When a television show is adapted from a book, some liberties are generally taken for the sake of budget and plot--even a television adaptation as well-produced as Game of Thrones, which tends to stick to the A Song of Ice and Fire books its based on closely, had to make a few changes.
That said, this new revelation from author George R. R. Martin still comes as an insane, terrifying surprise: Apparently, the Iron Throne we see in the show looks like nothing like the Iron Throne Martin envisioned for his books. Martin explained how his version of the iconic symbol of the show actually looks in a new blog post on his Livejournal yesterday:
The HBO throne has become iconic. And well it might. It's a terrific design, and it has served the show very well. There are replicas and paperweights of it in three different sizes. Everyone knows it. I love it. I have all those replicas right here, sitting on my shelves.
And yet, and yet... it's still not right. It's not the Iron Throne I see when I'm working on THE WINDS OF WINTER. It's not the Iron Throne I want my readers to see. 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 assymetric...
The HBO throne is none of those things. It's big, yes, but not nearly as big as the one described in the novels. And for good reason. We have a huge throne room set in Belfast, but not nearly huge enough to hold the Iron Throne as I painted it. For that we'd need something much bigger, more like the interior of St. Paul's Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, and no set has that much room. The Book Version of the Iron Throne would not even fit through the doors of the Paint Hall.
He then attaches a picture by artist Marc Simonetti that was commissioned for the upcoming concordance The World of Ice & Fire. Apparently, this picture comes closest to depicting what the Iron Throne should actually look like per the books/Martin's mind, which is clearly a terrifying place:
"From now on, THIS will be the reference I give to every other artist tackling a throne room scene. This Iron Throne is massive," Martin writes. "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...this Iron Throne is scary. And not at all a comfortable seat, just as Aegon intended." Yes, this is where nightmares are born.