HBO’s House of the Dragon introduced a new Iron Throne, but the upgraded seat hints at a tragedy coming in the Game of Thrones prequel. The first House of the Dragon trailer revealed several major players in HBO’s upcoming Game of Thrones follow-up. The teaser included brief glimpses of Paddy Considine’s King Viserys Targaryen, Emma D’Arcy’s Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, Olivia Cooke’s Alicent Hightower, and Rhys Ifans’ Otto Hightower. It also hinted at sinister events coming courtesy of Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen. The character provides ominous narration, teasing an impending Westeros conflict among the Targaryens. According to Daemon, “Dreams didn’t make us kings. Dragons did.”
House of the Dragon takes place around 200 years before the events of the original series, but viewers will still recognize many elements from HBO’s Game of Thrones. For instance, the first trailer introduced an upgraded version of the Iron Throne, making the structure bigger and giving it more blades. Since the series predates Game of Thrones, it makes sense that the throne would look slightly different. Additionally, many of the formidable families of Westeros will be somewhat recognizable. Though the characters are different, the Targaryens, Starks, and Lannisters are still in power.
The new version of the Iron Throne also hints at a tragic House of the Dragon event. In George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, the Targaryen history book that inspires House of the Dragon, King Viserys hears salacious rumors about his family and promptly doles out punishment. However, as he’s going to leave, he injures himself on the Iron Throne. “As he was descending, His Grace stumbled and reached out to right himself, and sliced his left hand open to the bone,” reads the book. This wound and its subsequent fever almost kill the king. It’s a tragic event near the end of his life, and it sets up other conflicts among the Targaryens. And it likely wouldn’t happen without the upgraded Iron Throne.
Viserys wouldn’t severely injure himself on the original Iron Throne in Game of Thrones. The Westeros power seat was supposed to be a monstrous metal creation made of 1,000 blades from Aegon the Conqueror’s enemies, but HBO downplayed its original version. Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) even says in season 3 that fewer than 200 swords are in the structure. So Viserys likely isn’t suffering a life-threatening injury from sitting on HBO’s original version of the seat. However, an upgraded, more dangerous Iron Throne makes such an incident seem more organic.
Additionally, Viserys’ injury could prove pivotal to the story. Several important events happen as a result of the injury. A maester cuts off a couple of Viserys’ fingers to save his life, he never sits on HBO’s upgraded Iron Throne again, and a feast celebrating his health turns into a farce, leading to growing tensions among the Targaryens pining for power. The injury is much more than just a cut, snowballing into potentially vital story beats for the Game of Thrones prequel. If not for the new Iron Throne causing Viserys’ problems, House of the Dragon would possibly have a lot less fire and blood.