Tough Traveling: Mentor

The Thursday feature “Tough Traveling” is the brainchild of Nathan of Review Barn, who has come up with the excellent idea of making a new list each week based on the most common tropes in fantasy, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones. Nathan has invited anyone who is interested to come play along, so be sure to check out the first link for more information. Compulsive list-maker that I am, I’m very excited to take part!

This week’s tour topic is: Mentor

A tour official who will be at your service until halfway through the tour, when you will unexpectedly lose him.

Ah, I love it when we get “easier” theme weeks. That’s when we get to play around with more unconventional lists and I’m always looking forward to what others might put on theirs. Mentors of all shapes and sizes populate the fantasy and sci-fi genres so I’m gonna have some fun.


Midnight Riot/Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Probably one of my favorite mentor figures in an urban fantasy series is Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who’s not only one talented detective but a hell of a wizard as well. Head of the Folly and the last officially sanctioned English Wizard, Nightingale takes on the protagonist Peter Grant as his apprentice and subjects him to repetitive magical exercises. Nightingale’s a bit of an anachronism, being much older than he looks, and his total fail with modern technology is merely a part of his charm.


The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu

Tao is an atypical mentor, being an ancient alien life-form called a Quasing whose race crash-landed on the planet millions of years before the first humans even walked the earth. Incompatible with the atmosphere, Quasings must take a host in order to survive. Now split into two warring factions, the Quasings are at war. That’s how our protagonist, the self-doubting, weak-willed, TV-dinner-munching Roen Tan wakes up one day with an alien’s voice in his head. Tao must whip out-of-shape Roen for the coming battle, turning him from a loser to a super spy killing machine.


The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

In book two of the Memoirs of Lady Trent series, Natalie is the young woman who shares Isabella’s love and fascination with dragons and natural history. Refusing to be married off by her family, Natalie joins the expedition to Eriga against her father’s wishes. Isabella makes arrangements to stow Natalie away on the ship, hiding her away until they are safely away from port. On their journey, Natalie becomes Isabella’s apprentice of sorts, becoming her companion while also learning research methods.


The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

Emperor Sanlitun has three children, the oldest being Kaden the heir who has spent the last eight years of his life sequestered in a remote monastery in the mountains, learning the mysteries of the monks who live there. One day, Kaden gets a new mentor in the form of Master Tan, whose teaching methods generally boil down to committing child abuse and torture on his poor royal apprentice, including depriving him of sustenance and beating him bloody almost on a daily basis and pretty much just making Kaden’s life a living hell.


The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

The Monstrumologist series is probably the most un-YA young adult series I’ve ever read – as in, if adapted completely faithfully, a movie based on this novel would get no lower than a resounding R-rating in terms of all the violence, blood and gore. The books are written in the form of a diary by protagonist Will Henry, who recalls his life as a twelve year old orphan taken in by Dr. Pellinore Warthope, a man with a most unusual, gruesome specialty. Will Henry becomes the doctor’s indispensable assistant and apprentice in his study and research of monsters.

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