A red comet appears in the sky over Westeros and Essos in 299 AC. It is believed by various characters and peoples to herald differing events, and thus, different people have given the comet a different name, including the Red Sword, King Joffrey's Comet, the Dragon's Tail, the Red Messenger, Mormont's Torch, the Bleeding Star, and the Harbinger.
- See also: Images of the Red Comet
A Game of Thrones
As Daenerys Targaryen's khalasar waits for nightfall before Khal Drogo's funeral pyre, Jhogo notices the red comet, the first star of the evening. It is said that the more fiercely a man burned in life, the brighter his star. Daenerys uses this as a sign to light the pyre, and dragons hatch from her three dragon eggs.
A Clash of Kings
The comet's name in the Dothraki language is shierak qiya, meaning "Bleeding Star". To Daenerys it is a herald of her coming, a sign meant for her to follow, which she does through the red waste. In one vision within the House of the Undying at Qarth, the Undying Ones claim to have sent the comet to guide Daenerys to them.
In King's Landing the smallfolk call it "King Joffrey's Comet" and servants refer to it as the "Dragon's Tail". Ser Arys Oakheart thinks it honors the new king, Joffrey I Baratheon, and the crimson of House Lannister. Sansa Stark is skeptical, thinking it should be a golden comet for House Baratheon. Varys tells Tyrion Lannister that Kingslanders consider the Red Messenger to be a herald warning of war, and the master of whisperers explains that priests, preachers, and prophets foretell of doom and destruction. Referring to the comet as the "Father's scourge" and the "Harbinger", one of the begging brothers warns that corruption will soon be purified.
Men of Riverrun also call the comet the "Red Messenger". Greatjon Umber thinks it represents vengeance for Ned Stark, while Edmure Tully thinks it represents victory for House Tully. Catelyn Stark worries it represents the Lannisters, while Brynden Tully insists it means blood. Lord Jason Mallister and his son, Patrek, dispute the comet's meaning.
Traveling with Yoren, Arya Stark thinks the comet is both splendid and scary. Gendry names it the "Red Sword", since it looks like a blade still red-hot from the forge. Arya imagines the blood on Ice, Eddard Stark's greatsword, after the execution of her father.
Septon Chayle of Winterfell thinks of the comet as the "sword that slays the season", and shortly afterward a white raven arrives to signal the change of summer to autumn. Luwin thinks the direwolves Shaggydog and Summer howl at the comet because they think it is the moon, while Osha warns Bran Stark that it means "blood and fire". Blind Old Nan says she can smell it, and insists it represents dragons.
A Storm of Swords
Melisandre says "the bleeding star has come and gone", which suggests the comet is no longer visible.
A Feast for Crows
Maester Aemon tells Samwell Tarly that he dreams of seeing "a red star bleeding in the sky". He speaks to Sam about the prophecy of the prince that was promised, who he once believed to be Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, but now believes to be Daenerys. Aemon tells Sam that Rhaegar believed his son Prince Aegon was the promised prince, as a comet was seen above King's Landing on the night he was conceived, and Rhaegar believed the "bleeding star" of the prophecy was a comet. Later, Archmaester Marwyn confirms to Sam that the prophecy states the prince is "born [...] beneath a bleeding star".
A Dance with Dragons
Salladhor Saan, when talking to Davos Seaworth about leaving the cause of Stannis Baratheon and receiving payment for his damaged ships, asks if this compensation will happen "when the red comet comes again", which seems to indicate that the comet is no longer visible in the Westerosi sky.
The first star was a comet, burning red. Bloodred; fire red; the dragon's tail.—Daenerys Targaryen's thoughts
The thing in the sky is a comet, sweet child. A star with a tail, lost in the heavens. It will be gone soon enough, never to be seen again in our lifetimes. Watch and see.
In the streets, they call it the Red Messenger. They say it comes as a herald before a king, to warn of fire and blood to follow.
Catelyn: The Greatjon told Robb that the old gods have unfurled a red flag of vengeance for Ned. Edmure thinks it's an omen of victory for Riverrun—he sees a fish with a long tail, in the Tully colors, red against blue. I wish I had their faith. Crimson is a Lannister color.
Brynden: That thing's not crimson. Nor Tully red, the mud red of the river. That's blood up there, child, smeared across the sky.
Aeron: Every morning brings a new day, much like the old.our people carried of old. It is the flame the Drowned God brought from the sea, and it proclaims a rising tide. It is time to hoist our sails and go forth into the world with fire and sword, as he did.
It is the herald of my coming. The gods have sent it to show me the way.—Daenerys Targaryen's thoughts
Corruption! There is the warning! Behold the Father's scourge! We have become swollen, bloated, foul. Brother couples with sister in the bed of kings, and the fruit of their incest capers in his palace to the piping of a twisted little monkey demon. Highborn ladies fornicate with fools and give birth to monsters! Even the High Septon has forgotten the gods! He bathes in scented waters and grows fat on lark and lamprey while his people starve! Pride comes before prayer, maggots rule our castles, and gold is all ... but no more! The Rotten Summer is at an end, and the Whoremonger King is brought low! When the boar did open him, a great stench rose to heaven and a thousand snakes slid forth from his belly, hissing and biting! There comes the Harbinger! Cleanse yourselves, the gods cry out, lest ye be cleansed! Bathe in the wine of righteousness, or you shall be bathed in fire! Fire!
You are he who must stand against the Other. The one whose coming was prophesied five thousand years ago. The red comet was your herald. You are the prince that was promised, and if you fail the world fails with you.
Behind the Scenes
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 1, Arya I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 2, Sansa I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 3, Tyrion I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 6, Jon I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 20, Tyrion V.
- A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 7, Catelyn I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 66, Bran VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 72, Daenerys X.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 48, Daenerys IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 8, Tyrion II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 4, Bran I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 23, Jon III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 25, Davos III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 54, Davos V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 78, Samwell V.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45, Samwell V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 63, Davos VI.
- So Spake Martin: Eastern Cities and Peoples, June 12, 2002