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Melisandre, an Asshai'i Red Priestess.

"She's a foreigner, preaching a foreign religion."
Davos Seaworth[src]

Red Priests and Red Priestesses are the clergy in the faith of R'hllor, the Lord of Light, and receive their name from the red clothing they wear. Most red priests appear to be zealous proselytizers, appearing throughout the continent of Essos preaching the word of R'hllor. They also appear to possess a multitude of ambiguous supernatural abilities, which are believed to be the gifts of the Lord Himself.

Known Red Priests


Red Priests have demonstrated a number of seemingly magical abilities, from the relatively inocuous to the truly miraculous. However, it is unknown precisely how these abilities are acquired, and their effectiveness is not always certain. Indeed, sometimes the priests themselves express skepticism regarding magic, and cannot always explain why a certain effect took place:

Cold resistance

While stationed at the Wall, Melisandre continued to wear only her typical red dresses, without any extra covering in the freezing temperatures. She explained to Jon that she is never cold and, allowing him to touch her cheek, claimed that the "Lord's fire" lived within her.[1] However, she did don her heavy red cloak during the Battle of Winterfell,[2] perhaps because the cold brought on by the White Walkers was literally unnatural, therefore her powers could not shield her completely.[2]

Fire magic

Beric calls upon the Lord of light to ignite his blade.

Beric Dondarrion called upon the Lord of Light during his Trial by combat with the Hound, igniting his sword by using only his blood.[3] He performed this technique again during his sojourn beyond the wall - using it in the fight against the wight bear and against the army of wights arrayed against the party on the frozen lake - and once more during the Battle of Ice and Fire. In the same battle, Melisandre used a similar spell - accompanied by incantations in High Valyrian - to ignite the swords of the Dothraki screamers and to light the trench surrounding Winterfell as an extra layer of defense.[2]


Some Red Priests can cast magical "glamours", or illusions which alter a person's appearance. While Melisandre appeared relatively young to most people, it was later revealed that this youthful facade was in fact a powerful glamour to disguise her truly ancient appearance. Although this ability seemed to be connected to the red amulet she wore,[4] she was able to maintain the illusion while not wearing the necklace, suggesting that she could simply call upon it at will.


Kinvara, high priestess of the Red Temple in Volantis.

Upon meeting, Kinvara, Varys expressed his skepticism about religion in general, claiming that practitioners' mentality of "everything is the Lord's will" is an excuse for lack of genuine spiritual phenomena. Unfazed, Kinvara countered by revealing events from Varys' childhood that, by all logic, should have been impossible for her to know about; there were no witnesses to the events, and those involved were unlikely to have told anyone, yet she was able to describe them in astonishing detail.[5] Melisandre also demonstrated this ability when she was apparently able to recount Ygritte's frequent refrain to Jon ("You know nothing, Jon Snow") and Syrio Forel's last words to Arya Stark ("What do we say to the god of death?")[2] without ever meeting either one of them.


Red Priests appear to possess a much longer lifespan than most human beings, though it's not entirely clear why or how this is achieved. While they may live an uncounted number of years, they don't remain eternally youthful and their bodies will continue to age. Magical and possibly alchemical glamours - such as the one used by Melisandre - are used to disguise this aged appearance, so that even ancient Red Priests still seem young and full of vigor. Melisandre was the only Red Priestess confirmed to possess both this long lifespan and the magical powers necessary to disguise it.

Poison protection

Concerend about her growing influence over Stannis Baratheon, Maester Cressen attempted to kill Melisandre by slipping poison into a cup of wine and presenting it as a peace offering. Even after realizing this, Melisandre was still able to drink almost the entire cup without fear, completely unaffected by the poison, while Cressen died moments later from a single sip, which he had taken to deflect suspicion. The red amulet around Melisandre's neck lit up and glowed as she drank, suggesting a connection between the neckalce and the spell.[6]

Prophetic visions

Melisandre and Stannis stare into the flames.

Red Priests can see into the future by staring into flames, and they are able to show these visions to others: Melisandre showed a vision to Stannis after his defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater, completing his faith in her.[7] She also seemed to know that Matthos Seaworth would die by Wildfire, as she foreshadowed his fate to him before the battle. Thoros of Myr showed one of his flame-based visions Sandor Clegane, finally convincing the latter that his powers were real. By staring into Arya Stark's eyes, Melisandre was also able to see the eyes of many other people that Arya would "shut forever".[8]

Like any prophecy, however, these visions can be misinterpreted, or they may not manifest in the way the seer expects. Melisandre claimed that she saw a vision of herself witnessing the Bolton banners falling from Winterfell and Jon Snow fighting there. Certain that this meant that Stannis would defeat the Boltons with the help of Jon Snow, she becomes temporarily despondent when both Stannis and Jon are killed,[4] believing that everything she saw in the flames was a lie.[9] The vision is apparently fulfilled later, when the resurrected Jon defeats Ramsay Bolton and Melisandre watches the Bolton banners replaced with those of House Stark.[10]


Thoros calls upon the Lord of Light to revive Beric Dondarrion.

Thoros of Myr demonstrated this ability after Beric Dondarrion fell in combat against Sandor Clegane. By repeatedly chanting "Lord! cast your light upon this man, your servant. Bring him back from death and darkness. His flame has been extinguished, restore it!", Beric was revived alive and well, his wounds healed within seconds of being slain. When Thoros later explained to Melisandre that he had also done this for Beric on five other occasions, she was astonished that it happened at all, let alone that it worked six times. Thoros himself insisted that he had no control over this ability, claiming that he was just a lucky drunk who recited the words, and the Lord of Light apparently saw fit to answers his prayers each time.[8]

Melisandre later employed a different and more elaborate ritual in order to resurrect Jon, involving burning pieces of Jon's hair and repeatedly reciting the words "Zyhys oñoso jehikagon Aeksiot epi, se gis hen syndrorro jemagon. Zyhys perzys stepagon Aeksio Oño jorepi, se morghultas lys qelitsos sikagon. Hen syndrorro, oños. Hen ñuqir, perzys. Hen morghot, glaeson." ("We ask the Lord to shine the light, and take a soul from darkness. We implore the Lord to share their fire and light a candle went out. From darkness, light. From the ashes, fire. From death, life."), in High Valyrian. In spite of the differences in ritual, and Melisandre's doubts that it would even work, her efforts were successful.


  • Unlike the clergy of the Faith of the Seven, Red Priests and Priestesses do not take vows of celibacy. Thoros of Myr was known to frequent whores regularly,[3] Melisandre had intercourse with Stannis to conceive a Shadow.[11] She also offered Jon Snow to have sex with her, as a way to convince him to join Stannis in his fight against House Bolton.[12]
  • Blood magic, a practice considered taboo in parts of both Essos and Westeros, is also practiced by the red priests.[13]

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Red priests are the clergy of the religion of R'hllor, called so because of the loose, crimson robes they wear. Red priests, who may be male or female, administer the last kiss to deceased followers of the Lord of Light.

They are a common sight in Essos, as the faith of R'hllor's influence is more widespread and children are sometimes given to temples of R'hllor to be raised into the priesthood. Red temples also buy children to serve as slaves of R'hllor and raise them as priests, temple prostitutes, or warriors known as the Fiery Hand.

In cities where slaves are branded with facial tattoos, slave red priests have flames tattooed across their faces.

Known Red Priests

  • Benerro, High Priest of R'hllor at Volantis
  • Thoros of Myr
  • Moqorro, called "the Black Flame"
  • Melisandre of Asshai
  • Ezzelyno, a red priest in Braavos

See also