The Balance of Magical Mentors

Before I seriously took up fiction writing as a career, I used to work as a project manager in the video game industry. That meant I was in charge of making sure the programmers, game designers, and artists worked together to meet production deadlines. You could say I earned my keep by maximizing motivation. I spent a lot of time learning about individual members of my team in order to figure out what they needed to get their job done.

That experience directly translated into how I crafted the character Guntram, the augur who oversees Ina's apprenticeship as an eyas, in my nature wizard series. I could have made him one of those extreme "wise man on the mountain" types who takes a hands-off approach (like the Oracle does for all the shepherds). Or I could have gone the other way and made him more like a drill sergeant who expects his every command to be obeyed (like Tabitha). Instead, I split the difference and made him a grumpy old man who realizes that despite his age, he still makes mistakes and can learn a trick or two.

Plus, Guntram commands an army of spy ravens. I am jealous of my own fictional creation.


Ravens aside, Guntram's true strength is his mesh of wisdom and humility. Unlike Tabitha, who overcompensates for a mistake in her past by becoming hard and cruel, Guntram is strict but thoughtful in how he handles Ina's magical training. He purposefully guides her without pushing her to become a miniature version of himself. He tries to accept her choices, even when it frustrates him. And when she becomes a full-fledged shepherd, he treats her as an equal, rather than his former underling.

What do you think of Guntram's personality? Is he a good mentor? Do you think he's too hard or too soft on Ina? And the most important question, what would you do with a flock of ravens at your command?

Until next time, happy adventuring!

-DM Fike