For eight long, bloody, incest-filled years, we have watched the characters on Game of Thrones vie for power. We have watched them lie, cheat, steal, hump, murder, murder more, walk into fire, fight snow zombies, get bowl cuts, all in the hopes that they will be the one to plant their bottom on the Iron Throne, which means ruling over Westeros forever, or at least until someone else comes along and kills them. Here’s the thing, though: The throne everyone’s fighting over is ugly as hell.
I mean, just look at it up there. It’s an eyesore! It looks like an overstuffed, poorly maintained cutlery drawer. If I walked into the Red Keep’s throne room and saw a ruler sitting on that monstrosity, I would be neither intimidated nor impressed. I would think, Oh, no, I bet this person is some kind of steampunk who has 40 broken antique timepieces sewn into the inside of their overcoat, and says things like methinks and perchance all the time. Looking at the Iron Throne feels like being stabbed in the eyeballs with every single one of those rusty swords it’s made out of.
I’m not alone on this.
Also, it looks uncomfortable. You know what’s more comfortable than sitting on a huge lump of old weaponry? Most things. How is a person supposed to effectively govern the Seven Kingdoms if there are sharp bits of metal digging into their lower back all day?
Granted, the HBO throne does not look the way George R.R. Martin says he originally envisioned it. In a LiveJournal post from 2013, the author said that the throne on the show, the one you see up there, is “not the Iron Throne I want my readers to see.” He goes on:
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 asymmetric …
To illustrate his point further, he included a painting by the artist Marc Simonetti:
It’s a very good painting, but I still don’t love the throne, no offense to GRRM or Marc Simonetti. Walking up a steep flight of stairs to take a seat sounds awful, and being situated 12 feet above anyone gazing up at you is a terrible, unflattering angle for most people.
There are so many better throne options out there. Look at this one from Napoleon I, circa 1808:
Cute, no? Or, if the new ruler of Westeros is absolutely set on having a metallic moment, there’s Queen Christina of Sweden’s Silver Throne, circa 1650:
And if stairs are a must, what about this Marble Throne from Persia, circa 1751?
Now, a truly progressive ruler would, I think, do away with the idea of a throne altogether, and opt instead for a comfortable and well-designed chair. One that says, I’m stylish and thoughtful, but also approachable. The mid-century-modern fan could go for the classic Eames lounge chair, for instance:
And if they desire extra comfort during those long days spent granting audiences with the wardens of the North, the ruler could choose this nice LA-Z-Boy recliner (it’s customizable!).
Or, if budgets are tight because the entirety of King’s Landing needs to be rebuilt after Daenerys and Drogon huffed and puffed and burned it all down, the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms could use this KOARP armchair from Ikea that I currently have sitting in the corner of my bedroom. It’s comfortable, easy to put together, and made from zero swords, I’m pretty sure.
Long, long ago, Cersei told the soon-to-be-headless Ned Stark that, “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” That was a slick line, but a more accurate one would have been, “When you play the game of thrones, you die, or you win, and you end up sitting on a terrible chair that looks like a hair ball made of knives, in the middle of a huge room that’s totally empty and does nothing to draw the eye away from how ugly the chair is.”
I don’t know who (if anyone) will assume the Iron Throne on Sunday night. But I do know that whoever it is has an opportunity to finally unite the Seven Kingdoms, and to finally upgrade to a better throne.