On Saturday March 29, the day that is now known as international George R.R.Martin and Game of Thrones Day, the artsy mountain town of Santa Fe, New Mexico, saw the world premiere of Game of Thrones season 4. Many flew in for this event, and as early as the evening before the line started forming in front of the legendary Jean Cocteau Cinema, now owned and refurbished by Mr. Martin himself. Santa Fe was a strangely appropriate venue for the premiere not only because it is the town where Mr. Martin lives, but also because of its historical significance as one of the oldest towns in North America situated at the crossroads of old kingdoms, native and colonial. It is a town that has seen its share of treachery and massacres.
Meanwhile, next door to the Cocteau, at the Sanbusco Shopping center, the barn-like hub of the refurbished and revitalized Santa Fe Railyard, a more low-key event was taking place: the arrival of the notorious Iron Throne for the crowds of Santa Fe residents and day visitors to gape at, stroke, and be photographed on. Lines started forming early. Many came in costume, many came with their kids, and a few people brought their pets, including a gigantic black dire-poodle who was photographed on her owner’s lap upon the Iron Throne. There, between a pricey pet store and high-end boutique, stood the prize of the kingdom of Westeros for all to sit on without charge.
Several people expressed disappointment that the Iron Throne was in fact made of molded plastic, like any Disneyland accessory. In the books the original bladed, spiked thing was meant to be uncomfortable, to demonstrate that the possession of power should never be cozy – but here it was designed to be comfortable enough for actors to perch on for long, multiple takes, or for parents to sit upon with their kids. So there we had it – the domestication of the Iron Throne, perfect in a small expensive mall, not even looking out of place, a family event. But then it was always a family event.
At the end of the afternoon the Throne had been trundled away back into its truck. Many Santa Feans had had the satisfaction of being monarch of Westeros for a minute, but the event had been so unobtrusive that one fan of the series, wearing his Winter Is Coming T-shirt, had entered the mall to buy pet food, wondered why there were so many people there, and left without knowing that the Throne had been there. For him there was only the pet food store and the real preoccupation of a hungry cat at home.