Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

Time to get to know the curators from the Escape Velocity Collection! How? By asking them the questions that really matter! Let’s see what our curators have to say… 

This week’s question is:

Who is your favourite mentor character from Fantasy or Science Fiction media?

The ‘Mentor Character’ is one of my favourite tropes, so this was not an easy choice for me. In the end, I settled on Elodin from Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles. What I like about Elodin is that he is kind of a wild card. He is not the comforting old mentor who you can count on to know what is best and to make wise decisions. Instead, he is chaotic, undependable, and at times quite an ass. However, it is clear that there is much more ‘method to his madness’ than Kvothe gives him credit for. Above all, I just think he is very funny and the scenes in which he features are some of my favourite parts of the books.



This might be a case of recency bias, but I just read A Memory Called Empire and I loved the way Martine wrote Yskandr Aghavn as a mentor character. There were so many interesting twists to the way the trope was played! Some spoilers below.

Firstly, I liked that Yskandr wasn’t a separate character, but rather a force that taught Mahit from inside herself. Second, I loved that after the set up making the reader expect him to play a typical mentor role, he disappeared when Mahit needed him most – leaving her all alone in the hands of Three Seagrass, who was an equal more than a mentor. And to top it all off, when Yskandr finally returns, Mahit has already completed her journey and no longer needs him the way she did. What a beautiful way to subvert a common trope!

Jawbone O’Shaughnessey. If you’ve watched Dimension 20’s Fantasy High, you’ll know Jawbone was once a washed up, drug-dealing werewolf. He’s a wolf of the world, baby! No one knows what it’s like to go through it more than him, which is what makes him such an amazing guidance counselor. What I like most about Jawbone is what he represents: He’s not a huge character when he is first introduced. He’s just some random werewolf without health insurance the Bad Kids meet in a bar brawl. Still, they gave him a chance (albeit mostly jokingly) by telling him that their high school was looking for a guidance counselor, and because of that one conversation, he suddenly became quite a major character in the story, essentially acting as a father figure to Adaine, Kristin and Fig. It shows us that the people who help us grow the most in life are often not the ones we expect to do so.



I thought long and hard and then came to the conclusion that I actually don’t really like the concept of mentor characters? Instead, I prefer characters who have to figure everything out themselves. The ones who defiantly go off and do their own thing. Bonus points when those things go horribly wrong the first time and they have to overcome their own struggles, becoming wiser in the progress. To me, this is a much more interesting narrative than some other character guiding them to do the right thing. So I guess my favourite mentor characters are protagonists that are their own mentor character. Roald Dahl’s Mathilda is the first that comes to mind. I love how she finds her courage by going her own way.

I would say The Lord of the Rings’ Gandalf, at least as he is portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen in Peter Jackson’s movies.

At first glance, this might seem somewhat of a boring opinion. In many ways, Gandalf is the mentor archetype from which most other mentor characters are derived: a wise, old wizard, who eventually ‘dies’ to allow the development of the other characters. However, most of these Gandalf knockoffs miss Gandalf’s depth. Yes, he is old and wise, but at the same time he’s never quite certain of his own deeds and counsel. At times he makes mistakes. He lacks confidence – and sometimes even hope – but strives to do his best anyway and help others do the same.

Gandalf is imperfect but therefore human. And that is precisely why he is a great mentor.



Man, I had a hard time thinking of a good one, but I think I have thought of a nice duo: Burrich in the Farseer Trilogy of Robin Hobb and Hagrid in the Harry Potter series of J.K. Rowling. They are goodhearted men who (reluctantly) watch over two children who have no other adults to take that role. As Fitz and Harry grow older, their relationship with their ‘fosterfathers’ changes. The older men marvel at the personal growth of the young ones, try to protect them, get angry when they do something stupid, argue to tears, make up and become friends. Although I must say, the relationship between Burrich and Fitz has pulled my heartstrings more (read: is more painful) than that between Harry and Hagrid.

That’s it: another soul-searching question answered!

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