Hopefully this is indeed the address for George R. R. Martin. If not, please ignore my incoherent ramblings.
Right address. Sorry for the delay responding. I do get a lot of emails.
First off, of course, thank you for writing the excellent books in A Song of Ice and Fire. I have enjoyed them immensely. Your books are currently vying with Tad Williams's Otherland books for my favorite current work of speculative fiction. Suffice it to say that your books are winning. :)
Thanks for the kind words. I like Tad's work as well, thought I haven't read his Otherland series yet, so that's good company to be in.
I hope that work on A Dance with Dragons is progressing well and that you are enjoying your work.
Enjoying? I don't know... I enjoy having written, but writing can be painful. But I am making progress.
Now the question. Do maesters fully forge the links of their chokers from raw metal, or do they take strips of existing metal and forge it into the links?
When he said a maester "forges" his chain, it is more metaphorical. They do study metals, but that doesn't necessarily include training as blacksmiths.
I had assumed the former, but the latter would be simpler. I ask, of course, because of the link of Valyrian steel in Maester Luwin's chain. Did he know the spells, or did he take an existing strip and beat it into shape?
He studied magical tomes and histories, and mastered enough of the arcane lore to impress an archmaester into granting him a link. He did not necessarily have to make the steel himself.
I thought that this was a simple enough question, that it might not be a major spoiler for being a maester, but still would give me food for thought.
Here 'tis. Nourishment enough for awhile, I hope.