- "Death is coming for everyone and everything ... a darkness that will swallow the dawn."
Melisandre, often called Melisandre of Asshai, is a major character in the second and third seasons. She is played by starring cast member Carice van Houten and debuts in "The North Remembers." She is an eastern priestess and a close advisor of Stannis Baratheon.
Melisandre is a Red Priestess of the Lord of Light, a deity little-worshiped in Westeros. Hailing from Asshai, a county located in the far east of the continent of Essos, she claims to wield powerful magical abilities, particularly the power of prophecy. Some years ago she crossed the Narrow Sea and came to the court of Stannis Baratheon on the island stronghold of Dragonstone, to preach her faith. Stannis and the majority of his household have now converted to her religion, and she has become a close adviser to Stannis himself.
On a beach in the island of Dragonstone, Melisandre conducts a ceremony for her god, the Lord of Light. Behind her, statues of the Seven, widely worshiped in Westeros, are burning as offerings. She intones “The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors” and the crowd of onlookers repeat her words. Melisandre predicts that a heavy darkness will fall on the world in the wake of the long summer, that stars will bleed while the cold breath of winter will freeze the seas and says that the dead will rise in the north. Maester Cressen steps in front of her and interrupts the ceremony, reminding the crowd that they were "named in the light of the Seven". Melisandre dismisses Cressen as old and fearful and challenges him to stop her. Cressen hangs his head and walks away. She continues her preaching with the story of the burning sword Lightbringer. She calls Stannis forward and he withdraws a flaming sword from the statue of the Mother with a gloved hand. His men cheer him as he holds the sword aloft and then kneel as he thrusts the sword into the sand. They chant “Lord cast your light upon us.” Davos is the last to kneel as Melisandre responds “The Night is Dark and Full of Terrors.” Stannis answers “The Night is Dark and Full of Terror.” He holds out his hand to his wife Selyse Baratheon who joins him and they lead the congregation from the beach.
Inside the castle of Dragonstone, Stannis holds a meeting in the Chamber of the Painted Table. Matthos Seaworth reads aloud from a letter that he has prepared stating Stannis' claim to the Iron Throne. Stannis objects to the use of “beloved brother” to refer to Robert Baratheon, Davos calls it a harmless courtesy but Stannis insists that it is a lie and that it be removed from the letter. Matthos continues to detail the illegitimacy of Joffrey Baratheon as product of incest between Cersei Lannister and Jaime Lannister. Stannis insists that Jaime be called the Kingslayer and that he receive his title as a knight. Matthos finishes. He orders copies of the letter to be sent to every corner of the realm from the Arbor to the Wall.
Davos counsels that House Lannister is the true enemy and urges Stannis to make peace with his younger brother Renly Baratheon. Stannis says that he will not make peace with Renly while he is claiming the throne. Davos notes that many lords have already declared for Renly including Mace Tyrell and Randyll Tarly. Melisandre interjects that Stannis does not need to beg lords for support because the Lord of Light stands behind him. Davos asks how many ships the Lord of Light can command and Melisandre says that he has no need for ships. Davos accepts that he does not but says that they do if they are going to war. Davos asks Stannis to consider Robb Stark instead of Renly. Stannis counters that Robb is trying to steal the northern half of his kingdom and reminds Davos that he had always been firm with thieves. He says that Joffrey, Renly and Robb are all thieves and that they must bend the knee to him or be destroyed. Cressen stands and offers an apology for his actions on the beach before inviting Melisandre to share his wine. He draws from the cup before handing it to Melisandre. Cressen steadies himself on the table and his nose begins to bleed; he had poisoned the drink. Melisandre drinks from the cup anyway and then watches the Maester collapse, his blood spreading on the stone floor beneath him. She says that the fire burns the terrors of the night away and the jewel in her choker pulsates with light.
Stannis and Melisandre arrive to the Chamber of the Painted Table, finding Davos and Matthos already there. Davos reports his success recruiting Salladhor Saan and his pirate fleet. Stannis is doubtful of their capability but ultimately relents to Davos' arguments and promises that Salladhor will have his share if he gets the job done and dismisses the men. As they leave Melisandre stops Matthos and whispers in his ear.
Stannis asks Melisandre what she said to Matthos. She reveals that she told him that “death by fire is the purest death.” Stannis questions her intent and she says only that it is true. She asks if Stannis is troubled and he says that he is. She claims that armies are toys to the Lord of Light. Stannis suggests that she tell her god to burn them. She says that she can tell him nothing but prays for, and obeys, his commands. Stannis reports that Renly has 100,000 men whose allegiance should be his. Melisandre urges him to have faith. He tells her that in a real war the side with the greater number wins and that he cannot take King's Landing without Renly's men and cannot defeat Renly in the field. She claims to have seen the path to victory in the flames. He reminds her that he has said her words and burnt the idols of the Seven already. She circles behind him and undoes her robe. She tells him that he must give all of himself. He reminds her of his marriage vow. She says that Selyse is sickly, weak and shut away in a tower and that she disgusts Stannis. She says that Selyse has given Stannis no sons, only stillborns and death. She promises him a son. He repeats the promise as she kisses his ear. He returns her kisses and lifts her onto the table, scattering the models onto the floor.
Stannis, accompanied by Melisandre, Davos and several guards, meets Renly on the coast of the Stormlands to parley. Renly brings Catelyn Stark, Brienne and Loras Tyrell along with his own guards. Renly feigns confusion over his banner and wonders why Stannis’ version of the stag is aflame. Melisandre explains that Stannis has taken the fiery heart of the Lord of Light for his sigil. Renly says that she must be the fire priestess he has heard so much about and jokes that he now knows why Stannis found religion late in life. Stannis warns his brother to watch his tongue. Renly says that he is relieved that Stannis is not really a fanatic and calls him charmless, rigid, and a bore but not godly. Melisandre admonishes Renly to kneel before the Lord’s chosen and says that Stannis was born amidst salt and smoke. Renly jokes that she makes Stannis sound like a ham. Stannis again warns his brother. Catelyn admonishes the brothers as the discussion continues, with Renly reminding Stannis no-one supports his claim. Stannis, for the sake of their mother, gives Renly the night to reconsider and offers to restore him to his seat on the council and name him his heir until he has a son if he strikes his banners before dawn. He says that otherwise he will destroy Renly. Renly reminds Stannis of his numerous supporters and says that they will make him king. Stannis wheels his horse and rides away as Melisandre warns Renly to look to his sins because "The night is dark and full of terrors."
Stannis summons Davos to his flagship, the Fury. After a brief conversation Stannis orders Davos to smuggle Melisandre ashore and says that it must be done in secret and that they will not speak of it afterwards. Davos asks Stannis to consider cleaner alternatives but Stannis insists that cleaner ways do not win wars.
Davos rows Melisandre into a cove below the cliffs of the coast. She asks him if he is afraid, calling him Onion Knight, and he retorts that he has been told that the night is dark and full of terrors. She says that he has carried more unpleasant cargo in his time. She asks if he is a good man and he says that he is a mixture of good and bad. She counters that half an onion is black with rot then it is a rotten onion and asserts that good and evil are absolutes. Davos asks which she is and she says that she is good. She says that she is a champion of light and life.
They beach their rowboat and Melisandre asks Davos if he loves his wife and he says that he does. She asks him about other women and he asks her not to talk about his wife. She says that she is speaking of other women like herself and asserts that he wants her. She tells him that he wants to see what is beneath her robe and that he will.
They enter a cave in the cliff. Davos says that it is strange that her Lord of Light asks her to work in the shadows. She counters that shadows cannot live in the dark and are servants of the light. He finds their way barred and says that the bars are new. Melisandre says that their passage cannot be barred and opens her robe. She appears heavily pregnant and Davos calls on the seven gods for protection. Melisandre tells him that there is only one god and that he only protects those who serve him. Davos’s lanterns glows with increasing intensity startling him. He backs along the wall of the cave as Melisandre lies down on her robe. She begins to moan and something shifts under the skin of her belly. Her choker glows red as she throws her head back. Her moans and gasps intensify as Davos looks on. Shadowy hands grip her legs and a dark figure pulls itself free of her womb. The shadow stands before her for an instant before passing between the bars.
The shadow assassinates Renly and Stannis takes control of the majority of his army. Catelyn Stark and Brienne of Tarth are in the tent with Renly when he is killed. Catelyn is not sure what she saw, but Brienne is sure it was Stannis. Stannis sails on King's Landing with his new forces but Davos convinces him to leave Melisandre behind lest she be credited for his victory.
Stannis suffers a crushing defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater but manages to retreat. He returns to Dragonstone and confronts Melisandre about the validity of her predictions. He begins to strangle her in fury but relents when she reminds him of the spell they used to kill Renly. He expresses regret at murdering his brother. Melisandre warns him that he will commit worse betrayals before their long war is over but insists that he must fight on. She shows him a vision in flames that awes him and restores his faith in her.
Following Stannis' defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater, the King becomes isolated and withdrawn, and allows no one but Melisandre to see him. Melisandre begins to conduct human sacrifices, ordering any of Stannis' remaining followers who spoke out against her or their dwindling cause to be burned alive as offerings to the Lord of Light.
She leaves Dragonstone for the Riverlands, despite Stannis wanting her to stay and be with him. She insists there is something they must find. When she arrives, she meets Thoros of Myr of the Brotherhood Without Banners, who have Arya Stark and Gendry.
|Season two appearances|
|The North Remembers||The Night Lands||What is Dead May Never Die||Garden of Bones||The Ghost of Harrenhal|
|The Old Gods and the New||A Man Without Honor||The Prince of Winterfell||Blackwater||Valar Morghulis|
|Season three appearances|
|Valar Dohaeris||Dark Wings, Dark Words||Walk of Punishment||And Now His Watch is Ended||Kissed by Fire|
|The Climb||The Bear and the Maiden Fair||Second Sons||The Rains of Castamere||Mhysa|
- "Death by fire is the purest death"
- "Look to your sins Lord Renly, the night is dark and full of terrors."
- ―Melisandre to Renly Baratheon
- "You've chosen the darkness Ser Davos, I'll pray for you..."
- ―Melisandre to Davos Seaworth
Behind the scenes
- Carice van Houten was previously asked to audition for a different role when Season 1 was shot, but schedule conflicts prevented her from auditioning. She was asked to come back to audition during shooting of Season 2, and was cast as Melisandre. 
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Melisandre is a priestess of the red god, R'hllor, the Lord of Light, whose worship involves the idolization of fire and light. R'hllor is a popular deity in several of the Free Cities (particularly Lys, Myr, and Volantis) but is almost unheard of in Westeros.
Very little has been revealed about Melisandre's earlier life, other than that she is originally from the city of Asshai in the distant east. Melisandre recalls that as a small child, she was a slave named "Melony". She was sold at a young age to the temple of the Lord of Light in Asshai, eventually rising to become a priestess, and thus has spent most of her life in the service of the religion.
In A Clash of Kings, Melisandre "gives birth" to two shadows, the second being the one that Davos bears witness to. He ferries Melisandre into the caves beneath Storm's End because the castle is an ancient stronghold, and guarded against magic. To accomplish this he employs the same route, and "smuggler's tricks" he used when smuggling onions and dried fish into the castle during the Siege of Storm's End in Robert's Rebellion.
- Melisandre at A Wiki of Ice and Fire (MAJOR spoilers from the books)
|Lord:||King Stannis Baratheon||Heir:||Princess Shireen Baratheon|
|Seat:||Dragonstone||Lands:||Blackwater Bay and the Stormlands|
|Title(s):||Lord of Dragonstone|
|Current members:||Queen Selyse Florent|
|Household:||Maester Cressen · Lady Melisandre · Ser Davos Seaworth · Ser Imry Florent · Matthos Seaworth · Bert|
- ↑ HBO viewers guide, season 2 guide to houses, House Baratheon of Dragonstone - Melisandre entry
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 "The North Remembers"
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "The Night Lands"
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Garden of Bones"
- ↑ "The Ghost of Harrenhal"
- ↑ "Blackwater"
- ↑ "Valar Morghulis"
- ↑ "Valar Dohaeris"
- ↑ "The Climb"
- ↑ ""