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:
Silver (at least 3)
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),
And then there's the maester who wrote the World Book for King Robert (placed in a spoiler tag, due to the book not having been released yet; this is from the edelweiss preview):
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 a 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, 07 October 2014 - 09:16 AM.