In Game Of Thrones Season 8 episode 6 we see that Sam Tarly becomes a Grand Maester. We also know that he is the head of house Tarly and the Lord of Horn Hill, has a baby on the way and is technically still in nights watch.

Did this not break the law? Has something similar happened in the books or did the writers just kinda forgot who elects the maester?

Is there a logical answer to him becoming the Grand Maester?

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    The Grandmaester is chosen by the king. Presumably the new king released Bran from his oath, something that Stannis and Robb thought was possible, and elected him Grandmaester. Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 11:06
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    Although note as a maester or a brother of the Night's Watch he wouldn't be "the head of house Tarly and the Lord of Horn Hill". Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 11:07
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    Typo? 'new king released Bran..' But, yeah, kings make up their own rules as they go along. 'There's a new precedent & the precedent is me.' kind of thing...
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 11:15
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    @Tetsujin Yeah meant to be released Sam... I had Bran on the brain because I was trying to avoid saying his name! Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 11:23
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    Same question on Sci-Fi & Fantasy SE. Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 11:33

2 Answers 2


It's just fanservice

This question was already asked in Sci-Fi & Fantasy SE and I agree with the highly voted and accepted answer by @Targbot:

It's simply inexplicable fanservice. There is no possible way that the archmaesters elected a novice as their representative to the crown!

The position of the Grand Maester is the only one that the King can't fulfill. Even Maegor the Cruel had to resort to beheadings to maintain his authority. At best, the King can execute him or confine him.

It's very likely that he holds the position temporarily until a suitable replacement is elected by the archmaesters.

  • Thank you. I searched movies stackexchange but didn't check the Sc-Fi one...
    – Budyn
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 15:23
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    Just curious. Is it ethical to copy paste someone's answer from sister site. You attributed it, that's good. But you didn't add anything of your own. A comment with a one line summary is more appropriate & ethical IMO. Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 5:35
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    @KharoBangdo this site encourages copying enough information so the answer stands on its own. Otherwise, if the answer on the sister site is deleted, this one also stops being useful. So this is the expected behavior for this site.
    – Erik
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 8:03
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    @KharoBangdo, "I agree with the top article on wikipedia.". Is not a proper attribution imo. Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 8:05
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    FYI: The referencing requirements for Stack Exchange require that you state the name of the author of what you quote. The CC BY-SA 3.0 license, under which all Stack Exchange user content is licensed, has further requirements, which I detailed in this answer. Notably, beyond the requirements listed in the help center document, you need to include the title of the work, which is the title of the question from which you copied, and that it's from Stack Exchange.
    – Makyen
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 17:01

I'll repost a comment I made on the Sci-Fi site as an answer here:

There is actually a certain logic to it. One of the (if not the) primary duties of the Grandmaester is to represent the Maesters on the Small Council, which is the group that actually runs the day-to-day operations of the kingdom. What the Maesters need most out of this position is someone who can get sympathetic ears from the other councilors when an issue important to their order comes before the council.

From this standpoint, far and away the best person for the job is someone who was a fellow traveler with the other councilors in the conflicts they just went through. Best of all would be someone who fought and sweat and bled with them.

In short, this is a highly political position, so the best person for the job isn't necessarily going to be the oldest, wisest Maester. Its going to be the person who can be most effective arguing for their interests. The person who is most trusted by the other councilors.

If you think this is unreasonable historically, well, its just flat out not. For an extreme example, during the darkest of the Middle Ages, there were no less than 3 Popes elected who were in their 20's. Were these young men the best biblical minds that all of western Christendom had to offer? Of course not. However, they were relatives of the local nobles, at a time of very little law, when the Church was completely reliant on those same men for its protection (and sometimes even for food). It was vital for both the Church, and those nobles of course, that the Popes be someone the local nobility could trust.

There is apparently some amount of in-universe precedent for this as well. Pycelle, the old Grandmaester when the books open, was apparently elected at the tender age of 42. I haven't read the books myself, but if that link is to be believed, his youth at the time was why he was selected, as the three previous holders hadn't managed to stay alive long enough to build any useful relationships on the council.

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    The 'best person for the job' is going to be someone who will do what I say, not what I do. That's why people in their 20s are put into positions of power. Sam is a pushover to his friends, but on several occasions he flies in the faces of the authorities above him. I agree with everything said here, but not its application to this situation. However, if the "Grandmaester is chosen by the king" (instead of his direct reports), it all makes perfect sense. +1
    – Mazura
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 0:11
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    ... except for the fact that Bran wasn't king yet. Which means he was chosen by his reports, and if we're looking for an answer other than bad writing, it only makes sense to pick the guy who can most easily infiltrate this inner circle of politicians.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 0:18
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    When Sam was at the meeting where the king was chosen, he wasn't there as Grandmaester; it was a gathering of lords of Westeros (what few were left). He was there in armor, presumably as Lord of Horn Hill - perhaps he had been released as a brother of the Nights Watch by Danerys after the battle at Winterfell or perhaps everyone was prepared to ignore it for the present since live lords were in critically short supply. He wasn't grandmaester until after Bran was king (whereupon we see him at the small council in robes).
    – Glen_b
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 2:56
  • @Glen_b - As near as I can tell, in the books Sam is never allowed to officially join Night's Watch, due to his martial incompetence. The series did have him join, but clearly nobody there was going to be too broken up about losing the benefit of his sword arm.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 13:45

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