What’s With the Stone Balls That the Small Council Uses on ‘House of the Dragon’?

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Oct. 17 2022, Published 2:45 p.m. ET

The Game of Thrones prequel spinoff series House of the Dragon sure has some balls, hasn’t it? We are, of course, referring to the balls on the table in House of the Dragon’s Small Council scenes.

You may have spotted these props on the HBO show. When King Viserys (Paddy Considine) gathers his Small Council in the Red Keep, he and his advisers each have a color-coded stone before them on a marble dish. And in the middle of the table, there’s a large dish that holds the stones of the absent council members.

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WinterIsComing.net reports those stones aren’t mentioned in author George R. R. Martin’s books. So, what do they mean?

Viewers are fascinated by the ball on the table on ‘House of the Dragon.’

As soon as House of the Dragon premiered on HBO, viewers took notice of those stone balls. “I really want someone to explain this ball-on-the-table thing they keep doing at every Small Council meeting,” one person tweeted on Aug. 21 as the series premiered.

“What are those little stone balls they put on the table for when they have their meetings?” another Twitter user wrote that same night. “Is that how they take attendance? They seem important but also irrelevant.”

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House of the Dragon [is] like, ‘Gentlemen, let’s start the meeting. Please place your balls on the table,’” another viewer tweeted the following week.

And even a House of the Dragon hater — one who claimed to have “0 investment” in the “a bloody snoozefest” of a TV show — still appreciated that prop. “My fave part is the balls on the table when they have a meeting,” that Twitter user wrote.

Small Council members use the stones “punch in” to the meetings.

The idea for the stones came from House of the Dragon set decorator Claire Nie Richards and production designer Jim Clay, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “It represented the council coming in and being part of the meeting,” Claire told the magazine.

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Ryan Condal, House of the Dragon’s showrunner, approved of that bit of set decor. “Everybody shows up for work and they ‘punch in,’” he explained to THR. “I thought it was really cool. It’s a way of visualizing the set formality of the Small Council chamber. It’s enjoyable; we should have things that we like in this world.”

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The stone can also be a visual reminder of the show’s political atmosphere.

CNET’s Jennifer Bisset observes that the stone balls at the Small Council meetings show council members’ loyalty — or disloyalty. “Whenever Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) is absent from meetings, his dark ball stands out in the center of the table, alone in the larger dish,” Jennifer writes. “After that first episode, it symbolizes Daemon, the black sheep, being cast out from the council as well as the race for becoming Viserys’ heir.”

And /Film’s Mike Shutt says that the stone balls are a symbol of Seven Kingdoms tradition that will soon be broken. “They add to the decorum of the proceedings, a symbol that shows a functioning government,” Mike adds. “Only seven people at maximum sit around this table. You can clearly see who is and isn’t there. This is the process. This is tradition … and that practice was abandoned at some point. The process of governing changed, even if the change was slight, and perhaps that signals the kingdom to evolve in other ways.”

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