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SYFY WIRE House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon's Iron Throne is so big it had to borrow swords from 'The Witcher' and 'Warcraft'

Those supply chain issues hit Westeros pretty hard.

By Josh Weiss
House of the Dragon HBO Max YouTube

We regret to inform you that the supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 health crisis have finally reached Westeros. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly for a lengthy feature about the upcoming House of the Dragon (premiering on HBO and HBO Max late next month), co-showrunner, executive producer, and series director Miguel Sapochnik estimated that around 2,500 swords were used to build the show's interpretation of the coveted Iron Throne.

Construction on this prop required so many blades, in fact, that the Game of Thrones prequel was forced to borrow a few sabres from other fantasy projects like Netflix's The Witcher and Duncan Jones' Warcraft movie.

The resultant amalgamation of steel representing the epicenter of Targaryen power isn't just a harmless bit of set dressing — it could actually take an eye out. "Literally we had to put [up] fences when we first built it," Sapochnik revealed. "Some of them are real swords. It is as dangerous as it is [described] in the books." While the crew could have gotten away with recycling the Iron Throne created for GoT, they decided to build something that felt more accurate to the one described in the books penned by George R.R. Martin.

Co-created by Martin and Ryan Condal (Colony), House of the Dragon takes place two centuries before the events of Game of Thrones, during the epoch of Targaryen rule. The fiery drama kicks into overdrive when the family of hot-tempered and dragon-riding royals splits into separate factions over — what else? — a squabble over who should be allowed to rule over Westeros once King Viserys (Paddy Considine) kicks the bucket. It's like another HBO title, Succession, except with more fire-breathing lizard monsters.

Per Condal, who also serves as co-showrunner and executive producer, the overarching goal was to explore how a sturdy and thriving empire can suddenly crumble to the ground without warning. "I wanted to tell a story about the height of Rome before the fall and see the Targaryen dynasty at its very apex so that we can understand the thing that was lost when it all fell apart," he said, going on to add that the conflict at the heart of the story has been threatening to boil over for quite some time.

"Nobody alive in this story has ever seen a war or a meaningful conflict," he continued. "Yes, there have been skirmishes and tournaments, but we're living in this society based on conflicts for power. We're watching a period of time where every man has been trained for battle since birth, but battle doesn't happen. That pent-up energy leaks out between the cracks and starts to wear on itself where you almost need the release of war in order to keep the whole thing from boiling over."

While many audience members have made it clear that the final season of Game of Thrones effectively turned them off the franchise forever, Condal isn't particularly bothered by the Season 8 vitriol or its potential to harm prequel viewership. 

"People are always going to have something to say about the way a beloved thing comes to an end," the co-showrunner explained. "What they say doesn't really affect the way we approach this. We have this huge legacy to carry forward. [And we want to] do that in the best way that honors what came before, but also doesn't do the thing that I think a lot of sequels do: Here's [what] you love wrapped up in a different packaging ... We have to come out of the box with a greater resource pool than David and [D.B.] did when they were starting Game of Thrones," Condal concludes. "They had to build an audience and earn it. We're standing on the shoulders of giants."

House of the Dragon premieres on HBO and HBO Max Sunday, Aug. 21 at 9 p.m. EST. Fans can get a sneak peek at the show at San Diego Comic-Con next week.

Looking for some fantasy content to tide you over for the next four months? Click here for our list of the best fantasy films available on Peacock.