Back in 2014, Nathan Barnhart created a weekly feature called ‘Tough Travels’, which he hosted over on Fantasy Review Barn. Inspired by The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones – a tongue-in-cheek parody of the fantasy genre – it would spotlight a different trope every week, and invite other bloggers to compile their own lists of examples. Despite being put to rest eighty-three (83!) weeks later, ‘Tough Travels’ was widely successful, with over fifty blogs participating at one time or another. On April 1, 2017, Fantasy-Faction received Nathan’s permission to revive Tough Travels once more…

This week the topic is mentors!

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.

As Archtypes go, a mentor to the main character is pretty old and they can be found in many, many movies, books, comics, and pretty much in every format stories are told.

Merlin
While Merlin didn’t teach magic to young Arthur, he does teach the boy a lot of things. And keeps secrets, as well.

Gandalf
He also doesn’t teach magic. Rather he gives moral guidance and steers the Fellowship to the right road.

Athena
She takes on various guises in different tales to lead the hero for a little while or tell him something important and then vanishes.

Granny Weatherwax
Another mentor who doesn’t teach magic, as such, but rather imparts headology.

Miss Havisham by Jasper Fford
In the Thursday Next, miss Havisham (yes, from Dickens) is an older and more experienced agent and she takes Thursday under her wing.

Comics have a lot of these types:
Professor Charles Xavier
Perhaps the most iconic of the comics mentor types, Xavier gathers young mutants and teaches them to use their powers. He also teaches them want peaceful co-existence with humans.

The Ancient One
A very powerful and old magician, mentor to Dr. Strange.

Wolverine
Perhaps surprisingly the former lone wolf Logan has been the teacher and guide for several younger mutants: Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Jubilee, and others.

Batman
Another character who is also a loner but who has taught a lot of people.

Stick
Daredevil’s mentor.

And I couldn’t end this list without one of my favorite mentors ever: Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Enterprise-D and E.

Advertisements