A Clash of Kings  (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) A Clash of Kings discussion

George R.R. Martin and Grievous Hand Injuries

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Sosen In general, there's quite a lot of disfigurement, disembodiment, and general bodily harm in A Song of Ice and Fire. But George R.R. Martin seems to have a particular relish for hand injuries. They even seem to become more severe throughout the series:

First, Catelyn's fingers are cut when she tries to defend Bran;

Second, Jon's hand is burnt when he fights the Wight;

The third one doesn't occur chronologically after the first two, but it was written after them: Stannis taking Davos's fingers.

For number four, I won't give away what happens in Book 3 (which I'm halfway through), but suffice to say it continues the trend of the injuries becoming more and more severe.

I don't think this was intended by Martin; but I don't think it's a coincidence, either. I'm convinced he has some kind of subconscious obsession with hands.

Kimber He was on the Conan O'Brian Show last night talking about the books. He said that even he has a hard time keeping up with what has happened to each character. He often calls his website guy in Sweden (who is a walking Wikipedia of A Song of Ice and Fire) and asks about who is related to who and what happened to this person and that person. He also says he's horrible with eye color and smaller details. Apparently a horse changed sex from the first to the second book. I would be willing to be he has never tracked how many hand injuries occur in the books. I don't think he necessarily has a 'wounded hand fetish'. It just seems natural in an age where the combat is primarily hand to hand that there would be an increase in defense wounds and taking a hand or fingers would be among one of the worst punishments a man could get.

Matthew Williams Ah yes, and let's not forget (view spoiler) Bleh, that freak Martin loves his realism!

Sosen It may just be that hand injuries are the norm in that world; but Kimberlibri, you're definitely onto something: George is probably just being repetitive without realizing it. He thinks, "What gruesome thing should I do to this character? Ah, I know, a hand injury!" Forgetting that he's done that to several other characters already...

Or maybe he IS aware of it, and that's why each injury is more gruesome than the last: He has to try to top the last one, so that it won't be too obviously repetitive.

message 5: by Matthew (last edited Jun 06, 2013 06:09PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matthew Williams I wonder if someone should do an inventory. Might have to attach a spoiler alert to the whole thing, but I think it would be worth it. I'll start:

(view spoiler)

Wow... that's quite the list of death, isn't it?

Sosen Just got to a part in Book 3 where Sam cuts his hand while trying to start a fire.

Josh no one ever remembers jacelyn bywater, good ol ironhand.

though i have to say i can't quite keep up with the logic. you say he has a thing for hand injuries, but the same could be said for cutting people's heads off, diping them in tar and displaying them on the battlements.

there are also quite a few mentions of people being hanged... he must have a thing for rope, or nooses as well.

not to mention the folks who are sent off in funeral pyres... total pyromaniac, amirite?

not trying to be completely sarcastic, but i think you get my point. i feel if anything he is attempting to portray a little bit of grim realism into the stories. those hand injuries, at least those dealt as punishments seem odd and gruesome now, but back then they were more commonplace. think of the cliche of the arabian markets where thieves lost a hand if they were caught stealing. same idea here: especially in davos' case.

Gary I think the injuries are meant to be more gruesome than realistic. Realistic injuries aren't as dramatic as those described in GRRM's work. If it was a more strict realism that he was going for there would be a litany of lost teeth, broken bones, concussions, cuts and contusions. Not to mention blisters, skin rashes, bug bites, etc. that would accompany the amount of outdoor living that many of the characters are forced to endure. The injuries he describes are more horrific. Overall, that's probably a good thing. A little realism is nice, but too much can be quite dull.

Sosen @Josh: I would be foolish not to acknowledge that there's a vast amount of injuries of various kinds in this book. I'm just saying that I'm noticing a lot of maimin' of the hands and fingers, in particular. Like the chapter I just mentioned where Sam cuts his hand starting a fire - later in the chapter, he sticks his hand in the fire and grabs hot coals! (the ramifications of which have not been revealed to me yet, if there are any) and then at the end of the chapter, he meets a dude with a ... black hand?! Is it this Jacelyn guy? I don't know. But that's three specific references to hands in a SINGLE CHAPTER.

Come on, admit it people! This guy hates hands!

Sosen Even more damning evidence: All five of my examples (Catelyn, Jon, Davos, Jaime, and Sam) are people who have chapters about them; which of course gives Martin a chance to write from the point of view of the injured, and to go on and on about how much their hands hurt.

I'll bet 20% of the series so far is about hands; it's just that no one has bothered to calculate it...

message 11: by Gary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary I think a hand injury to a guy who types all day might have a certain emotional quality to it.... But I don't think we should read too much into it.

Matthew Williams Gary wrote: "I think a hand injury to a guy who types all day might have a certain emotional quality to it.... But I don't think we should read too much into it."

Aha! It's his way of complaining to his editor about how much typing he has to do! Subtle work, Martin. Now quite your bitching and finish Winds of Winter! You got a deadline to maintain!

Laura Birks Possible Spoilers ahead!

Just reading through some of the comments and couldn't help but think of the Hands of the King(s) and all the things that happen to them. I'm only up to Book 3 part 2 but didn't Aerys Targaryen kill a few Hands and then of course there's Jon Arryn's death, not to mention what happens to Ned and Tyrion and probably Tywin in the books I haven't read yet. Seems Martin's 'thing' about hands is quite widespread ;p

message 14: by Josh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Josh James wrote: "Martin a chance to write from the point of view of the injured, and to go on and on about how much their hands hurt."

maybe he has really bad carpal tunnel and this lets him vent about it.

message 15: by Jon (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jon Greatjon vs Grey Wind!

Sosen Laura- You nailed it. Two "hands" are murdered, and another nearly is. How did I not think of this!

Christie Wow, seeing the tally of hand injuries really makes you wonder. Interesting insights here...I'm sure my English professors would say it's a deep metaphor for something :P

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