Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

Younger Heroes and Heroines of fantasy are very often prepared for their coming tasks by the teachings of a mentor. Merlin is the Underlier for most Wizard mentors, and fills this role for Arthur in T H White's The Sword in the Stone (1938). Gandalf in J R R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955) indicates the paths his hobbit charges must follow, and is then separated from them by turns of Story: heroes cannot remain tied to their mentor's apron-strings. But Ged in Ursula K Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) is over-hasty in leaving the teacher Ogion who gave him his Name: only much later does he appreciate Ogion's Zen-like wisdom, echoing it when Ged himself becomes a mentor in The Farthest Shore (1973). The Mastersmith of Michael Scott Rohan's The Anvil of Ice (1986) exemplifies the evil mentor who trains the hero in order to exploit him. Suraklin, the disguised Dark Mage in Barbara Hambly's Antryg Windrose sequence, functions as an evil-wizard mentor. R A Macavoy's Powl in The Lens of the World (1990) is, interestingly, a natural philosopher. Pupil and mentor tend to be of the same Gender; Greg Bear varies this in The Infinity Concerto (1984), whose hero is trained by Three female half-Elves. Nonhuman mentors with a Liminal-Being flavour include Puck in Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill (coll 1906) and the unclassifiable Golux of James Thurber's The Thirteen Clocks (1950). [DRL]

see also: Patrons.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.