The Mentor and Legacy in Fiction

Razaeroth, ancient druyd of Atläs

The mentor, or advisor, is an important figure in all storytelling. Gandalf from LoTR, Obi-wan from Star Wars, Moirane from Wheel of Time—you get the idea. Mentors can come in many forms, some being objects or artifacts that can teach a protagonist. Other heroes have multiple mentors throughout their hero’s journey. Mentors sometimes die off, leaving heroes to grow on their own.

What is a Mentor?

A mentor is usually more skilled and experienced than a hero. Mentors have that distinctive grandfather air about them that commands respect and awe. The mentor’s job is to pass down knowledge and move the protagonist through the plot. To give the hero a kick in the rear. Many heroes are reluctant, and it takes a crisis and the mentor to begin things. Without the mentor to advise, a hero ends up lost and confused.

Inheritance Theory

Imagine a mentor like a parent guiding a child to ride a bike for the first time. The parent offers encouraging words and perhaps training wheels to help the child learn. Eventually, the training wheels come off, and the child can ride on his own. One day, the child grows into a professional biker, who starts a family and teaches his own son how to ride.

You can call this the Inheritance Theory. That we, as humans, grow and inherit from our parents, teachers, and mentors. For good or ill.

Legacy of Humanity

A mentor is about legacy, about inheritance. It’s the tradition we as humans inherit from generation to generation. That tradition is vital to human existence, and it’s why we never get tired of it. Why it works so well, particularly with children. Culture is heavily tied around the mentor, and it helps nations, tribes, and civilizations progress.

It’s also why it was so highly valued in aboriginal cultures before sophisticated civilizations butchered it.

Storytelling Tradition

Humans are a tribal people, and sitting around a fire listening to a fine story is ingrained in our genes. It’s who we are, the story of each of us. When we learn to live our own myth, we grow empowered. Then our life’s dream becomes reality, and we are the hero fulfilling our own prophecy.


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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks again for reading!
—Ed R. White

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