One of Game of Thrones’ shortcomings was its dizzying abundance of characters, from royals to smallfolk, that forced viewers to do homework. You couldn’t watch Game of Thrones casually — you had to ensure you kept up with the show’s weekly episodes, or suffer the consequences of forgetting who’s who.
House of the Dragon improves considerably in this regard, but the issue has been supplanted by another burden on viewers: Everyone’s name sounds the same. Viserys I and Viserys II; Aegon the Conqueror, Aegon II, Aegon III; Rhaenys, Rhaena, and Rhaenyra; Jacaerys, Lucerys, Jaehaerys; Laenor and Laena. Don’t even get us started on the dragons. It’s tough to not get your names in a twist.
There are several characters from the show’s source material, the Song of Ice and Fire prequel novellas and novelettes written by George R.R. Martin, that we think will further expand the cast in the finale of House of the Dragon Season 1 or the start of Season 2. But fret not; they’ve all got memorable names. Meet Mushroom, Nettles, Blood, and Cheese.
Potential spoilers for House of the Dragon ahead.
Mushroom was a dwarf who served as a fool at the courts of Viserys I (Paddy Considine), Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney), and Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy). He was believed to be a nitwit by the Red Keep’s nobility, and they would talk in front of him about their salacious secrets. Mushroom, who was actually quite intelligent, would record everything he heard. He would later go down in history as having written one of the greatest accounts of the Targaryen dynasty, even better than those of the septons or maesters. However, his partisan loyalties did mean some of his wildest claims were questioned.
Mushroom claimed that Prime Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) took Lady Alicent Hightower’s (Olivia Cooke) virginity prior to her marriage to his brother, King Viserys I Targaryen. He also claimed he saw Rhaenyra in bed with Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr). Mushroom loved and respected Rhaenyra, and attended to her in Dragonstone. Later, when Viserys I began to grow ill, Mushroom would visit him, and was said to have been the only man who could make him laugh.
Mushroom wound up in Rhaenyra’s service again at the outbreak of the Dance of the Dragons. He claims to have prevented Joffrey Velaryon from avenging his brother, Lucerys (Elliott Grihault), who was killed by Prince Aemond One-Eye Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell).
Some fans and publications have argued that we caught a glimpse of Mushroom in Episode 5’s wedding banquet, but the appearance isn’t credited and HBO has offered no clarification. Either way, Mushroom hasn’t been given a proper introduction in Season 1, and it would make sense for him to show up in Episode 10 with Rhaenyra, Daemon, and their children in Dragonstone. If Mushroom does appear, we’ll likely see him become a recurring character throughout the rest of House of the Dragon.
Nettles was a skinny girl of ambiguous Valyrian origins who was foul-mouthed, fearless, and one of the few bastards of uncertain birth able to ride a dragon. Nettles came to Dragonstone after taming the wild dragon Sheepstealer, and pledged herself to fight on behalf of Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen.
Mushroom heavily implied in his writings that Nettles, who often accompanied Daemon throughout the Dance of the Dragons, began sleeping together. Daemon taught her about the finer things in life, and how to act like a high-born lady. Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), who enjoyed stirring the pot, began to feed Rhaenyra’s jealousy by telling her details about Nettles and Daemon’s relationship. Rhaenyra responded by spreading rumors that Nettles was a sorceress and had used witchcraft to bond with Sheepstealer and steal the prince from her bed.
Nettles was eventually ordered executed by Rhaenyra, but Daemon allowed her to escape and considered the order a final straw. He never saw Rhaenyra again, while Nettles vanished deep into the Mountains of the Moon, a mountain range ruled by House Arryn of the Vale.
Nettles seems most likely to appear in House of the Dragon Season 2, but Rhaenyra and Daemon could begin searching for dragonriders in the finale of Season 1, once Rhaenys (Eve Best) gives them the bad news about Aegon II’s ascension.
Blood and Cheese
There’s no Blood without Cheese.
In the A Song of Ice and Fire prequels, there’s perhaps no one crueler than Blood and Cheese, whose real names are never revealed. Blood was said to have once been a member of the King’s Landing City Watch before losing his gold cloak for beating a woman to death. Cheese was a rat-catcher with an almost photographic memory of the intricate maze of hidden tunnels beneath the Red Keep. Together, they murdered King Aegon II Targaryen and Queen Helaena Targaryen’s (Phia Saban) firstborn son.
Helaena took her three children to Alicent’s bedchamber to visit their grandma before bed, as was their nightly custom. Blood murdered the guardsmen, while Cheese held Aegon II and Helaena’s youngest son, Maelor, hostage. Cheese ordered Helaena to choose which of her sons she’d prefer they kill. Helaena begged them to take her instead, but Blood and Cheese insisted it had to be one of her own. Helaena eventually names Maelor, but Blood beheads Jaehaerys instead and runs off with his head.
Blood and Cheese were said to have been employed by Mysaria, who hoped to break the Hightower-Targaryens with the assassination. Jaehaerys’ death drove Helaena mad, but Rhaenyra’s Blacks had only just begun their reign of terror over Helaena and her remaining children.
Blood and Cheese are crucial figures in the Dance of the Dragons, causing or witnessing some of the most pivotal moments of the short but sanguineous conflict between the Targaryen half-siblings Rhaenyra and Aegon II. It seems probable we could see Blood and Cheese in talks with Mysaria sometime throughout the finale of Season 1. If not, they’ll almost certainly appear in Season 2 to fit the canonical timeline.
House of the Dragon’s Season 1 finale airs Sunday, October 23 on HBO.