As far as conspiracies go, the world of Game of Thrones is no stranger to them. It seems that everyone is conspiring against each other, but the one I’m writing about today is bigger than any one person. If true, it would impact every single person in the world! So, sit down, make yourself comfortable and get ready to hate a certain group of people even more than you probably already do.
Knowledge is power. Especially in Westeros, where the political turmoil is reaching breaking point and everyone is looking for the next weapon to give them the upper hand. Cersei’s allying with the Greyjoys. Daenerys has her dragons, the Unsullied, the Dothraki and Tyrion. Jon and Sansa have the Wildlings, Littlefinger(sort of), the support of the Vale and the North. But there’s one player that’s so careful, so discreet, that no-one has even considered them as a threat: The Maesters.
During his time at the Citadel, Sam repeatedly pleaded with the Arch Maester to help him fight the impending White Walker invasion. Stating that whatever the Maesters said, the people of Westeros would accept and follow, such is the weight of their influence. However, despite admitting that he believed Sam (although this revelation came quite grudgingly), the Arch Maester refused to act, even belittling Sam in a meeting when the raven arrived from Winterfell. It could just be that the Maesters are stubborn old fools, refusing to face impending disaster but that seems unlikely. After all, they’ve weathered countless wars and catastrophes and Pycelle was a known liar, tricking the people of King’s Landing into thinking that he was some sort of decrepit old man, when he seemed to be almost as spry as Arya. However, a popular theory is that the Maesters are in league with Cersei, who has enlisted them to help her win the PR war against Daenerys. After all, as I mentioned above, the common people (as well as the Lords) will do as the Maesters tell them, so while they don’t fight they are a powerful ally.
An extension to this theory suggests that the Maesters have an agenda to bring about the end of all magic in the world of Westeros, promoting fact and history over the unexplained. The existence of dragons and White Walkers would threaten this world view, so the Arch Maester will never publicly admit the existence of either.
Sam done plenty of research in Oldtown, finding a store of Dragonglass for Jon to use against the White Walkers, among some other discoveries and who know what else he may find in the books that he’s taken. While It’s obvious that he really shouldn’t have been rifling through the restricted section if he had to steal the keys to get there in the first place and sneak in at the dead of night, but he could’ve been in far more danger than he realized. There’s a reason the Maesters ignore his stories of the undead threat and it plays into a massive conspiracy. Though mostly based from the books, it does still hold somewhat true in the show.
The long and short of it is that the Maesters want to eliminate all magic from the world so reason can rule, therefore giving them more sway in world events. Because if magic were to die out, people would have to turn to knowledge to answer all their questions. No more resurrections, no more Faceless Men and no more warlocks or maegi (lesser magic users, who haven’t featured as prominently in the show). The absence of all of these would give the learned men of Oldtown a distinct political advantage. Think of the power they’d have if all magic were to disappear. They’d be the ultimate authority on all matters.
It does sound ludicrous but there is quite a lot of evidence to support it. First we’ll look at the books for some solid evidence that the Maesters are more conniving than they appear. In A Feast for Crows Sam is talking to Arch Maester Marwyn, who specializes in the occult and the study of magic (he is thought by other Maesters to be mad because of it). Marwyn’s role was basically merged with Ebrose for the show but they both served a similar purpose, just without Marwyn’s magical learnings. When they start to talk about Maester Aemon (a Targaryen who relinquished his family name to study and eventually ended up on the Wall) things start to get interesting, Aemon had joined Sam on his journey but died in Bravos:
“Perhaps it’s good that he died before he got to Oldtown. Elsewise, the [archmaesters] might have had to kill him, and that would have made the poor old dears wring their wrinkled hands.” “Kill him?” Sam said, shocked. “Why?” “If I tell you, they may need to kill you too.” Marwyn smiled a ghastly smile, the juice of the sourleaf running red between his teeth. “Who do you think killed all the dragons the last time around? Gallant dragonslayers armed with swords?” He spat. “The world of the Citadel is building has no place in it for sorcery or prophecy or glass candles, much less for dragons. Ask yourself why Aemon Targaryen was allowed to waste his life upon the Wall, when by rights, he should have been raised to archmaester. His blood was why. He could not be trusted. No more than I can.”
Later, Marwyn also advises Sam to “say nothing of prophecies or dragons, unless you fancy poison in your porridge”. The message is clear: magic is not welcome in Oldtown. Neither is Arch Maester Marwyn. Billed as being “unsound” by the Maesters, he believes in magic and spent “eight years to the east mapping distant lands searching for lost books, and studying with warlocks and shadowbinders”.
His comments about the deaths of the dragons are interesting, he seems to suggest the Maesters had something to do with it. It’s said that the dragons were practically bred into extinction, but the Targaryens knew how to raise dragons, was there some outside interference? Many believed the confinement of dragons in the pits is what led to their stunted growth and development but there’s proof this is incorrect. After the killing of a Meereenese girl, Viserion and Rhaegal are confined and chained up in the Great Pyramid, which is used as a makeshift Dragon Pit. Surely this would have the same effect? However, when she later visits them, she realizes that Viserion has grown much larger despite confinement. So we know that there was another reason for the dragons becoming weaker and smaller. The theory that dragons were supposed to live free in the skies instead of chains, however, was created by the Maesters. For being very knowledgeable, they were pretty far from the mark. Deliberately? So it would seem.
Here alone we see one very wise man, known to be one of the greatest minds in the land and he is ostracized because he chooses to specialize in magic. Another who was banned from the Citadel is Qyburn, Cersei’s hand. Though he was expelled for illegal practices, he also specializes in magic and the occult. Think back to the man he eventually replaced, Grand Maester Pycelle, he made no secret of his dislike of Qyburn and his work.
While snooping around the restricted section and reading books that speak of White Walkers and dragons seemed sure to get Sam noticed. If it hadn’t already, that is. Mind you, if some fan theories are correct Sam is a major character in the biggest way possible, he could be the one documenting all the events of Game of Thrones. The first episode of season 7 hinted that Sam could be lined up to finish Arch Maester Ebrose’s ‘The Chronicles of the Wars Following the Death of King Robert I’ – and rename it something more poetic. Like ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, for example. It does seem that his time at the Citadel was largely inconsequential in the show, but I think we can put that down to the lightning pace this season has burst into. It’s unlikely his thefts will go unnoticed and they’re smart men, they will quickly deduce who has taken their books, will they pursue him? Though having him aid Jon in fighting (and hopefully wiping out) the White Walkers could be something the Maesters can get on board with. After all, that would be an entire other magical race annihilated from Westeros. With those icy foes gone, what’s left? Dragons.
The Warlocks of Qarth were the first to make the link between the reappearance of dragons in the world and their magic growing stronger. So as well as being innately magical creatures, they seem to act as a boost to magic in general. It’s mentioned at various points throughout the books and the TV show that magic was largely gone from the world before Daenerys brought dragons back. There are also those who say that the return of magic is what triggered the Night King’s march south, though i call bullshit as the opening of the series is an attack on Wildlings and the Night’s Watch by a White Walker.
From the Maester’s point of view it could be wisest to ally with a House who wants to get rid of the Targaryens (and therefore their winged pets) from a political point of view. The Lannisters, for example. Qyburn has already used his smarts to help out Cersei in creating a weapon to take down dragons, he may have been disowned by Oldtown for illegal human experiments, however, he could still be privy to the grand conspiracy. If he is, killing the dragons would be high on the agenda for more than one reason. Making Daenerys more vulnerable, possibly leading to her capture and certain death at Cersei’s hands and the extinction of the pure Targaryen line.
There’s still the potential for the Maester conspiracy to factor into Game of Thrones, so don’t sign it off just yet, though it does certainly seem that it’s another plotline that the TV show will trim away, to allow them to focus on the “bigger” ones.
So what do you think, are Maesters of the Citadel playing an exceptionally long game and do they have the whole of Westeros fooled? Or are they just a babbling, bumbling, band of baboons? 10 points if you get the reference. Let us know what you think and be sure to check out some of our other articles.