I found it very profound when Melisandre said,

There are no shadows in the dark. Shadows are the servants of the light, the children of fire. The brightest flame casts the darkest shadows. - A Clash of Kings, Chapter 42

It was the first time I had ever thought about "shadows" being part of the light/good side.

I was curious what inspiration GRRM had for this. Was it any other SFF works, or possibly some older religion that the Lord of Light is based on?

  • 3
    In Bulgakov's Master and Margarita the Devil makes a similar comment - that shadows are cast by living things, and that a world with only light is empty.
    – Misha R
    Jul 18, 2016 at 13:43

2 Answers 2


According to George R. R. Martin, this religion's dualistic aspects of a good and an evil god are inspired by Zoroastrianism, along with the Cathars of Medieval Europe.

In this interview (at about 47:00 GRRM) talks about his inspirations for religion in his works.

From the Wikipedia article on Zoroastrianism we can draw parallels to R'hollor.

In Zoroastrianism, water (apo, aban) and fire (atar, azar) are agents of ritual purity, and the associated purification ceremonies are considered the basis of ritual life. In Zoroastrian cosmogony, water and fire are respectively the second and last primordial elements to have been created, and scripture considers fire to have its origin in the waters. Both water and fire are considered life-sustaining, and both water and fire are represented within the precinct of a fire temple. Zoroastrians usually pray in the presence of some form of fire (which can be considered evident in any source of light), and the culminating rite of the principle act of worship constitutes a "strengthening of the waters". Fire is considered a medium through which spiritual insight and wisdom is gained, and water is considered the source of that wisdom.


I think this specific line is more influenced by Carl Jung.

The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.

-Carl Jung

  • 2
    Can you provide any creator comment that indicates that they were consciously making this reference?
    – Politank-Z
    Apr 7, 2018 at 19:29

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