Everything You Need To Know About The Red Women On Game Of Thrones

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The preview for this Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones teased the arrival of a second Red Woman named Kinvara. For several seasons, fans have been mesmerized and befuddled by Melisandre, the show’s resident Red Priestess and worshipper of the Lord of Light. Kinvara seems equally bewitching: “Knowledge has made you powerful,” she tells Lord Varys and Tyrion Lannister as the pair try to restore peace in Meereen. “But there’s still so much you don’t know.”

Details are sparse on the R’hllor religion — it’s uncommon in Westeros, where most of the show’s action happens, and we’ve only been introduced to two of its clergy. But the faith’s hold on the show’s major stakeholders is clear: R’hllor magic killed Renly Baratheon and resurrected Jon Snow. It’s also possible (and likely) that Daenerys Targaryen and Snow fit into the Lord of Light’s primary prophecy, which callsfor the return of a great warrior to battle the god’s enemy, the Great Other.

The GOT hierarchy of powers is large and always shifting. The introduction of a second Red Priestess (especially one in a different part of the world than the first) could further harness the faith’s hold on a new generation of royalty, the ones who might actually fulfill the prediction. Here’s a look at the mythology of the Red Women.
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R’hllor, The Religion Of The Lord Of Light
A primary religion of the GOT universe, but relatively uncommon in Westeros (and, it seems, in Meereen). Red priests and priestesses are the clergy of R’hllor — Melisandre, the first Red Woman/red priestess the show introduced, convinced Stannis Baratheon to subscribe to the obscure faith. The Lord of Light is a god of life and fire, and his antagonist is the Great Other, a god of ice and death.
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Red Priestess Powers
As a high priestess, Melisandre has special access to the Lord of Light’s blessings, but keeps an ample supply of smoke-in-mirror tricks to ensure she remains a valuable asset when her prayers to the Lord under-deliver.

“Most of these powers and potions are lies, deceptions to make men think they’ve witnessed our Lord’s power,” she says in season 4. “Once they step into the light, they’ll see the lie for what it was: a trick that lead them to the truth.”

But Melisandre isn’t all talk: she’s a shadowbinder (able to birth a shadow assassin that killed another contender for the Iron Throne) and later resurrected Jon Snow. A season 3 conversation she had with Thoros of Myr, another R’hllor high priest that served as an advisor to the Mad King (Danaerys’ father), showed that resurrections like these aren’t uncommon for the clergy of the Lord of Light to perform.
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New Red Woman
Little is known about the second Red Priestess, Kinvara, who is set to be introduced in Sunday’s episode. The episode’s teaser showed her talking to Tyrion Lannister and Lord Varys, dubiously suggesting that there’s much the pair doesn’t know in their plotting.

Kinvara hasn't appeared in any of the Song of Ice and Fire books to date, but the books do feature a R'hllor High Priest named Benerro that supports Daenerys' bid for the Iron Throne enough to send a red priest to advise Tyrion that Daenerys might be the religion's messianic figure. Neither the High Priest or his messenger red priest has appeared in the HBO adaptation.
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Red Priestess Chokers
Since Melisandre’s introduction in season 2, she has worn a ruby choker that sometimes glows as she performs spells. This season, it was revealed that the necklace is more than just an accessory to complement her crimson locks: its powers also mask her true appearance as a centuries-old woman.

In season 4, she had a conversation with Stannis Baratheon’s wife, Selyse, while taking a bath with the necklace removed. Fans are divided as to whether or not it was a production flub, but some think that Selyse’s clear discomfort in the scene was because she could see Melisandre’s true, aged form (or that she was so blinded by faith she would only see Melisandre’s youthful body).
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Azor Ahai Prophecy
The story of Azor Ahai is an important legend in the R’hllor religion, as introduced in the books. Ahai was a great warrior who labored for 100 days and 100 nights to craft a powerful sword built of sacrifice: to test the sword’s power, he had to stab his wife in the heart.

Ahai delivered the world from darkness thousands of years ago and there’s a prophecy that he will be reincarnated after a long summer, most likely as the Prince That Was Promised, a similar prophecy that is sometimes referenced interchangeably. Melisandre spent most of the show believing Stannis Baratheon was the prince destined to defeat the Lord of Light’s antagonists and tried to orchestrate his rise to power in Westeros to match the requirements of the prophecy.
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Jon Snow As The Prince That Was Promised
After she successfully brought Jon Snow back from the dead this season, Melisandre now seems certain he truly fulfills the requirements of the prophecy. Snow’s unconfirmed (but possibly Targaryen/Stark) parentage, Valyrian sword, and his willingness to sacrifice his love for Ygritte for the Night’s Watch makes him a probable candidate.

It’s been hinted that Kinvara will suspect the Prince That Was Promised is actually Daenerys Targaryen. In the books, Maester Aemon — a member of the Night’s Watch who was also a Targaryen — says that in its original High Valyrian translation, the word “prince” is not gender-specific.