Once someone joins the Night Watch in Game of Thrones, one cannot leave it else he will be deserter and sentenced to death. He is not allowed to have family or presume any title or connection with any other house/king organisation. Then why is Sam allowed to join the maesters.

Being Maester is being part of order/organization of Maesters under oldtown. So, how did his vows allow him to be loyal to two different organizations.

  • To whom does a maester of the Night Watch report? Whose order does he follow? Can you include some references why being maester is being part of order/organization?
    – Rathony
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 18:59
  • 9
    He hasn't left the Night's Watch... he's gone to get training to become a Maester and then he will return to them... They need a Maester now that the old one has died.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 19:10
  • @Catija they can write to Oldtown and get one appointed
    – Panther
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 7:10
  • But that isn't your question. Just because there are alternatives doesn't mean that what happened in the show isn't allowed. Sam wants to be a Maester... Jon is a friend and agrees to send him for training...
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 10:32

2 Answers 2


Members of the Night's Watch can go south with permission. I forgot his name, but there was a Night's Watch "recruiter" that traveled the kingdoms to collect condemned prisoners.

So Samwell had a written credential that allowed him leave to go south. In this case, it was to receive training. The Maester at the Citadel was surprised, but not because a member of the Night's Watch was there for training. He was surprised because they were unaware that there was a new Lord Commander that they did not know about.

  • 3
    I think you are talking about Yoren: gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Yoren
    – mattiav27
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 7:05
  • 2
    Benjen Stark, Yoren, and Alliser Thorne were just a few who were allowed to leave the wall for various PR missions.
    – Skooba
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 20:00

The Night's Watch, like everywhere else in Westeros, needs a Maester. The position is an important one for numerous reasons: they are scholars (thus know history), and they are healers (thus know medicine). Those are things that the Nights Watch needs to have.

The Night's Watch had a maester before Sam: Maester Aemon was the Maester of the Night's Watch until his death. So, it seems self-evident that a member of the Night's Watch can become a Maester.

Sam hasn't deserted the Night's Watch anymore than the rangers "desert" when they go ranging in the North, or the Brother's "desert" when they go on recruiting drives in the South. Sam is going to Oldtown to become a Maester and return to the Night's Watch.

Since the Maester's are politically neutral (in theory), Sam's vows to the Citadel should not conflict with his vows to the Watch when he returns. In fact, the Maester's Order and the Night's Watch both swear essentially the same vows: they sever all familial ties, can not inherit land nor marry nor father children, and vow to serve "the realm" regardless of who is in power. So their vows mesh very well together, probably more so than anywhere else in Westeros.

  • 1
    Maestor Aemon was maestor first , then he joined night watch
    – Panther
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 7:11
  • 1
    everyone else who joined the night's watch gave up their former life... except the Maester. That should tell you something.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 13:49
  • 1
    @KutuluMike: Maester Aemon gave up a lot of his previous life too, although you can argue it was more to hide from reprisals because he was a Targaryen. Regardless of why he joined the Watch, Aemon did give up his identity (Targaryen) while retaining his skillset (maestering). This isn't all that different from a Crow who retains his swordsmanship even though he has given up their personal life (family name, inheritance, ...). But because maesters alraedy inherently give up their name (they are bound to a castle, not to a bloodline), this makes the evolution from maester to Crow "easier".
    – Flater
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 14:07

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