Viewers who witnessed the harrowing bloodshed of the now notorious Red Wedding may not need too much convincing that the weapons used in Game of Thrones are potentially dangerous.
And while rigorous safety procedures on the fantasy drama help ensure accidents don’t happen, those precautions are certainly necessary.
“Everything you see on the show is lethal,” says Fergus McNulty, one of the armorers on the series. “It’s not sharpened to within an inch of its life but the safety aspect is still something that has to be taken into account.
“It’s still an object that with enough force would harm somebody, so if you have 400 or 500 weapons at a time [in a scene] and there’s a massive crowd of people, you’re constantly staying focused and aware.”
Safety aside, McNulty’s main responsibility is bringing to life weapons that are already vividly realised in the minds of fans familiar with the epic novels of George RR Martin, on which Game of Thrones is based.
The most important swords in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros have names – such as Ned Stark’s Ice or King Joffrey Baratheon’s Hearteater – and the best are made from the revered Valyrian steel.
McNulty’s most important work is done in steel, too – and as far as those who matter are concerned, just as much rests on the quality of the finished article.
“Trying to make things like [Jon Snow’s sword] Longclaw what the public expects them to be is a unique challenge,” admits McNulty.
“When a name is put to a specific sword you just know that’s going to be a special feature in the book and when you have to sculpt it and bring it to life and then it suddenly gets it’s five, ten seconds on screen – close-up to the point where there’s not going to be a thing missed – that’s pretty intense, trying to keep a couple of million people happy…”
Fans can now get even closer to some of McNulty’s work – including Longclaw itself – at the Game of Thrones exhibition in Belfast, which gathers together original weapons, props and costumes from series one and two.
The Game of Thrones series three finale is at 9pm tonight on Sky Atlantic