It’s a good thing there was a Top 5 Wednesday topic for father figures, because I was going to have to do one for mine anyway after he saw the mom post and felt a teensy bit left out. Don’t worry, Dad, I’ve got your back!
- Mr. Bennet | Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Bennet family has already made appearances in my Top 5 Wednesdays for moms and characters I’m like, so it’s only fitting that I round it out here.* Mr. Bennet, the lone male in a house swarming with estrogen, bears his highly dramatic surroundings by alternately retreating to solitude and making wisecracks about his family that go over the heads of all but Jane and Lizzie. He admires and respects his eldest daughters’ intelligence and good sense, and while he makes some stunningly poor parenting decisions in letting Lydia swan off to Brighton, he fights to see things set straight when it all falls apart. The patriarch of my favorite literary family, Mr. Bennet’s life makes me relieved I have two brothers.
- Halt | Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan
King’s Ranger Halt becomes a mentor and father figure to orphan Will, whom he takes on as an apprentice. He’s taciturn and brusque, but there is marshmallow softness and real paternal affection behind his rigorous training and dry, scathing wit. He remains a constant in the series even after Will and his friends grow up, adapting to be a close friend as his protégé reaches adulthood. Halt is basically the best. At the end of one of the books (won’t say which!) he and Will become separated for what could be forever, and that ending was the first that I remember really getting gut-punched by. I had to google a synopsis for the then-unpublished sequel to reassure my younger self that all would be well.
- Niko Goldeneye | Circle of Magic Series by Tamora Pierce
He thought he’d just be picking up some new recruits for the Winding Circle Temple, but that all flew out the window when the four he picked up were Sandry, Briar, Daja and Tris, all young untrained mages with power that won’t conform to the rules. Niko steps in as a mentor for Tris in particular, whose volatile weather magic makes her dangerous and led her family to pass her between relatives like a hot potato. Niko’s calm, serene nature balances out Tris’s stubborn pride and makes them the team to beat!
- Arobynn Hamel | Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
Let’s get this out of the way: Arobynn straight up sucks. Any points he won himself for saving Celaena’s life are quickly overwhelmed by the manipulative and possessive nature of his relationship with her, particularly as the line begins to blur strangely when she hits puberty. That being said, the King of Assassins is a fascinating character to read. Whenever he appears (more in Assassin’s Blade and Queen of Shadows than the first three of the series), you know there’s bound to be a razor-sharp battle of wits, which may or may not end with a razor-sharp blade to the gut.
- The Raja of Bharata | The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
This is only based on the Raja we see before he marries off his daughter, Maya (not a spoiler, you can find that out from the inside flap). I’m actually only halfway through this book, and while my skimming has informed me he’ll reappear I’m still fuzzy on the details. But thus far, I have found him to be a fascinating blend of the anti-women attitude that permeates traditional, conservative Indian culture with a surprising streak of wisdom in leadership.When confronting his son about his extravagance, he demands, “Would you like to know the difference between us and everyone else? Nothing whatsoever. The worms do not take heed of caste and rank when they feast on our ashes.” But then we turn around and a few pages later he’s telling Maya things like, “Even a favored daughter is still just a daughter…Should you have the good fortune of a different sex in your next life, you might prove to be a fine ruler.” The parts that make your blood boil are an intriguing contrast to what are indisputably sound leadership ideals, and the whole character is a welcome change from the flat father-figures we often see.
*Until there’s a “Top 5 Worst, Most Nauseating Cousin-Types,” in which case Mr. Collins will be gracing us with his presence. That’s provided Lady Catherine de Bourgh can spare him, of course.