Just for the heck of it, I thought I’d break down the positive and negative portrayals of fatherhood in my books (I might follow up with “motherhood” at some point, but I feel like my fathers generally provide more drama for whatever reason).
The amount of “page time” a particular character has does not influence their position on the scale (though what we see them do during that limited page time does), HOWEVER, they must have appeared at least once in the series they are featured in as a living character as opposed to a memory. This removes both Jericho Carver’s abusive father who is talked about but dead by the events of the story and Prince Bryant who is mentioned as Prince Bryce’s father in Green Princess but also died years before the story actually starts and is only shown in Bryce’s blurry memories of him, even though both men’s actions undeniably had influence on their sons’ lives.
Also, while I will try to stay away from major plot points, there will be some mild spoilers discussed here. I’ll try to lead with the book title so if you haven’t read the book yet, you can skip over the longer description.
Evyd from Daughter of Sun, Bride of Ice and Prince of Stars, Son of Fate.
I don’t think there is any contest for this position.
Evyd from the Ice and Fate Duology is the absolutely worst.
Both emotionally and physically abusive, this man has a severe Denethor complex (choosing one son to love and the other to dismiss as inferior) and is willing to sacrifice his own child’s very soul to maintain his political power. The son he doesn’t abuse, he manipulates. Bitter, suspicious, and stubbornly stuck in his ways to the detriment of all around him, Evyd is the literal worst.
Fun Fact: the name Evyd is actually short for “Evil Dad” because that’s the sort of thought I put into my naming system.
Gan from Coiled.
One of the few fathers on the list who could give Evyd a challenge, Gan misses the top spot only because he tried to doom one of his sons to a life as a giant, mindless snake, but he technically didn’t try to kill him or feed him to soul eating demons. Evyd sets the bar really really low on this list. A political thinker, Gan feels justified in sacrificing those beneath him, including his son, Calen, towards his ends. He is arguably a passable father towards his preferred son (he has two), which also is more than I could say for Evyd.
Riley from The Dragon and the Scholar series.
Riley is arguably a much worse human being than he is a father. Fiery of temper and intolerant of dissent, he was a harsh father with his older child and heir, Ryan, but a somewhat lenient one with his daughter, Brighid. When Ryan falls in love with a peasant girl, his response is particularly draconian, and he nearly breaks Ryan’s spirit (definitely his heart) in forcibly separating him from his beloved. He also lies to keep Ryan from finding her again and generally speaking bullies Ryan a good deal in an attempt to mold the young prince into something like himself. Again, doesn’t try to kill him … but definitely otherwise a complete jackass.
His relationship with his daughter is more complicated. He does attempt to bully her and use her politically, but it’s less malicious than it is with Ryan, and he never really tries to crush her spirit.
Lucan from Coiled.
Lucan’s primary sin as a father is cowardice. He allows most of the parenting decisions to be made by his cold, calculating wife who convinces him that the best way to deal with a daughter cursed to be ugly is to hide her from the public eye so she cannot disgrace their family. He’s also a bit naïve and agrees to allow said daughter to be used as bait for a giant serpent with a very weak promise from Gan that she won’t be killed. He does come to repent and grow by the end of the book, and he gets pushed up the scale quite a bit because of this.
Eamon from The Green Princess series.
Eamon is a complicated man with his own difficult past who honestly tries to do the best for the two young men who he is the father figure for: his own biological son, Langstyn, and his nephew and adopted son, Bryce. Raised by a man who executed his own son (Eamon’s younger brother and Bryce’s father) for treason, Eamon was taught to see weakness in any form as the greatest of flaws. He was a stern and exacting father, torn always between doing the best for both boys and maintaining the appearance of strength at all time. Not all of his decisions were the best, but he truly loved both boys and tried to bring them up as best he could.
The King from Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon.
The King’s primary flaw is … the guy is just kind of stupid. Easily manipulated and not prone to listening to his young daughter’s actual problems, he’s likely to try and buy her a pony or something rather than honestly address the issue that is making her sad. He does love her, but he does not understand her.
This is one of my more cartoonish books, so there’s honestly not a lot of nuance to his portrayal. I do believe he loves his daughter, but … man, the guy is dense.
Benin from The Green Princess series.
Another father who loses points for not being very smart, Benin wants to do the best for his son, but kind of treats Regyn as an equal adult when really he’s just a teenager who really shouldn’t be in charge of so much at his age. On one hand, this makes Regyn particularly confident and competent. On the other, he makes certain mistakes which are never corrected due to lack of guidance. Benin is also easily taken in by other people and makes ethically murky decisions that put Regyn in awkward positions nearly turning father and son against each other.
Mr. Algernon from Cora and the Nurse Dragon.
Mr. Algernon is the father of Cora’s nemesis. A wealthy man who had to make difficult choices early in his life, Mr. Algernon lives under the shame of some of those choices as well as the pressure of raising a son when his wife is chronically ill. Because of this, he’s often distracted and a little permissive. He does truly love his son, but has yet to find a balance in expressing this. He does make strides towards progress by the end of the book.
Grimir from Ashen.
Discussing Grimir at any length quickly goes into spoiler territory, but he is a complicated character who was in an unenviable position and tried to make the right decisions for his child … and kind of failed miserably but through ignorance rather than malice. His attempts to make up for these mistakes are both awkward and strangely charming.
Hedward Spellsmith from the Spellsmith & Carver series.
Where Hedward falls down on the job is completely in the communication department. Incredibly independent and a little proud, Hedward repeatedly keeps important information from his children while expecting them to obey restrictions that, without explanation, can come across as arbitrary. Everything he does is out of love, and he would literally die for his children—or for Jericho, who he eventually comes to see as a son as well. Still, his inability to trust his children and be open with them almost costs them their lives and strains his relationship with his son to the breaking point. He does mature within the series, thankfully.
Sten from Ashen.
Sten is the father of Brynar, the romantic interest for the main character of Ashen, Lizbete. The mayor of a remote fishing village, Sten is used to having not just the concerns of his three children but also the weight of the whole community on his shoulders. His main goal is to raise his oldest child, Brynar, to follow in his footsteps as a responsible community leader. However, Brynar has other plans for his life which causes conflict.
Sten is not a perfect father (he attempts to herd Brynar into the life Sten sees as ideal in spite of his son clearly not being eager to walk that path), but he’s well-meaning and balances responsibility and discipline with understanding and love for the most part. While not all his choices are ideal, they’re all made from a place of love and concern.
Mr. Weaver from Beggar Magic.
Overall a very good father, Mr. Weaver does not get a lot of page time which places him a lot lower on the list than maybe he deserves. He’s shown to be an understanding and loving father but … there’s not a lot asked of him in the story as it primarily happens away from his purview. The guy didn’t make any real mistakes, but the story didn’t really give him a lot of opportunity to do so, so I’m not going to put him over other fathers who had harder choices to make in the course of their stories.
Mr. Calloway from the Nyssa Glass series.
First seen in the prequel short Nyssa Glass and the Caper Crisis, Mr. Calloway is a bachelor who owns an electronics repair shop who comes across and ends up fostering orphan teen, Nyssa Glass. Mr. Calloway is forgiving, understanding, and … yeah, I kill him off like in book one of the main series (not really a spoiler since it happens in chapter one). However, his influence follows Nyssa throughout her adventures, long past his death. He would probably score higher on this list, but his influence of Nyssa was relegated to a couple of years whereas some of the other fathers on this list had their children or adopted children for their full lives or at least into adulthood.
Jericho Carver from the Spellsmith & Carver series.
We don’t get a lot of Jericho as a dad, but his primary motivation of being better than his own abusive father make him a conscientious and considerate partner to his wife, Rill, and very attentive to his children. Perhaps a little too hard on himself, he's still kind of tightly wound when the series ends. He’d score higher, but we didn’t get to see him mature in the role other than some short mentions in the follow up story Magician's Gift. (note: we don’t see Auric as a father at all, but I feel it unfair not to mention him here. Auric is a good dad. He’s a little more careless than Jericho, a little more absentminded, but overall a good dad. He would be about the same level as Jericho on the list if we had gotten to witness him in a fatherhood role).
Fade from The Supervillain Rehabilitation Project series.
Fade is a loving father determined to protect his wife and daughter with every ounce of his strength. Willing to both kill for and die for them, he’s also got a great sense of humor and is considerate and attentive.
Mr. Tyckner from the Spellsmith & Carver series.
Only in the book briefly, Lotta Tyckner’s father is a patient, caring man who does his best to work with a daughter he can’t always understand but who he definitely loves. While he does sometimes gently try to prod her out of her comfort zone, overall he respects Lotta’s limitations where social gatherings and interpersonal interactions are concerned.
Mr. Harrison from Cora and the Nurse Dragon.
Another widowed father doing his best, Mr. Harrison is an ethical man who father’s with a light touch. He helps Cora navigate tough decisions between doing what is right and doing what is hard and is there for her as much as possible. He does his best to balance when she is drawn to things, such as dragon racing, he personally believes are unethical, not shaming her for her interests, but making it clear why he doesn’t care for such practices.
Bryce from The Green Princess series.
We don’t see a lot of Bryce as a dad, but what we do see is pretty impressive. Extremely loving and supportive, willing to literally lose chunks of himself for his family (you’ll have to read the book to see what I mean). Bryce is a protective, considerate sweetheart.
Clindt from the Ice and Fate Duology.
Having grown up in the toxic environment of the Frorian court, Clindt does his best to keep his family away from the chaos, giving up a politically influential positions in order to be with them. He does doubt himself because his desire to be there for his family makes him less likely to take risks, but overall he still manages to make the right choices.
Ovar from Spice Bringer.
When faced with a foundling infant stricken with the deadly Rasp, it would’ve been easier for Ovar, a healer and hermit, to pass her off on another family. However, Ovar chose to raise Niya essentially as his own, encouraging her to make the most of life even if her time would be short due to her illness. He put everything into giving her hope and love.
Propmaster Genuent from The Heart of the Curiosity.
Propmaster Genuent raised two children then was forced to return to fatherhood late in life when his son and daughter-in-law were killed suddenly in a steamcar accident, leaving behind an eight-year-old son. He’s a loving and protective guardian to young Paxton who he guides and supports. Many of his choices are driven by his determination to make a better life for the young man.
Karvir from Lands of Ash.
Faced with the unenviable position of raising two young girls during an apocalyptic war, Karvir is strong, protective, and understanding. He literally throws himself into the flames for his family, and his struggle knowing he has to fight but to do so must leave them behind is pretty heartbreaking.
And finally … Best!
Kevin Powell from The Supervillain Rehabilitation Project series.
Okay, so Kevin is not alive during the main books of this series, but he IS in the short story prequel Relapsed, where we see him interact with his “work son,” Fade as well as hear him talk about his two biological children (Lucia and Aiden). After Kevin’s wife died when his children were very young, Kevin shouldered the weight of being a single parent as well as a fulltime superhero. His passion for mentoring younger super-abled individuals (called “sables” in the world of the series) bled into his work with the original Supervillain Rehabilitation Project, and his influence could be seen with both Fade, who he mentored within this context, and his own children who chose to follow in his footsteps. Kevin was protective, kind, and patient.
I did leave out a few minor character fathers.
Do you agree with my listing?
Do you enjoy reading about terrible fathers who cause drama? Amazing fathers who serve as role models? Or somewhere in the complicated middle (which is probably where most real fathers reside)?