See the first-ever official Iron Throne, made in 1996

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones came out in 1996, kicking off an epic series that is still continuing today. The conflict revolves around who sits the Iron Throne, the pointy, tremendously uncomfortable chair from which a king or queen rules Westeros.

Over 20 years later, most people have an idea of what the Iron Throne looks like thanks to HBO’s Game of Thrones: that show made the Iron Throne into an icon that inspired everything from Christmas ornaments to public art installations. But A Song of Ice and Fire has been around for a long time; other interpretations of the Iron Throne exist, including one that Martin is on record as preferring to HBO’s version.

In 2013, Martin singled out Marc Simonetti’s illustration of the Iron Throne in The World of Ice and Fire as his favorite.

“This Iron Throne is massive. Ugly. Assymetric,” Martin wrote. “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.”

Long before Game of Thrones on HBO, Bantam Books made its own Iron Throne

Simonetti’s Iron Throne might be Martin’s favorite, but he admits that there is no “real” Iron Throne — of course there isn’t, it’s a made-up chair. But HBO’s Iron Throne has a leg up on Simonetti’s in that it actually exists, at least as a prop. And it’s not the only one. As Martin explained in 2011, the very first Iron Throne was created by Bantam, which published A Game of Thrones in the U.S. In fact, the publisher created this version of the Iron Throne months before the book had even come out as the centerpiece of their booth at the 1996 American Booksellers’ Association (ABA) show in Chicago. And Martin was the guest of honor:

This is also how the Iron Throne looked on the cover of the 1996 American edition of A Game of Thrones:

Image: Bantam Books
Image: Bantam Books /

“[T]he thing was really uncomfortable,” Martin wrote. “That part they got just right.”

We’ll next see the Iron Throne in House of the Dragon, the first of several Game of Thrones prequel series. Most likely they’ll use the version of the original show, but who knows? Maybe they’ll try to reinvent the thing anew.

Next. Listen to this amazing acapella cover of the Game of Thrones theme song, and more stuff. dark

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