Top Ten Books We'd Recommend to Our Dads

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Besides our devastating good looks, stellar wit, and excellent choice in best friends, Jessie and I have something in common. Our dads love an epic fantasy novel. Now, I can't speak for Jess, but my dad's a little...stuck in his ways. He likes what he likes, and what he likes are farmboys facing orcs. Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth, Shannara, if a young boy is discovering his magical destiny, my dad's in. Unfortunately, this is a trope that's seriously on the decline. So rather than watch him try to struggle through Game of Thrones, (Daddy, give it up. It's not for you,) here are five series I think he should try instead:

1. The Riftwar Cycle by Raymond E. Feist

Look, if we tried to start at the very beginning of the farm-boy fantasy, we'd be going back to Le Morte d'Arthur, but the real granddaddy of the genre is Lord of the Rings. I'm not recommending LotR to my enemies, much less my dad, so we're going to look at the world building of "The forgotten Tolkien", M.A.R. Barker. Far more interested in creating the linguistics and geography of the world than his own books, we're going to keep right on skipping forward until we hit Feist. In the same way that Wheel of Time is totally not LotR fanfic, Feist owes a great debt to T├ękumel and Empire of the Petal Throne.

With 30 books and 10 distinct series completed in 2013, there's no lack of content in the world. Covering the five Riftwars between rival dimensions Midermia and Kelewan, the books could be classified as science fantasy, something that's not always to my father's tastes, but the initial book Magician and its story of orphaned Pug rising to become a magician's apprentice by way of rescuing a princess from orcs? That'll slot into the WoT-shaped hole in a heart.

2. Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell

A significantly more modern series than I've seen dad pick up, I actually think the humor of the opening prologue of Traitor's Blade will resonate both with him and with all classic fantasy fans. Our hero, waxing poetic on the honor and duty of the Greatcoats. To become one was his life long dream, his true purpose. And not only has he achieved that, he's become the head of the order, standing with his two best friends by his side. He urges you to imagine this, his life, what you would see, what wrong you would be fighting.

"They're fucking again."

Ah yes, our protector of truth, justice, and the fantasy country way has been reduced to nothing more than a bored door guard, waiting while his over-privileged employer finishes with his mistress after a round of fantasyViagra™. While we're a long way from The Two Rivers, Falcio's still got that noble, do-right spirit. There's a quest, a kid, a questionable sex scene all ripped from the old fantasy playbook. It's just done in a new way.

3. Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson

No one say the y-word and we might make it out of this. 

Steelheart seems like both an easy and a hard sell to my dad. Sure the setting isn't merry ole Englandia, but who is David if not Rand or Frodo? An orphan on a mission against a god. Unexpected magical powers. A wise mentor. A beautiful, clever love interest. Betrayal. What's more, it's witty, action packed, and most importantly, linear. The biggest problem with modern fantasy is the Martin effect, where 30 characters each have 30 balls in the air. This series, (and YA fantasy in general,) harken back to a time of "walk to this place and throw the ring in the fire/fight the devil/pull the sword from the stone". Reconers' superhero theme should be no sweat for a man who has seen ever iteration of the X-Men at least twice. But then there's the stigma of the age range and worse, the author. 

Me, Brandon Sanderson's greatest fan, (no Jess you can't edit that,) has a secret shame. And that shame's name is Chris and he provided half my DNA and he doesn't 

don't make me type it

He doesn't 



BUT, and this isn't just my fangirl coming out, I know he'd really like the book if he'd try it. Maybe I can trick him with an audio copy...

4. Redshirts by John Scalzi

This is the biggest swing on my list. I can't think of a single book my dad has ever read in his life like Redshirts. It's a standalone. It's sci-fi. It's humor. But, Dad's also a lifelong Trekkie and I think he would appreciate the story of Ensign Dahl, a lowly redshirt on the starship Intrepid, and his increasing fear of away missions that happen to feature the captain, chief science officer, and handsome lieutenant Kerensky. When those three are around, some low level crewman always ends up dead! It's a really interesting satire of Star Trek and its phony-baloney science, but it's also an exciting mystery and rife with battles on alien worlds. The time travel aspect could be a sell though.

I thought long and hard about putting Scalzi's epic space opera, Old Man's War in this position instead. I maintain it has the best lede in the history of the genre and in a lot of ways, I could describe John the way I've described the other fantasy main characters on this list. But in the end, I chose the one off for its instant connection to a family favorite tv show and because OMW's second half is dense as fuck.

5. Memory of Light by Robert Jordan 

Finish the goddamn series, man. What the hell? 

(She says, one book even further behind.)

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My friends, I am ashamed. My dad is old and... he read the first three Harry Potters, liked them..... and then just never continued. I do not understand this on a basic level. I have issues not finishing series intentionally but HARRY POTTER.  AND AT THE BOOK WHERE THERE ARE BIG ASS DRAGONS CHASING CHILDREN AROUND. How am I related to this man.

2. Scifi besides Dune, especially Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series
My dad is a big fan of the classics in SF/F -- aka a lot of old white dudes. My dad is a cool guy and a big reader, but he isn't known for trying something new once he finds something he likes. As a teen he read Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, and God-Emperor of Dune. Now he mainly rereads Herbert's even weirder SF but I would love him to try Jax. Her brash attitude, intelligence and capability would be a great fit for the man who calls Chani, Jessica, and Alia the best characters in Herbert's most famous series.

3. The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley
You guys have likely never heard of me talk about this but I think I may like it juust a little bit. [/sarcasm font] I think this would be an excellent choice for my dad because a. ninjas on giant birds fucking shit up b. big cast spread across a large world c. lots of action and battles c. morally grey characters, and d. fantastic worldbuilding. All of this (minus a because seriously who else has ninjas on giant birds?) is pretty similar to my dad's all-time favorite fantasy series: Malazan Book of the Fallen. Slightly more poetic and vastly less philosophical, though.

4. Ilium/Olympos by Dan Simmons
I get my love of history from my dad, which is why I think he would enjoy seeing a classic legend [The Iliad] updated and played out on Mars. The Trojan War as played out by actors and recorded and modified -- it's fun and allows for entirely new versions of the famous decade-long war.

5. A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

I get to be superior because apparently I am the only one of the four who finished the damn 14-book long epic. WHICH MEANS I AM THE REAL NO. 1 SANDERFAN, DANI.



  2. Interesting list!
    My ttt

  3. My dad is a huge epic fantasy fan as well! I know he's definitely read Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth, and Shannara haha.


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