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Melisandre Fantasy Flight Games.jpg
Melisandre of Asshai - Fantasy Flight Games ©

Alias The red priestess
The red woman
The king's red shadow[1]
Lady Red[1]
Lot Seven
Allegiance Faith of R'hllor
Culture Asshai
Born At Unknown
Book(s) A Clash of Kings (appears)
A Storm of Swords (appears)
A Feast for Crows (mentioned)
A Dance with Dragons (POV)

Played by Carice van Houten
TV series Season 2 | Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5 | Season 6

Melisandre is a red priestess of R'hllor and a shadowbinder, hailing from the city of Asshai in the Further East of Essos. She has joined the entourage of Stannis Baratheon, Lord of Dragonstone, believing him to be Azor Ahai reborn, a hero destined to defeat the Great Other. She has become an influential advisor to him and his family.[2] In the television adaptation Game of Thrones she is portrayed by Carice van Houten. She becomes a POV character in A Dance with Dragons.

Appearance and Character

See also: Images of Melisandre

Melisandre is a great beauty, with long hair the color of burnished copper and pale, unblemished skin. She is slender and graceful, and taller than most knights. She has full breasts, a narrow waist, and a heart-shaped face. Her voice is sonorous, with an exotic accent. As is the custom of the red priests of her faith, she wears red or crimson clothing, usually long gowns of silk. She is never without the red gold choker that fits snuggly around her neck. When she works magic, the ruby setting glows with power,[3] and it may be able to burn her if the magic worked is particularly demanding.[4]

Melisandre is a mysterious woman who trusts completely in the power of her god and the visions he grants her in the flames. She calmly rebuts all those who doubt her and scoffs at the followers of other gods as deluded. Unlike many others with prescient abilities, she has complete faith in her ability to correctly interpret visions. She is careful to present herself as mysterious, serene and powerful, wearing cool clothing even in the cold of the Wall, for example. Although she is genuinely skilled with magic, she enhances this with various smokes and powders that she keeps concealed in her robes. Melisandre has practiced her art for "years beyond count".[4] She has the ability to invoke a deadly shadow assassin against her enemies.


As a slave possibly called Melony, Melisandre was sold to a Red Temple at an early age. She can recall that Melony was "Lot Seven", most likely on the auction block.[4]

Melisandre has learned the Common Tongue, High Valyrian, and the tongue of Asshai.[5]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

The Red Woman - by Patrick McEvoy ©

At the crossroads inn Lord Tywin Lannister tells his son Tyrion that according to Lord Varys, Lord Stannis Baratheon is bringing to Dragonstone a shadowbinder from Asshai.[6]

A Clash of Kings

Melisandre came to Dragonstone because she believed Stannis is Azor Ahai reborn and destined to defeat the Great Other, the antithesis of her god R'hllor. She turns Stannis's wife, Lady Selyse Florent, and several other members of Stannis's court from the Faith of the Seven to her red god. Fearing Melisandre's influence and her unnatural power, Stannis's maester, Cressen, tries to poison her but fails.[2]

After seeing her ability to resist the poison, Stannis is convinced by Melisandre to burn all the statues of the Seven from the castle sept of Dragonstone,[2] although he remains a less-committed follower than his wife and some others in his court, such as the queen's men. Outside of Dragonstone's gates, Melisandre proclaims Stannis Azor Ahai reborn and has him pull a burning sword from the idols, declaring it to be the legendary Lightbringer.[5]

Melisandre births a shadow assassin - by Anja Dalisa ©

In King's Landing, Lord Petyr Baelish reminds the small council that some years past, Varys had reported that Selyse had taken up with a red priest. The councilors decide to use Melisandre's religion and the greyscale of Princess Shireen Baratheon to discredit Stannis.[7]

Stannis's brother Renly, Lord of Storm's End, has also made a claim for the Iron Throne and has a huge army on the march, so Stannis moves against their family's ancient seat at Storm's End.[8] Melisandre has a vision in her flames of Renly, wearing green armor, smashing Stannis's host beneath the walls of King's Landing.[9] Drawing on the strength of Stannis, Melisandre conjures a shadow assassin which she uses to murder Renly outside Storm's end after he refuses to bend the knee to his older brother.[10] Although many lords join the queen's men after Renly's death, some loyal forces continue to hold Storm's End in his name. After the castellan, Ser Cortnay Penrose, refuses to yield, Melisandre has Ser Davos Seaworth sail her under the stronghold. There she births another shadow assassin[9] which she releases to slay Cortnay.[11] After Lord Elwood Meadows surrenders Storm's End to Stannis,[12] Melisandre has her king burn the castle's ancient godswood.[13]

Lord Bryce Caron convinces Stannis to send Melisandre back to Dragonstone, and she is not present during the Battle of the Blackwater. This is done so no one could say Stannis won his throne via sorcery.[14] Stannis is defeated at King's Landing, however, after the arrival of the armies of Lords Tywin Lannister and Mace Tyrell.[15][16] Ser Garlan Tyrell, leading Tywin's vanguard,[17] wears Renly's green armor during the charge of the newcomers.[18]

A Storm of Swords

Melisandre and Selyse burn Guncer Sunglass and the surviving sons of Hubard Rambton while Stannis is attacking King's Landing.[17]

After the failed attack at the Blackwater, Stannis retreats to Dragonstone. It is there that Davos hatches a plan to kill Melisandre, believing her to be responsible for the defeat on the Blackwater. Melisandre claims to have learned of this plan through the flames, and has Davos arrested.[17] She also pleads for Stannis to give her Edric Storm, bastard son of the late King Robert I Baratheon, as there is power in king's blood and he can be sacrificed to "wake the stone dragon." Stannis refuses, but she is able to leech some of Edric's blood. Stannis casts the leeches into the flames while stating the names of the "three false kings:" Balon Greyjoy, Robb Stark, and Joffrey Baratheon.[19] In time, Balon falls from Pyke,[20] Robb is killed at the Red Wedding,[21] and Joffrey dies at his royal wedding.[22]

To keep Edric safe from Melisandre after the deaths of Stannis's rivals, Davos enlists some king's men to smuggle the youth from Dragonstone. Davos informs Stannis and Melisandre of the plight of the Night's Watch at the Wall, which is threatened by Mance Rayder's wildlings.[23]

When Stannis's army sails for the Wall, Melisandre sacrifices Lord Alester Florent to her god to gain favorable winds for the voyage north.[24] During the Battle of Castle Black that sees the wildling forces crushed and Mance captured, Melisandre kills with flames the eagle that was once Orell's.[25]

A Feast for Crows

Following the battle of the Blackwater, Melisandre urges Stannis to let her have the infant son of Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall, since she was unable to get Edric. Before she can get Mance's son at Castle Black, however, Jon Snow, the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, secretly switches Mance's child with the son of Gilly, a wildling girl befriended by Samwell Tarly.[26] Thus the wilding prince is safely spirited to Oldtown and out of the reach of Melisandre.[27]

A Dance with Dragons

Melisandre is convinced that Stannis is Azor Ahai. ©Amok

Melisandre remains at the Wall when Stannis marches south to face the Boltons, who are supported by Stannis's nephew and rival, King Tommen I Baratheon.[1] She takes as an attendant the capable Devan Seaworth, wanting to protect Davos's oldest surviving son after the death of four brothers at the Blackwater.[4]

Before Mance Rayder is to be burned as a deserter, Melisandre places a glamor over him, making him appear as the wildling, Rattleshirt. This Lord of Bones is in turn glamored made to look like Mance, and killed in his place. Melisandre also destroys the so-called Horn of Joramun.[28] She eventually reveals "Rattleshirt's" true identity to Jon Snow, and sends Mance to Winterfell as the bard "Abel" to rescue Jon's sister Arya (not knowing that it is actually Jeyne Poole) from Ramsay Bolton in an attempt to win his trust.[4] She also predicts the deaths of three rangers of the Watch. When they are returned by the Weeper to the Wall as eye-less heads atop spears as she predicted,[4] Jon begins to take her visions more seriously, but is still wary of her.

Melisandre's powers are much stronger at the Wall, and she constantly searches her fires for visions. When she looks into the flames, she sees a “wooden face, corpse white” with a thousand red eyes, accompanied by a boy with a wolf's face. She assumes that they are servants of the Great Other. She asks to see Azor Ahai, hoping for Stannis, but sees only Jon Snow surrounded by skulls, his face changing between that of a man and that of a wolf.[4]

When Melisandre sees Jon, she also sees enemies surrounding him, and warns him of daggers in the dark.[29] She also tells him that she sees his sister Arya as a girl in grey on a dying horse, fleeing from her marriage with Ramsay toward Castle Black.[30] She continually tries to warn Jon of these visions, but he refuses to listen. The vision of the girl on the horse comes to pass, but the girl is Alys Karstark, not Arya.[31] Melisandre performs the marriage at Castle Black between Alys and Sigorn, Magnar of the Thenns.[32]

Melisandre tells Lord Snow that the wildlings will next attack at Eastwatch, as she has seen in the flames towers by the sea engulfed in a black and bloody tide. She acknowledges, however, that the towers of her vision did not look like those at Eastwatch.[4] When Jon plans to send men to Hardhome on a rescue mission, she urges him not to,[33] claiming it is a lost cause and that she has seen that none of the ships he sent there will return.[34] After Jon receives a taunting letter, he notices that Melisandre is absent when he asks for volunteers in confronting Ramsay south at Winterfell. The Lord Commander is then stabbed by some of his own men in the mutiny at Castle Black.[34]

Quotes by Melisandre

At the Wall Melisandre warned Jon Snow of daggers in the dark. ©FFG
These little wars are no more than a scuffle of children before what is to come. The one whose name may not be spoken is marshaling his power, Davos Seaworth, a power fell and evil and strong beyond measure. Soon comes the cold, and the night that never ends. Unless true men find the courage to fight it. Men whose hearts are fire.[19]
– Melisandre to Davos Seaworth

When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone.[35]
- Melisandre to Davos Seaworth

We all must choose. Man or woman, young or old, lord or peasant, our choices are the same. We choose light or we choose darkness.[28]
- Melisandre before the execution of "Mance Rayder"

Stannis: Tell your people what you witnessed. Tell them that you saw the true king, and that they are welcome in his realm, so long as they keep his peace. Elsewise, they had best flee or hide. I will brook no further attacks upon my Wall.

Melisandre: One realm, one god, one king![28]

Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre to the free folk

It is not the foes who curse you to your face that you must fear, but those who smile when you are looking and sharpen their knives when you turn your back. You would do well to keep your wolf close beside you. Ice, I see, and daggers in the dark. Blood frozen red and hard, and naked steel. It was very cold.[29]
– Melisandre to Jon Snow

I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R'hllor shows me only Snow.[4]
- Melisandre's thoughts

With Stannis gone, her bed saw little use. She had no time for sleep, with the weight of the world upon her shoulders. And she feared to dream. Sleep is a little death, dreams the whisperings of the Other, who would drag us all into his eternal night. She would sooner sit bathed in the ruddy glow of her red lord's blessed flames, her cheeks flushed by the wash of heat as if by a lover's kisses.[4]
- Melisandre's thoughts

The night is dark and filled with terrors. Alone we are born and alone we die, but as we walk through this black vale we draw strength from one another, and from you, our lord.[32]
- Melisandre during the wedding of Alys Karstark and Sigorn

Quotes about Melisandre

Many called her beautiful. She was not beautiful. She was red, and terrible, and red.[36]
Cressen's thoughts

Melisandre, whose madness must not be allowed to spread beyond Dragonstone.[36]
Cressen's thoughts

I know little and care less of gods, but the red priestess has power.[5]
Stannis Baratheon to Davos Seaworth

Half my knights are afraid even to say her name, did you know? If she can do nothing else, a sorceress who can inspire such dread in grown men is not to be despised. A frightened man is a beaten man. And perhaps she can do more. I mean to find out.[5]
Stannis Baratheon to Davos Seaworth

Jon: You have your gods and she has hers. Leave her be.

Todder: She won't let our gods be. She calls the Seven false gods, m'lord. The old gods too.[29]

Jon Snow and Todder

Lady Melisandre wore no crown, but every man there knew that she was Stannis Baratheon’s real queen.[28]
Jon Snow's thoughts

Melisandre has gone to Stannis entirely on her own, and has her own agenda.[37]
George R. R. Martin

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 17, Jon IV.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  3. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 31, Melisandre I.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 10, Davos I.
  6. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 69, Tyrion IX, p 768.
  7. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 15, Tyrion III.
  8. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 31, Catelyn III.
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 42, Davos II.
  10. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 33, Catelyn IV.
  11. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 44, Tyrion X.
  12. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
  13. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 52, Sansa IV.
  14. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 58, Davos III.
  15. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 62, Sansa VII.
  16. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 10, Davos II.
  18. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
  19. 19.0 19.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
  20. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 45, Catelyn V.
  21. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 51, Catelyn VII.
  22. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
  23. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 63, Davos VI.
  24. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
  25. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 76, Jon XI.
  26. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 16, Jaime II.
  27. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45, Samwell V.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 10, Jon III.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 3, Jon I.
  30. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 28, Jon VI.
  31. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44, Jon IX.
  32. 32.0 32.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 49, Jon X.
  33. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 53, Jon XI.
  34. 34.0 34.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 69, Jon XIII.
  35. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 25, Davos III.
  36. 36.0 36.1 A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  37. So Spake Martin: Interview in Barcelona, July 28, 2012.

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