Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Scrofula Pops Up in Another Unlikely Place

I have been reading and rereading the latest in the A Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin. It is not for the faint of heart as there are some truly cringe-worthy moments in the story. One of the most disgusting characters ever to appear in a novel would be the Bastard of the Dreadfort, Ramsay Snow, or as he has become Ramsay Bolton. The Boltons conspired with the hated Freys to massacre the unarmed Stark allies at a wedding, a deed for which almost everyone in the Seven Kingdoms looks down on them for.
Lord Wyman Manderly, who has thus far been dismissed as a craven and a fat fool, has turned out to be tougher than he appears and he is slowly eliminating Freys and Boltons. One of the Bolton men is discovered dead following the collapse of a stable. "The dead man was one of Ramsay's favorites, the squat, scrofulous, ill-favored man-at-arms called Yellow Dick. Whether his **** had actually been yellow was hard to determine, as someone had sliced it off and stuffed it into his mouth so forcefully they had broken three of his teeth. When the cooks found him outside the kitchens, buried up to his neck in a snowdrift, both **** and man were blue from cold."
Don't cry for him, he was a nasty piece of work. One can't help but cheer every time a Frey or Bolton dies. I was just delighted that he had scrofula because it was one of those diseases in the Middle Ages that the rightful king was thought to be able to cure by touching. It was part of how Joan of Arc proved Charles VII was the rightful king. It is seldom heard of anymore thanks to antibiotics but, although not fatal, it was very disfiguring.

7 comments:

Kristin said...

Another one mentioned is greyscale, which Princess Shireen has. It sounds like localized scleroderma that affects mostly the hands and face in children. Even now there is no cure for it. I don't think it's leprosy, although wasn't Connington diagnosed with it?

Most people feared lepers when in fact leprosy is one of the hardest diseases to transmit to other people. Go figure. If Martin is going to run with that and try to cause a plague, well, in the real world that would never happen.

anachronist said...

I must complain a bit - my book still hasn't arrived although I pre-ordered. Well, even if it arrived today it would make no difference - visit my blog tommorow and you will know why. I hate postal services most of the time. Typically utility bills are delivered right on time. Go figure why.

Scrofula...actually I am not so surprised Martin used it.

The Red Witch said...

Connington gets it from water surrounding a leper colony. Martin includes another disease - bloody flux - another name for dysentery in the east. Suprising really with all the rotting bodies in water that there haven't been things like a cholera outbreak in King's Landing.

That is surely frustrating Anachronist. At least there are enough spoilers out there thatvyou cn satisfy the most urgent curiosity.

Tracy said...

I never did get into this series - is this one nearly the last one?

The Red Witch said...

Nope. There are two more expected. If Martin lives long enough to finish them. The pace of his writing has slowed down.

Tracy said...

So how long did it take him to finish this latest one? Because I seem to recall you all discussing it back in 2007/2008?

The Red Witch said...

Six long years. Hopefully it won't take as long to write the next one. We were all hoping the HBO series would get him working on the books again. I suspect it did.