Wisest Counselor Presentation Ceremony (Silmaril Awards 2018)

The White City of Gondor is packed.

Everyone has gathered in Minas Tirith, from all across Middle-earth and other lands far beyond, for the third annual presentation of the Wisest Counselor Silmaril Award.

The sable curtains, bearing the image of the white tree of Gondor, part and draw back. I stand in the center of the stage and wave at the expectant audience.

“Welcome, everyone!” I call. “Thank you for coming to the Award Ceremony to present the winner of the 2018 Silmaril Award for Wisest Counselor!”

The crowd cheers, and some hobbit near the back, who is a little confused about what the reason for the gathering is, raises a mug and calls, “Happy birthday!”

There is laughter.

I smile and carry on. “In previous years, as winners of this award, we’ve had Aslan himself from Narnia—not sure where he is today; not a tame lion, you understand—as well as Professor Hamilton from Dragons in Our Midst, who is visiting.” I wave toward the back of the stage where the grey-haired professor stands, smiling.

The audience applauds.

“And now, to present this year’s nominees and the winner, I’d like to welcome Gandalf onto the stage. Mithrandir, as some of you know him, is one of the wisest counselors in all of Middle-earth—even in all of Arda—and therefore highly qualified to present this award. Friends, I give you . . . Gandalf!”

I gesture to the right of the stage. Nothing happens. I wait several long, awkward moments, and laugh nervously. “Sorry, folks, looks like Gandalf is a little late this evening.”

“A wizard is never late, my dear blogger,” says a voice. The crowd laughs and applauds as Gandalf himself steps onto the stage, sweeping across it in his long grey robes and silver scarf and grey pointy hat. “I arrived precisely when I meant to.”

“Of course, of course. Well, I’m sure you were busy with something important, as always.”

Gandalf furrows his bushy eyebrows and looks mysterious, but I suspect he’s hiding a smile in his long grey beard.

“Thanks for coming, Gandalf. I’ll turn things over to you.” I nod to him and slip off the stage, finding a place in the front row where the applause for Professor Hamilton had been loudest, between a teenage boy and a girl with—wings? I spin back to look at her again—oh, she’s only wearing a backpack. Must have been my imagination . . .

I settle in with the rest of the excited audience to watch the following proceedings on stage.

The Nominees

“Welcome, Elves, Men, Hobbits, Dwarves, and . . . others,” Gandalf says. “Allow me to present the nominees of this year’s award.”

The audience’s murmur hushes in anticipation, and then they applaud as each name is announced.

Rayad of Arcacia from the land of Ilyon.”

A somewhat grizzled man in a simple tunic steps onto the stage, bows, and then smiles and nods toward two members of the crowd near the end of the front row—a teenage girl holding hands with a young man whose black hair falls over his ears, a black wolf lying at their feet. The young man nods back to Rayad, quiet and unobtrusive but proud.

Professor Digory Kirke of Narnia, come all the way from England via wardrobe.” Gandalf glances toward the ornate wooden wardrobe near the back of the stage.

An old man with shaggy white hair and equally shaggy beard comes into view and waves at the audience. There are cheers—particularly from the very middle of the front row, where four children—two boys and two girls, one of whom is a familiar face from last year—sit together and are heard to say things like “Hurrah for the Professor!” and “Good old Prof!”

Puddleglum of Narnia.”

A tall, thin Marshwiggle steps forward on webbed feet, shaking his head with the pointy hat rather like Gandalf’s, and muttering, “I don’t see why I’m always being called to these things. A mistake, through and through, I shouldn’t wonder . . .” A girl and a boy in the front row, between a fair-haired prince and a large white owl perched on an empty chair, applaud and grin, shaking their heads.

“Ranger Halt,” Gandalf continues, before pausing and looking around.

The audience scans the stage in search of Halt, and for a moment nobody sees him.

“Wizards may not be late, but perhaps Rangers are—though not a certain other Ranger I know,” Gandalf mutters.

But just then, a shadow moves away from the dark curtain, revealing Halt himself, camouflaged in his long grey mottled cloak. “I’ve been here all along,” he says dryly, stepping forward.

“A fellow grey wanderer. I can approve.” Gandalf nods.

A rather small but wiry boy in the audience applauds loudest, between a girl and a hulking young knight-to-be. There’s a sturdy pony next to them where a chair used to be. I’ve no idea how they got it inside . . . Stealthy Rangers.

“And Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore,” Gandalf finishes, ending the list of nominees.

An unassuming young man with a quiet, thoughtful face and deep, kind eyes, wearing fine clothes and a simple golden circlet, bows from the stage. A young woman in a white gown seated in the front row—with a smug-looking fluffy orange cat on her lap—smiles.

And the Winner Is . . .

“And now,” Gandalf says, “here at last, on this stage in Minas Tirith, comes an end to the voting and anticipation. May I present the winner of this award, a very remarkable man, and one whom I am glad to call a friend . . . Professor Digory Kirke!”

Cheering fills the air. A massive silver firework explodes overhead (no doubt why Gandalf was . . . erm . . . that is . . . not late). There are gasps and laughs of surprise, and a few more cheers. Gandalf chuckles.

Professor Kirke joins Gandalf in the center of the stage. “How did you manage to set that off while you were on stage?” the Professor asks. “Logically, somebody must have . . .”

“I may have had an assistant,” Gandalf says noncommittally.

“I love Minas Tirith!” yells a small, rather sooty hobbit figure before disappearing into the crowd.

Everyone laughs and I shake my head.

So does Gandalf, muttering, “Fool of a Took.” He clears his throat and turns to Prof. Kirke. “In recognition of your wisdom and guidance of certain young charges, Professor, I present you with this Silmaril.” Gandalf holds up a glowing golden sphere on a ribbon.

A hush falls across everyone as the gem shines out like the sun—or like an echo of the glimmer of the golden tree Laurelin from the land beyond the western seas many an age past.

Gandalf drapes it around Professor Kirke’s neck. “Bear it well, my friend.”

“Thank you, Gandalf, and thank you, everyone.” He turns to the crowd. “I’m quite at your disposal, I’m sure, and I’m honored that in your very careful consideration you should think me worthy of such an award.”

The Professor bows to the audience, to the sound of thunderous applause. Then he turns and steps past Gandalf to where last year’s winner, Professor Hamilton, stands. The two shake hands and smile.

Professor Kirke glances beyond him to where a great golden Lion, who was not there a minute before, sits quiet but majestic in one corner of the stage, his golden eyes laughing but wise—the ultimate Wise Counselor and the winner of the award two years past. A look passes between them, and Professor Kirke, feeling more like a young boy named Digory every moment, bows to the lion—who the next moment is no longer there.

“One last announcement,” Gandalf calls. “To the feast! There are a few hobbits here, who can be quite fearsome eaters in a pinch—or, well, at any time. If you want anything to eat, you had better get going before they eat everything—even though it is the finest feast King Aragorn could provide.”

There is laughter as everybody follows Gandalf toward the feast hall and its delicious aromas.

Well, almost everybody.

Halt and Rayad are on their way down the street toward a tavern to chat over mugs of ale.

Puddleglum is already planning on going back to fishing, muttering about coming rain.

Aslan is still nowhere to be seen (well, he’s not a tame lion), and nobody knows where the Prince of Farthestshore has gotten to.

Professor Kirke and Professor Hamilton are headed off in another direction for a quiet cup of tea, deep in conversation—discussing their adventures, their young charges, and (probably) logic.

“Yes, and after all of that, with the dragon slayer and everything, I was quite done with teaching there,” Professor Hamilton is saying.

And Professor Kirke’s voice floats back as they walk out of sight together: “My dear chap, of course you were. Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?”

Fin

Thanks for joining us for the awards presentation ceremony of the Wisest Counselor Silmaril Award!

You can find the rest of the winners here (some are still to be announced in the coming days).

For those curious, here are the final results:

  1. Professor Digory Kirke (The Chronicles of Narnia) 86 votes / 43%
  2. Halt (The Ranger’s Apprentice series) 39 votes / 20%
  3. Puddleglum (The Silver Chair) 30 votes / 15%
  4. Rayad (The Ilyon Chronicles) 22 votes / 11%
  5. Prince Aethelbald (Tales of Goldstone Wood) 21 votes / 11%

As always, thanks for being a part of this fun fantasy character awards! What did you think of the ceremony? Who were you hoping would win? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for coming! ❤

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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!