20 takeaways from Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon, behind the scenes of Game of Thrones

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /
1 of 20

From on-set romances to accidents that ended up being iconic television moments, Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon pulls back the curtain on Game of Thrones.

Last month, Penguin put out Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon: Game of Thrones and the Official Untold Story of the Epic Series. This book, by Entertainment Weekly’s James Hibberd, is perhaps the most in-depth look behind the curtain of HBO’s hit fantasy drama that’s ever been released…and it is glorious.

Functioning as both an exposé of all those nitty-gritty details we love as well as a celebration of Game of Thrones‘ incredible run, the book is a veritable treasure trove for the passionate fan. The internet has already discussed plenty of juicy tidbits, like that time Ian McShane punted his lunch across set, the fact that Ser Jorah Mormont was originally supposed to survive the Long Night, and the filming troubles that plagued the Dornish plotline.

Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon

But of course, those teasers only scratch the surface. Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon boasts over 400 pages of interviews, behind-the-scenes photos, and recollections from Hibberd, who had near-unfettered access to the show for nearly the entire production.

Hibberd got on the Thrones train early. Already well-respected in his field, when he joined Entertainment Weekly, one of the first assignments he asked to be put on was this strange little fantasy show HBO was cooking up. The rest, as they say, is history. Hibberd was there for the Red and Purple weddings, the Battle of the Bastards, the Long Night, Cersei’s walk of shame…the list goes on and on.

With Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon, Hibberd painstakingly recounts the history of the show’s production in a way that’s fun, intriguing and impossible to put down. There are a lot of fantastic bits in there, so we thought it might be a lot of fun to round up 20 of our favorites.

Hibberd’s book explores the saga of Game of Thrones in chronological order, and while we won’t be sticking strictly to the timeline, it’d be madness not to start at the beginning!

Photo: Mehlauge. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike

3.0 Unported


2.5 Generic


2.0 Generic


1.0 Generic

license. No changes have been made to this image.

1. Game of Thrones was shot in the same place where the RMS Titanic was built

After detailing the early meetings between showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin and HBO, Hibberd launches into a chapter about the show’s failed original pilot. There are all sorts of details here, as well as mysterious questions like: why was Tamzin Merchant recast as Daenerys Targaryen? (The interviews reveal only reveal that her role was “compromised” and that it just wasn’t working out).

One factoid that particularly surprised me was finding out was that the studio where Thrones did a lot of its indoor shooting, the Paint Hall studio hangar in Belfast, was in fact built on the same grounds where the RMS Titanic was built. In fact, the Paint Hall is part of a large development called, appropriately enough, the Titanic Quarter.

There’s something beautiful and a little unsettling about that, right?

“The hangar sits on a windy gray corner of the world, with cold, dark water lapping against a rocky shore,” Hibberd writes. “A series of tall poles on an adjacent concrete slab mark the outline of the RMS Titanic as an eerie memorial. The site was tough to beat, not only as a practical choice but also as an unintended metaphor. The birthplace of what was once the world’s biggest and most lavish ship was about to create the world’s biggest and most lavish TV drama.”

It’s even more synchronous when you take into account that original pilot I mentioned, and how it was so bad that it very nearly sank the show before it ever managed to pull of port.

Thankfully, unlike the ill-fated ship, the show managed to steer clear of any icebergs, and ultimately changed TV for the better.