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?!
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.
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!”
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!
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.