Melisandre is a red priestess of R’hllor, the Lord of Light. She is also a shadow binder from the city of Asshai, one of the easternmost cities of Essos. Believing Stannis is the legendary Azor Ahai reborn destined to defeat the Great Other, the Lord of Darkness and a great evil, Selyse converts her husband from the Faith of the Seven to R’hllor. When King Robert Baratheon, Stannis’ brother, dies, he claims the Iron Throne but gets resisted by his Joffrey Baratheon and Renly Baratheon. Melisandre then sends a shadow assassin to finish Renly Baratheon. After joining Stannis’s cause, Melisandre begins making sacrifices to R’hllor. She tells Stannis that he is the Azor Ahai.
Melisandre Personal Details
- Name: Melisandre.
- Allegiance: Stannis Baratheon, Faith of R’hllor.
- Culture: Asshai.
- Religion: R’hllor.
- Aliases: The Red Woman, Red Witch, The King’s Red Shadow, Lady Red, Melony.
- Eye Color: Red.
- Hair Color: Reddish-Brown.
Appearance and Personality
Melisandre is a beautiful woman with long copper-colored hair and red eyes. She is tall and slender-framed with a heart-shaped face, a narrow waist, full breasts, and pale unblemished skin. Her voice is deep and soothing, and she speaks the common tongue with a thick Jade Sea accent. She wears the typical clothes of the red priests, a long red fabric. Underneath her crimson cloth is a silk gown that glows like fire. On some occasions, the silk gown is either scarlet or blood-red. Around her neck is a red-golden choker with a ruby that glisters when she uses magic. She never gets cold and emits a certain amount of heat.
Melisandre has the power to see visions through flames. She claims her powers are from R’hllor, and though she trusts her god, she sometimes misinterprets the prophecies she gets. She also acts mysterious by placing smoke powders in her robes to make her magical acts look terrifying. In her chambers, there are always candles that burn at night.
Melisandre was born as a slave called Melony of Lot Seven. At a young age, she got sold to the Red Temple, where she learned High Valyrian, the Common tongue, and the Asshai’i tongue. Though her birth year remains a mystery, it got speculated that she is aged but has not aged because of her magical powers. Believing Dragonstone housed the Azor Ahai, Melisandre traveled to Dragonstone, where she became friends with Selyse Baratheon.
Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire
A Game of Thrones
At the Crossroads Inn, Lord Tywin Lannisters hears a rumor from Lord Varys that Stannis Baratheon is bringing a shadowbinder from Asshai to Dragonstone.
A Clash of Kings
Melisandre converts Selyse Florent to the Faith of R’hllor. The servants at the castle fear her, and she tells Stannis it is his destiny to fulfill the prophecy of Azor Ahai. Determined to end the priestess, Stannis’s maester Cressen poisons a drink and offers it to the priestess. She drinks from the cup and remains unharmed, and when she tells Cressen to drink from the cup, he dies; this makes Ser Davos Seaworth, a strong supporter of Stannis, believe she is immortal and invincible.
On advice from Melisandre, Stannis burns the Faith of the Seven’s statues and creates a new sigil. He then sends a letter throughout Westeros, stating that Joffrey and his siblings are bastards. Petyr Baelish and the small council release information stating Stannis’s daughter Shireen got fathered by the clown Patchface and that he has abandoned the Faith of the Seven.
Renly Baratheon declares himself King with the Tyrells’ support, and after Stannis besieged Storm’s End, Melisandre advises him to meet his brother. She later sends a shadow assassin that kills Renly. After his brother’s death, Stannis begins getting nightmares that can only get soothed by the red priestess. She and Ser Davos Seaworth travel beneath Storm’s End, where she births another assassin to kill Ser Cortnay Penrose, the castellan of Storm’s End. With Cortnay dead, Stannis takes his ancestral home.
With Storm’s End his, Stannis sails to King’s Landing to capture the city. He gets convinced by Lord Bryce Caron to send Melisandre to Dragonstone, and he follows the Lord’s advice. Without Melisandre, he gets defeated at the Battle of the Blackwater.
A Storm of Swords
After Stannis’s defeat at Blackwater Bay, he returns to Dragonstone. He refuses to see anyone but Melisandre. When Ser Davos gets found on an island, he swears to kill the red priestess. However, she foresees his actions and arrests him when he reaches Dragonstone. She visits him in the dungeons and tells him he will be crucial due to his loyalty to Stannis. She reveals she cannot make another shadow assassin with Stannis as it will kill him. She states her plans to use Edric Storm, King Robert’s bastard son, as a sacrifice instead.
Though Stannis refuses to kill his brother’s son, he throws leeches with his blood into the flames and says Balon Greyjoy, Robb Stark, and Joffrey Baratheon’s names. Eventually, all three Kings get killed, and Davos realizes Stannis will sacrifice Edric. He sends the boy away and gets arrested for his act. He then reads a letter from Maester Aemon of the Night’s Watch asking for assistance.
On reaching the Wall, Melisandre burns Orell’s Eagle, making Varamyr Sixskins go mad during the battle at Castle Black. She brings Jon Snow to Stannis, who offers to make him a Stark. However, Jon refuses the offer and becomes the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. At a meeting, Melisandre tells Aemon that Stannis is the Prince Promised after he asks about the war for the Dawn.
A Feast for Crows
Melisandre plans to awaken a dragon with Mance Rayder’s blood. Fearing she will use Aemon and Mance’s child, Jon sends Samwell Tarly, Gilly, and the maester to Oldtown. On the road to the Citadel, Aemon tells Sam that the red priestess misinterpreted the prophecy of the Prince Promised. He then revealed it was Daenerys Targaryen.
A Dance with Dragons
Melisandre meets Jon and tells him to watch his back. She casts a spell over Stannis to prevent him from realizing she burnt Rattleshirt instead of Mancer Rayder. She remains at Castle Black while Stannis marches on. Her powers get stronger at the Wall, and she sees visions of Bran Stark but dismisses them thinking they are of the Great Other.
When Jon receives a message about the wedding between Arya Stark and Ramsay Bolton, Melisandre tells him she saw his sister in his flames and sends Mance Rayder to Winterfell. Later, Alys Karstark arrives at Castle Black instead of Arya; this makes Melisandre believe she misinterpreted the vision. A Mutiny occurs at Castle Black, and Jon gets stabbed.
Relevance in Adaptations
In HBO’s Game of Thrones, actress Carice Van Houten portrayed Melisandre. She appeared in seasons 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 and starred in 29 episodes. Melisandre was crucial to Jon’s rise to power. After he died, she resurrected him back to life. Melisandre later fought in the battle of Winterfell against the Night King. During the fight, Arya reminisces on what the red priestess told her about how she will shut many brown eyes, green eyes, and blue eyes. On remembering the part about the blue eyes, Arya gets inspired and later kills the Night King.
Melisandre: The Great Priestess
Melisandre traveled from a far land to Westeros to find a prophecy about the Long Night and legendary hero Azor Ahai. However, when she arrived, she misinterpreted the prediction and backed Stannis Baratheon, thinking he was the chosen one. Soon, she realized she had made a mistake in who she thought was the reborn hero. Though she was a powerful priestess, her error showed that the world of A Song of Ice and Fire is a dynamic universe where a single mistake could lead to massive dire consequences.
How old is Melisandre?
In the books, Melisandre’s age is unknown. She came from the far eastern city of Asshai and only propagated the word of R’hllor. Because of how mysterious she is, many fans speculate she is about a century old.
How powerful is Melisandre?
As magic is almost extinct in A Song of Ice and Fire, Melisandre is among the strongest magicians. With the power of R’hllor, she can see the future and present, she is resistant to poisons, she can cast glamor spells, and she can birth shadow assassins.
Did Melisandre die in the books?
Melisandre is alive and well in A Song of Ice and Fire. She follows Stannis Baratheon to the Wall. When she meets Jon Snow, she warns him of the dangers of those close to him and tells him of her visions about Arya. She saves Mance Rayder’s life and sends him to rescue Jon’s little sister.
Are Melisandre’s visions wrong?
Though she sees accurate visions, Melisandre sometimes misinterprets them. When she saw a young girl heading to Castle Black, she interpreted it as Arya coming to meet her brother. However, the girl turned out to be Alys Karstark.