270 and not thousands as the legend said...
Re: Thousands of swords? - grrm - Jul. 11th, 2013 03:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 11th, 2013 11:07 pm (UTC)
Fear not, the Tor web site has enlarged it nicely. What scares ME is the kind of person who'd actually want to mount that throne!


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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