There is a mystery at the heart of HBO‘s House of the Dragon and it has nothing to do with who will win this particular era’s proverbial “Game of Thrones.” Rather it has to do with actress Sonoya Mizuno‘s performance. I think I speak for everyone when I ask: what is going on with Mysaria’s accent in House of the Dragon?!?
Sonoya Mizuno is a Japanese-born British actress with mixed English, Argentine, and Japanese ancestry. Her character Mysaria is from a fictional island called Lys known for its pleasure houses and decadence. In real life, Mizuno speaks with a proper English accent and has ably put on an American accent in other onscreen roles. When Mizuno’s version of Mysaria speaks, it’s close to impossible to know what sort of accent she’s affecting, though it sounds distressingly close to a bad impression of a Jamaican accent. It’s a distracting choice for a character who is already woefully underserved by the story so far.
Is there a good reason for Mysaria’s bizarre accent in House of the Dragon? Are the people of Lys supposed to have a weird sort of patois in George R.R. Martin’s world? Is there any justification for this wild swing of a world-building choice?
House of the Dragon takes place about 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones and HBO has taken pains to connect the two series. Certain things, like the Iron Throne, have been changed to simultaneously better reflect the description in George R.R. Martin’s books. Elsewhere, the show has chosen to consider BIPOC actors in roles readers might have reflexively cast as white upon reading. Turning Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) into a black Valyrian, for instance, is honestly a choice that adds extra pathos to his character’s jealousy of the white dragonlords who deny him and his family advances. Elaborating on Ser Criston Cole’s (Fabien Frankel) background by establishing him as part Dornish also emphasizes the character’s outsider status.
At first glance, Mizuno’s casting adds similar dimensio;, but that threatens to be undone by her accent, which sounds to my ears like the patois of the Caribbean. I suppose you could argue that as a person whose story begins in sex slavery on an idyllic island, this makes sense? And I guess because the island is called Lys there might be a connection to our world’s French language?? You know…Fleur de Lys and all that. It’s a French colonial accent? But it still doesn’t make much sense to this studied George R.R. Martin fan. No one we’ve hitherto met from Lys has any sort of regional accent like this.
In Game of Thrones, we met two characters from Lys who also, like Mysaria, were sold into slavery. Lord Varys (Conleth Hill), aka the Eunuch, the Spider, and the Master of Whispers, was sold as a boy to a mage who castrated him for a blood magic ritual. He would go on to become the pre-eminent spy master in the Seven Kingdoms. Doreah, Daenerys’s handmaid in Seasons 1 and 2 of Game of Thrones, is the other Lysene character we’ve met. She was sold to the pleasure houses as a child and later was gifted to Daenerys to help her learn how to please her Dothraki husband. In the show, Doreah betrayed Daenerys, though she died in the Red Wastes in the books.
Mysaria has a lot in common with Varys and Doreah apart from being Lysene. All three characters were sold into slavery and all three are pretty darn good at providing the nobles of Westeros with much-needed intel. Mysaria will eventually become a spy master herself. So it’s weird that Varys and Doreah speak the Common Tongue in a proper British accent while Mysaria doesn’t.
Now you could argue that speech patterns change over the centuries and that Mysaria might not be as fluent in the Common Tongue as Varys or Doreah are. But they speak a bastardization of High Valyrian in Lys, so her accent should then sound closer to the magical made up language the Targaryens speak to each other than something recognizably Caribbean to our ears. (Right??)
Maybe the language consultants on House of the Dragon reverse engineered the sounds of High Valyrian into the accent Mysaria speaks in. Perhaps everyone feels really great about this choice! Nevertheless, Mysaria’s accent is definitely a Choice, which a capital “C,” and I’m curious if it’s one we’ll get used to as the series goes on.