15

It's important that you don't read this question if you haven't watched episode 1 of season 6, "The Red Woman".

No-one who has been paying attention to either the show or the books will be surprised to know Melisandre's necklace

has some sort of magic properties. We know it somehow protects her from poison, and some of us suspected it somehow aided in her charms/glamour.

However, there is an inconsistency. In an earlier scene from another season, we already saw Melisandre's

naked body while she wasn't wearing or touching her precious necklace. For example, in this scene where she bathes naked while Lady Selyse is watching her. She looks young, not like a hag. Some fans have commented there is a suitably odd expression in Lady Selyse's face while she's talking to Melisandre, like she's noticing something we, the spectators, don't.

But it doesn't make sense. Whose point of view was that earlier scene? Was Meli's magic working in some other way? Was it a case of artistic license?

Why would Lady Selyse see something different than us?

Or were we deceived in that earlier scene, and only now the deception has been revealed?

14

There are really only two sensible explanations

...besides "the writers forgot."

  1. The most plausible explanation is that the necklace is not the sole source of her power. Melisandre transforms after removing her necklace, true. But she also transforms after removing her clothing, and that doesn't necessarily imply that the clothing is the source of her power. True, the necklace can protect her from poison, as seen with Maester Cressen. But that doesn't mean that it is the source of all her powers. This seems unlikely, in fact: she repeatedly insists that her power comes from her faith in R'hllor.

  2. It is also, possible, though, that her capability to create illusions is indeed dependent on the necklace, but those illusions can extend to the necklace itself. That is to say, Melisandre may have been wearing the necklace in the bath.

The explanation that the bathtub scene was not being shown from Lady Selyse's perspective doesn't make much sense. If the necklace is necessary to maintain Melisandre's appearance, and she was not wearing it in the bathtub, there is no character from whose point of view in which she looks young, at that point in time.

  • 9
    "that her power comes from her faith in R'hllor" and she's lost that faith. All fits! – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 26 '16 at 9:36
  • 1
    +1 Well reasoned! My skepticism about R'hllor made me discount this possibility, and maybe I'm wrong. I'm simply not convinced the Lord of Light or any of the other gods exist... magic does exist, and people believe in the gods, but do they exist? If they don't, can faith in them power magic anyway? I hope all of this will be answered. – Andres F. Apr 26 '16 at 13:25
  • She may possibly have an ability to disguise her appearance on her own for a short time, but requires her necklace to maintain the pretence for longer periods. – maguirenumber6 Apr 26 '16 at 14:48
5

In addition to Jonah's good answer: From the novels we know that the necklace isn't the (only) source of her power. As far as i recall, it doesn't appear at all. She clearly states that she has potions that can disguise people. In the novels:

She also disguises Mance Rayder to look like Rattleshirt. [Source]

In the scene with the necklace we can also see one of her potions on her table.

  • 7
    I don't have quotes to hand, but I'm fairly certain that the necklace at least appears with Melisandre's introduction in the books, where it glows as she drinks the poison. – BiscuitBaker Apr 26 '16 at 8:06
  • 4
    When she does that spoiler-y thing, it's noted that the character in question is wearing an iron cuff with a red ruby inlaid in it. He even calls attention to it IIRC. – Telestia Apr 26 '16 at 13:09
  • 1
    @Telestia Indeed. Meli is also helped by another physical object -- a wearable, let's say -- when doing that particular spoiler-y thing, re-inforcing the need for physical objects when practicing this sort of magic. – Andres F. Apr 26 '16 at 13:28
5

Before taking the necklace out she seems to be making some sort of decision. Considering what else has been happening in Castle Black, the change that happens might be a consequence of her channeling her powers to some sort of spell (bringing back John Snow for example) and that she was making that decision because(at least for that time) she'd be vulnerable. So, her necklace would be some way to amplify/focus her powers but she'd still have those powers(even if temporarily) when not wearing it but in that situation she had expend all of her powers and leave herself exposed like that.

  • 2
    Hello and welcome to the site. Please consider taking the tour. While this answer is good, it is mostly speculation. Maybe you have some quote to back up your claims ? – Kalissar Apr 26 '16 at 8:54
  • It doesn't look like she's channeling her powers, though. It looks like she's defeated, miserable and/or reflecting on her failures. – Andres F. Apr 26 '16 at 13:35
  • To me it really looked as if she were deciding on whether to do it or not. As if she knew what she had to do but was afraid to take that step because of it's consequences. – ricardo Apr 26 '16 at 13:48
3

According to the books, the 'spell' she is using to change her appearance is a 'glamor'. This is mentioned a few times in the books:

"Call it what you will. Glamor, seeming, illusion. R'hllor is Lord of Light, Jon Snow, and it is given to his servants to weave with it, as others weave with thread."

and

"Mummers change their faces with artifice," the kindly man was saying, "and sorcerers use glamors, weaving light and shadow and desire to make illusions that trick the eye."

and

"The bones help," said Melisandre. "The bones remember. The strongest glamors are built of such things. A dead man's boots, a hank of hair, a bag of fingerbones. With whispered words and prayer, a man's shadow can be drawn forth from such and draped about another like a cloak. The wearer's essence does not change, only his seeming."

This, especially the last quote, would infer that the 'artifact' used 'helps' create the glamor but isn't entirely responsible for it. Therefore, if it is desired then Melisandre can create the glamor without wearing the necklace.

Source here (full of spoilers of course)

  • +1 Thanks! I've read the books, so I'm not afraid of spoilers. I would suspect Melisandre's drastic change of appearance is indeed one such "strongest glamor", therefore some sort of artifact is definitely needed. I assumed such artifact was the necklace. Maybe over a short period of time, with extreme concentration and spending a lot of her energy, Melisandre can do without the necklace? – Andres F. Apr 27 '16 at 14:17
  • This bit of the last quote 'a bag of fingerbones' makes me think that maybe there's more to Davos Seaworth than meets the eye ? – Pat Dobson Apr 27 '16 at 15:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.