Melisandre of Asshai, often referred to as The Red Woman. She is a priestess of the Lord of Light and a close advisor of Stannis Baratheon.
Originally born a slave in Essos, Melisandre is a Red Priestess of the Lord of Light, a deity that is not widely worshiped in Westeros. Hailing from Asshai, a country 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 Lord 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 and Cersei's other children as products of incest between Cersei Lannister and Jaime Lannister. Stannis insists that Jaime be called the Kingslayer but also that Jaime's title as a knight be acknowledged. 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. She at first demands to know what happened to Thoros's mission to convert Robert Baratheon. After bluntly telling her he failed, Thoros asks that she be more open about her needs and that she refrain from speaking High Valyrian. Thoros shows her Beric Dondarrion and explains his many resurrections. Melisandre is astonished, noting that even if it were possible, Thoros shouldn't have that kind of power. Thoros chastises her and reminds her he is but an instrument of the Lord of Light. He and Beric then agree to give Gendry over to her in exchange for two heavy bags of gold. As she is about to leave with her prize, Melisandre is accosted by Arya Stark. She brushes off Arya's insults and looks into the girls' eyes, seeing many others- eyes that Arya will one day shut forever. The Red Priestess asserts that they will meet again one day.
As Melisandre's ship quietly traverses Blackwater Bay, she finally reveals the truth of Gendry's heritage to him by pointing out toward the Red Keep and identifying it as his father's house. Upon arriving at Dragonstone, Melisandre discussed him with Stannis. He is confused at Melisandre's kind treatment towards someone she intends to sacrifice, but the Red Priestess compares the situation to sacrificing a lamb: the creatures are unwieldly to deal with when nervous, but are easy to sacrifice when calm. She puts Gendry up in a lavish chamber and seduces him. She quickly turns the tables, tying him to the bed and proceeding to leech his blood for a ritual.
After Davos Seaworth frees Gendry and faces Stannis's wrath, he tries to save his skin by producing a letter to the Night's Watch. Melisandre burns the letter and confirms the truth of the message: the War of the Five Kings is but a distraction from the true conflict, as darkness marches on the Wall. Melisandre also confirms that Davos must not be killed, as R'hllor has decreed the Onion Knight's importance to the forces of light in the coming conflict.
Melisandre presides over the burning of several of Stannis's bannermen who have refused to cease their open worship of The Seven, Queen Selyse's own brother among them. Melisandre later dines with Stannis and Selyse. She makes smalltalk when discussing the Lord of Light, but keeps her silence when they begin arguing about Princess Shireen, who has angered Selyse by not converting. Stannis forbids Selyse from laying a hand on Shireen. Selyse suggests sending Melisandre to talk to Shireen instead, a task the red priestess looks decidedly unenthusiastic about. Nonetheless, Melisandre visits Shireen later that night. She dismisses The Seven-Pointed Star as "lies and fables" and tells Shireen that there are only two gods, R'hllor and the Great Other, and only one hell, the one they live in now.
Months later, Queen Selyse speaks to Melisandre, who is enjoying a bath. She quips that the Lord of Light told her to enjoy it as it was the last time she would have a good bath, but the joke goes over Selyse's head. Cementing her position as Melisandre's most devoted follower, the Red Priestess tells Selyse about her use of potions and illusions in serving the Lord of Light, the idea being that a bit of pageantry and deception in helping converts see the truth will be forgiven later on. Selyse asks her if she used the potions when she slept with Stannis, to which she replies that she did not. Selyse then remarks on her desire to leave their daughter Shireen behind when they go to the North but Melisandre is as dismissive about Shireen's "heresy" as she always is, and assures Selyse that Shireen will be needed where they are going.
Melisandre accompanies Stannis to the North in his defense of the Night's Watch against the wildlings. At the Watch's funeral for their fallen brothers, she exchanges telling looks with Jon Snow.
Stannis Baratheon sends for Jon Snow through Melisandre, and on the way from Castle Black to the top of the Wall, she shows him how she is never cold by allowing him to touch her cheek. She also asks if Jon is a virgin. Jon replies that he is not and Melisandre replies that is a good thing. Later, she oversees the burning of Mance Rayder, personally lighting the pyre and denouncing him as a King of Lies, while proclaiming Stannis the only true king.
Melisandre intervenes in an argument between Selyse and Stannis over Shireen; this time, Melisandre quite firmly comes down on Stannis's side, and says that the Lord of Light doesn't care about Shireen's disfigurement, for Stannis's blood runs through her veins. After Selyse leaves, Melisandre inquires as to whether she will be left behind when Stannis marches on Winterfell; Stannis confirms that this time, she will come with him. Satisfied, Melisandre visits Jon Snow, offering a surprisingly mundane reason for him to join the battle: his familiarity with Winterfell's layout will provide a tactical advantage. Melisandre then proceeds to try and seduce Jon, undoing her dress and straddling him at his desk. She urges him to take her, as the Lord of Light made humans male and female for a reason, and to prove that he is on the side of life and not death. Jon resists, citing his vows, and the fact that Stannis wouldn't approve. Melisandre retorts that they shouldn't tell Stannis, and that he already broke his vows to lie with a woman- a woman who is now dead and needn't hold Jon's heart. Jon admits that his feelings for Ygritte are still real even though she's gone. Melisandre does up her dress and departs, declaring "you know nothing, Jon Snow.
Melisandre departs Castle Black along with the rest of Stannis's army, riding next to him.During the march, the weather turns for the worse and a snow storm delays his army. Melisandre speaks alone with Stannis and reminds him that they may need to sacrifice more King's blood in order to better their chances of winning the upcoming battle in the snow which they both saw in the flames, citing the deaths of Robb Stark and Joffrey as examples. When Stannis says that they have no chance of locating Gendry, Melisandre suggests that they sacrifice Shireen. Stannis is visibly shocked and disgusted by the suggestion, asking her if she has lost her mind. She tries to convince him by saying that Stannis must be the undisputed king when the Long Night comes, but he rebuffs her and orders her to leave his presence.
However, after an attack by Ramsay Bolton, leaving Stannis' men and food supply diminished, Stannis reluctantly allows Melisandre to sacrifice Shireen, as with several other victims. Melisandre is the one who offers the prayer to the Lord of Light, and despite Shireen's screams for help from her parents, Melisandre lights the pyre without remorse, killing Shireen.
The next day, the temperature climbs and the snow melts rapidly, enough that the army can march at last. Melisandre tells Stannis that the Lord was true to his word and soon, Stannis will take Winterfell. Stannis gruffly pulls away from Melisandre's attempt to embrace him. When a soldier reports to Stannis that half of his army has deserted in the night, Melisandre's composure begins to waver. Immediately thereafter, another soldier reports the discovery of Selyse Baratheon's body. Her faith all but shattered (and probably fearing Stannis's wrath), Melisandre abandons Stannis, steals a horse and flees back to Castle Black. As she arrives, Ser Davos and Lord Commander Snow intercept her, Snow asking after Stannis, Davos after Shireen. Even Davos is shocked by the blank, empty stare she gives in return and lets her walk away.
After Ser Davos brings the corpse of Jon Snow into a room, Melisandre is called. She tells the few men loyal to Jon that she saw Jon fighting in Winterfell in the flames. Later that evening in her chambers at Castle Black Melisandre undresses for the evening. Looking forelorn at herself in the mirror, she takes off her necklace and her illusion of beauty disappears, revealing her true form: a frail old woman, many centuries old. She climbs slowly into bed. Later, Ser Davos implores Melisandre to attempt to revive Jon Snow. She reluctantly attempts to do so. As Davos and Tormund watch, with Ghost watching too, Melisandre performs the revival ritual. Initially after performing the ritual, nothing happens. Dejected, all but Ghost leave. As Ghost gets up from resting, Jon Snow gasps and opens his eyes.
A Red Priestess from Essos, Melisandre worships the Lord of Light. Her visions told her that Stannis was the true king, and as his advisor she encouraged him to pursue the throne at all costs. At her urging, Stannis sacrificed his only child to help turn the war in his favor, only to see further tragedy befall the camp. After the suicide of Stannis' wife Selyse, Melisandre abandoned Stannis and returned to Castle Black. There she learned of Jon Snow's murder, which further damaged her confidence. Melisandre brought Jon back to life at Davos's behest. She devoted herself to Jon's cause and was at his side when he won the Battle of the Bastards. Despite this, Melisandre was banished from Winterfell once Davos forced her to confess to Shireen's murder.