The first episode of Game of Thrones season six was somewhat mixed: while we were given a Brienne and Sansa team-up, the writers also decided to mercilessly kill off everyone interesting in Dorne and remind us all how awful the Sand Snakes’ dialogue is.
Of course, the big talking point was the episode’s revelation that Melisandre is actually much, much older than she has appeared throughout the rest of the series, coming as a shock to both book readers and show watchers alike.
There have, as you may have expected, been subtle hints throughout the show. For instance, when Melisandre drank the poison that killed Cressen, her necklace started to glow, seemingly saving her life.
Previously, actor Carice Van Houten said how her character is “way over 100 years” old, a statement that now takes on a whole new meaning.
The concluding theory is that Melisandre uses the necklace to “glamour” herself, therefore revealing how she truly looks. Only in "The Red Woman" did we finally see her true form; an older women with a hunched body and white hair.
Thanks to the reveal, a theory about the prophecy surrounding Azor Ahai has resurfaced on various forums, stating how Melisandre could resurrect "the Lord of Light" to fight against the darkness. A little background on Azor Ahai, which probably means very little to show watchers.
Throughout A Song of Ice and Fire, the legend of Azor Ahai is mentioned at various points. The tale follows that a hero was chosen to fight a darkness many years ago. After two failed attempts at creating a sword able to fight evil, he eventually ended up working 100 days and 100 nights to create the perfect sword, tempering the blade by stabbing his wife through the heart, and thus creating Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes.
Melisandre mentions Azor Ahai at numerous times, interchanging the name with ‘the prince that was promised’, and claiming that Stannis Baratheon was Azor reborn, come to purge the world of darkness.
As we now know, Stannis is now dead, with The Red Woman seemingly believing Jon Snow was actually Azor Ahai having seen him ‘in the flames’. Unfortunately, as confirmed in season six’s premiere, Snow is also dead, and Melisandre has given up hope in The Lord of Light (which is seemingly the reason she removes her necklace).
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So, what’s this new theory then? Well, the prophecy of Azor Ahai is as follows: "It is written in prophecy as well. When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone."
The important bit here is how “when the red star bleeds”, with some fans believing the “red star” is actually Melisandre, and thus she will give her life (“bleed”) in order for Jon Snow (Azor Ahai) to return.
Now, what does this de-ageing process have to do with the prophecy? Well, with Melisandre now being confirmed to be well over 100 years old, it is very plausible she is not the person she claims to be and may be the daughter of Shiera Seastar and Bloodraven: two characters referenced by George RR Martin in various Game of Thrones-related literature.
Why does this feed into the Azor Ahai theory? Because Melisandre could be the daughter of a Targaryen named SeaSTAR.
A quick bit of background on Shiera Seastar and Bloodraven: both are the bastard children of King Aegon IV Targaryen but frequently bedded each other. Shiera was known to bathe in the blood of her maidens to retain her beauty, and is described as being:
“The greatest beauty of her age, a slender and elegant woman, slim of waist and full of breast... She had a heart-shaped face, full lips, and her mismatched eyes were strangely large and full of mischief; her rivals said she used them to melt men's hearts.”
What’s remarkable about that description is how closely it matches Maester Cressen’s description of Melisandre:
"Slender she was, graceful, taller than most knights, with full breasts and narrow waist and a heart-shaped face. Men’s eyes that once found her did not quickly look away, not even a maester’s eyes. Many called her beautiful.”
Also notable is that, in her ‘old person’ form, Melisandre has striking white hair (sure she’s old and hair goes grey, but it really is remarkably white), the same colour as all Targaryens' hair.
If she is the child of the two siblings, this would also explain why she was hidden away from the family, and perhaps why she has found comfort in serving The Lord of Light (as she has no remaining family).
A quick word on the name, Seastar. This may seem like a coincidence, but George RR Martin has previously explained that the name was given to her as it literally means “Star of the Sea”. If she is the “red star bleeding” from the prophecy, this fits in a little too well.
The main issue book readers have previously had with this theory is that Melisandre isn’t particularly old, but would have to be over a hundred years old to be Shiera Seastar’s daughter. BINGO: ‘old woman’ Melisandre makes this a definite possibility.
This all leads to the idea that Melisandre (the red star and a Targaryen with royal blood) will “bleed” to bring back Jon Snow (Azor Ahai, who may also be a royal Targaryen).
Phew. Whether the prophecy of Azor Ahai will be explained in the show, or whether they’ll just act out the prophecy (or whether they’ll completely ignore it), who can say? But if Melisandre does give her life to bring back Jon Snow, don’t be too surprised.
UPDATE (Spoilers episode two): Jon Snow has been resurrected by Melisandre without the Red Woman giving her life. Whether she was damaged (or if she bled) because the process is unknown at the moment, but in order to bring him back she did have to lose her faith in the Lord of Light. With a little more information, the prophecy really could come true.
Meanwhile, you can read our “decoding Melisandre’s transformation” piece here.
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