“Words are wind” is a common phrase in A Song of Ice and Fire, usually used to say “talk is cheap.” But that’s a view that underestimates both the power of words and wind themselves. In the “Words Are Wind” column, contributor Scott Andrews discusses some of the more important words in the world of Game of Thrones.
“I can teach you history, healing, herblore. I can teach you the speech of ravens, and how to build a castle, and the way a sailor steers his ship by the stars I can teach you to measure the days and marks the seasons, and at the Citadel in Oldtown they can teach you a thousand things more.” -Maester Luwin
Few professions have had a tougher run on Game of Thrones than the maesters. We’ve seen them stabbed, poisoned, imprisoned, locked in a dungeon, and kicked out of the order. One departed maester has now moved on to another project.
Be advised: SOME LINKS BELOW CONTAIN SPOILERS FROM THE BOOKS, though the text does not.
Maesters wear many hats: teacher, healer, scribe, raven network administrator, and so on. We’ve met several through the course of the show, ranging in personality from good-hearted to treacherous. Maester Luwin was the Stark’s maester and the personal tutor of the Stark children. Maester Cressen made a fatal error by challenging Melisandre to his own version of the Princess Bride game. Maester Aemon, though struck with impaired vision in his advanced age, remains a vital figure in the Night’s Watch. The former maester Qyburn found favor with the Lannisters after his “bold” experiments cost him his title. Grand Maester Pycelle has advised (and survived) two dynasties and multiple generations of kings—mostly by flying under the radar.
What does it take to become a maester? And how did George come up with this term? Let’s forge some links.