Tough Travels: Mentors

Tough Travels is a monthly meme hosted by Fantasy Faction, which, inspired by The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones, spotlights each month a different fantasy trope for us to compile lists and have fun with. Last month we discussed MINIONS. This month’s topic is:


‘A Mentor will be at your service until around halfway through the tour of Fantasyland, when you will unaccountably lose him. Before that he will guide you, tell you what to do in the face of strange customs, and even sometimes instruct you in how to perform minor MAGICS. The Tough Guide suggests that the mentor will be several hundred years old, probably with a long white beard, which will give him the right to be bossy, smug, tiresomely philosophical and infuriatingly secretive about all-important facts’

Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland

This is yet another topic that I missed the first time round, so it is great to have another chance to give it a go. In no particular order, here are a few of my favourite fantasy mentors:

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien

Several hundred years old with a long white beard: check. Bossy, smug, tiresomely philosophical and infuriatingly secretive: check. Plus after leading unwary victims off on adventure he always manages to be lost half way through. Gandalf is the quintessential mentor!


The Sword in the Stone by T H White

Again, several hundred years old with a long white beard: check. Bossy, smug, tiresomely philosophical and infuriatingly secretive: check. Merlin is another mentor that fits the classic mould and what would poor, young, hopeless Arthur do without him?!


Albus Dumbledore
Harry Potter by J K Rowling

Not several hundred years old, but he certainly has a long white beard and can be bossy, smug, tiresomely philosophical and infuriatingly secretive. Hogwarts’ beloved head teacher is a classic mentor for the boy wizard Harry.


Jaqen H’ghar
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin

This deadly assassin may be several hundred years old and if we ever saw his real face he might have a long white beard, but seeing as he’s a ‘Faceless Man’ we’ll probably never know! However he is a strict, tiresomely philosophical and infuriatingly secretive mentor to the young Arya Stark.
“A girl has no name!”


Granny Weatherwax
Discworld by Terry Pratchett

Now breaking the mould completely we have the indomitable witch Granny Weatherwax, who I certainly wouldn’t dare to suggest was old or had a beard! This bossy and smug mentor also has little patience or time for tiresomely philosophical or infuriatingly secretive, instead preferring brutal honesty!


Roland Deschain
The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Finally, after breaking the mould we continue with another rebel mentor: Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger. With his designer stubble and cool, charismatic personality, Roland draws Eddie, Susannah and Jake to join his Ka-tet and trains them to survive in his dark, dangerous world.


Do you like my choices? Who are your favourite fantasy mentors? Please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this month’s topic too.

Come back next month for: SNARKY SIDEKICKS.


16 thoughts on “Tough Travels: Mentors

  1. I love your list – love it love it love it.
    Especially because you got Granny Weatherwax and also Jaqen H’ghar 0 ‘a girl gives a man his own name’.
    Lynn 😀

    1. Aw, thank you Lynn. I am so pleased you loved my choices so much 🙂 As much as I love Gandalf and other mentors of his ilk, I have a particular soft spot for the mould breaking mentors like Granny Weatherwax 😀

  2. I had none to add till I read Cafe Society’s comment (I second the recommendation for The Drak is Rising series, btw) when it occurred to me that perhaps the professor in the Narnia books might also count as a kind of mentor even though he doesn’t appear much. Gandalf is the best though!

  3. Oh, you have great ones here, quintessential too, such as Merlin, Gandalf, Dumbledore…I wouldn’t have thought of Jaqen, but you are definitely right about that one too.

  4. I would have to nominate Merriman Lyon in Susan Cooper’s quintet, The Dark is Rising. He appears in many forms through the sequence but is always there when the child protagonists need him.

    1. Café Society, I’m afraid I don’t know Merriman Lyon from The Dark is Rising series, but after looking him up he sounds like a classic mentor. And maybe I should put these books on my wish list 🙂

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