Maesters of the Citadel
The maesters are an order of scholars and healers (physicians) in Westeros. They are also scientists, advisors to the nobility, and occasionally pseudo-religious researchers in the occult.
All maesters begin their training as novices in The Citadel, a massive structure in the city of Oldtown that all maester’s call home. 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.
Once a maester begins his study and becomes proficient in a particular course of study, he is tested and awarded a link of a certain metal to reflect his knowledge and skill. A student that earns a link is known as an acolyte until he completes an entire chain (called the Collar); 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. 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 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)
Pale steel (Smithing)
Silver (Medicine and healing)
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.