For those who are unaware, the book Fire & Blood is not told from multiple points of view like the A Song of Ice and Fire books it is instead made up of “historical sources” such as court documents and royal decrees as well as the histories written by the Grand Maesters’ of the time. These are filled in with information from two separate first-person accounts from people who were present for many of the events that transpired. One was from Septon Eustace, the confessor of King Viserys (Paddy Considine), and the other a man named Mushroom, the court jester who was described as “a three-foot-tall dwarf possessed of an enormous head.”
The prevailing opinion of those at court (that would prove to be inaccurate) was that Mushroom was a dimwitted man and that it was therefore safe to do any number of scandalous things in front of him. While Mushroom could not write he had enough sense to have the events that he witnessed scribed and compiled for him – in a text entitled The Testimony of Mushroom. So salacious, and perverse were these tales that they were ordered burned by King Baelor the Blessed – but luckily, some survived, and they paint quite a fascinating picture of this time in Targaryen history. Mushroom’s accounts are just one of the examples of how reliable, or not, the accounts in Fire & Blood can be.
Mushroom’s Account of Events is Perfect For Any Soap Opera Drama
One of the first matters upon which Mushroom’s story differs from House of the Dragon is the Matter of the virtue of a young Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey). According to Mushroom not only did she welcome “King Viserys into her bed” before the death of Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke) but she also slept with the Old King Jaehaerys. While more kind sources suggested that she simply visited his bedroom to keep him company, and read him stories.
Mushroom’s Testimony claims that when Princess Rhaenyra, (Milly Alcock), at 14, lusted after Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel), he refused her, and she turned to her Uncle Daemon (Matt Smith) for help in learning the art of seduction. Daemon taught her to kiss, then how “best to touch a man to bring him pleasure,” which apparently sometimes involved Mushroom and his “enormous member.” He even took her to the Street of Silk to learn “womanly arts” from the sex workers. It should be noted that Mushroom was of the belief that Rhaenyra maintained her virtue – as she wished to give it to her true love, Cole.
Mushroom also disputes that Cole asked Rhaenyra to run away with him before she was married. According to him, it was Princess Rhaenyra who offered Cole her virginity as a sign of her love, in the hopes that her betrothed Ser Laenor (John Macmillan) would then refuse her, and the two could be together. Mushroom says that Cole was so full of virtue that he refused her, and she left angry and embarrassed. Then seemingly by an act of fate, she ran directly into Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr), who was far less scrupulous and gladly took the gift she had offered Cole. Whatever the truth, Cole went from her greatest champion to her most bitter foe.
Mushroom’s Scandalous Tales Seem to be Built on Sensationalism
When Princess Rhaenyra and Ser Laenor got married, Mushroom reports that they often shared their marital bed with Ser Qarl Correy (Arty Froushan). That was until Ser Laenor soon grew tired of Ser Correy, and replaced him with a sixteen-year-old unnamed squire. A poor man with expensive taste and a broken heart Correy was easily manipulated by Prince Daemon, who paid him to kill Ser Laenor. Then not wanting to leave any loose ends, Daemon slit Correy’s throat and dumped his body at sea.
While House of the Dragon lays the blame for the fire at Harrenhal at the feet of Larys Strong (Matthew Needham), Mushroom reported that it was the Sea Snake, Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) who was responsible. Apparently, he was upset that his son and heir, had been made to look a fool by Princess Rhaenyra and her lover Ser Harwin Strong, and decided to take vengeance on the entirety of House Strong.
According to Mushroom, Prince Daemon never gave up his quest for power or Rhaenyra. After the death of his second wife Lady Laena (Nanna Blondell), Daemon was excited when King Viserys decreed that Rhaenyra (Emma D’Arcy) and her children were to stay on Dragonstone, as he was at the time living on Driftmark – which would give him easy access to the future Queen without his brother, the King being any the wiser. When they got married in secret, Mushroom claims that it was not for love on Rhaenyra’s part, but because Rhaenyra was already pregnant, and she did not want to birth yet another bastard baby.
King Viserys was murdered by Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) according to Mushroom, who says she put “a pinch of poison in his hippocras.” The next murder he reports on definitely happened – The death of poor Lord Beesbury (Bill Paterson). In his version of events, Beesbury’s head was not smashed against the table by Cole, instead, Cole grabbed the only honorable man at the table and promptly threw him out the window where he landed fatally on iron spikes in the moat below.
Mushroom’s Stories Show the Worst Aspects of the Targaryens
When King Viserys died, the Greens still had to search Flea Bottom for their chosen heir Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), but according to Mushroom, it was Cole who found him. Ser Criston found him in a rat pit with two orphans, their teeth filed into points fighting each other for his enjoyment, while an underage girl “pleasured his member with her mouth.” Mushroom also disputes the story of King Aegon’s crowning, as apparently, it was far less spectacular than we’ve been led to believe, with the Dragon pit half-filled. Although it must be said that Mushroom was on Dragonstone with Rhaenyra not in King’s Landing at the time, so his accounts of these events should be considered half-truths at best.
He was, however, on Dragonstone when Rhaenyra received the news that her father, the King was dead. Her birth was no better than in House of the Dragon, in fact, it was worse. According to his testimony, Rhaenyra was moved to birth by her anger and was so distressed that she spent the entire labor cursing Queen Alicent and King Aegon and the baby inside her. She shouted “Monster, monster, get out, get out, GET OUT!” at the unborn babe which Mushroom later described as being malformed, with a hole in her heart, scales, and a tail. He also goes on to say that it was he who carried baby Visenya outside for her funeral rites. Rhaenyra blamed her death on the Greens and cursed and vowed revenge on them for costing her the life of her only daughter.
Finally, Mushroom claims that after killing Prince Lucerys (Elliot Grihault) in the skies above Storm’s End, Prince Aemon (Ewan Mitchell) found his body, removed his eyes, and gave them to one of Borros Baratheon’s (Roger Evans) daughter as a gift after she humiliated him. Like many of his tales, this version of events reported by Mushroom is unverified and very likely exaggerated.
Some other mentionable moments as detailed in Mushroom’s Testimony:
- Mushroom coined the term The Queen Who Never Was – and believed that it should take more than “a little sausage” to be worthy of ruling. This may explain why he sided firmly with Rhaenyra and her Blacks.
- When Maester Orwyle (Kurt Egyiawan) presented Rhaenyra with terms after Aegon’s ascension, and she questioned his loyalty to his vows, he stammered and wet himself in reply.
- Lord Jasper Wylde (Paul Kennedy) was known as “Ironrod,” for his stalwart regard for the law, however, Mushroom claims that the name is actually a reference to the “stiffness of his member,” and the fact that he fathered 29 children with four wives, one of whom died of exhaustion.