Melisandre: Hot or Not?

Posted: December 26, 2013 by patricksponaugle in Game of Thrones, Opinion, TV
Tags: , , ,

Well, obviously she’s attractive, that’s not my point.


This post discusses elements from the first three seasons of HBO’s Game of Thrones. There will not be any spoilers regarding future plot points from the books. If you are up to date on the show, this post should not be considered dark and full of terrors.

Game of Thrones can loosely be described as a realistic fantasy (moreso in the beginning admittedly), there are fantasy elements but they are usually more behind the scenes. The average person of Westeros might hold superstitious beliefs while never seeing anything supernatural.

There are notable exceptions, north of the Wall roam the restless murderous dead and their frozen commanders, the White Walkers. Across the sea are warlocks and dragons. But close to home, things seem pretty mundane. Except at the Baratheon fortress of Dragonstone.

Serving Stannis Baratheon, the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne, is the mysterious and magical Melisandre of Asshai. Certainly she possesses power, but how much? I thought I’d fire off a post on what she can do, what she might be able to do, and what’s probably just smoke.

Magic of the Red God

Of the four religions presented in Game of Thrones, R’hllor, Melisandre’s deity of choice, seems to nearly have a monopoly on overt power. Besides Melisandre’s various powers (to be discussed), Thoros of Myr certainly did something special when he unexpectedly resurrected Beric Dondarrion. And then resurrected him again and again. The Drowned God just seems to be all wet, and the Seven Gods have certainly inspired the building of septs, but aren’t that adept at keeping High Septons from being torn apart by hungry crowds.

The Old Gods may or may not be behind the northern mystical events of direwolf-controlling and three-eyed crow dreams. So I can’t count them out just yet. But something’s happening with the followers of the Red God.

But lets see what she’s done, and try to be skeptical. Shall we? We shall? Bully!

Prophecy and Profits

Melisandre is big on “I saw this in the flames” or “I saw that in the flames” but that seems a bit Sylvia Browne to me. The prediction business is pretty safe when there’s not much attention paid to misses and lucky hits can be blown out of proportion.


The Flames Tell Me You’re Going To Go On A Journey. Or Possibly Enjoy a Stay-cation.

For example, Melisandre mentions to Mathos, Davos’ son that “a death by fire is the purest death.” After the Battle of Blackwater where Mathos (and thousands) died burning, Davos brings up those words and Melisandre gloats and gloats.

That seems pretty significant on Melisandre’s part, and it very well might be that Melisandre saw Mathos’ upcoming demise in flame. But, for all we know, Melisandre just drops fire-fortune-cookie pithy sayings all the time.

Dude: Morning, Miss Melisandre. Here’s your breakfast.
Melisandre: Thank you! The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long!

Dude: My lady, his grace requests your presence in the map room, and to not wear anything complicated.
Melisandre: Yes, yes. And remember, only you can prevent forest fires.

So, I’m not willing to give Melisandre much credit on prophecy, until we start getting some solid predictions. Preferably about Book Six and Book Seven A Song of Ice and Fire. That’s the prediction gold standard, yo.

Hard Drinking Lady

At the beginning of Season Two, Melisandre had convinced Stannis Baratheon to renounce the traditional Seven Gods of Westeros in favor of the red god, R’hllor. The maester who served Stannis decided that this was a dangerous path for the future king of Westeros, and stoically shared a cup of poison with Melisandre. He died and she didn’t break a sweat.


Aren’t You a Little Old to be Trying to Get Me Drunk? Nevermind, That’s Probably Your Go-To Move, Maester Cressen.

Now, I’ve seen The Princess Bride, so surviving poison isn’t always that mysterious. Had she been taking minute amounts of poison for years to develop an immunity? Did she routinely take antidotes? Or is there something magical about her the kept her safe from poison?

Without any other evidence, I’ll say magical. (Her throat amulet was also pulsing at the time of her survival and Cressen’s death, so that kind of reinforces magic.)

Still, surviving poison doesn’t seem to be that shocking or impressive a power.

Blood Magic, Slug Magic

In Season Three, Melisandre puts off Stannis’ suggestion that they get busy and work on more shadowy assassins. Instead, Melisandre heads off on a vision quest and comes back with one of Robert Baratheon’s bastard sons. (Whoa, I might have to give Melisandre’s prophecy powers more points. Her visions led her to Gendry. Okay I’ll say she’s got a magical GPS. Or a really impressive spy network.)


Bastard Locating Achievement Unlocked!

Melisandre’s position is that Gendry has king’s blood in his veins, and his blood can be used for some tremendous spell. Stannis opts not to go all in on that plan. A test is made, where slugs filled with Gendry’s blood are ritually destroyed and the three remaining usurpers, Joffrey, Balon, and Robb Stark are named.


Penis-Blood Slug Curse Ritual Achievement Unlocked!

Soon after, Robb Stark dies at the Red Wedding, and Melisandre is quick to take credit.

Now, I’m not saying that Melisandre’s magic couldn’t have been involved. But I’m pretty sure Robb was killed by mundane treachery. There were no skulking shadows, or flying daggers, or goblins. Or fire, really.

I give Melisandre no credit.

Bouncing Baby Bogeyman

Much more impressive is the magical assassin that killed Renly, birthed in a cave by a super pregnant Melisandre. Okay, I know that being pregnant is a binary deal. You are either pregnant or you are not. No one is more or less pregnant, slightly pregnant, or very pregnant.

But Melisandre has sex with Stannis on the map table and two weeks later, goes from being svelte and slim on one day and great with child the next. And she gives birth to a smoky, shadowy murderous thing.

That’s super-pregnant. That’s supernaturally pregnant.


Ewww. No Comment.

I can’t adequately explain the shadow assassin rationally. We know from the Warlocks in Qarth that there is a precedent for illusion, so I can imagine Davos being fooled into believing Melisandre was pregnant and birthing a demon. That’d be a pretty serious prank on her part.

But for Renly to be killed by an illusion? I can’t explain that.

Totally magical. And impressive.

In Summary

Melisandre is the real deal when it comes to birthing magical assassins. Although on the show she’s only done it once. It might not be that easily reproducible. (See what I did there. Reproduce? I apologize) no matter how much Stannis would offer to try.

But other than birthing bane-babies, her magical ability to find bastards, and her resistance to poison, she doesn’t seem super magical.


I See a Particular Blog-Writer in the Flames. Like, Literally! Not a Metaphor!

But that’s a good thing. Not just because she’s a bad influence on Stannis, but from a story-telling point of view, I’d rather there be some questions about her abilities. I’m cool either way if her prophetic powers are the real deal, or if we’ve only seen her successes.

And time for a poll:

Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones, obviously.

I make no claim to the artwork, but some claims to the text here, so there.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2013 Some Rights Reserved

  1. longklaw says:

    Hot and not at the same time.


  2. prontron says:

    Hot ! ahha. she has stannis wrapped around her little finger. I still want to know more about her powers and what killed renly.


  3. You’ve got good points. She’s totally lying about the prophesy, but she’s definitely very magical. I’d like to see where the whole thing goes – and I particularly love (if that’s the right word) that the god of light seems to be the most evil of all. It’s all very light on magic so far really, though getting more so all the time. I can’t wait to see more dire wolf action, magic, dragons, etc.


  4. Chris Richardson says:

    This book series has another name doesn’t it? A Song of Ice and Some-such? I’ve been assuming the point of the series is we are inclined to miss the big picture with petty bullshit. The red witch strikes me as being the herald for 1/2 of the clash to come. Is that a good thing remains to be seen.

    I stopped reading after book three. Going to join the spoiler-free masses after next season and can’t wait.


    • Yeah, we book readers think we know the Ice, and think we know the Fire, but it’s anyone’s guess really until GRRM finishes it up.

      Cool that you’ve chosen to watch the show without book knowledge. I’ve read the books, so my experience is different than my buddy who plans on reading all of the books after the series finale years from now.

      Enjoy! And thanks for the comments.


  5. This was just what I needed – really appreciating the humor (Finding bastards achievement….LOL yes I have played a few RPGs). Keep it up this is great stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ikorus says:

    Yes, Robb Stark was killed by mundane treachery. Of the stabbing kind. Perhaps the same could be said of Jeoffrey, may the little blighter rot (I suspect Old Lady Tyrell in the books. I beleive she blatantly admits to it in the show but could be misremembering.)

    so 2/3 magical slug deaths are a bust, unless the slug magic was able to manipulate circumstance and inflame desires. The latter of which maybe I buy, because fire god, but the former seems rather subtle compared to the other crap she and Chuck of Norris the Reviver have pulled.

    But you’re forgetting something. Something not at all subtle, in fact super flashy and impressive. Y’know, exactly the Red Witch’s speed. Balon Greyjoy. On a walkway between towers in his castle for some reason or other, gets slammed with a sudden and super-intense windstorm that rips the entire walkway apart and tosses his broken body to sea for the Drowned God to spit up in the morning. Seems magic to me.

    So it seems to me that, proven by the shadowbaby and the relative duds of at least 2/3 slugs, shes very definitely magical, but not as powerful or consistent as or friend with the flaming sword. Reproducability of results is low, but results can indeed be gotten.


    • Hey, thanks for the commenting! And I’m super-pleased that you’re using Chuck Norris as a reference to my man Thoros, right on!

      In regards to death #3, I won’t comment on that here, since it’s book-related and so far the show has been out of sync in that regards. But I’m not sure in the books if we can lay that in Melisandre’s lap. Our only insight into that event (other than the reports of a storm) are the visions that Arya hears about from the old woman of Horn Hill (or wherever that took place.)

      Hey, if you want to have more in-depth chats on it, we can do so in the comments section of my spoilers page: , I’d be happy to go more in depth.

      Regardless, I really appreciate the feedback, thanks again!


  7. Rob O'Neil says:

    Melisandre sounds like she speaks truth, is spiritual and has power from the “Lord of Light” to back this up. However, she has a real witchy vibe and she seduces men sexually to get what she wants or at least further her agenda. If what she wants is an ultimate good, then I guess I could see the “Lord of Light” blessing her “work”. But if she is just trying to ultimately rise to power, then that is selfish and abhorrent in the Lord’s sight. If the latter is the case, then Melisandre is a false prophet and a witch and is not an honorable or noble women. (Also, could someone give a clear answer on what the hell those black spirits were that she birthed instead of a normal human child?)… Thank you, Rob

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the feedback, especially because this post is pretty old. I’m pleased that people are still reading it.

      I think Melisandre is typically portrayed as doing everything in service to R’hllor, even if she gets mixed results from her misinterpreting visions.

      I don’t know if anyone can give a clear answer on Melisandre’s magic; by having sex with Stannis, she turned his libido into a shadowy assassin who killed Stannis’ enemy Renly.


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