Maesters are often referred to as “knights of the mind,” and their broad learning and experience is useful to nobles and lords across the Seven Kingdoms. Maesters are trained in a grand fortress, the Citadel of Oldtown, in a number of different arts. They wear a chain, each link made of a different metal to signify mastery over a different art. Once a Maester dons his chain, he takes a vow of chastity and service for the rest of his life. The Maesters are the secular advisors to kings and lords just as the Godsworn are their spiritual advisors. They believe that magic and monsters are extinct in the Seven Kingdoms, and are sceptics who seek material and measurable explanations for the world’s wonders.
A Maester adventures when there is knowledge to be gained or a mystery to be solved. They prepare extensively for any adventure they might undertake, because without forethought they are at the mercy of stronger and faster men. Adventuring Maesters seek to expand their understanding of the world or to procure exotic substances and secrets that they can take back to their towers for further study.
Maesters have a breadth of knowledge unrivalled in the Seven Kingdoms. As a Maester grows older his insight and knowledge become even more vast, and individual Maesters are often known for their specialities, whether poison, the stars, or the history of the realm. Even if a Maester does not have knowledge of a certain area, he can often fi nd information in his personal library or at the Citadel. They spend their lives mastering several arts, adding links to the chains they wear around their neck. In addition, Maesters are skilled raven trainers, and they oversee the rookeries in most of the castles of the Seven Kingdoms.
Maesters are chosen for training based on talent rather than upbringing; the children of nobles are far more likely to be noticed by an existing Maester, but social class is not a factor. A new student at the Citadel is
considered a novice. When a novice believes he has mastered a subject, he goes before an archmaester — the supreme authority on a topic. If the student successful answers the archmaester’s questions and tests, he acquires a link. Upon receiving his first link, the novice becomes an acolyte (normally 2nd or 3rd Level). Once an acolyte has acquired enough links to form a collar (yes, this does disadvantage acolytes with larger necks!), he may choose to become a Maester (normally 3rd to 5th Level).
Once a Maester takes his vows and dons his collar, he forever forsakes any house name he may have had. Maesters are dedicated to their knowledge and their arts, not bound by familial loyalties or political ties.
Most of the houses of the Seven Kingdoms have a Maester to keep their rookery and advise their lords on all matters. Maesters are fi rst and foremost bound to the Citadel, and may be called upon to act on the Citadel’s behalf. The Grand Maester is the Maester sent to serve the king.
A Maester’s Chain
A Maester’s collar is worn throughout his life, and never removed. Each link signifi es a different sort of learning, including:
Gold for the study of money and accounts
Silver for healing
Iron for warcraft
Black iron for ravenry
Valyrian steel for the higher mysteries