In the prologue of A Clash of Kings, Maester Cressen tries to assassinate Melisandre with a cup of wine poisoned with the strangler. Melisandre seems to be aware of the poison and offers him to spill the wine, but Maester Cressen insists. She then drinks most of the wine, but leaves some for Maester Cressen, who drinks the rest. Melisandre is unaffected by the poison.

"He does have power here, my lord," the woman said. "And fire cleanses." At her throat, the ruby shimmered redly.

After that, Maester Cressen dies of the poisoned wine.

We have seen Melisandre do some pretty impressive stuff (give birth to the shadow baby), but some of her powers have also been attributed to using the right powders and glamours.

Has it ever been explained how Melisandre survived the poison?

  • 3
    It hasn't been explained as far as I know. Maybe she preemptively took an antidote?
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 12:40
  • On the other hand,we can see(tv show) that the jewel in her choker pulsates red after she drinks from the cup so it might have been some magic involved(or another trick).
    – teair
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 12:55
  • 1
    It has been explained that Melisandre has trained to become very good at detecting assassination attempts on herself.
    – TLP
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 13:36
  • 3
    It's entirely possible that she used a glamour to make it appear as if she drank the wine. If she saw an assassination attempt in a fire she would be able to prepare an appropriate glamour ahead of time.
    – Will F
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 14:47
  • Oh wow. I watched that episode again last night and I wanted to ask the same question!!!
    – user24620
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 19:31

6 Answers 6


The exact reason is never mentioned, although we can glean some understanding from Melisandre's thoughts to herself in ADWD Chapter 31:

Danger to her own person was the first thing she learned to see, back when she was still half a child, a slave girl bound for life to the great red temple. It was still the first thing she looked for whenever she gazed into a fire.

We see proof of this in ASOS Chapter 25 during her conversation about another murder attempt:

"No one betrayed you, onion knight. I saw your purpose in my flames."

So she must have seen Cressen's attempt ahead of time and prepared herself accordingly - perhaps with an antidote, or magic related to the ruby at her neck.

Finally, there is this thought by Dany in ACOK Chapter 40 that mentions an enchanted necklace being able to protect against poisons:

The collar was set with an enchanted amethyst that Xaro swore would ward her against all poisons.

Melisandre might have been wearing a necklace with similar powers.


IMHO, it's pretty clear a combination of two things. Before the poisoning:

Around her throat was a red gold choker tighter than any maester's chain, ornamented with a single great ruby.


The ruby at Melisandre's throat caught the light as she turned her head, and for an instant it seemed to glow bright as the comet.

And then once the poison is in the cup:

Red silk, red eyes, the ruby red at her throat, red lips curled in a faint smile as she put her hand atop his own, around the cup. Her skin felt hot, feverish. "It is not too late to spill the wine, Maester." "No," he whispered hoarsely. "No."

She drinks, he drinks, and:

"He does have power here, my lord," the woman said. "And fire cleanses." At her throat, the ruby shimmered redly.

So there's 2 things:

First, she knew that he had poisoned the cup of wine, and even gave him a chance to get out of it. She sees things in the fire, I assume this is an example of the author using "show, don't tell"...he shows us her power and foresight without having to spell it out. The second is that that ruby at her throat is definitely being highlighted--we don't know anything about her rings or shoes or hairpins because they're not important, but the ruby is. The ruby has some power strongly associated with light and fire or at least is a tool that she can focus her power in. Since she saw it coming, she was able to be prepared with the right magical tool, or the right spell.

Later in Chapter 9:

Melisandre was robed in all scarlet satin and blood velvet, her eyes as red as the great ruby that glistened at her throat as if it too were afire.

Since fire is the 'source' of her power, that's a bit too strong of a comparison to ignore.

This is made even clearer in ADWD, as it is illustrated in other ways.


Melisandre wasn't poisoned because she didn't actually drink from the cup. She merely created the illusion that she drank from the cup. She "glamoured" Cressen into believing she drank from the cup. In later chapters there are many instances of glamouring by Melisandre and others.

It was no miracle that she knew Cressen had poisoned the wine. Even Davis saw him do it.

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    Could you provide a quote from the book where this "glamour" is shown? Or -- at the very least -- any of the other instances of it?
    – BMWurm
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 13:37

Perhaps, and this is only a theory, that with her ability to sense the attempted poisoning, she merely warded off death with the Lord of Light's magic (hence the ruby glowing). In a way, she instantly resurrected herself. This would be in line with Thoros' ability to revive the dead, and could support her theoretical ability to raise others (though this has yet to be seen).


Her skin was hot to the touch, and when she meets Jon snow, she shows him that she is not cold wearing as little as she is even atop the wall by pressing his hand to her cheek. Simply, this doesn't seem to be anything she needed to actually prepare for. Her body runs at a higher temperature than normal humans and this cleanses poison from her body.


In the books patchface knocks over Cressen as he enters and its Mel who picks him up this struck me as odd, I think there's a simpler explanation ( it says later that some of her magic is tricks and misdirection in a mel pof chapter on the wall) I think she obviously knows Cressens trying to whack her , she pick pockets the poison when she picks him up and replaces it for something harmless then when she offers Cressen back the cup adds the actual poison , simple.

  • She has very deft hands if that's true
    – Aegon
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 15:29
  • This seems like speculation. Please provide evidence from the source if you feel your answer is correct.
    – Skooba
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 16:51

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