Warning: This article contains spoilers from Game of Thrones season 7
Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen may have finally met on Game of Thrones but on what feels like the other side of the world the pieces continued to move, prompting a likely reunion as well as one of the better (and possibly unintentional) running gags.
In Oldtown, Samwell Tarly has strayed off the path more than once in his journey to become a maester. In just three episodes, he stole a book out of the librarys restricted section, sent Jon vital information about Dragonstone and dragonglass from that stolen book, and snuck into Ser Jorah Mormonts room in the dead of night to perform a surgery he was explicitly forbidden from trying. The good news is that Sam hasn’t been kicked out of the Citadel. The bad news is now hes basically in maester detention for the foreseeable future.
Hes progressing quickly with his training, but with each episode its becoming clearer that Samwell Tarly is basically at aGame of Thronesversion of Hogwarts. Its unclear if Sams maester training will go this way in theA Song of Ice and Firebook series, but the parallels on Game of Thrones are starting to become more apparentand not just because Harry Potters Professor Horace Slughorn, Jim Broadbent, is playing Archmaester Ebrose.
The restricted section of the Citadels library
Although Sam came to Oldtown to become a maester, his other goal is to find out as much as he can about White Walkers, wights, and the weapons that could destroy them. But not only do most of the maesters not believe him, hes not even allowed to research on his own time.
I asked you if in light of what Ive seen in the north, if I could have access to the restricted area of the library, Sam asked. Although Archmaester Ebrose believes Sams story, he refuses to give Sam special access. This particular line is what sparked the beginning of Sam’s Harry Potter parallels, though at the time it felt more like a nice nod or joke.
Sam wasnt going to let something like restricted books stop him. He might not have been able to charm Archmaester Ebrose with flattery like Hermione did with Gilderoy Lockhart to access off-limits books, but Sams attempt to take a book went better than Harrys did in Sorcerers Stone.
The Nicolas Flamel moment
The one thing that makes everything click for Harry, Ron, and Hermione in Sorcerers Stone isnt a major confession (though that does come toward the end of the book). After reading Nicolas Flamels name on a Chocolate Frog card, Hermione finds a book she checked out of the library has more onthe alchemist behind the Sorcerers Stone. It’s one of several times Hermione’s bookworm tendencies had a huge impact on the story.
Similarly, Sam’s library reading helpshim rediscover something he already knew from Stannis Baratheon: Theres a lot of dragonglass at Dragonstone, the weapon that can defeat White Walkers.
Sam’s discovery might not be a silver bullet, but his actions didpush Jon forward. Despite almost everyone advising against it, Jon traveled to Dragonstone to parlay with Daenerys. And now Jon has Daenerys word that not only can he have all of the dragonglass he needs, hell have her men to help him mine it.
A potentially dangerous procedureand a forbidden one, too
Sam successfully saves Jorahs life after he sneaks into Jorahs room to treat his greyscale. Though greyscale is often treated like a death sentence, a possible cure resided in the Citadel in the book calledArchmaester Pylos on Rare Diseases. Its not commonly known or used because it’s risky for even the most accomplished maesters; the man who discovered it died from greyscale himself. Its why Archmaester Ebrose forbade Sam from attemptingit.
Luckily for Daenerys, who will likely soon have Jorah back at her side, Sam didnt listen.
Though the cure for greyscale didnt appear to be in the restricted area of the library like the Dragonstone bookArchmaester Ebrose didnt immediately chide Sam after he mentioned having read itSam read about the cure in a book and referenced it as he proceeded to remove Jorahs infectedskin. Hes done something far more experienced maesters would never touch, and he succeeded. Even Archmaester Ebrose, amid his frustration with Sam, is impressed. We’ve come to expect brutality from Game of Thrones, which is perhaps why this stern but measured reaction stuck fans as something they’d expect from a Hogwarts professor.
The comparison also lines uptwo-fold. Hermione successfully made a Polyjuice Potion, which is normally far beyond the skillset of Second Years, in Chamber of Secrets. And in Half-Blood Prince, Harry saves Rons life with a bezoar after Rons accidentally poisoned thanks to what he read in the Half-Blood Princes Potions book. The latter scene, incidentally, was with Professor Slughorn.
Sams detention sounds familiar too
Despite breaking the rules, Sam perhaps expected a kind of reward for successfully curing Jorah. And Archmaester Ebrose does give him one: not immediately expelling him from the Citadel.
But he also punishes Sam by making him rewrite what looks like dozens of decaying scrolls. Harry Potter suffered a similar punishment after performing Sectumsempra on Draco Malfoy: Severus Snape made Harry rewrite Argus Filchs reports of student rule-breaking. At the very least, Sams punishmentwhile tedious and gruelingseems far more productive than Harrys.
Perhaps he might even learn something else he can pass onto Jon.
The irony in comparing Sam at Oldtown to Harry Potter
Both Harry Potter and Game of Thrones exist in a world of magic, but while one embraces it, the other will go out of its way to keep ignoring its existence. And in the case of some maesters, they may even be trying to destroy it.
So far, Oldtowns anti-magic sentiment only extends to not believing Sams word on the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead because, as Tyrion Lannister inferred in The Queens Justice, its easy to believe what you want to believe. In the books, it extends much further, leading some fans to believe that theres a kind of Grand Maester Conspiracy. According to Archmaester Marwyn in A Feast for Crows, the maesters were responsible for wiping out the Targaryens dragons the last time around and are attempting to rid the world of magic. It was also Maester Aemons connection to Targaryens and magic that prevented him from ever being promoted.
Its unlikely that Game of Thrones would touch on that aspect of the Citadels inner-workings with so few episodes left. But as Samfights to learn another day, his curious mind will strive to uncover much more. If as a novice he tackled greyscale, imagine what hed do with some actual chains on him.
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