If you thought you spotted GoT’s Shae, Tyrion Lannister’s mysterious lover-turned-traitor, while watching the first episode of House of the Dragon, you may have been getting tripped up by the appearance of Mysaria, Daemon Targaryen’s mistress.
Mysaria, portrayed by Sonoya Mizuno (E Machina, Devs), and Shae (Sibel Kekilli) share some commonalities. They both hail from the nine Free Cities of Essos, former colonies of the Valyrian Freehold. They both work as prostitutes in King’s Landing and gain the favor of noble men. And they both have similar physical features.
But the resemblance between Mysaria and Shae ends there.
Mysaria, dubbed the White Worm by her enemies and rivals, was far more than the paramour of a Targaryen prince (Matt Smith). Mysaria winds up being a crucial player in the famed Dance of the Dragons conflict between Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Emma D’Arcy) and Prince Aegon II Targaryen (Tom Glynn-Carney). At one point, Mysaria even serves as the Mistress of Whisperers, the official spymaster to the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.
Spoilers ahead for HBO’s House of the Dragon and the books that inspired it.
Who is Mysaria in House of the Dragon and in the books?
In George R.R. Martin’s books, Mysaria is described as a beautiful and lissome dancing girl when she first meets Daemon in King’s Landing. Her skin is “as pale as milk” (hence the White Worm moniker). In the show, it appears her penchant for dressing in white is what gains her the descriptor.
In the books, Mysaria becomes pregnant with Daemon’s child. Daemon steals a dragon egg from the Dragonpit for the child, in accordance with the Targaryen custom of forcing dragons to imprint on their young. This deeply troubles his brother, King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine), and he sends Daemon into exile. He also orders Mysaria to go back to her native land of Lys, one of the nine free cities of Essos. On the treacherous journey across the Narrow Sea, Mysaria loses her child.
Mysaria, mistress of whisperers
Nearly 25 years later, Mysaria remains faithful to Daemon and to his now-wife Rhaenyra’s claim to the Iron Throne. She arranges for two assassins to infiltrate the Red Keep and murder Prince Jaehaerys Targaryen, the eldest son of Rhaenyra’s half-brother, King Aegon II Targaryen. Due to this violent act of fealty, Rhaenyra appoints Mysaria as her mistress of whisperers when she is finally able to assume her queenship. As the mistress of whisperers, Mysaria opt to wear a hooded robe of black velvet bordered with blood-red silk, acknowledging her loyalty to House Targaryen.
However, Mysaria does cause significant tension and bloodshed in King’s Landing. While Rhaenyra supposedly allowed Mysaria to sleep with Daemon every night, Mysaria got another female Dragonrider in serious trouble by telling Rhaenyra she had been sleeping with Daemon, prompting both the Dragonrider and Daemon to go their separate ways and flee. Mysaria also got two knights sworn to House Velaryon hanged under charges of treason, and reportedly caused Rhaenyra’s half-sister, Helaena Targaryen, to commit suicide.
When Rhaenyra’s reign is cut short, Mysaria is captured in the Red Keep and is forced to travel naked to the Gate of the Gods while being whipped (à la Cersei Lannister’s walk of atonement in Season 5 of Game of Thrones). Unlike Cersei, Mysaria does not survive the harsh punishment.
While we don’t know if the on-screen version of Mysaria will be faithful to her written counterpart, we’re sure that she will remain an integral part of Targaryen affairs leading up to and throughout the Dance of the Dragons.
House of the Dragon airs Sunday nights on HBO.