So my dad and I were talking about books last night, and he mentioned a science fiction book series that he read when he was younger than me. I'm currently a young adult, not even 20. It had to have been published before the 2000s then. He talked about how much he really liked it and how he wished he could find them again. I want to do some hunting on the internet to see if I can find them and surprise him. Okay, this is all the info I know and it's unfortunately not very much. He doesn't remember any of the character's names, the author, or cover art.

  • It was a series, not a stand alone novel

  • The plot involves two alien factions fighting against each other "Kind of like the Federation and Dominion," my dad said.

  • Humans aren't initially in the story, but they come in later when one of the factions employs the human's help in fighting

  • At least one of the factions doesn't like fighting, but they do it cause they have to (like the Federation from Star Trek). Because of this, when the faction finds Earth, they are surprised to find a myriad of governments and the humans seem to like fighting.

  • The humans fight on one side, they kick all kinds of butt, but after the war the aliens are mystified. "Well, what do we do with them now?" Sort of a thing.

  • Earth at the time of this novel was probably in the 80s or 90s, I'm wagering.

Any help or guesses would be appreciated. It would be great if I could surprise my dad with a copy of the first book in the series.

EDIT: It is indeed The Damned Trilogy by Alan Dean Foster my dad was looking for. I was hoping it would be in my local library system, but I did not see it. So I showed him the cover art and he instantly recognized it. I'll probably buy it for him for his birthday. Thank you to everyone that helped

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    Try checking at the entries in tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HumansAreWarriors. There are a number of books that have this premise. – FuzzyBoots Jun 6 '16 at 17:22
  • Glad that you found it! Please formally accept the answer by clicking the checkmark near top left of the answer - you're the only one who can do so, and it really helps the moderators with site statistics and maintenance. (Also, it will award extra points to Magnanimancer.) Welcome to the site! – Otis Jun 6 '16 at 20:15

My suggestion is The Damned Trilogy by Alan Dean Foster.

You have two warring factions:

Two major alien civilizations, the Amplitur (a squid-like species with telepathic and mind-controlling abilities - which they couch as "suggestions") and The Weave (a confederacy of more or less equal species), have been fighting a war for several millennia. The Amplitur are attempting to join all sentient species in what they call the "Purpose", an alliance which they "guide" to some unknown (even to them) end. The Weave is a group of species allied in opposition to the Purpose.

The faction that eventually ends up employing Humanity doesn't enjoy war:

...most sentient species in the galaxy have evolved to be incapable of committing violence against other sentients (violence of any sort being most un-civilized, but against another sentient being a [literally] unthinkable crime)...

They find that Humans are pretty good at that whole fighting thing:

On a mission to find new resources and allies, a Weave scout ship discovers Earth circa late 20th/early 21st century AD and finds that humans are uniquely suited as allies, in that they have the ability to fight. They are adaptable to a wide variety of environments, have few (or sometimes no) compunctions regarding war (humans having been fighting each other for all of their recorded history), and above all seem even more enthusiastic when their aggression is focused on non-humans. Eventually Weave xenopsychologists determine that Earth's fragmented continents resulted in a species that evolved to fight, compete, and kill for dominance. They surmise that all humans are born hunters and killers, but that intelligence is starting to drive them toward the abhorrence of violence that other "civilized" species consider normal.

At least one character is concerned that Humanity might be trouble later on:

During the course of her research she comes to the conclusion that unless Humans can be 'civilized' somehow they will eventually turn on the rest of the Weave races once the war is over.

And, it was published in the early 90s! So, hopefully this is what you're looking for! In any case, best of luck!

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    Also, this series is asked about relatively often. See scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/6653/… and its linked questions. – Otis Jun 6 '16 at 17:31
  • Good point! I hadn't thought to look for preexisting answers, which is probably what I should've done. – Magnanimancer Jun 6 '16 at 17:33
  • Yeah, this is the first time I've used this website. But I didn't really want to sort though people looking for books to see if any matched the description my dad gave me since it was a bit vague. I will update the post if I find what I'm looking for. :) Or I cant take it down, however this site works. – Jams Jun 6 '16 at 19:55
  • Didn't mean to imply any criticism; I'm just linking together related questions for the benefit of admins and future searchers. Good answer and fine question. I look forward to seeing if this is correct or not. – Otis Jun 6 '16 at 20:11
  • Oh no, I wasn't offended in any way. Don't worry about it. If it helps someone, that's all that matters. – Jams Jun 6 '16 at 20:27

A possibility is the Death or Glory series by Vladimir Vasilyev. From the Wikipedia article:

The novel is the first of four describing the future of humankind among the stars. Humans have acquired faster-than-light travel centuries ago (it's only recently at the galactic scale), but does not progress further. All energetic and ambitious people have moved to new colonies, leaving the Earth to stagnate.

The galaxy is ruled for long by an alliance of five powerful races, mired in an ancient war with extra-galactic Imperishable. Without this war, the Alliance would enslave the Humankind like it treats other newcomers, but now Svaighs just don't have the will and resources. Despite this, most people live in filth and poverty. But the situation changes, when people gain a bleak chance to succeed — and show the Galaxy they aren't going to refuse of it, these Homo with a motto Death or Glory.

It fits in that there are basically two different factions, and humans weren't initially part of the war. However, their prowess seems to be largely because they're perfectly sized to use Departed Ones technology, which is superior to extant Alliance tech. It looks like the primary source of conflict is actually the internal human power struggle, as the ship selects leaders based on the personality of the first person to discover it, which does not match with human government.

There are three more books in the series, Black Relay, Legacy of Giants, and No One but Us, the details of which you can find in the Wikipedia article.

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