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The maesters are an order of scholars, healers and scientists who are trained at a school called the Citadel.


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. 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 advisor, 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.


The perceived "master" of any area of study is given a mask, ring or rod and the title Archmaester in the corresponding metal to signify his expertise. For example, an archmaester who specializes in ravenry will have a mask, ring or 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. All the meetings of the Conclave are confidential in nature and conducted behind closed doors at the Citadel only.

Grand Maester

The Grand Maester is considered the senior member of the Order and serves as its representative to the King. He sits on the Small Council and acts as the King's advisor. The Grand Maester wears many interwoven maester chains to indicate his high office, but these do not reflect his true studies. Gems are woven into the several chains.

The Citadel

The Citadel is an impressive structure in the city of Oldtown, and is considered the home of all maesters. Here they undergo all of 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.

Traditions and Culture

Maesters begin their training as novices in the Citadel, a domain of House Hightower, bannermen to House Tyrell. 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. There have been whispers that the maesters have held much 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.

The collar

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. These metals include:

  • Black iron (Ravenry)
  • Brass
  • Bronze (Astronomy)
  • Copper (History)
  • Gold (Economics)
  • Iron (Warcraft)
  • Lead
  • Pale steel (Smithing)
  • Pewter
  • Platinum
  • Red gold
  • Silver (Medicine and healing)
  • Steel
  • Tin
  • Valyrian steel (Magic and the occult) - Only one in one hundred holds a link of Valyrian steel; the study of magic is looked down upon by most Maesters.

Practices and observances

Maesters monitor the seasons; when the seasons change they send white ravens to notify the Houses of the change. They also watch the skies for changes; they are the first to notice the comet which appears during the events of the War of the Five Kings. As part of their service, they teach the names of the constellations.

Notable Members

Grand Maester Pycelle

Pycelle is a maester of around 80 years and has served as Grand Maester on several kings' Small Councils over the last few decades. Though intelligent and highly educated, Pycelle's effectiveness on the king's court has been dulled by his advanced age. He sometimes falls asleep during meetings.

Despite his oath to serve the King, Pycelle has more loyalties to the Lannister family. At the end of Robert's Rebellion, Pycelle convinced Aerys II that Tywin Lannister's invasion force was reinforcements. He contributed to the death of Jon Arryn by stopping Maester Coleman's effective treatment, fearing what he would reveal if he should live. His complicity in Cersei's plots brought him in conflict with Tyrion Lannister, who shaved Pycelle's signature white beard while interrogating him on Cersei's actions. Pycelle's self-confidence was shaken after his shaving, and Cersei perceived him to be a broken man. He began objecting to Cersei's more paranoid schemes, which caused her to contemplate having him replaced. His future in the court was uncertain until Cersei's imprisonment by the Faith. In spite of his past failings in court intrigue, Pycelle successfully seized control of King Tommen and the council in Cersei's absence. He is last reported as offering Kevan Lannister the Regency of the Seven Kingdoms.

Other Members

  • Archmaester Marwyn, the order's leading researcher into the occult and magic.
  • Maester Aemon, Maester of the Night's Watch, one of three living members of House Targaryen. Died of a chill after crossing by sea to the Free Cities in the company of his student, Samwell Tarly.
  • Maester Cressen, Maester at Dragonstone and advisor to Stannis Baratheon. Drank from the cup of poison that was meant for Stannis' red priestess, Melisandre. The poison did not affect Melisandre, but Cressen was still killed.
  • Maester Harmune, a maester for the Night's Watch at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
  • Maester Luwin, Maester of Winterfell and trusted advisor to House Stark. Killed during fighting in Winterfell between House Greyjoy and House Bolton. One of the few maesters to have studied magic.
  • Maester Mullin, a maester for the Night's Watch at the Shadow Tower.
  • Maester Pylos, successor to Cressen at Dragonstone. Aided Davos Seaworth in smuggling out Edric Storm, in order to spare him from being burned as a sacrifice by Melisandre.
  • Qyburn, advisor to Queen Cersei. Former maester stripped of his chain and title by the Citadel for conducting immoral research (vivisection and other experiments performed on live human subjects).
  • Novice Samwell Tarly, Brother of the Night's Watch and student of Maester Aemon.
  • Novice Pate, Archmaester Walgrave's assistant, killed by the Alchemist. Some speculate that Jaqen H'ghar was the Alchemist, and took up Pate's identity after killing him.