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The maesters chain


57 replies to this topic

#1 Rhaenys_Targaryen

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 04:35 PM

Reading through all the books, I’ve started to wonder how many links a novice has to earn before being allowed to call himself a maester. There’s lots of information to find about this, though none of it has been able to give me the answer. I hope perhaps someone here is able to help me out further.

 

A Song of Ice and Fire RPG:

No formal entry requirements exist for study at the Citadel, apart from being male. Study, however, takes years; most novices forge one link of their chain in a year, with some taking five times as long, and even the most exceptional may only manage three in one year. The Citadel does not pay its students, so only those with some form of support can study.

 

 

This is in line with the information we get from Feast:

 

Alleras would make a maester. He had only been at the Citadel for a year, yet already he had forged three links of his maester’s chain. Armen might have more, but each of his had taken him a year to earn. Still, he would make a maester too

 

 

Maester Aemon was about 9 or 10 years old when he went to the Citadel. Since he’s already at the Citadel during the Hedge Knight (in 209 AC) and he was born in 198 AC, I’d say Aemon has been at the Citadel since 208AC at least:

 

Be that as it may, our Aemon lacked the Dragonknight’s martial nature. He likes to say he had a slow sword but quick wits. Small wonder his grandfather packed him off to the Citadel. He was nine or ten, I believe...

 

 

“Aemon was at his books when the eldest of his uncles, the heir apparent, was slain in a tourney mishap. He left two sons, but they followed him to the grave not long after, during the Great Spring Sickness. King Daeron was also taken, so the crown passed to Daeron’s second son, Aerys.”

“How long ago was this?”

“Eighty years or close enough,” the Old Bear said, “and no, I still hadn’t been born, though Aemon had forged half a dozen links of his maester’s chain by then.”

 

 

So we know that Aemon was 9 or 10 when he started studying at the Citadel, and that 2 years later, when Aerys I died, Aemon had already forged 6 links (half a dozen). This aligns with Alleras, who forged 3 links in a year. It seems that they are both exceptional students.

 

The official app has confirmed that Aemon was 19 years old when he finished his studies. So Aemon studied for 9 or 10 years at Oldtown.

 

Should Aemon have kept up his exceptional pace, he would have forged a maximum of 30 links (3 links a year, 10 years = 30 links).

 

Next we have Grand Maester Pycelle.

Pycelle was born in 216 AC (being 84 years old in 300 AC, and 42 years old in 259 AC, shows us that Pycelle was 42 turning 43 in 259 AC, when he became Grand Maester, and 83 turning 84 in 300 AC). According to the RPG, the Citadel does not admit any student younger than 9, so Pycelle could not have entered the Citadel before 225 AC.

 

In a Game of Thrones, Pycelle’s chain is described:

His maester’s collar was no simple metal choker such as Luwin wore, but two dozen heavy chains wound together into a ponderous metal necklace that covered him from throat to breast. The links were forged of every metal known to man: black iron and red gold, bright copper and dull lead, steel and tin and pale silver, brass and bronze and platinum.

 

 

This seems to suggest that Pycelle has 24 links (2 dozen).

 

In Clash, his chain is described again:

 

It was a heavy thing, a dozen maester’s collars threaded around and through each other and ornamented with gemstones. And it seemed to Tyrion that the gold and silver and platinum links far outnumbered those of baser metals.

 

 

From those two quotes, it seems that Pycelle has at least earned the following links:

Black iron

Red gold

Bright copper

Lead

Steel

Tin

Silver (at least 3)

Brass

Bronze

Platinum (at least 3)

Gold (at least 3)

 

 

Since Tyrion mentions the silver, platinum and gold outnumber the other metals, and the other metals together (as described) count 8, from the silver, platinum and gold each Pycelle would have at least 3 links (9 in total). However, Tyrion states they far outnumber the others, so most likely, there are more. This would give Pycelle a minimum of 17 links for his chain, but most likely more links.

 

The wiki claims that there are 16 different links that you can earn, and the RPG suggests that it is possible to earn multiple links of the same metal. Valyrian steel is one of these metals, but barely any maester tries out for that link.

 

Pycelle has stated that he studied at the Citadel during Maekar’s reign (which lasted from 212 AC until 233 AC). He would not have started his studies before 225 AC, when he turned 9. So Pycelle started his studies between 225 AC and 233 AC. In 259 AC, Pycelle was chosen as the Grand Maester, so he was done with his studying by then.

 

We also know that Oberyn Martell studied at the Citadel, and that he forged 6 links of his chain before leaving. There was no indication of Oberyn being allowed to do the final test to become a maester, which suggests that you need at least 7 links, but most likely more, to forge a chain.

 

 

 

He had studied at the Citadel, going so far as to forge six links of a maester’s chain before he grew bored.

 

 

Then there's Lord Lyonel Strong (Rogue Prince spoiler),

Spoiler

With the established maximum of 3 links earned a year, this guy seems to have thus gotten 21 links maximally by the time his studies were done.

 

 

 

Even though this is a lot of information, I still cannot conclude from this how many links a maesters chain should have before he can call himself a maester (the links need to create a chain which fits around ones neck, but there has to be a minimum, otherwise fat novices could spend years trying to become  a maester, while extremely skinny maesters can finish much earlier).

 

As has been stated in-thread in the meantime, it might be not only a case of minimum amount of links, but also minimum amount of subjects. About the amount of subjects, we can say even less, unfortunately.

 

Does anyone have any idea about this( anything from the books I might have missed, or the app, since I don’t have it and can’t install it, or SSMs)?


Edited by Rhaenys_Targaryen, 20 June 2014 - 03:53 PM.


#2 Lord Lyman

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 04:58 PM

"It was a heavy thing, a dozen maester’s collars threaded around and through each other and ornamented with gemstones. And it seemed to Tyrion that the gold and silver and platinum links far outnumbered those of baser metals."

 

"His maester’s collar was no simple metal choker such as Luwin wore, but two dozen heavy chains wound together into a ponderous metal necklace that covered him from throat to breast. The links were forged of every metal known to man: black iron and red gold, bright copper and dull lead, steel and tin and pale silver, brass and bronze and platinum."

 

Both of these passages sounds like Pycelle has multiple chains, not links. With this many chains I think we can assume that Pycelle has well over 100 links total.


Edited by Lord Lyman, 22 February 2014 - 04:59 PM.


#3 Brynden Bloodraven Rivers

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 05:02 PM

I can't add very much, but there's one quote:

 

 

He had studied at the Citadel, going so far as to forge six links of a maester’s chain before he grew bored 

 

That's about Oberyn, so we can conclude that you are not already a maester with six links.



#4 Don Roberto

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 05:05 PM

Nice analysis :)

Though I imagine Pycelle's chains to be actual 24 chains, and not just one chain of 24 links (which is quite few, and wouldn't cover him "from throat to breast". Though I also doubt all his chains are maester's chains, more like one of them is (with who knows how many links) and the others are just decorative. 



#5 mindchap

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 05:15 PM

I'm guessing that Sam may be spending quite some time at the Citadel because nearly every SSM regarding maesters say "You'll see more in future books". There is one however that seems to contradict the RPG book:

 

 

What I would like to know; -What are the criterions for being allowed into the Citadel for maester education? Could a dwarf in his late twenties like Tyrion be allowed in?

You'll learn more about the Citadel in future books.

In brief, however, there's no age requirement... nor any other sort of requirement, actually. The Citadel is very loosely structured, and open to all. That doesn't mean that all become maesters, however. Oldtown is full of aging novices and acolytes who have never finished forging their chain (or in some cases, never begun)... the Seven Kingdoms equivilent to the eternal grad student of our world.

As to Pycelle's chains, I wouldn't think it's 24 chains unless his vanity has gotten the better of him and he has just added the bling after the fact. :)


Edited by mindchap, 22 February 2014 - 05:16 PM.


#6 Rhaenys_Targaryen

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 01:05 PM

I can't add very much, but there's one quote:

 

 

He had studied at the Citadel, going so far as to forge six links of a maester’s chain before he grew bored 

 

That's about Oberyn, so we can conclude that you are not already a maester with six links.

 

Thanks, I've put that in the OP! I had used all the information before to determine how long Oberyn minimally and maximally would have been at the Citadel, but somehow I didn't think to use it here  ^_^



#7 Rhaenys_Targaryen

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 01:08 PM

I'm guessing that Sam may be spending quite some time at the Citadel because nearly every SSM regarding maesters say "You'll see more in future books". There is one however that seems to contradict the RPG book:

 

 

As to Pycelle's chains, I wouldn't think it's 24 chains unless his vanity has gotten the better of him and he has just added the bling after the fact. :)

 

Well, both the SSM's and the RPGs are semi-canon.. I don't know from which year that SSM was?

 

Wouldn't 24 chains be a little much? Seeing as you'll need more than 6 to forge a chain, that would already be at least 7*24=168 links. Even if Pycelle was an exceptional student (3 links a year), it would have taken him 56 years to forge them all... And he was 42 when he became a Grand Maester...

 

So that sounds like a bit much, no?



#8 Ser Leftwich

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 01:18 PM

IIRC, there was some allusion to the chain that Pycelle wears being ceremonial and not the actual links that he forged.

There are jewels and gems in there which seem out of place for a maester, but would make sense if the chain of the Grand Maester were ceremonial.



#9 Rhaenys_Targaryen

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 01:26 PM

IIRC, there was some allusion to the chain that Pycelle wears being ceremonial and not the actual links that he forged.

There are jewels and gems in there which seem out of place for a maester, but would make sense if the chain of the Grand Maester were ceremonial.

 

So he'd have one or two actual chains containing links and the rest being, for lack of a better word, ceremonial bling?

 

Where is this allusion, if I might ask? :D Is there a quote in the books or an SSM?



#10 Ser Leftwich

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 01:34 PM

 

So he'd have one or two actual chains containing links and the rest being, for lack of a better word, ceremonial bling?

 

Where is this allusion, if I might ask? :D Is there a quote in the books or an SSM?

I can't remember where I hear this idea. For some reason I think Tyrion was involved.

 

Or, worst case scenario, it was from the show. And if it was, I apologize.



#11 ADB

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 01:55 PM

IIRC, there was some allusion to the chain that Pycelle wears being ceremonial and not the actual links that he forged.

There are jewels and gems in there which seem out of place for a maester, but would make sense if the chain of the Grand Maester were ceremonial.

 

I don't recall this reference, but that's what I always assumed, that the Grand Maester's chain was a badge of office, not a literal record.



#12 Ser Leftwich

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 02:21 PM

I can't remember where I hear this idea. For some reason I think Tyrion was involved.

 

Or, worst case scenario, it was from the show. And if it was, I apologize.

Or it might be from this line from the wiki:

"The Grand Maester wears many interwoven maester chains to indicate his high office, but these do not reflect his true studies."

- which is, of course, not sourced.



#13 James Kidd

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 02:47 PM

Nice topic. I always wondered which were the six links that Oberyn forged.



#14 Hodor?

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 02:54 PM

Nice topic. I always wondered which were the six links that Oberyn forged.

 

The manticore venom he used to kill Gregor Clegane was thickened using magic, according to Quubern.  So maybe one of the links he earned was made of Valeryan steel. 



#15 Rhaenys_Targaryen

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 03:20 PM

 

The manticore venom he used to kill Gregor Clegane was thickened using magic, according to Quubern.  So maybe one of the links he earned was made of Valeryan steel. 

 

After Oberyn studied at the Citadel, he travelled to the Free Cities, where he learned the art of poison, amongst other things. It's always possible that Oberyn's basic knowledge of poisons came from his time at the Citadel, of course.

 

Edit:

Correction: According to the only source (semi-canon) which gives an order of events, Oberyn first went to the Free Cities, then returned to the Seven Kingdoms to study at the Citadel.


Edited by Rhaenys_Targaryen, 23 June 2014 - 09:34 AM.


#16 Mirijam

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 03:39 PM

Now because of Pycelle I have this idea of maesters engaging in correspondence courses stuck in my head. *sound of pots cracking* Just ignore me.



#17 Fanless Mace

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 03:43 PM

I have the feeling it's like being king...the rule basically say you're a Maester when some lord accepts you as such and the Citadel allows it. Most likely, two links ain't enough, and 24 is more than the minimum (like having several Masters and a PhD?) But if an important castle needed a Maester and the best candidate had only three-five links but was a top-flight student like Sam, a castle might need to accept such an entry-level person.

#18 Rhaenys_Targaryen

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 04:28 PM

I have the feeling it's like being king...the rule basically say you're a Maester when some lord accepts you as such and the Citadel allows it. Most likely, two links ain't enough, and 24 is more than the minimum (like having several Masters and a PhD?) But if an important castle needed a Maester and the best candidate had only three-five links but was a top-flight student like Sam, a castle might need to accept such an entry-level person.

 

But even a person who is good in learning would need to possess actual knowledge, I think. Knowledge he could only get in the Citadel, where there are men to teach him such things, and books which he can use to study from some more.



#19 aryagonnakill#2

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 04:42 PM

As posted above, Tyrion describes the grand maesters chain as decorative, I agree with others who have said that he probably has 1 chain which he actually forged and the other is a decorative symbol like a crown.



#20 Maester Pedant

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 05:15 PM

 

But even a person who is good in learning would need to possess actual knowledge, I think. Knowledge he could only get in the Citadel, where there are men to teach him such things, and books which he can use to study from some more.

We know they have a "final exam", the glass candle one. So it is likely that there is some kind of minimum number of links needed to "graduate". There has to be some minimal structure to the curriculum.