How to be a Mentor According to the Black Company


Goblin – Crazy old wizard. Apparently also a mentor.

Glen Cook’s series about The Black Company are some of my favorite books. In addition to the well-rounded characters, good world building, and unique narrative style, there are also many lessons to be learned if you’re paying attention. SPOILER ALERT: I will be talking about event that happen toward the end of the series.


Toward the end of The Black Company anthology, we see one of the Company wizards, known as Goblin, mentoring the son of one of the Company’s leader’s, Tobo. Tobo is a teenage boy who has a latent talent for magic in a world where such talent is rare. Goblin and the Company’s other wizard, One-Eye, take him under their wing to make sure that his talents do not destroy him...or anyone on their side.


As you can probably imagine, mentoring a teenager who thinks they are right all the time is a challenge. However, Gobin and One-Eye take the approach of letting Tobo learn from mistakes that won’t kill him. In a few situations, they hold the Company leadership at bay so Tobo can try whatever approach he feels fits the situation. While things don’t necessarily turn out exactly the way the person in charge wanted, the job gets done – often in certain better ways. Over time Tobo learns that he is not the smartest person in the world, rather he is part of a group that depends on one another.


In large part due to Gobin and One-Eye letting him come to his own conclusions within safe bounds.