Greyscale is a virulent disease that attacks the skin. leaving it stiff and dead. As it is prominent in cold and damp climates, Dragonstone and the Iron Islands record more cases than most parts of Westeros. The disease is common in Sothoryos and down the Rhoyne through the Sorrows. Greyscale leaves a person’s skin cracked and flaked, with it getting a blotchy greyish-black hue.
The skin becomes stone-like to the touch and remains like that for as long as the person lives, as there is no cure. For one to know if they have the disease, they use a knife to prick the extremities of their fingers daily, if there is a sensation, it means there is no greyscale, but if there is no pain, it means they have got the disease.
Greyscale Disease Details
After a person gets infected with Greyscale, their skin changes appearance. If they survive, they become immune to the disease’s lethal form and Grey Plague. However, their skin remains blotched and will never revert to its original form. The Free Folk called it the Grey Death and usually euthanized those who survived in fear of them infecting others.
For those who do not develop immunity to Greyscale, the disease first affects the body’s extremities. A person would experience a loss of sensation at the fingertips, and the numbness would creep up the hands or legs. The flesh will get stiff and change to a greyish color. It will stiffen and gradually spread to every inch of the body, including the organs, bones, and muscles. Sometimes, the disease starts from the inside and makes its way out. Though it is allegedly not painful, most victims run mad at the final stages of the illness.
The is no standard cure for Greyscale. Maesters claim the disease’s progress can get stalled by scalding-hot baths, limes, and mustard poultices. Some believe that severing an affected limb before the disease spreads could cure it. However, it is not always sufficient. The Septons of the Faith believe that prayers, fasting, and sacrifices are the cure for the disease, and other sources claim vinegar can protect one against the illness.
According to Legend, Greyscale came into the world as a curse. When the Rhoynar Prince Garin the Great fought Volantis and Valyria in the Second Spice War, he got captured and hung in a cage at Chroyane. Upon witnessing his people’s enslavement, he called down a curse, asking Mother Rhoyne to avenge her children. That night the Rhioyne flooded, and a thick fog fell upon Valyria. The slavers began dying from a mysterious illness that would later get called Greyscale.
After Old Valyria fell and Aegon became King, Oldtown got hit by a plague of Greyscale. Known as the Grey Plague, the disease killed half the population and almost everyone at the Citadel. To prevent a massive outbreak, Lord Quenton Hightower ordered the gates shut and anyone trying to escape killed. Though it created turmoil in the city, the quarantine succeeded, and the plague died. Quenton and his son later got killed by the survivors.
Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire
As the red comet crosses the sky, Maester Cressen reminisces on how he failed to cure Princess Shireen Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon’s daughter from Greyscale. He tries killing the red priestess Melisandre of Asshai but fails.
Under the Bridge of Dreams in the Sorrows, the passengers on the Shy Maid get attacked by stone men. During the conflict, Tyrion Lannister gets thrown into the water, but Jon Connington saves him. Jon later discovers he has Greyscale. Jon keeps the infection secret and later parts ways with Tyrion, who gets captured by Ser Jorah Mormont.
At the Wall, Val tells Jon Snow that Shireen Baratheon is unclean and should get killed. She explains that the Free Folk do not let people who survive Greyscale live and advises the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch to keep Gilly’s son and wet nurses from the princess.
Relevance in Adaptation
In HBO’s Game of Thrones, Greyscale was an almost incurable disease that changed a person’s skin. After Daenerys Targaryen banished him, Jorah Mormont learned he got infected. He searched far and wide for a cure and ended up with Samwell Tarly, who successfully cured the disease.
Greyscale: The Great Virus
Greyscale was an illness that affected a person in the worst way possible. It turned their skin into an unrecognizable lump of stone. Besides affecting outward appearances, it also made a person crazy and led to blindness if it reached the eyes. With it came stigma, one that could never leave an infected person.
Why was there no cure for greyscale?
Greyscale had no cure because its origins are shrouded in mystery. It is a disease that appeared in Essos during a war. Greyscale had no treatment because it was a viral disease. Its symptoms were almost untreatable, and it spread throughout a victim very fast.
Did Jon Connington contract Greyscale?
Yes. After rescuing Tyrion Lannister from drowning, Jon Connington came into contact with one of the Stone Men. He later discovered he got infected with greyscale. He hid the disease from everyone and avoided treatment as it would raise suspicion.
How terrible was Greyscale?
Greyscale was a virulent disease that turned a person’s flesh into a hard lump. It could spread around the body and affect the organs or sometimes start from the organs. The disease was so terrible and contagious that cities isolated their infected. The Free folk killed anyone infected with the disease as they feared infection.
Did Ser Jorah Mormont get infected with Greyscale in the books?
No. Jorah Mormont got infected with Greyscale in Game of Thrones. In the novel series, he is healthy and captures Tyrion Lannister.