- This article is about the Histories & Lore special feature. For the toxic substance, see: Poison
Oberyn Martell explains the sources, surreptitious uses, and lethal effects of the many poisons circulating throughout Westeros and Essos.
Oberyn Martell: Any man who calls a poison "a woman's weapon" is a traitor to his fellow men.
A dagger, arrow, ax – these are the arms of passion. But poison is cold, calculating. Poison is the thought that wakes you in the morning and lulls you to sleep at night.
You watch your victim die a thousand times before you ever offer him that fateful taste. Is a man's hate so inferior to a woman's that they are to be denied such a weapon?
When I was a boy of sixteen, a great lord caught me with his mistress. He should have been honored. Instead, the fat old fool challenged me to a duel. Thanks to my age and status, only to first blood. But his mistress, and his wife, warned me which of my parts he intended to draw first blood from.
He was strong and fierce but slow. I cut him quickly, and the duel ended with honor satisfied. Then, his wounds festered, and he died.
Ever since, men have called me "the Red Viper," a name that never fails to draw a laugh from me. As if a single serpent was all he knew of venom.
Essence of Nightshade is the gentlest of poisons. A drop dissolved into wine will slow a pounding heart and stop a hand from shaking. Three drops will grant a night of deep and dreamless sleep. Ten drops, and you will have a sleep that does not end.
Basilisk blood. It will give cooked meat a savory smell, but if eaten, it produces violent madness, in beasts as well as men. A mouse will attack a lion after a taste of basilisk's blood. But to a man who loves his art, is not passion a form of madness?
Widow's blood forces a man's bladder and bowels to fail. He drowns in his own poisons – a slow and painful death. It has earned its name many times, I am sure.
The Tears of Lys, a rare and costly poison. Clear, tasteless, and odorless. Dissolved in wine or water, it eats at a man's bowels. He dies in agony, which will not appear unusual if the victim is old or sickly — the favorite tool of impatient heirs.
Afterward, the potion must be thickened with ash and allowed to crystallize. The process is slow and difficult, the necessaries costly and hard to acquire.
The Alchemists of Lys know the way of it, and the Faceless Men of Braavos and the Maesters. Dissolved in wine, it makes the muscles of a man's throat clench tighter than any fist. The victim's face turns as purple as the little crystal seed from which his death was grown, and so we call it "the strangler."
Which of these vials would I take from its shelf, you may ask? None.
To kill a man at his table or in his bed bores me. To toil for hours over a boiling pot, measuring and stirring, bores me. How life begins is always entertaining, and my kind must make sure its end is worth our wait.
- Prince Oberyn Martell
- Lord Edgar Yronwood (not mentioned by name)
- Lord Jon Arryn (not mentioned by name)
- Lady Lysa Arryn (not mentioned by name)
- Maester Cressen (not mentioned by name)