Aemon Targaryen (son of Maekar I)
Maester at Dragonstone (formerly)
Maester at Castle Black
|Born||In 198 AC, at King's Landing|
|Died||In 300 AC (aged 102), at the Cinnamon Wind, off the coast of Dorne, in the Summer Sea|
|Father||Maekar I Targaryen|
The World of Ice & Fire (mentioned)|
The Hedge Knight (mentioned)
The Sworn Sword (mentioned)
The Mystery Knight (mentioned)
A Game of Thrones (appears)
A Clash of Kings (mentioned)
A Storm of Swords (appears)
A Feast for Crows (appears)
A Dance with Dragons (appears)
|Played by||Peter Vaughan|
|TV series||Season 1 | Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5|
Aemon, born Aemon Targaryen, is the third son of King Maekar I Targaryen and his wife Dyanna Dayne. He has served as a maester to the Night's Watch at Castle Black for so long that the rest of the Seven Kingdoms has forgotten about his Targaryen blood. In the television series Game of Thrones he is portrayed by Peter Vaughan.
Appearance and Character
An ancient man of a hundred years old at the beginning of A Song of Ice and Fire, Aemon is bald, wrinkled, and shrunken. His blind eyes are clouded and milk white. He has a thin, fleshless neck.
Aemon was quick witted as a boy. The maester speaks softly but his counsel is so valued and respected that many fall silent to hear it. Despite his age, Aemon's mind is still sharp as is his hearing. Aemon is calm and courteous.
Aemon always wears his maester's chain, which includes links of gold, iron, lead, silver, tin, and other metals. The maester walks with a blackthorn cane. His writing is small and precise. Aemon's chambers at Castle Black are in a stout wooden keep below the rookery.
Aemon was the third son of Prince Maekar Targaryen and his wife, Lady Dyanna Dayne. He was named after his great-great-uncle, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, by his grandfather, Daeron II Targaryen.
Aemon was a bookish boy. He and his younger brother, Prince Aegon, pretended that their dragon eggs would hatch so they could be dragonriders. Aemon gave Aegon the nickname of "Egg". The brothers recreated the Battle of the Redgrass Field with painted soldiers on Maester Melaquin's table.
King Daeron II Targaryen had four grown sons, three with sons of their own, and so felt that having too many potential Targaryen heirs was dangerous. Daeron sent Aemon to the Citadel around the age of nine or ten. Following the tourney at Ashford Meadow, Prince Aegon served as the squire to a hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall. When Dunk and Egg visited Oldtown during the Great Spring Sickness, Aemon measured the knight's height and gave a mule, Maester, to his younger brother.
Aemon forged his chain and was made a maester, finishing his studies at the age of nineteen. Maester Aemon then served at a lordling's court. After succeeding to the Iron Throne, King Maekar I Targaryen summoned Aemon and his brothers to court. Not wanting to sit on the small council as he felt that would displace the Grand Maester, Aemon chose instead to serve at Dragonstone, the seat of his eldest brother, Prince Daeron, until Daeron died of the pox.
A Great Council was called in 233 AC after Maekar's death in the Peake Uprising. Since Prince Aegon was considered by some lords to be "half a peasant, it was suggested that Aemon could be released from his sworn vows and thereby succeed his late father. Aemon quietly refused, however, ceding rule to his younger brother, who became Aegon V. Princess Rhaelle, Aegon's young daughter, referred to Aemon as "Uncle Maester".
Aemon chose to go to the Wall and join the Night's Watch for fear that he might be used in a plot to usurp his brother, King Aegon V Targaryen. The king provided Aemon with an "honor guard" (emptying the dungeons) to take the vows of the Watch with him. Among them were Brynden Rivers, who later went on to become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, and many of the Raven's Teeth. Aegon's friend, Ser Duncan the Tall, accompanied the new recruits aboard the Golden Dragon on the way to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea.
Prince Rhaegar Targaryen sometimes corresponded with his ancient great-great uncle via raven messages. Aemon claims that every man who has ever joined the Watch has been tested on keeping his vows at least once. Aemon stated that he was tested three times, and that the hardest time for him was hearing about the destruction of House Targaryen during the War of the Usurper.
Clydas and Chett are stewards who aid Aemon in his duties. The maester cut away Gared's ears after he lost them to frostbite. Before he lost his sight, Aemon used a far-eye from Myr to study the stars.
A Game of Thrones
Maester Aemon is present at the feast at Castle Black when Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, welcomes Tyrion Lannister to the Wall. Aemon recognizes the intelligence of Tyrion and describes him as "a giant come among us," rendering Tyrion, a dwarf, uncharacteristically speechless.
Jon Snow, one of the new recruits, assists Aemon with the ravens as part of his training. The maester later aids Jon in helping his new friend Samwell Tarly become a steward of the Night's Watch, fearing for the boy's safety if he remains a recruit under the brutal training of Ser Alliser Thorne. Bowen Marsh, the First Steward, reassigns Chett to the kennels so that Sam can aid Aemon.
After Jon saves Lord Commander Mormont from the wight of Othor, Aemon provides milk of the poppy to the wounded steward. Aemon sends messages to Pycelle in King's Landing, but the Grand Maester does not reply. Aemon counsels Jon when he learns his family is in danger, for he knows Jon is having thoughts of deserting to come to House Stark's aid, just as Aemon had considered helping House Targaryen during Robert's Rebellion.
A Clash of Kings
Aemon, being too old to accompany the great ranging, remains at Castle Black. The duty of writing and sending messages falls to Sam Tarly. Jeor reveals much of Aemon's history to Jon, including the fact that Aemon could have been king, but refused the crown in favor of his younger brother, Aegon V Targaryen. Jeor has a high opinion of Aemon and his abilities, an opinion Jon shares.
A Storm of Swords
When Jon returns to Castle Black, badly wounded by an arrow, Maester Aemon treats his injury. Despite being blind, his hands are steady and he treats the wound successfully. Donal Noye and Aemon believe Jon's report of Thenns about to attack, and the maester sends ravens to warn Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and the Shadow Tower. Aemon also sends ravens throughout the Seven Kingdoms asking for help from powerful lords; two ravens are sent to each northern lord.
Aemon suggests that the defenders of Castle Black fill spare clothing with straw, hoping that these straw soldiers will make the approaching Thenns believe that the castle has more defenders than expected. After Donal is killed defending the gates from giants, Aemon tells Jon he must lead the men while Aemon provides guidance to him and the other men of the Wall. Aemon also comes to Jon's defense when Janos Slynt and Ser Alliser Thorne want Jon executed for allegedly breaking his oaths and becoming a wildling.
Following the battle beneath the Wall, only Maester Aemon is allowed to visit the captured Mance Rayder. Aemon is dubious of Melisandre's claim that Stannis Baratheon is Azor Ahai reborn. Aemon, Sam, and Clydas help sort token during the selection of a new Lord Commander; Jon Snow is eventually chosen by the assembled brothers.
A Feast for Crows
Aemon visits the captive Val and checks on the health of the babes of the wildlings Gilly and Dalla. Aemon has Samwell Tarly find Jade Compendium in the library of Castle Black. Aemon agrees with the suggestion of Lord Commander Snow to send him to Oldtown with Sam and Gilly, carrying Mance Rayder's infant "wildling prince", to remove all "royal blood" from Melisandre's grasp. Jon fears that Melisandre might kill Aemon for his "king's blood" to use in a spell.
The sea voyage on the Blackbird is hard for the old man. Sam struggles to tell Aemon what to do, leaving him out on the deck in the rain for too long whilst he is lost in his reminiscences. The maester is bedridden and near death when arriving at Braavos. Aemon has fever dreams of being young and in the company of his late brother, King Aegon V Targaryen, whom he called Egg, and he also recalls the Quill and Tankard in Oldtown. Sam hires a healer from the House of the Red Hands, but the man is unable to help Aemon recover.
Aemon, upon hearing of Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, is convinced she is the prince that was promised, the High Valyrian word for "dragon" being gender neutral. He curses his age, gutted that he is too old and feeble to seek her out to help with counsel and dragon lore—a fourth testing of his dual vows.
Aemon dies of a chill at the age of one hundred and two during the voyage from Braavos to Oldtown, and his body is stored in a cask of blackbelly rum aboard the Cinnamon Wind. Gilly decides to name the child of Mance and Dalla in honor of the maester, calling the boy "Aemon Battleborn" and "Aemon Steelsong".
A Dance with Dragons
Jon reads about Azor Ahai and Lightbringer in the Jade Compendium, which Aemon left for Jon at Castle Black. Jon thinks of Aemon's advice, to "kill the boy and let the man be born". Jon has Alys Karstark rest in Aemon's chambers when the girl reaches Castle Black.
Quotes by Aemon
I have been called many things, my lord, but kind is seldom one of them.—Aemon to Tyrion Lannister
I often spend half the night with ghosts, remembering times fifty years past as if they were yesterday.
Aemon: Jon, did you ever wonder why the men of the Night's Watch take no wives and father no children?
Jon: No.Aemon: So they will not love, for love is the bane of honor, the death of duty.
—Aemon and Jon Snow
What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms ... or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.
It is hard to be so old. And harder still to be so blind. I miss the sun. And books. I miss books most of all.—Aemon to Samwell Tarly
Samwell: The last dragon died before you were born. How could you remember them?
Aemon: I see them in my dreams, Sam. I see a red star bleeding in the sky. I still remember red. I see their shadows on the snow, hear the crack of leathern wings, feel their hot breath. My brothers dreamed of dragons too, and the dreams killed them, every one. Sam, we tremble on the cusp of half-remembered prophecies, of wonders and terrors that no man now living could hope to comprehend ... or ...—Samwell Tarly and Aemon
I should not have left the Wall. Lord Snow could not have known, but I should have seen it. Fire consumes, but cold preserves. The Wall ... but it is too late to go running back. The Stranger waits outside my door and will not be denied.—Aemon to Samwell Tarly
Allow me to give my lord one last piece of counsel, the same counsel that I once gave my brother when we parted for the last time. He was three-and-thirty when the Great Council chose him to mount the Iron Throne. A man grown with sons of his own, yet in some ways still a boy. Egg had an innocence to him, a sweetness we all loved. Kill the boy within you, I told him the day I took ship for the Wall. It takes a man to rule. An Aegon, not an Egg. Kill the boy and let the man be born. You are half the age that Egg was, and your own burden is a crueler one, I fear. You will have little joy of your command, but I think you have the strength in you to do the things that must be done. Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy and let the man be born.
Knowledge is a weapon, Jon. Arm yourself well before you ride forth to battle.
Quotes about Aemon
Blind he may be, but Aemon knows what he's about. I pray the gods let us keep him another twenty years. Do you know that he might have been king?
Alliser: Aemon's lived too long, my lord. His wits have gone dark as his eyes.
Janos: Aye. A blind man with a chain about his neck, who does he think he is?
He was a good man... No. He was a great man. A maester of the Citadel, chained and sworn, and Sworn Brother of the Night's Watch, ever faithful. When he was born they named him for a hero who had died too young, but though he lived a long long time, his own life was no less heroic. No man was wiser, or gentler, or kinder. At the Wall, a dozen lords commander came and went during his years of service, but he was always there to counsel them. He counseled kings as well. He could have been a king himself, but when they offered him the crown he told them they should give it to his younger brother. How many men would do that? He was the blood of the dragon, but now his fire has gone out. He was Aemon Targaryen. And now his watch is ended.—Samwell Tarly's eulogy
He was more than just the oldest living maester. He was the oldest man in Westeros, and lived through more history than Archmaester Perestan has ever learned. He could have told us much and more about his father's reign, and his uncle's.
The world 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.
Many good men have been bad kings, Maester Aemon used to say, and some bad men have been good kings.
—thoughts of Jon Snow
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 6, Jon I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 19, Jon III.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Aemon.
- See the Aemon (Targaryen) calculation.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 21, Tyrion III.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 60, Jon VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 48, Jon VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 78, Samwell V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 69, Jon IX.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 5, Samwell I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 41, Jon V.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Appendix: Targaryen Lineage.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Maekar I.
- The Mystery Knight.
- The Hedge Knight.
- The Sworn Sword.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 15, Samwell II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon V.
- A Game of Thrones, Prologue.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 26, Jon IV.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 48, Jon VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 55, Jon VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 75, Samwell IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 79, Jon XII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 26, Samwell III.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45, Samwell V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 10, Jon III.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 7, Jon II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 69, Jon XIII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44, Jon IX.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 73, Jon X.
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