The Chamber of the Ordeal is the location of the Ordeal of Knighthood. All squires, prospective Knights of the Realm, must go through this Ordeal to become a knight.
The Chamber itself is both an entity and a room. The exact nature of the relationship between the 'Chamber' and the chamber is not explained in the first three series, Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, or Protector of the Small. The Chamber is not a true 'god', in the way that Mithros, the Goddess, and the others are. It is a being of balance, existing to ensure that mortals, the divine, and what lay between remain in sync.
The Chamber, in a conversation with Keladry of Mindelan, explained its 'divinity' in this manner:
- "I am not part of your idea of time...You mortals are like fish swimming in a globe of glass. That globe is your world. You do not see beyond it. I am all around that globe, everywhere at once. I am in your yesterdays and your tomorrows just as I am in your today, and it all looks the same to me."
- —Lady Knight
Free of the bias-inducing constraints of time, the Chamber is capable of seeing all of the world, all of time, all at once. It knows the future and the past, and what is in the heart of each man (and in Keladry's and Alanna the Lioness's case, woman) to walk through its iron door and onto its cold stone floor.
Seeing into the hearts of every squire, it tests them. Some pass this test; some fail it. And sometimes, it shows them what it is that they are to accomplish. Not all knights receive a 'quest' from the Chamber; Alanna and Keladry appear to have been exceptions, rather than the rule. In both cases, this 'quest' was given in an attempt to restore the balance of life and death.
In deciding who passes their Ordeal and who does not, the Chamber takes into account two things: one's personal flexibility, and one's willingness to serve the greater good. It does not overlook bad habits, but rather focuses on the whole of the personality. Joren of Stone Mountain and Vinson of Genlith were two squires who failed during Keladry's time, both of whom were considered unfit for Knighthood and were 'shattered' under what Anders of Mindelan, Keladry's brother, once called a 'hammer'.
If you are too rigid, you are unfit.
If you lack morals, you are unfit.
If the Chamber deems you unworthy, you do not receive your shield.