Game Of Thrones: 17 Things You Need To Know To Understand The Red Woman

Anyone who is a Game of Thrones fan will know at least a little about the Red Woman. Melisandre is a priestess of the Lord of Light. She's also more than a bit nutty. Some people will defend her sanity because of her faith, but that's nothing different from some people in real life.

But there are some pretty incredible things that some of you may not know about Melisandre. You may know that she can give birth to shadow people, or that she can look into the future while someone is burning alive in front of her. But there are some things you might not be aware of, especially if you haven't read the books.

Melisandre has powers greater than some may think. After all, she did raise Jon Snow from the dead. She also can hurl fireballs, raise dragons from stone; she helped forge Stannis Baratheon's sword Lightbringer... She's an incredible woman, capable of much more than people think. And she does all of this even though she's centuries old!

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17 Is She A Red Walker?

There's an interesting fan theory going around the world of Westeros that goes something like this: Melisandre is a "Red Walker". Apparently, she is some sort of mix of one of the walkers on Walking Dead and one of the White Walkers from Game of Thrones. I don't see the connection to TWD other than the possibility of her being undead, but the Red Walker theory does interest me. But it's not like the White Walkers really go about hiding their age. They all look like corpses. Melisandre is something special, though. Hiding her age, living for centuries below the Wall, and being impervious to the cold are three good reasons to at least examine this sort of theory. After all, maybe there is such a thing as a Red Walker, and instead of the Night King being their ruler, it's the Lord of Light.

16 She Can Throw Fireballs!

This might not mean anything to those of you who only watch the show, but Melisandre is a pretty good shot. And it turns out she's a pretty good shot with balls of fire which she can hurl from out of nowhere! Once Stannis has taken the Wall in the books, a warg named Varamyr Sixskins takes the consciousness of a previously killed wildling and uses it in the form of an eagle to spy on Castle Black. It turns out that was a mistake because Melisandres knew the eagle to be a spy and she very efficiently tosses a fireball at it, killing the essence of the wildling and driving Sixskins completely insane. I don't know about you but, in spite of all the crazy stuff Melisandre is guilty of... she's still pretty badass. At least, that's what I think.

15 She Legitimized The House Of Thenn

After a betrayal and execution in the books, there is a bid for power in the North. The Karstark household is without a leader and marriages are proposed in order to take control again. Well, the woman who would be married off in order to bring that power flees to find Jon Snow. Snow gets Melisandre to marry Alys Karstark to Sigorn from clan Thenn (a wildling clan from beyond the Wall). This brings about the legitimate House of Thenn, complete with a wildling army to take Karhold where many had turned against Robb Stark. Of course, the northern folk follow the old gods and Melisandre is a follower of the Lord of Light, so the northerners might not accept this new household name. But that won't really matter once the wildling army rushes them to take Karhold for their own. I'm not sure how much of this is goes down on the show, but it's a fun detail in the books.

14 She Is A Prophet... Sort Of

Melisandre is a prophet. Sort of. She can see things in flames. Everyone already knows that she genuinely has magical powers, but I think some people wonder if she really is a prophet. If she is then her Lord of Light really likes to obscure things for her. It seems like her interpretations of things are often a little wrong. That or the wizened old crone that she actually is is simply manipulating everyone. Either way, some of what she sees in the flames come true. At least in one way or another. She continually knows where to be in order to keep herself and hope in winning against her enemies alive. I don't think she's just an opportunist. I think she truly has the good of the world at heart. She just isn't very good at interpreting the word of her god. It's almost like she's an allegory for real-life religious people.

13 She Originally Auditioned For Cersei Lannister

That's right, Carice Van Houten, otherwise known as the ravishing Red Woman Melisandre, was originally asked to audition for the role of Cersei Lannister. I have to say that casting her as Cersei would've made the show very different indeed. I simply can't imagine Van Houten taking that role of insanity. She does a perfect job with her own insane role. It turns out that Van Houten is one of the most famous actors from the Netherlands and originally turned down the audition as she didn't want to be a part of a long-running show. Of course, after she saw just how well the show was doing, she was more than open to the idea of getting in there. And then she was given a slightly less insane role to play. To think, if the show just wasn't as popular, we may have never seen Carice Van Houten as the Red Woman!

12 She Helped Forge Lightbringer

Besides helping make the sword, it seems that Melisandre probably knew the whole time that Stannis was not Azor Ahai returned. Why do I say this? Well, in the show, Stannis' sword is paid little attention to. But in the books, the sword is named after Azor Ahai's blade, Lightbringer. The original sword had a magical glow and radiated heat at all times. The glow exists for Stannis' sword but not the heat. Several characters point this out as well. But Stannis has been manipulated by Melisandre. Many fans believe that the glow on the sword was simply one of Melisandre's tricks in order to bring Stannis to her side and help her fight North to meet Jon Snow — or whoever her visions were actually talking about. This remains a mystery, but I'm sure we're going to find out a lot about Melisandre once season eight finally drops.

11 Is The Choker The Source Of Her Power?

Some people think there has been an error in the show because of this ruby choker that Melisandre wears. Because it glows when she does something magical, everyone assumes that it is the source of her power. But that may not be the case. Some thought it was her removing the choker that led her to transform into her true form of the old crone. But she's been naked several times in the show already and without her choker. So now you have to decide if this was a continuity issue, or if Melisandre is powerful without her choker and can change her glamour at will. Given everything else that she's done, I'm willing to believe that she has powers without the ruby choker, but there are fans who are furious at what they think is one of the most glaring continuity issues to have appeared in the show. Either way, the choker does have a power of its own as well.

10 She Is Connected To Quaithe

For those of you who remember Quaithe (hard to forget a face like that), she is a shadowbinder from Asshai. That sounds familiar. Who else can use shadows for her will? Oh right, Melisandre. Now, there hasn't been much made of the connection between these two women other than that they can both bind shadows, but there is interesting design usage that the creators of Game of Thrones have used for both characters. You'll notice that Quaithe's mask, clothing, and jewelry all share the same hexagonal pattern. This is a fairly relevant reference to the connection between her and Melisandre as the Red Woman also has a very noticeable hexagonal motif on her person. Her ruby choker comes in that very shape, as well. Is there something more to come between these two women?

9 Fans Think She'll Sacrifice Herself...

Well, everyone now knows that she was very wrong about Stannis being the returned Azor Ahai. Some believe that she knew all along and was just using Stannis to find her way to the actual returned Azor Ahai. And there is some speculation as to who exactly that is. Some believe it is Jon Snow, and some think it is Davos Seaworth. As if Snow didn't have enough troubles what with actually being Rhaegar Targaryen Jr. But the point still remains. After all, Azor Ahai had a beautiful wife whom he had to kill in order to finish forging the legendary Lightbringer. Could it be that she will offer herself up so that the sword might be quenched with her blood and the mythical Azor Ahai may rise again to defeat the darkness and the cold? It's a pretty wicked theory that would redeem her to some extent.

8 Can She Bring Stone Dragons To Life?

At least in the books, Melisandre claims to be able to create dragons out of stone. She needs king's blood though, which is why she has both Edric Storm and Gendry who are both then freed by Davos before they can be sacrificed. Given that Melisandre has yet to burn Shireen in the books, could it be that she will create a stone dragon from her sacrifice in order to save Stannis? Chances are Stannis is already on his way to death in the books, but it would be a really kickass thing to see. And Daenerys has already seen visions of stone dragons breathing shadow flame, and Melisandre births shadows. So why not a stone dragon with shadow flame! Anything that can keep Stannis going a little bit longer is a great idea in my mind. This would be the coolest thing to happen!

7 She's Actually Really, Really Old!

After Stannis dies in the show (which hasn't officially happened in the books yet), Melisandre removes her clothing (which is nothing new), takes off her choker, and transforms into an old, saggy woman. It turns out that she had been using a glamour on herself the whole time to hide her true form. What's really cool about this is that Carice Van Houten's face was made up for these shots and her head was then merged with the body of an actual old woman in order to give the full effect. So the old version of Melisandres is actually played by two women, technically. The fact that she's apparently centuries old actually gives a whole lot of understanding as to how she's so wise and powerful. I can't wait to learn more about her real past!

6 She's More Than A Little Nuts...

It doesn't matter if you've only read the books or only watched the show. It should be pretty easy to see either way that Melisandre is completely out of her mind. Alright, maybe not completely, but she's definitely south of normal. Why would I say something like that about such a beautiful, intelligent, and powerful woman? Well, first and foremost, she burned a child alive. That's pretty telling right there. Not to mention that, in the books at least, she also burned every single member of Stannis' entourage who wouldn't join the Lord of Light. That's probably enough to call her nuts right there. But then add to that the fact that she can birth shadow monsters, seduce anyone she thinks can help, and is actually an ancient woman while doing all of this. She comes across as pretty crazy. And that's something to pay attention to moving forward in the story.

5 She Saved Mance Rayder

Unfortunately for Mance Rayder (in the show at least) he is burned alive for his crimes and to help Melisandre with her work for the Lord of Light. But in the books that is not the case. Rayder lives. One of his commanders is made to look like him by Melisandre's magical powers and burned in his place (and Jon Snow kills him with an arrow to spare him the agonizing death that the Red Woman set up for him). Mance Rayder is then sent in the guise of a bard to go and rescue "Arya Stark" who is actually the character Jeyne Poole (who doesn't appear in the show at all) from the Boltons at Winterfell. I think it's important to see where the differences are between show and book because there are some very interesting and sensible plots and story arcs in the books that never make screen time. And saving Mance Rayder is something that would be unexpected from Melisandre.

4 She Births Shadow Babies!

Alright, so in the show, you only get to see this happen once, I'm pretty sure. But that's not the point. The bigger point is that this follower of the Lord of Light can give birth to shadow babies that go and do her bidding. It makes you wonder why she doesn't do it more often, but it does zap her power somewhat so that makes sense to some extent. This is how Renly was killed. In the books, Davos witnesses the birthing of a shadow that kills the holder of Storm's End, and not the Renly shadow. Which makes the discovery for him of how Renly was killed all the more intense. But there's something more important here... Melisandre can create shadow monsters! Now you might think that that seems weird for a follower of light, but Melisandre has an answer for that. After all, shadows only exist if there is light.

3 She Used To Be A Slave

I doubt that this is touched on much in the show, but the books will inform you that Melisandre was once a slave. Or at least that's what she would have everyone believe. You can decide whether or not her backstory is a lie like her appearance. Either way, she may have once gone by the name of Melony. To hear her tell it to everyone else, when she was sold she went by the name of "Lot Seven". This is an obvious reference to her being sold as a slave on the auction block. She was purchased by a red temple as a child and while this is a horrible start to life, it seems to have been a good thing for a number of main characters... and also a bad thing. She did bring Snow back to life, but she also murdered a ton of innocent people.

2 Shireen Is Still Alive In The Books

This is perhaps one of the most horrible things that Melisandre has ever done on the show. And I can't believe that she managed to get Stannis to sign off on this. As if his daughter didn't have enough of a rough childhood thanks to contracting greyscale, she then gets burned alive by the Red Woman. It turns out that she needs royal blood to be literally boiling in order to ask her god for certain kinds of help. Caught in a storm with few men, no food, and no way out, Stannis is convinced to sacrifice his daughter. The interesting thing here is that Shireen has yet to be sacrificed in the books. Melisandre waits for Stannis at Castle Black with his daughter and wife. Stannis goes out with his forces without the aid of his priestess. Which I guess could end up being a bad thing for Stannis in the books.

1 She Can Raise The Dead

Yeah, this might be something of an important point. She can raise the dead. Lord of Light knows why she didn't bring Stannis back to life, but whatever she did seemed to work for Jon Snow. Of course, he might have come back to life anyway, and this might have been nothing more than a coincidence. Or perhaps it was the joint power of Melisandre and Davos Seaworth. Perhaps Davos is truly Azor Ahai and Melisandre will be the woman he sacrifices in order to gain his true powers. This would be an interesting sort of justice for Davos, for sure. But so far as we all know, Melisandre is the one who brought Jon Snow back from the dead. And a good thing, too. Could you imagine a White Walker version of Jon Snow? He's already way too good with a sword.

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