Heroes and Mentors

The hero/mentor dynamic is can lead to a very interesting character relationship, and a bond, maybe even a friendship may form between the two.

Syrio Forel and Arya Stark in Game of Thrones have a strong teacher/student dynamic going on. Arya wanted to learn how to fight with a sword so her father hired Syrio, first sword of Braavos to be her “dancing master“. Syrio passed on much wisdom to Arya that would eventually come to define her character. “As calm as still water”, “Fear cuts deeper than swords” and “What do we say to the god of death? Not today.” are just some of the phrases that Arya has taken to heart when she is alone and surviving in the dangerous lands of Westeros.

Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey are another popular mentor/hero relationship, but unlike Syrio and Arya who were definitely a master/student dynamic, Bilbo and Gandalf are more like friends, one of which is a little wiser. Gandalf coaxes Bilbo into the life of adventure he knows he longs for, and helps him as best he can along the way. Though the journey may not have proved to be beneficial for Bilbo (he feels lost or “stretched” after returning to Bag End after his adventure), it was beneficial for the fate of Middle Earth.

Delving into my late childhood here would be the father/son relationship of Spyro and Ignitus from The Legend of Spyro trilogy. Like Syrio, Ignitus teaches Spyro how to fight and shares with him his wisdom of the world and the dangers found within it. Unlike Spyro and Arya, however, Spyro and Ignitus share a close bond, and it is made unclear in the series whether Ignitus is the father of Spyro. There is a strong possibility he might be, which makes Ignitus’s unconditional admiration and pride for Spyro make a lot more sense. Ignitus is the kind of mentor who encourages rather than frightens the hero to do better. In fact, Ignitus’s dying words to Spyro are surprisingly selfless and optimistic as he tells him “your path lies beyond this” and to always trust what he believes to be right.

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