My father-in-law and I like to read very different things. As you all know, I'm a fantasy/SF/romance kinda gal, and it had better have a happy ending. He loves non-fiction (shudder), especially military stuff (like there's ever a happy ending with those), and enjoys following up his reading with further research and visits to the towns/places in question (this part is cool). He doesn't do make-believe. I can see where he's coming from even if it makes me break out in hives and he just smiles and shakes his head at my frivolousness. We agree to disagree.
But here's a novel that might actually appeal to both of us - if he can get past the whole 'mages' bit because ya know, it's pretty critical. C.C. Finlay's Traitor to the Crown series features Proctor Brown, a patriot minuteman farmer who is also a mage and involved with the dire opening acts of the Revolutionary War. This first book, The Patriot Witch, covers the 'shot heard round the world', the battle at Lexington and Concord and the events through Bunker Hill. It gives a magic-wielding explanation for why that first shot happened, why so many British officers died at Bunker Hill and how the patriot forces sustained so few losses at the same time. It was great, and it made me go look events up afterward to see how closely it followed the actual historical data (pretty closely as a matter of fact). Before, the Rev War was a blur of which I knew dates, a couple of key historical people and mostly whatever I'd picked up from Disney's The Swamp Fox series from when I was growing up. Now I'm more aware of it, and the particulars of these specific battles will stay with me. Anything that makes people read and become more aware of our history is fabulous, and even if Finlay's reasoning behind the events is completely made-up, the results are not. Also, this is a great guy kind of book that chicks can enjoy too. It has a 'happy for now' ending, because you know they're in the start of a desperate war, and a bunch of good folks have already died with more to come, but it ends on a note of hope, and that's good enough for me.
Anyways, I'll be handing this one off to my father-in-law, and he'll read it because of the guilt trip he'll suffer if he doesn't. I really hope that he likes it, but even if he doesn't, we'll still have a good time talking about it, I'm sure. I'll let you guys know how this reading experiment works out. Meanwhile, I'll go buy the other two books in the series. :)
As a side-note, I think my father-in-law had a hand in the creation of Blogger's spell-checker. The only words it didn't recognize were 'mage' and 'mages'...