If Melisandre can kill anyone just by leeching Gendry, why kill him rather than keeping him alive?

If he is alive he can be leeched at will and allow her to kill as many people as she likes.

  • 1. Sacrifices are one of the things followers do to retain the favour of their God. 2. There's likely a limit to the range the shadow can travel, and I don't recall a time where Melisandre is ever close to Tywin. Aug 8, 2013 at 10:45
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    @AnthonyGrist While I agree that is not that easy. Melisandre don't get close to Balon Greyjoy either.
    – RMalke
    Aug 8, 2013 at 10:49
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    @JimThio Also the only death we see cause directly by her, is Renly's, with the other deaths we assumed to be caused by her, but we're not SURE.
    – RMalke
    Aug 8, 2013 at 10:50
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    @RenanMalkeStigliani I've only read the books, I haven't watched the TV show, but I don't remember anything suggesting Balon was killed by Melisandre. Aug 8, 2013 at 10:52
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    You are begging the question: who says Melisandre can kill anyone she wants? I've read all books and got the impression she overstates both her knowledge and power.
    – Andres F.
    Aug 8, 2013 at 22:18

7 Answers 7


The fact is, we are still not sure if those deaths were caused by the blood ritual. Unlike Renly's death, where there was a supernatural being directly involved in the death (the shadow baby). Robb's death was due to the machinations of Tywin Lannister, and executed at the hand of Walder Frey. Nothing supernatural here that we can see.

Book spoilers:

Joffrey was poisoned, possibly by the Tyrells. Again, nothing supernatural. Balon Greyjoy on the other hand we have no first hand account of his death. But its timing coinciding with the return of Euron has led many to speculate that it was an assassination ordered by Euron.

It could simply be a lucky guess on Melisandre's side, or a self fulfilling a prophecy.

  • 4
    +1 It could also be that Melisandre has foretelling powers. She strikes me as a manipulative person, so it would be just like her to pretend something she is merely predicting was caused by her.
    – Andres F.
    Aug 17, 2013 at 15:41

Melisandre can kill anyone just by drawing leech

Says who? Leeched blood is a small sacrifice, and would only yield a small favour from the red god/blood magic. Generally with blood magic, you need a "fair trade", i.e. sacrifice a life to give life to another (as with the birth of Daenerys' dragons), or if you "cheat" the red god of a death (Arya saving Jaqen & co.), it should be repaid with another life so that you "return balance".

Mellisandre is a cunning lady though. She gets visions of the future from the flames. So if she knows that someone is going to die, she can make it seem like it was her doing. This way she seems more powerful, furthering her agenda.

Or so the theory goes. GRRM doesn't give much explanation about the nature of magic and gods.


Melisandre believes that Stannis is Azor Ahai. There is a prophecy that says that Azor Ahai will be The Lord of Light's champion, and fight the Great Other in a large upcoming battle.

There will come a day after a long summer when the stars bleed and the cold breath of darkness falls heavy on the world. In this dread hour a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. And that sword shall be Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes, and he who clasps it shall be Azor Ahai come again, and the darkness shall flee before him.

It is said that Azor Ahai will "wake dragons from stone", which is doubtless the prophecy that Melisandre is trying to coerce into existence. She has already tried to coerce Lightbringer into existence, but we know (as Maester Aemon also noted) that it is a glamour, not a true burning sword. We also know that Daenerys has already awakened her dragons from the stone eggs, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

As for the bloodfilled leeches... We know for a fact that Melisandre can see the future in her fires, and that this is something she is very good at. So what most likely happened is that she saw that Robb, Joffrey and Balon would die, so she decided to put on a show for Stannis, to convince him that he needed to give her the boy to work her magic. To convince him of the power of King's Blood. She believed that if she did indeed sacrifice the boy, a dragon would awaken from stone, and the prophecy would be fulfilled.

From a more pragmatic point of view, a dragon is also a sign of power, and it would be easier to get support from the lords of Westeros with a dragon.

  • But stannis chose the names of those who would die, not her. Surely this would be a big risk if it was a trick? What if he had named someone else?
    – Stefan
    Aug 11, 2013 at 9:19
  • Did he choose? How did the discussion go when they decided to use leeches to kill kings? She also knows her King. Killing pretenders is legal and justified, but killing other people... not so much. And Stannis is all about the law. But who knows, perhaps it wasn't a trick. What we know is that she wanted to convince Stannis of the power of King's blood, so that he would give her the boy to wake the dragon.
    – TLP
    Aug 11, 2013 at 10:00
  • I am having trouble remembering the exact conversation tbh. I remember he named the names and threw leeches in to the flames - however, you might be right in that she manipulated things so that he would 'choose' those names.
    – Stefan
    Aug 12, 2013 at 8:17
  • We never saw that conversation, but I imagine that she asked for the boy and he asked for alternatives, and she gave him one. Her motivation is clear though: This is why she wants to sacrifice the boy.
    – TLP
    Aug 12, 2013 at 8:52

I thought he was the illegitmate son of Robert Baratheon.

In her magic she uses there is 'power in a king's blood' and hence she uses his blood to power her magic.

  • It doesn't answer the question. I think the question is more like "Okay, and why instead of sacrificing him... Why she don't get whores and food to please him, and 10 leeches per day, and kill all the lords?"
    – RMalke
    Aug 8, 2013 at 11:29
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    Ah - so not why kill 'him' but why 'kill' him? But then the OP asks why not kill Tywin - I assumed that this was asking why not kill him instead, perhaps the OP meant why not use the magic to kill him as well as the others?
    – Stefan
    Aug 8, 2013 at 11:32
  • Tywin does not have king's blood, hence, his blood would not even serve as a replacement. Aug 8, 2013 at 16:26
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    Yes, that was my point but it looks like this might be a misreading of the question. Hopefully the OP will clarify soon.
    – Stefan
    Aug 8, 2013 at 16:30
  • I mean melisandre can kill anyone he wants without killing Gendry. I think George make her want to kill Gendry to add drama. I mean just 10 leechs per day and Gendry will be doing fine with all enemies death.
    – user4951
    Aug 9, 2013 at 2:12

We don't necessarily know that she does want to kill (Edric Storm Book/ Gendry TV), just that Davos is worried that she is going to kill Edric/Gendry and so takes him to safety. We haven't actually seen her kill anyone (other than Renly) just that her mutterings about the power of King's blood makes everyone else think she is planning to sacrifice people.

  • That's not true. She asks Stannis give her the boy: "Give me the boy, your Grace. It is the surer way." She already has his blood, what else does she need? She has/will also burn a man at Dragonstone to get favourable winds to sail north. Stannis also tells Davos that he might be the best boy in the world, but is he more worth than the lives of thousands? If Melisandre did not want his life, there would be no controversy.
    – TLP
    Aug 9, 2013 at 10:31

Melisandre can just be seeing into the future where see catches glimpses of what is to come and then use that to "convince" others that by sacrificing Edric and Gendry she could do much more. when in fact she just wants to REMOVE any threat the her Kings rule.

Both Edric and Gendry could in theory lead an uprising and overthrow Stanis as king.


Melisandre names 3 names as she performs her blood ritual.

Melisandre: The usurper Robb Stark. The usurper Balon Greyjoy. The usurper Joffrey Baratheon.
Game of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 8, "Second Sons"

Lets look at how each of those died.

Robb Stark

Died in the Red Wedding as planned by House Frey, House Bolton and House Lannister. The Frey's did it to gain power with the Lannister.s and to take revenge on Robb betraying them by marrying Talisa instead of a Frey girl. The Bolton's because they've had a long history of fighting with the Stark's, to take power in the North by claiming Winterfell and to gain power with the Lannister's. The Lannister's did it because they were at war with the Stark's and it gave a nice neat ending for them.

Balon Greyjoy

Was killed by his brother Euron Greyjoy who did it in an attempt to take power of the Iron Islands. It was a risky move as the next king is chosen by a Kingsmoot and Yara was favourite, especially as Euron had been AWOL for a while.

Joffrey Baratheon

Killed at the Purple Wedding by Petyr Baelish and the Tyrell's by poisoning his wine. Petyr did it to cause chaos so he could climb the ladder. Also so he could sneak Sansa Stark away with him in the following chaos. The Tyrell's did it as Ollena did not want Margaery to marry Joffery.

As you can see as each died because of someone else, that was already seemingly planning to kill them it's unclear if there deaths were due to the ritual.

As for why she wants to kill him, well more of a sacrifice equals a more powerful outcome.

A great gift requires a great sacrifice.
Game of Thrones, Season 3 Episode 10, "Mhysa"

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