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10 of the Best Fantasy Authors & Books

Updated on June 10, 2012

Not Just Lord of the Rings

Fantasy books have been one of my favourites since I read Lord of the Rings when I was 10. Or perhaps it should rightly be attributed to the time when I was introduced to my next Fantasy series, David Eddings book 'Pawn of Prophecy' which is when I realised that Lord of the Rings wasn't on its own, there was a whole world (or many worlds I suppose) of fantasy books out there. Here is my personal top 10 Fantasy authors, along with their best books. It mostly concentrates on 'high fantasy' 'heroic fantasy' or 'sword and sorcery', depending on what your favourite name is for this type of book. I hope you find this an enjoyable read, and if you discover some new authors to read then all the better!

My Top 10

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien - any list of fantasy authors should include Tolkien, as he practically invented the genre, first with his children's novel 'The Hobbit' and then with his grand trilogy, 'The Lord of the Rings'. He invented (or popularised, since he derived them from myths, legends and folk tales) many of the fantasy stereotypes like Elves, Dwarves, Dragons and Magic.
  2. C.S. Lewis - He was a contemporary of Tolkien (and a friend), and created the 'Chronicles of Narnia', a fantasy series for children starting with 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe', which has been televised and turned into films too.
  3. Raymond E. Feist - He wrote his first, and best, novel Magician while at college, based on a fantasy RPG he was playing with friends (pen and paper, this was pre-computer games). It features a lot of the standard fantasy features - elves, dwarves, magicians, Kings and kingdoms, knights and thieves. But he does it so well. Magician is about a peaceful Kingdom that gets invaded by beings people from another planet through a magical rift. Almost 20 years after first reading it, it is still my favourite. Feist went on to write two sequels which, along with Magician, made up the Riftwar, and about 20 more sequels too.
  4. George R.R. Martin wrote his first book 'A Game of Thrones' more than ten years ago and has been writing follow ups ever since. Critically acclaimed by fans of the genre at the time, it has recently become extremely popular and more mainstream thanks to a hit TV series. A fantastic read.
  5. David Eddings - 'Pawn of Prophecy' was David Eddings first fantasy book, and the first book in his fantasy quintet 'The Belgariad'. It was also the first book I read after Lord of the Rings, and I have a special fondness because of it because of this. One of those books I read and re-read throughout the 1990s. He wrote three further fantasy series after The Belgariad, one other quintet, 'The Mallorean' and two trilogies 'The Elenium' and 'The Tamuli' as well as various standalone novels and a final unrelated series. He was incredibly successful, so much so that when he died he left $28 million to good causes.
  6. David Gemmell was a prolific author of heroic fantasy. He wrote many standalone novels and smaller series, though had less emphasis on gods and magic than many other fantasy authors. He was best known for his debut novel 'Legend' and various other novels featuring his character Druss the Legend. He sadly died in 2006.
  7. Terry Brooks is the bestselling author of many fantasy books, but is most famous for his Shannara books, starting with The Sword of Shannara. It is nominally set in the far future, but so far in the future that modern technological life has disappeared millennia before, leaving barely a trace. In its place is a fantasy world. Interestingly, he later went back and wrote the books featuring the immediate aftermath of the fall of civilisation in his 'Heritage of Shannara' series.
  8. Robert Jordan is famous for his epic (and it really is huge) Wheel of Time series, which started with 'The Eye of the World'. He best sums up the series himself: 'The Wheel of Time turns and ages come and pass until they are nothing more than legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the age that gave it birth comes again'. Full of magic, war, myth, politics, legends and lots more. Robert Jordan sadly died in 2007 before completing his gigantic series, but left detailed notes, and author Brandon Sanderson is completing the series (he wrote 11 of a planned 15 books before he died).
  9. Terry Pratchett - no list of fantasy authors would be complete without including Pratchett, author of the comic fantasy Discworld series. Hugely popular, I never took to them quite like some people did, but have read a lot of them and find them mostly very funny. The first book is The Colour of Magic, but I prefer the Death books, the first book of which is Mort.
  10. Trudi Canavan is a more modern fantasy author, her first book 'The Magician's Guild' - the first book in her Black Magician trilogy - was published in 2001. After a gap of almost 10 years in reading fantasy, this is the first 'new' author I tried, and I wasn't disappointed.

Limiting myself to 10 books, I have missed out many great authors. I may write another hub about them in due course, but that's it for now. Hope you enjoyed. Let me know any comments.


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    • girlonfire profile image

      girlonfire 5 years ago

      Good list. I'd add Ursula LeGuin to it. I also like Pat Rothfuss, a relative newcomer to the scene.

    • nakmeister profile image

      nakmeister 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Thanks for all the comments, glad to see such good taste in books! Trudi Canavan is not a big name author, there were just a couple of books of hers in my local bookshop when I was looking for my next read. Hope you enjoy.

      mollymeadows, most of these authors did copy from C.S. Lewis and Tolkien so they will never win awards for innovative literature, but in my opinion they wrote some thumping good reads which is what matters to me anyway.

      Becky Katz, I've never read any Mercedes Lackey but have heard the name a few times. What book would you recommend as a starting point?

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Wonderful hub listing a lot of my favorite authors. I haven't read any Trudy Canavan either, gives me something to look for next time I go to the library. I love Mercedes Lackey also.

    • RoxiM profile image

      RoxiM 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Interesting choices. I've read all but the last one; I'll have to see if I can find some of her books.

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      I'm a huge fan of both Tolkien and Lewis, but they're about as far as I got in this genre. I guess I never found anyone who I thought wrote it quite as well, since everyone since seems to borrow from them. :-)

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      This is a great list! I haven't heard of Trudi Canavan, tho, will have to check her out. Voted up and more. :)