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'House of the Dragon' Small Council: What Do Those Stone Balls Mean?

Co-showrunner Ryan Condal explains why the members of the Small Council each have a small ball.

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
Expertise Film and TV Credentials
  • Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
Jennifer Bisset
The members of the Small Council convene, with Princess Rhaenyra pouring everyone wine

Big decisions are made at the Small Council.

Photograph by Ollie Upton/HBO

House of the Dragon is underway on HBO, painting a satisfyingly rich portrait of another chapter in Game of Thrones' long history. One of the new intriguing details the prequel series presents is those stone balls at the Small Council's meetings.

When King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) consults his Small Council on matters of the realm, each member places a small colored stone ball in a marble dish at the meeting table. A larger dish sits in the middle of the table. We didn't see any stone balls when councils took place in Game of Thrones.

What significance do they have?

"Everybody shows up for work and they 'punch in,'" co-showrunner Ryan Condal told The Hollywood Reporter. "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."

In other words, the formality doesn't really have any special meaning outside being a symbolic gesture. It allows the members of the council to show their loyalty. It goes the other way too: 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. 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.

Episode 2 of House of the Dragon hits HBO on Sunday at 9 p.m. PT.

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