Melisandre (the fire priestess) and Stannis used a shadow monster to

kill Renly Baratheon.

The creature is seemingly a very effective assassin. So why don't they create more of them (or make the one that already exists) kill other of enemies Stannis' like King Joffrey?

  • The main obstacle is that poor Stannis would be required to have lots more sex with Melisandre to create new shadow creatures. Perhaps have sexual intercourse many times per shadow monster in case the first go at it doesn't take.
    – RobertF
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 15:11

6 Answers 6


Well, first off, they will use more shadows, so your question is premature. Not quite sure if that should be in a spoiler tag or not. I assume this is a question regarding the TV-show, and not the books.

Secondly, the shadows are costly to summon. Later on in the books, it is mentioned that Stannis seems drained and skeletal, and there are also other references, which I will not post here for their very spolerific nature. But suffice to say, it concerns people getting hurt to fuel Melisandre's magic.

Also, as we shall see, the shadows will not help Stannis as much as he would hope, because the majority of the lords and people are against him. So, combined with their high cost, they do not provide a real answer to his problems.

Besides those reasons, I think Stannis is a good guy, deep down inside. At first, I did not like him at all, but throughout the books, he is solid, honourable, harsh and grumpy, and it is hard not to like him when he scorns and scolds his sycophants, but praises Davos for telling the truth.

All he does, he does for a reason, not for personal greed or ambition, but because it is right and just. Yes, I admit, I am a bit of a fan of Stannis. So, I am siding with Andres F and also saying that Stannis is not quite comfortable with it. He admits at one point that it is better to kill one man dishonourably, than to allow thousands to suffer, but I think it does not sit well with him just the same.

  • 2
    +1 just for saying your a fan of Stannis (but the answer is good too!)
    – Ryan
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 15:34
  • 1
    Wait until you see what he does to his family. Stannis is not a good guy. As you already know, he just killed his own brother. That's not good.
    – Chloe
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 13:01
  • @Chloe That was in the TV-show. And his brother was about to kill him.
    – TLP
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 16:24
  • 1
    Well what about his other family? At the risk of spoilers, >! Stannis injured his nephew and would have killed him, and he also burned his own daughter. Was that only in the TV show? Stannis is not a good guy. He's a sociopath, as most of the characters are.
    – Chloe
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 20:38
  • @Chloe In the books, he has not harmed his newphew, nor his daughter. Davos sent his nephew -- Edric Storm, not Gendry -- across the sea. Stannis would have done what he did because he truly believed that he must, because otherwise the White Walkers would win. He believes he is Azor Ahai. I was very pissed off at him because it looked like he killed Robb, myself. But when he met Jon Snow it became hard not to like him.
    – TLP
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 22:30

Not sure if it's the only reason, but Stannis isn't completely comfortable about it. At least in the books, he is never completely comfortable about the whole Lord of Light deal, or Melisandre; his queen is way more fanatical about this exotic religion.

I think Stannis sees himself as a harsh but fundamentally honorable man (we the readers may disagree with him, though!), and internally he acknowledges the shadow babies are an underhanded tactic.

He does use them more than once in the books, though.

  • Not to mention that, if I recall correctly, Melisandre's power seems at least in part dependent upon human sacrifice. As you said, Stannis has an extreme sense of honour, and is incredibly rigid about the law, respect, etc, so I can't see him being comfortable with sacrificing others in order to gain the throne. Commented May 29, 2012 at 21:25
  • @AnthonyGrist I find this answer and your comment very interesting considering what Stannis did with the shadow monster. Commented May 29, 2012 at 21:34

In part, Stannis doesn't even believe the shadow monster really works!

If I remember it properly, he awakes shaken, feverish and ill and tells Davos he dreamed about being in Renly's tent and killing him, but that it MUST have being a dream. It must, right?

In the books, Stannis is not exactly greedy. He is unhappy, a man who saw his titles and inheritances stolen by Robert to be put in his brother Renly, despite his loyalty, for one single reason: being boring!

That, my friend is a grudge and self-esteem issues...


Because Stannis was too weak. Mellisandre explains in S3E3, Walk of Punishment.

Stannis: Make me another son.

Melisandre: I cannot.

Stannis: Why?

Melisandre: You don't have the strength. It would kill you.

Stannis: I'm not so easily killed. Men have been trying for years. I want you.

Melisandre: Your fires burn low, my king. There is another way. A better way.

Stannis: You told me your magic requires a king's blood.

Melisandre: Yes.

Stannis: I'm the one true king.

Melisandre: You are. But there are others with your blood in their veins. You will sit on the Iron Throne, but first there must be sacrifices. The Lord of Light demands it.

  • Good find this appears to be the answer +1
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 15:59

Melisandre worships R'hollor and uses blood magic. it does not require "sacrifice" in the sense that someone has to die for a positive outcome. The sacrifice is blood, most potently, royal blood. This is why Melisandre and Stannis resort to leeching Edric Storm, bastard of Robert and Stannis' nephew. The death of Edric is not required, only his blood but it is believed if he were killed during rites that the magic would increase in strength. These leeches full of Edric's blood are tossed into the fire during a magic ceremony and a name is to be recited when the royal blood burns. 3 leeches burned, 3 names recited and 3 deaths in a Storm of Swords. So it appears that even small amounts of royal blood are potent enough to cause death.

hope this helps.

  • 1
    But the question was why doesn't Stannis use shadow monsters to kill every one of his enemies? Does this answer that question? (Don't get me wrong; what you posted is interesting! It just doesn't answer the question)
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 23:16
  • 1
    the creation of a shadow monster was alluded to in the books but not completely explained. However, there appeared to be negative effects on Stannis after Melisandre worked her spells. It was said that Stannis appeared aged and drained of vitality. Hair turned gray/white, skin sagged, etc... This is the only explanation given for Stannis' reluctance to resort to using shadow baby assasin magic. As for the original question, my first answer did address at least the Joffrey part of the question. There was no need to send the costly shadow monster since the leeches were used to the same effect.
    – jason
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 17:43

They could make hundreds if they wanted, but Stannis did not have enough "life", if they made any again Stannis would die.

The magic requires a percentage of a man's life, shall we say 40% of his life gets drained, and I think Stannis at his current age has a percentage of 80% judging by his age. Some of Melisandre's skill set consist of "blood rituals" such as sacrificing 3 leeches that have the blood of the King that ended the life of Joffrey, Robb and Lord Frey.

  • Except Lord Frey wasn't one of the 3..? Given he died after Stannis died...
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 16:33

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