- "Shadows cannot live in the dark, Ser Davos. They are servants of Light."
A Shadow is a type of magical creature or demon of darkness believed to be created by the Lord of Light. Worshipers and servants of the Lord of Light employ them to undertake dangerous missions on their behalf. Thus far, the only Shadow seen was conceived as a child between Stannis Baratheon and the Red Priestess Melisandre to assassinate Renly Baratheon in a bid to reclaim the Iron Throne.
Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon had sex, with Melisandre promising to give Stannis a son. After the failed parley between Stannis and Renly, Melisandre is revealed to be pregnant. She gives birth to a Shadow in a cave close to Renly's encampment while Ser Davos Seaworth watches in horror. The creature infiltrates Renly's camp and kills him in front of Catelyn Stark and Brienne. Renly's bodyguards blame Brienne for the murder of the king.
Davos is so disturbed by the appearance of the Shadow creature that he convinces Stannis not to bring Melisandre along when their fleet and army attack King's Landing, in case the victory is credited to her powers rather than Stannis.
Stannis asks Melisandre to make him another "son" to slay Joffrey as well as Robb Stark. However, she refuses him, explaining that creating a Shadow drains some of a man's life energy, and she fears that if Stannis attempts to create another with her it will kill him. Instead, she has Gendry brought to Dragonstone, since he also has king's blood, being the son of Robert Baratheon, using him for the leech ritual which is less effective than the shadows, and questionably leads to the deaths of Joffrey, Robb and Balon Greyjoy.
While speaking with Olenna, Margaery is interrupted by Brienne of Tarth, a witness of Renly Baratheon's death. She explains to Margaery that her husband was killed by a shadow "with the face of Stannis Baratheon."
When Brienne finds a wounded Stannis laying against a tree, she prepares to finish her duty by avenging Renly Baratheon, who was killed by the shadow of Stannis Baratheon. Before being killed, Stannis confesses that it was his "child" who killed Renly.
Powers & Abilities
- Shadowy Presence: As their name implies, Shadows are literally dark, demonic beings. Physical darkness constantly radiates off of them.
- Accelerated Maturity: They age rapidly, going from infancy to adulthood in a matter of seconds.
- Intangibility: Once fully grown, they have the ability to phase through prison bars (according to Melisandre).
- Smoke Mimicry: They can transform into clouds of smoke to infiltrate camps undetected.
- Weapon Summoning: They can summon/form weapons from the shadowy mass of their bodies.
Shadows live very short lives, created only for the tasks they were given. It is implied by Brienne that Shadows inherit the physical features of the men who fathered them, as the Shadow that killed Renly Baratheon bore a striking resemblance to its "father," Stannis.
Behind the scenes
- Many major reviewers as well as some of the cast & crew themselves refer to the creatures as "shadow babies" due to the nature of their creation.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Melisandre actually conjures forth two shadows on separate occasions to kill Stannis's foes - Renly and Ser Cortnay Penrose, the castellan of Storm's End. She needs to use Stannis's own life-essence to fuel the entities, but (as she explains to Davos) this hugely drains him, thus she doesn't produce any more shadows. Davos notices that Stannis looks ten years older than before the battle of the Blackwater.
Use of the creatures is thus limited in case their creation taxes the creator to the point of death, but it does not require that the creator will be of royal origin or even highborn: Melisandre offers Davos to use his life-essence to produce a shadow, but he refuses, since he loathes Melisandre and her dark witchcraft.
It is unknown whether Melisandre made similar offers to any other men.