Maesters

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Order of Maesters
Seat The Citadel, Oldtown
Region Seven Kingdoms
Maester links, Art by Tim Durning ©

The maesters are an order of scholars, healers, postmen, and scientists who are trained at a school called the Citadel, which is located in Oldtown. House Hightower was integral in the Citadel's foundation, and continues to patronize the order. As advisers to the Westerosi nobility, the maesters have largely supplanted the Alchemists' Guild. They are sometimes called "the knights of the mind."[1]

The Citadel

The Citadel, an impressive structure in the city of Oldtown, is considered the home of all maesters. Here they undergo their training from the time they arrive as novices until they have achieved the status of maester. At the entrance of the Citadel are green marble sphinxes.

Organization

Maester

Maester duty to the realm

The maesters are scholars, scientists, learned advisors to the nobility, and occasionally pseudo-religious researchers in the occult. Males of any age may begin training as a maester; females are not permitted to study or join the order. Noble families in Westeros sometimes send their younger sons to the Citadel. A bastard may study at the Citadel and become a maester. The maesters, like the brothers of the Night's Watch, are considered to be servants of Westeros and all its people and in theory have no political allegiance. After finishing his course of study, a maester is assigned to a castle, keep or other holding, and is loyal to the people of that place as a mentor, healer and adviser, regardless of changes in control of that holding. To this end a man who earns his chain is stripped of his family name and from that time on is known only by his title and first name. In practice, some maesters hold over old allegiances and loyalties.

Archmaester

The perceived "master" of any area of study is given the title of archmaester and a mask, ring, and rod in the corresponding metal to signify his expertise. For example, an archmaester who specializes in ravenry will have a mask, ring, and rod made of black iron. Archmaesters are the senior members of the Order and are given the right to sit on the Conclave. The Conclave is the governing body of the Citadel and is the same body that elects the Grand Maester who advises the king.[2] All meetings of the Conclave are confidential in nature and conducted behind closed doors at the Citadel only.[3]

Marwyn the Mage is the order's leading researcher into the occult and magic, with a mask, ring and rod made of Valyrian steel. For his strange pursuits and gruff manner he is ostracized by others in the Citadel.

Grand Maester

The Grand Maester is a senior member of the order who serves as the Citadel's representative to the king on the Iron Throne, the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms.[2] The Grand Maester can only be made or unmade by the Conclave.[3] Sworn to serve the whole realm,[4] the Grand Maester sits on the small council and acts as one of the king's advisers. The Grand Maester wears many interwoven maester chains to indicate his high office, but these do not reflect his true studies.[citation needed] Gems are woven into the chains.[5]

Seneschal

The Seneschal is chosen from among the archmaesters by lot, with a new one chosen each year. The Seneschal is tasked with the governance of the Citadel. Most archmaesters consider it a thankless task that takes them away from their true calling.[6]

Traditions and Culture

See also: Images of Maesters
Maester taking the oath
Forging the chain - by Mike Capprotti. © Fantasy Flight Games

Maesters begin their training as novices in the Citadel. Once they begin their study and have been seen as proficient in a particular course of study they are tested and awarded a link of a certain metal to reflect their skill and knowledge. A student with a link is known as an acolyte until he has a full chain. It is not until he has completed extensive study in various subjects and has earned enough links to form a chain (to be worn around the neck) that he is considered worthy of advancement to the title of maester, no longer a student but a peer. The night before the acolytes swear their vows to become maesters, they must stand a vigil in a vault with a black glass candle. He is allowed no lantern or any other source of light. Unless he can light the candle, he will spend the night in total darkness.[7]

Collar

Iron link for studies in the field of warcraft. Art by Tim Durning ©
A maester advises his lord. © FFG

The collar signifies that maesters do not serve themselves, but are instead servants of all of Westeros. The collar consists of several links of different types of metal. These chains are formed from every metal known to man, but almost no maester will ever wear them all. Maesters do not remove the chain ever, not even when sleeping.[8]

According to George R. R. Martin, it is possible to earn multiple links of the same metal; Multiple links of the same metal on a maester's chain signifies the expertise of the maester on the subject.[9] The metals of which a student can earn links for their chain include:


While there are only fourteen known links, and thus fourteen known subjects of expertise taught at the Citadel, there are twenty-one known current archmaesters of the Citadel, for only eight of whom a specialism is known.[12] It is currently unknown if each of these archmaesters are specialized in a separate subject or whether multiple archmaesters can be specialized in the same subject.

Only one maester in one hundred holds a link of Valyrian steel, as the study of magic is looked down upon by most maesters.[10]

Practices and observances

Maester studies

Maesters chiefly communicate through messenger ravens, which are trained specifically for one route. For example, for a message that must be sent to Castle Black, the maester uses the raven from the Castle Black cage. One of the typical duties of a maester is care of a keep's ravens. A special breed of white raven that is larger and more intelligent than average is maintained at the Citadel for important communications. Maesters also constantly monitor the seasons. When the seasons are about to change, they send white ravens to spread the announcement throughout the realm.[13] Maesters who are skilled in astronomy often watch the skies and study constellations.

Recent Events

A Clash of Kings

When the red comet appears during the events of the War of the Five Kings, the maesters are among the first to notice.

Pycelle has served as Grand Maester for over forty years, though his loyalties lie with House Lannister rather than the realm. His advanced age has slowed him down, and he often dozes off during small council meetings. He is thrown in the dungeons of the Red Keep by Tyrion Lannister.

A Storm of Swords

Tywin Lannister, the Hand of the King, recalls Pycelle to his duties when it appeared the Citadel was going to replace him with Maester Gormon, formerly of House Tyrell.

A Feast for Crows

There have been whispers that the maesters hold more more power and sway than they are ready to admit. Archmaester Marwyn suspects that they had a role in the demise of House Targaryen's dragons. Some consider most maesters to be categorically opposed to magic and its influence on Westeros.

Queen Regent Cersei Lannister perceives Pycelle as a broken man after his imprisonment.

Jon Snow, the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, sends Samwell Tarly to Oldtown to train at the Citadel. Maester Aemon dies en route.[14][15] Archmaester Marwyn decides to travel to Slaver's Bay to reach Daenerys Targaryen.[6]

A Dance with Dragons

Lady Barbrey Dustin is extremely distrustful of maesters in general and refers to them as "grey rats".[16]

In spite of his past failings in court intrigue, Pycelle successfully seizes control of King Tommen I Baratheon and the council after Cersei's arrest by the High Sparrow, offering Ser Kevan Lannister the regency. As they attempt to fix Cersei's follies and mend the damages to the Lannister-Tyrell alliance that supports Tommen Baratheon's hold on the Iron Throne, Pycelle and Kevan are both assassinated by Varys, the former master of whisperers.[17]

Known Members

Archmaesters

Maesters

Acolytes and Novices

Historical Members

Grand Maesters

Archmaesters

Maesters

Quotes

There are some who call my order the knights of the mind ... Have you ever thought that you might wear a maester's chain? There is no limit to what you might learn ... I can teach you history, healing, herblore. I can teach you the speech of ravens, and how to build a castle, and the way a sailor steers his ship by the stars. I can teach you to measure the days and marks the seasons, and at the Citadel in Oldtown they can teach you a thousand things more. But, Bran, no man can teach you magic.[1]
- Luwin to Bran Stark


If you do not have a maester, it is taken to mean that you are of little consequence.[27]
- Barbrey Dustin to Theon Greyjoy


Isn't it clever how the maesters go only by one name, even those who had two when they first arrived at the Citadel? That way we cannot know who they truly are or where they come from.[27]
- Barbrey Dustin to Theon Greyjoy

See Also

Notes

  1. Based on Archmaester Vaellyn's "subject to judge" being "the heavens" (A Feast for Crows, Prologue) and him being described as "the stargazer" (A Feast for Crows, Appendix)

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran VI.
  2. 2.0 2.1 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Maesters.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 12, Tyrion II.
  4. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 39, Cersei IX.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 20, Eddard IV.
  6. 6.0 6.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45, Samwell V.
  7. A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 41, Jon V.
  9. So Spake Martin: Dragon Limbs and Gender, Valyrian Weapons and Maesters' Chains (April 16, 2008)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 24, Theon II.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 12.12 12.13 12.14 12.15 12.16 12.17 12.18 12.19 12.20 12.21 A Feast for Crows, Appendix.
  13. A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
  14. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 5, Samwell I.
  15. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell IV.
  16. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 41, The Turncloak.
  17. A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
  18. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 9, Tyrion I.
  19. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard V.
  20. 20.0 20.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 36, Cersei VIII.
  21. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
  22. 22.0 22.1 The Sworn Sword.
  23. The World of Ice & Fire, The Westerlands: House Lannister under the Dragons.
  24. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 45, Catelyn VI.
  25. The Mystery Knight.
  26. The Hedge Knight.
  27. 27.0 27.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.

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