- "Shadows cannot live in the dark, Ser Davos. They are servants of Light."
A shadow is a type of magical creature. Servants of the Lord of Light employ them to undertake dangerous missions on their behalf.
Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon had sex, with Melisandre promising to give Stannis 'a son.' After the failed parley between Stannis and Renly, Melisandre is revealed to be pregnant. She gives 'birth' to a shadow in a cave close to Renly's encampment while Ser Davos Seaworth watches in horror. The creature infiltrates Renly's camp and kills him in front of Catelyn Stark and Brienne. Renly's bodyguards blame Brienne for the murder of the king.
Davos is so disturbed by the appearance of the shadow creature that he convinces Stannis not to bring Melisandre along when their fleet and army attack King's Landing, in case the victory is credited to her powers rather than Stannis.
Stannis asks Melisandre to make him another "son" to slay Joffrey as well as Robb Stark. However, she refuses him, explaining that creating a shadow-creature drains some of a man's life energy, and she fears that if Stannis attempts to create another with her it will kill him. Instead, she has Gendry brought to Dragonstone, since he also has king's blood, being the son of Robert Baratheon.
As their name implies, Shadows are literally dark, demonic beings. Physical darkness constantly radiates off of them. They age rapidly, going from infancy to adulthood in a matter of seconds. Once fully grown, they have the ability to phase through prison bars (according to Melisandre), turn invisible, and summon weapons.
Shadows live very short lives, created only for the tasks they were given. Although they can become invisible, a mirror will compromise the creature's location. It is implied by Brienne that Shadows inherit the physical features of the men who fathered them, as the Shadow that killed Renly Baratheon bore a striking resemblance to its "father," Stannis.
Behind the scenesEdit
Fans colloquially call the creatures "shadow babies" due to the nature of their creation.
In the booksEdit
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Melisandre actually conjures forth two shadows on separate occasions to kill Stannis' foes - Renly and Ser Cortnay Penrose. She needs to use Stannis' own life-essence to fuel the entities, but this hugely drains him, thus she doesn't produce any more shadows. Davos notices that Stannis looks ten years older than before the Battle of the Blackwater. Use of the creatures is thus limited in case their creation taxes the creator to the point of death. Melisandre offers Davos to use his life-essence to produce a shadow, but he refuses. It is unknown whether Melisandre made similar offers to any other men.