Christopher Tolkien: A Tribute (#FantasyMonth)

It’s Fantasy Month, which seems a good time to talk about the most important fantasy tales in my life.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s works have enriched my life, but I also owe a great debt to his son, Christopher Tolkien; I was saddened to hear he passed on from this world earlier this year.

I love The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. They’re some of my favorite books of all time. But I lived in The Silmarillion.

And The Silmarillion, although it was not in the form J. R. R. Tolkien would have wished, would never have become the land of my youth were it not for Christopher Tolkien editing and publishing it and so many of his father’s other writings and drafts.

The Silmarillion wouldn’t have got far without Christopher. At least, not to us readers.

I breathed the air and walked the lands of Beleriand and Valinor and beyond, alongside the Elves and Men and other heroes. And it shaped me in many ways. I am incredibly grateful to Christopher for sharing these worlds with us.

Backing up slightly. It began with the forging of the great Rings . . . or rather, not unnaturally, it began when I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I remember listening to The Lord of the Rings for the first time, on audiobook, when I was ten years old (having read The Hobbit sometime before), and I was enchanted.

Which is why, soon after, I got The Silmarillion, for Christmas I think, and so my further immersion in Tolkien’s rich world began. I read and re-read The Silmarillion (and the other books), and I was utterly captivated.

I had lived in and loved other fantasy before, including The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, and the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, and others. But here in the land of Arda (which means Earth and includes Middle-earth, Valinor/the Undying Lands, Beleriand, and other regions of The Silmarillion), I found a land which was to be my own for years, and still is — more my own than any others save those which I’ve discovered and written about in my own fiction (and books about old Ireland, I suppose).

I read the Silmarillion stories again and again.

I pored over maps and knew every hill and river, forest, mountain, fortress, and their names — the city of Gondolin, Nargothrond, the Forest of Brethil, Ossiriand, Mithrim, Sirion the great river, the dread forest of Taur-nu-Fuin, Thangorodrim, Doriath . . . These were places I visited and loved (okay, maybe not the scarier places).

I studied genealogical charts of the heroes who inhabited these places, and drew my own.

I learned small smatterings of Elvish words and invented secret Elvish names I still carry with me to this day.

I learned to write Tengwar, the Elvish alphabet, and would scribble my name and poetry and random writing in it, both in simple pencil and in calligraphy — I learned to use calligraphy pens for this purpose. Tengwar was such fun! I had gone through a code-and-cipher obsession when I was a bit younger, even inventing a cipher alphabet of my own. So discovering Tengwar, which was like that but elegant and a part of this wonderful world I loved, was fantastic.

I had to pull out some of my old Tengwar and notes and books, just to share them in this post. It’s been awhile, but even looking at these again makes me happy.

And all of that aside from simply how the world and the writing and imagery, and the tales, and above all the characters, of The Silmarillion made their way into my inner soul and became mine. I always feel at home there.

I was friends with Finrod Felagund, Beren and Luthien, Beleg Strongbow, Fingolfin, and all the rest. (I even had the cheek to add Tinuviel, one of Luthien’s names, to my own rather-long sign-off penname in some letters I wrote at the time; a name which also included names of other heroines I admired from other fantasy works).

All of this went on for years and was a part of my childhood and teenage years.

Aside from The Silmarillion, I also started reading others of J. R. R. Tolkien’s works, published posthumously by Christopher Tolkien.

I started reading through Christopher Tolkien’s History of Middle-earth series (which I still need to finish), delighting in the old drafts and beginnings of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers . . . I had been writing for a little while myself, and so reading these beginnings and seeing the stories change and build, captivated me. It was fascinating to see earlier versions of my favorite books of all time, including learning about Aragorn’s earliest beginnings in the story as a mysterious Hobbit named Trotter!

And the unpublished Epilogue to The Lord of the Rings (found in Sauron Defeated or in The End of the Third Age) is fabulous and in my opinion makes the trilogy end less sadly. I wish it had been included in the original book.

I got those History of Middle-earth books about The Lord of the Rings for another Christmas, and it was shortly afterward (February) when I began putting dates on my own fiction writings, which at that time I wrote in notebooks and binders.

You see, a continued lamentation of Christopher Tolkien’s, as he carefully, painstakingly reconstructed the progression of his father’s stories, was that J. R. R. Tolkien rarely wrote dates on his writings. Christopher had often to rely on vague references in dated letters, or the fact that something was scribbled on the back of a term paper or something, or on changes to the text through various drafts with only one dated, etc.

It made me want to write down the date when I wrote my own drafts and plot notes, and so I did. Which is why I know the exact date (March 1, 2007) when I decided I was going to rewrite and finish the draft of my main story at the time, and that I was going to be a writer. Written on that printout which I was marking with a pencil at Barnes & Noble is the date and my own name written in Elvish Tengwar. Both of them because of J. R. R. and Christopher Tolkien.

I’m a very calendar- and date-obsessed person, and it very likely got its main beginnings with The Lord of the Rings and The History of Middle-earth. I keep track of dates when I write. I love journals. I get really into calendars. I delight in knowing that on a certain day (March 1, for example, is Aragorn’s birthday), certain events in Lord of the Rings happened. I keep track of real-life anniversaries/important days in my life, and from history, too, and I love keeping track of the birthdays of friends and favorite authors. (I always celebrate J. R. R. Tolkien’s on January 3!)

And because I track my writing days, I know special days to celebrate, like the first time I finished writing a novel (August 31), the day I started this blog (September 9), the day I started writing Tare’s series (April 5) — which at the time I had no idea was anything like so important to me as it would become — and so on.

And all of this started probably because I used to read through the Tale of Years in the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings, full of delightful dates and years that I enjoyed puzzling out (ah, that’s exactly how much older that character is than the other character — ah, Faramir and Sam were born in the exact same year — ah, look how old that character is; it’s so delightful to know exactly! — ah, that’s the day when they left Rivendell, how smashing!), and because of Christopher Tolkien mentioning how difficult it was to track the progression of ideas in writings when they were not dated.

I own more books by J. R. R. Tolkien and about him and his writings than I do about any other author, and many of these were books which Christopher Tolkien carefully set out to share with us, for which I am eternally grateful.

While The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit would definitely have been a large part of my life and childhood and forming years, regardless, yet all the other books which Christopher edited and published — from The Silmarillion in 1977 to The Fall of Gondolin, his last, in 2018 (having completed his task to share the Great Tales, as far as they had come, with the world) — have formed an incredible part of my life. I’m so glad that he was able to share the wealth of his father’s work with us and his own contributions to it.

From the beginning, when J. R. R. Tolkien told The Hobbit to Christopher and his other children, as a bedtime story; through the chapters of The Lord of the Rings which he sent to Christopher, who was in the RAF in World War II; to Christopher drawing a version of the famous map of Middle-earth that we all know; and all through collecting and publishing so many hidden gems of his father’s writings, Christopher Tolkien has had nearly as large an impact on we who love Middle-earth and the other realms of this world, as J. R. R. Tolkien himself did.

Namárië, Christopher Reuel Tolkien.

The Tolkien legacy is a rich treasure to which you added immeasurably.

From myself, and those others who grew up breathing the air of The Silmarillion and walking its lands, you have my far-reaching and unfathomable thanks.

One day, perhaps, I’ll meet you in that far green country, on white shores, under a swift sunrise.

Fantastical Realms Blog Tag (#FantasyMonth)

I’m hopping on the February is Fantasy Month blog event (hosted by Jenelle Schmidt) with a tag! (Thanks for tagging me, Jenelle!) Feel free to join in on this tag yourself — you can find the original post here!

Onward to the adventure or questions or both!

The Rules

  • Thank the blogger who tagged you.
  • Include the graphic somewhere in your post.
  • Link back to this blog somewhere in your post.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Tag a few blogger friends – and let them know they’ve been tagged
  • Have fun!

The Questions

1. In a strange twist of fate, you are transported into a fantasy realm of your choice. The catch? You have also been transformed into your least favorite fantasy creature. Where are you, and what are you?

Fantasy realm of choice . . . probably Middle-earth, because yes. Least favorite fantasy creature? They have those? O_O Um . . . I guess anything serpent-like would be my least favorite, so I’m probably doomed to be a scary wyrm that some Elf will find and slay. XD

2. What fantasy creature do you wish featured in more stories? What is your favorite story that has that creature in it?

(Verrry old drawing I did)

Gryphons! They are definitely in a few but not nearly enough. I just love them! Favorite book with a gryphon is probably Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. I LOVE all the gryphons in there! They have so much personality. I particularly love Kit. 😀 Oh, and I love Gillian Bronte Adams’ Songkeeper series, which also has an awesome gryphon in it!

3. As you are reading this, a voice rings in your ear proclaiming:

A hero true, a leader strong,
A quest is where you do belong,
So arm thyself, and take your stand
With an item to your left your fate is at hand.

Besides the fact that this prophetic voice is clearly incapable of sticking to a meter, what ordinary item do you now find yourself armed with? (And, for bonus points, what helpful magical properties does it now possess that will help you on your quest?)

A large insulated travel mug full of tea. And the magical properties it has . . . well, clearly, it never runs out of tea, and always keeps it warm, and the resulting never-ending caffeine rush helps me power through my quest, although I probably end up jittery throughout the adventure because of that. XD

4. You happen across an ad in a catalogue promising a magical fantasy cruise that will allow you to stop in any three realms of your choice and explore each for several days before returning you home (and the ad promises your safe return or your money back, guaranteed!) Assuming this is not a hoax and that the tour guides will actually be able to cater to your requests, what three realms will you tour and what do you hope to see/who would you like to meet along the way?

*cracks knuckles*

Firstly, I’m going to Middle-earth, and this fantasy cruise clearly also has the ability to travel through time in the same place . . . so I get to see both Lord-of-the-Rings-times Middle-earth and also back in the Silmarillion times in Beleriand etc. Because . . . THE DREAM. I practically grew up in Beleriand and the other realms of The Silmarillion (I’d see Gondolin! and Menegroth! and Valinor while I’m at it! and everywhere!), and who wouldn’t want to visit Rivendell, Rohan, Ithilien, Lothlorien, the Shire, the Lonely Mountain, Minas Tirith, etc. I would definitely want to meet at least Faramir and Aragorn, and Finrod Felagund and Beleg Strongbow and Luthien Tinuviel, and SO MANY OTHERS.

Secondly, I’m going to Ingary to get to hang out in Howl’s moving castle, with Howl, Sophie, Calcifer, Michael, etc. We’re definitely going to have to have some cream cakes from Cesari’s, and I want to go through the door to each of the places it opens up to. (Bonus: I get to visit Wales. *cackles*)

Thirdly, and terribly selfishly . . . I want to visit the world where my own Steampunk fairy tale retelling works-in-progress take place. I’ve completely fallen in love with it and I can’t wait for the day when I can share this world with others. I love the skyships and the cities in the clouds, the lonely rock formation pillars and dangling walkways across misty ravines, the clockwork dragons and tea and clothing and fairy tale retellings. And I would definitely need to get to go to a ball at the palace where Princess Tasmania’s from, and meet her and her twin brothers Percival and Durward, and of course Auren, and sit on a rooftop at night with Rook on top of his flat over the spice shop (as long as there are no assassins), and sail the skies with Gerias and Noya and the Royal Sky Navy (avoiding the sky pirates, unless they’re charming Keller or clever Skalon), and stand on top of one of the rock pillars in the wind and watch the sun set and the stars come out.

*inhales*

Sorry. I got a little carried away. But those are the three worlds I want to visit. ^_^

5. Congratulations! You are a fantasy hero/heroine about to start your adventure. You get to choose a small fantasy creature to accompany and assist you on your quest. Who/what do you choose?

Talking otter secretary, hands-down. *grinning*

(I’m definitely planning to do more with little Gavin the otter, hopefully in a novel one of these days. :D)

Otters are just SO AWESOME AND ADORABLE and one who can be a secretary would be so helpful. Plus, he could fish for me, which has to be helpful. And hey, if he’s a more sentient otter, who can write, that probably counts as a fantasy creature, right?

6. Elves or dwarves?

Elves!

7. Do you prefer your dragons (we had to have at least one question devoted solely to dragons!) good or evil or a mix of both?

A mix of both. Classic evil dragons are . . . well . . . classic. And you can’t really do better for villains than a dragon. (Like Smaug or Glaurung.) But I do enjoy the ones who are on our heroes’ side — not to mention how helpful they are to have on your side! (Like Toothless!) And the ones who are a little more morally grey and initially hard to figure out which side they’re on are probable my favorite, in general. (Hello, Malcolm Blackfire.) I like all the dragons!

8. World building is a complicated undertaking full of many details. As a reader, what is a small detail you really appreciate seeing when it comes to diving into a new realm? What is something that helps you lose yourself in a fantasy world?

Smells are always a good touch and are helpful to bring in. But I think my favorite is when there are myths and stories WITHIN the story, which makes it have a further depth to it. It’s just so cool when characters can reference this myth or story and it effects their own. It can be hard to do well, because sometimes there’s too much of it, or else the reader just doesn’t care. But when it works, it’s brilliant. J. R. R. Tolkien, Joanna Ruth Meyer, and Jenelle Leanne Schmidt — for example — do excellent with this! So does Kyle Robert Shultz, though in that case it’s fairy tales harking back to fairy tales, but they’re always tweaked so it makes them feel real.

9. You have been transformed into your favorite fantasy creature. Problem is… you’re still in your own bedroom and your family is downstairs, completely unprepared for this shock. What creature are you, and how (if at all) do you break the news to your loved ones? (Or how do you get out of your room?)

Oh dear. XD Well, I’m a gryphon, as implied earlier, so that’s cool! I probably wouldn’t break the news — they would probably just arrive in my room and find me sitting on my bed and barely fitting (because gryphons are large), trying to decide if I should try flying out the window or just keep reading. 😛 I hope I could talk though, so that they wouldn’t think I’d been eaten. XD And I’d probably be freaking out (I would freak out if my hair turned a different color, let alone if I turned into a creature) buuut I like to think it would also be kind of cool? Especially to fly . . .

Tagging

I tag Sarah Pennington, Claire Banschbach, Lauri, and YOU if you are reading this and want to do it! (Absolutely no pressure. XD And apologies if you’ve already been tagged! I am behind on blogs and internet in general. XD)

Well. How was that? I hope you enjoyed my answers! Thanks so much for reading! 🙂

Ren: The Girl With the Mark – Season 2 Kickstarter! #FantasyMonth

Hey, friends!

As some of you may know, it’s February #FantasyMonth, and what better time than now to share about one of my favorite fantasy shows?

Namely Ren: The Girl With the Mark, an Indie-made show which can be viewed for free online on YouTube (or on Amazon Prime)!

I feel like there aren’t enough fantasy shows out there, and I absolutely loved this amazing production from Mythica Entertainment — all the more so because it’s short (the first season features five 10-minute episodes) and because it’s an independent production, which just makes it more awesome!

I adore the characters (Karn and Hunter, y’all!), the fantasy world setting which looks so cool (filmed in the UK!), the music (I bought the soundtrack and listen to it all the time!), and of course the excitement and accents and the fact that it’s made by the people who did the Lord of the Rings fan film Born of Hope!

(Check out my post Ten Reasons Why Ren the Series is Awesome if you need more reasons to watch it, because honestly, what are you waiting for? You need it in your life!)


Well, I’m SUPER EXCITED to get to share about the Kickstarter that just launched to provide crowdfunding for new episodes of Ren, so that we fans will hopefully finally get a second season! I’ve been wanting more ever since that epic cliffhanger at the end of the first season, and now it’s up to us fans to help get more of the story onto the screen.

Do check it out! Watch the first season if you haven’t yet (it’s less than an hour in total!), and consider supporting the Kickstarter if you can! (It runs through February 29 and new episodes only happen if it gets fully funded.)

Here is more about it from a recent press release:


Produced and filmed in Cambridgeshire, UK, Ren is a short-form fantasy-adventure series about a young woman marked by an ancient spirit. It’s the brainchild of Kate Madison, also known for her phenomenally popular Lord of the Rings fan film Born of Hope.

Like Season One, the new episodes will be funded by the general public through the popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. With this system the filmmakers set the target they need to fund their series, then fans pledge their support, and the money only changes hands if the target is hit by the deadline, in this case February 29th.

“Crowdfunding is great because it cuts out the gatekeepers,” Madison explains. “Our loyal community of fans made Season One such a rewarding experience, and through Kickstarter they have the chance to say, ‘Yes, I want this show to be renewed!’”

You can find out more about Ren: The Girl with the Mark and support the show by visiting kickstarter.com/projects/mythica/ren2


Also, fantasy fans, be sure to check out the fifth annual February is Fantasy Month, hosted by Jenelle Schmidt, to celebrate all things fantasy, as well as a blog tag, Instagram challenge, and giveaway! (I’m hoping to return with more posts throughout the month.)


Who’s excited about hopefully a new season of Ren? 😀 *fangirling*

Fantasy Favorites Tag!

G’day, my Roadlings!

It’s the LAST day of February (say what? How did this happen?) so I’m squeezing in at the last second of February Fantasy Month to do this lovely tag that the hostess of this awesome event, Jenelle Schmidt, put together.

No, I’m not late—what gave you that idea?

Ahem. On with the tag, shall we? All of these questions are so hard! O_O

What is your favorite fantasy book?

(I lied. This question is super easy.)

The Lord of the Rings/The Silmarillion and Howl’s Moving Castle. I KNOW. SUCH A SHOCK. XD

(Okay, I know that’s not one. But. You know.)

Also, I’m looking forward to reading Howl’s Moving Castle for the sixth time (I think?) next month for March Magics since there’s going to be a readalong for it! 😀

What is your favorite fantasy movie or TV show (or both!)?

At first I couldn’t think of any fantasy TV shows, which shows a definite problem somewhere . . . But I’m going to go with Ren: The Girl with the Mark, which I mentioned before, and if you haven’t checked it out, I totally recommend doing so!

I’m going to be posting about that soon, regarding a possible season 2 (!!) so stay tuned!

For movies:

(I need to see the new How to Train Your Dragon movie! Aaahh!)

  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Prince of Persia

And if you haven’t seen Prince of Persia yet — what are you even doing with your life?

Prince Dastan can’t believe you haven’t watched it, either

Who is your favorite fantasy hero/heroine?

I have SO MANY FAVORITE HEROES, I’m not even going to try listing anybody. My mind overwhelmed itself and short-circuited with the sheer amount and left me suddenly unable to recall anybody. I’ll regret it later but I’m going to skip that.

Instead, I’ll just do heroines, since that’s a much shorter list. 😉 Here are some:

  • Mina Klug (The Bright Empires series by Stephen R. Lawhead)
  • Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings) and Luthien Tinuviel (The Silmarillion), both by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Eilonwy (The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander)
  • Ginny (Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal)
  • Cordelia Beaumont (The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz)
  • Echo (Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer)

It takes a LOT to write a heroine I really love and admire. I’m not sure exactly what quality these heroines share but they’re all fabulous! (You can read a post I wrote which in part concerned those first few heroines, if you like.)

Who is your favorite fantasy side-kick?

Uuuurgh. Do you realize how difficult this question is? Do you realize how many amazing fantasy side-kicks there are? This is threatening to short-circuit my brain again.

*panics* *scrambles around* *grabs one name from the swirling mass and tosses it out*

CRISPIN BEASLEY HE’S JUST THE BEST OKAY BYE

*panting*

*thrusts The Beast of Talesend haphazardly in your face*

*hurries on*

Who is your favorite fantasy villain? (the one you most love to hate?)

For some reason all I can think of right now is the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. He’s just . . . really creepy. O_O

(I was tempted to list Carhartan from Orphan’s Song or Rupert de la Mare from Plenilune or the Keeper from Entwined but “most love to hate” might not apply; it’s more like I HAVE FEELINGS WHICH MAY BE HATE I DUNNO. I talk about villains here.)

I . . . don’t want to linger on this question; there’s a sort of chill in the air over here. I’ll just . . . Yeah, I’ll move on.

*sprints hastily to next question and locks door behind self*

What is your favorite fantasy sub-genre?

*breathes sigh of relief* Much safer, cozier, warmer question. 🙂

Fairytale retellings, and steampunk-fantasy or Regency-fantasy! Those are ones I’ve been really into lately, anyway.

I love a good classic epic fantasy, too!

What is your favorite thing about fantasy?

The limitless possibilities and imagination and wonder. There’s just so MUCH that can happen! It also has great potential for my favorite sorts of character types, and of course fantastical creatures and settings! And . . . well . . . everything.

Fantasy is my home, and while I enjoy other genres from time to time (non-speculative fiction, and non-fiction occaaasionally), they just often seem . . . dry. They don’t have the wonder. I enjoy visiting them sometimes but Fantasy is where I live.

It has so much potential. I find I learn truths about life more deeply when I encounter them in fantasy.

Lloyd Alexander said it best.

What is your favorite fantasy realm?

Tolkien’s world, absolutely. I have recently been re-immersing myself in Middle-earth and particularly Beleriand and the other lands of The Silmarillion, reading Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales and The Fall of Gondolin.

I “grew up” there, living and breathing the richness of his world and the far-reaching wonder of the ages of Middle-earth. I had no idea how much I missed it until I went back again and realized it was so natural to slip back into this world. I do need to give The Lord of the Rings a good re-read one of these days soon, but at the moment I’m enjoying going through the older drafts of what later became The Silmarillion and having a blast.

If you need me, I’ll be walking the shores of Valinor or visiting the hidden valley of the city of Gondolin between the mountains; treading under the trees of Doriath with Luthien and Beren or staring at the wide sea from the cliffs of Beleriand; visiting the Shire or the Lonely Mountain or Lothlorien or Minas Tirith; spending a couple of weeks by the fire in Rivendell with the music and the books, the food and the Elves; galloping the vast plains with the Rohirrim; or walking the woods of Ithilien with Faramir. Watch out; I may never come back. 😉

What is your favorite fantasy magic system?

I’m not sure! I don’t always pay that much attention to how the fantasticalness works in the fantasy I read? But I will say that I know I liked Spellsmith and Carver (where it was half like computer coding) and Beggar Magic (the “strains” sort of like music), both by H.L. Burke. And the Song from the Songkeeper Chronicles by Gillian Bronte Adams, and the aether gifts in the Sentinel Trilogy by Jamie Foley, are all coming to mind. So I guess I’ll go with some of those. XD In Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer, I ADORED the book-mirrors where you can step into a story, so if that counts . . .

Sell me a fantasy book! Have you written a fantasy book? Give me your best pitch for it! Have you read an exceptionally great fantasy book recently? Convince me to make it my next read!

Wellll. I have written a fantasy book, or several. But they’re not exactly available yet. XD *cough*

My latest is basically a Steampunk-Fantasy Little Mermaid. Except that the Little Mermaid is neither little nor Mer nor a maid — being a cloud-siren prince on a quest to find his father’s killer — and he gets mixed up with Princess Tasmania who is the captain of a skyship. Cloud cities, assassins, tea, love, and clockwork dragons ensue.

So yeah, that’s The Siren and the Skyship, currently in needs-to-be-edited limbo. I’m working on trying to figure out the plot for the sequel right now and it’s giving me headaches.

Maybe I’ll do an update post about how my writing is coming, since I haven’t talked about that or anything on here in awhile . . .

Actual book

In the meantime, how about a book that is actually finished! and published! and awesome!

I wanted to screech about Echo North or The Electrical Menagerie, but since y’all prooobably know by now how much I love those (given all the shrieking I’ve done. XD) and things like Howl’s Moving Castle, I think I’ll give a quick shout-out for a book I haven’t talked as much about for a little while! (But seriously, go check those out if you haven’t!! They make me happy!)

Blood Ties! By Hazel West!

Alternate modern Ireland! Warriors with swords and fast cars! Brothers by blood and by bond with great messy relationships I love! SNARK. Fighting. Epic characters! (I love them ALL! AWK!) Loyalty and goblins and castles and cell phones! (Those are good because they’re all together in one book, not because goblins or cell phones are necessarily inherently good in themselves.)

Did I mention Ireland? Because it’s almost Saint Patrick’s Day so you OBVIOUSLY need something to read for that.

I love it so much and I’ve been missing this series (the sequels are just as good if not better) and wanting book four BADLY. So go read this one if you haven’t. 😀

And look, I’m part of Ciran’s Company! And I have a real BPAFF (Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk) shamrock necklace I won from the author, so if any of you reading this are actually malevolent fae or goblins trying to convince people not to read this book, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Ciran and I are comin’ for you. And the rock band Swords and Shamrocks are going to write a ballad about it. So watch out.

So there you are! I hope you enjoyed this fantasy tag and my answers — do feel free to steal the tag to use on your own blog, even if Fantasy Month is over. Because the time for fantasy is always!

What are some of YOUR fantasy favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Top 6 Types of Epic Mentors in Fantasy

Ah, mentors.

One of the staples of the Fantasy genre, mentors are often underappreciated (and often quickly dead, at that, but we won’t go into this right now…) but so important — and can have their own very striking personalities as well.

Where would all of our heroes be without mentors?

Well, certainly not saving the world, for one thing; probably not very knowledgeable, for another; and most likely dead, for a third.

In short, they’d be sunk.

So it’s high time we paid homage to some amazing mentors!

Today’s February #FantasyMonth (hosted by Jenelle Schmidt) prompt is “Best mentors in fantasy” and that had me stopping and thinking: “Wait. I have so many favorites!”

Rather than make a little tweet about it and not do these fabulous gentlemen (and ladies!) justice, I decided I’d do a whole post about it instead.

A strong mentor is one you remember vividly and who is knowledgeable about something necessary to the quest or story you find yourself in, and one you’d love to have at your side in a pinch, to help you out of this mess — or at least teach you how to do so yourself.

(I was afraid, when making my list, that I’d have to leave some out for not being from fantasy. But it turns out all the great mentors I can think of ARE from fantasy, so… there you are! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s most everyone I could think of at the moment.)

So I’d like to share with you twenty of my favorite mentors from page and screen, and I’d divided them into six types of epic mentors. Enjoy!

1. Classic Mentors

You know what I’m talking about. Grey or white hair, often a long beard, sometimes grouchy, or alternately quite merry with twinkling eyes and a sense of humor (sometimes at your own expense…), but very wise and prone to getting you swept away on an adventure you weren’t expecting — and likely didn’t want — but there it is! These elderly gentlemen are wise beyond their already extensive years, and you definitely want them at your side as you step into your adventure.

Examples:

  • Gandalf the Grey/White (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien) — Do I really need to say anything here? Honestly? Gandalf is the epitome of Fantasy Mentor; though he’s not ACTUALLY as grouchy and extreme as people act like he is, and he’s definitely more to be reckoned with than the weak film versions of him. I do like him in the movies, but right now I’m talking about the real, BOOK version of Gandalf. 😉 Wise, dependable, and lit with an inner fire of goodness, whether as the Grey Wanderer or the White Rider, Gandalf is one of the great protectors of Middle-earth, and wherever there’s an effort of Good fighting against Evil, you’ll usually find him at the center of the adventure, guiding the heroes!
  • Great Uncle Merry (Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper) — Oh, Great Uncle Merry! He’s one of my favorites. Later revealed in the rest of the Dark is Rising Sequence in a more classic mentor role as Merriman Lyon, I still love him most in the first book, when he’s just the Drew children’s “great uncle” (Gummery, as young Barney calls him), and he makes you feel SAFE, you know? He’s also very wise, and fun, and just the absolute best.
  • Thomas Warvold (The Land of Elyon series by Patrick Carman) — I’m going to have to start talking less or we’ll be here all day, so I’ll simply say that Warvold is another classic example of one of the great wise old men — and he rather shapes young Alexa’s adventures, even if he’s not as much a part of them as one would like… He’s great, and I’d love to go to the library in Bridewell and eat strawberry jam on buscuits with him!
  • Cosimo Livingstone (The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead) — The great-grandfather of our hero Kit, old Cosimo was my favorite character in this book! The one who starts it all and gets Kit off on his adventure (what did I tell you about these older fellows sweeping heroes off!), Cosimo knows so much and is just fabulous. (I may be stretching the “fantasy” genre a tiny bit on this one, but it’s a rather unpidgeonholeable series, so we’ll just go with that… And of course I needed to include him in this list!)

2. Grizzled Mentors

These are the ones that aren’t quite as old as the Classic Mentors. These are maybe in their fifties or sixties — still seasoned veterans of life, but have a bit of fire. They often have a grizzled appearance: might have a short grey beard or salt-and-pepper stubble, or just hair flecked with grey, and they’re often weatherbeaten and not who you expect them to be. They can be sarcastic or warmhearted (or both) but they’re to be reckoned (but not trifled) with! These are one of my favorite kinds. 😀

Examples:

  • Halt (Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan) — I read the first Ranger’s Apprentice book this month specifically so I could include Halt in this post. XD I’d heard so much about him and I was pretty sure he belonged in my list, so I up and read it. And I was right — he so belongs here! Definitely one of my favorite mentors EVER. ❤ He’s such a great mentor and he’s indescribable, honestly. I just really like him. 😀 (You can read my thoughts on the first Ranger’s Apprentice book in my post from yesterday!)
  • Rayad (Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight) — I mean. Anyone who’s read this series should know he belongs here. 😉

(Brom)

  • Brom (Eragon movie) — I confess, I haven’t read the book. *cough* But I’m aware that the book-Brom is more of the Classic Mentor type. Anyway, I’m here to talk about movie-Brom, who is great! He’s definitely the grizzled, grouchy, sarcastic mentor type.

(Karn)

  • Karn (Ren: The Girl with the Mark – online TV series) — I love Karn! We didn’t get to see a lot of him due to the series only being about 50 minutes, but what we did see was great and he seems like he has huge potential as a mentor, the kind in this category, but a bit more friendly perhaps. XD
  • Prince Gwydion (Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander) — I don’t always think of Gwydion as a mentor character, but it fits for this post, and Taran definitely looks up to him. He’s wise and epic and just generally amazing in most ways. Can you imagine having Gwydion as a mentor? That would be awesome.
  • Romanov (The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones) — I’ll be honest and say I don’t remember him very well; I read this book from the library while I had the flu, and some of it’s a little vague in my head to say the least… But I do remember that Romanov was absolutely awesome and I think he was this grizzled type and I really liked him.

3. Handsome-Young-Magician Mentors

(Yes, this is a thing; sorry.) These are the charming, somewhat debonaire magicians, who are young, handsome, and completely unexpected in the mentor category, but here they are all the same. I was surprised by how many I found in this category!

Examples:

  • Chrestomanci a.k.a. Christopher Chant (Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones) — Oh, Chrestomanci! How awesome would it be to have him as a mentor? I mean, he’d likely be slightly terrifying, really, with his hard stare and biting sarcasm if he was annoyed with you. But he’s so calm and powerful in a quiet, elegant way, and you’ll often find him in one of his many extravagant dressing-gowns or in a beautifully tailored suit. When you have a magical mishap (er… world-shattering disaster?) and you call Chrestomanci, you know the moment he arrives that everything’s going to be all right.
  • Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones) — What is this? Howl? A mentor? He may be a great many things, but is a mentor really one of them? Well yes, it is — let’s not forget his apprentice, Michael! Howl sometimes may seem irresponsible or dramatic, or dreamily absent, but he actually is a pretty good mentor to Michael and seems to teach him well enough — and he took orphaned Michael in off the streets, so that’s another good quality in a mentor. And Howl being one of the most magical people in Ingary, of course he’s an ideal teacher to have, despite his seeming flaws of character… *cough*
  • Mairelon the Magician a.k.a. Richard Merrill (Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede) — I need to read the first book in this duology, but in the one I read, Mairelon is a great teacher for the heroine — and has some sort of quality rather like Chrestomanci or Howl, which is part of why he fits in here. He doesn’t care about what high society thinks of him, but he’s all gentleman at that, and if anyone can get a street-thief girl turned into a magical lady, it’s him.
  • Mr. Wicker (Mr. Wicker’s Window / The Sign of the Seven Seas by Carley Dawson) — A bit different than the three above, he still fit into this category better than any of the other categories. He’s from the 1700s (it’s a time-travel fantasy series), and he and the young hero, Chris, end up on adventures on the high seas or in Asia or Mexico, and he’s very patient and capable and usually has a few tricks up his sleeve — just the one you want to help you out.

4. Young Headstrong Mentors

These are the ones who are epic heroes in their own right, but somehow (against their own wishes, in fact) they find themselves saddled with another, younger hero. They may not have completed their own training, but they’re definitely more qualified than THESE kids, and, well, somebody has to take them in hand… They might be a bit gruff or not get along, but deep down they really care about their pupils… at least eventually. 😉

Examples:

  • Jet Valinor (Sentinel Trilogy by Jamie Foley) — Oh, Jet. The best. 😀 He’s got to rank as “youngest, most awesome hero-in-his-own-right mentor EVER.” XD He has quite the attitude himself, and obviously didn’t want to end up with annoying puppy-dog-like Darien as his apprentice, but he’s pretty good at mentoring… kinda… even if Darien finds HIM annoying. XD It’s like a buddy-story turned mentor-apprentice relationship and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Jet’s awesome in aaaall the ways.

(Kanan)

  • Kanan Jarrus (Star Wars: Rebels TV show) — I’m sliiightly stretching the “fantasy” genre here, but we’ll call Star Wars science fantasy and go with that. Just because I really, really wanted to list him. XD I know people usually think Obi-Wan or Yoda or maybe Qui-Gon when they think Star Wars mentor, but Kanan is my favorite. (Note: I’m talking about the first season of Star Wars: Rebels here.) He has to put up with Ezra (who I also love) and even though he never completed his Jedi training, he does pretty well with teaching his young Padawan. And he’s just awesome, so.

5. Dragon Mentors

Okay, so I don’t know if there are a lot of these or not. But I realized when I was making a list of my top 20 favorite mentors that two of them were dragons. So this category clearly had to be made. 😉 Grouchy, dangerous, and always with the possibility they could lose their temper and roast or eat you, dragon mentors are actually one of the best kinds of mentors otherwise, because they are often extremely wise, and… well… dragons. That’s a plus right there. (Even if you’re not always sure whose side they’re on. :P)

Examples:

  • Scales (Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones) — Oh my. It’s very hard to talk about this dragon without spoilers, but let’s just say he has a VERY forceful personality, and he’s an excellent (if unexpected) mentor and I love him! (When he puts Kit in his place, it’s great. XD)
  • Malcolm Blackfire (Afterlands books by Kyle Robert Shultz) — Still waiting for some more screen (I mean… page) time for Malcolm in other books (*cough*waitiiiing*cough*), but he was apparently Lady Cordelia’s mentor, and he seems like he’d be a great one — plus, he does kind of look after the Mythfits and his school. Malcolm is one of the coolest dragon characters (he can also shapeshift between his dragon/human forms), and while he’s rather gruff and sometimes it seems uncertain whether he’s actually on “our” side, you can tell deep down he’s actually heroic. 😉 MALCOLM’S AWESOME.

6. Lady Mentors

These do exist! As much as we often imagine old bearded men as mentors, there are some amazing ladies who have been incredible mentors in their time. The two I’ve picked are actually extremely different than each other, so I’m not going to generalize their “type” since they don’t really have one, so I’ll discuss them each individually. 😉

Examples:

  • Princess Irene the older (The Princess and the Goblin & The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald) — The “grandmother” of little Princess Irene, and her namesake, this fascinating lady sometimes seems old and other times young and beautiful, but she’s the one to go to for counsel — as young Irene or Curdie often end up doing. Sometimes you won’t want to do what she says needs to be done, but you’ll end up doing it all the same, because it’s right, and she’ll show you why. She’s a classic mentor lady, and so ageless. I’ve always loved this character. 🙂
  • Beana (Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Fallen Star by Anne Elisabeth Stengl) — Well, well. Who would think to find a nanny-goat in this category? Ahem. 😉 Those who’ve read these books will know that Beana is not what she seems! I absolutely LOVE her, and her relationship with Rosie. Beana is just so SOLID, and always knows the right thing to say — even if sometimes it seems a little blunt. XD Where would Rosie be without her Beana to tell her things?

So there you are!

Have you read (or watched) any of these? What do you think of my categories, and do you have any to add? And who are some of YOUR favorite mentors, fantasy or otherwise? 🙂 I’d love to hear what you think! Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you want to read my fantasy flash-fiction short story, Mentor Problems (which was a finalist in a flash-critique session at Realm Makers 2018 Writers Conference), you can pick it up here by subscribing to my newsletter! 🙂