Best Fantasy Authors
You may expect the list of best fantasy authors to consist of those brilliant minds that created the best fantasy series. And guess what… you are right. However, you will see that order of this list is somewhat different.
I did take into account the influence of the author on the fantasy genre and my view on the writing style and skills of the authors. However, as with the other lists I created, this top ten is of course mostly based on my personal preference and therefore contains my favorite authors. So please don’t judge me too harshly when you find out that the great Tolkien is not number one in this list…
1. George R.R. Martin
In one word: brilliant. Martin has created a fresh, new fantasy world, written great stories and unbelievable writing skills. His Song of Ice & Fire is well on its way of becoming one of the greatest fantasy series ever and now a television series, called Games of Thrones, will even be made of A Song of Ice & Fire. But please, someone make him write just a little bit faster!
2. J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien’s writing style may not the most accessible ever, although personally I do not dislike his elaborative style, but he is one of the greatest authors ever. The world and stories he created are fantastic and by writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings he simply is the most influential fantasy writer ever.
3. Steven Erikson
Contrary to Martin, Steven Erikson writes like the devil himself is on his heels. I do not know another writer who writes this intense on such an epic scale. He is close to finishing his fantastic Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Hopefully, Erikson has something in mind after this.
4. Robert E. Howard
Howard was the creator of Conan the Barbarian and by this also the Sword & Sorcery genre. Because of this, he has had enormous effect on the fantasy genre as many authors and directors were influenced by the character Conan and his story. Sadly, Robert E. Howard committed suicide aged only 30.
5. Terry Pratchett
What a laugh! His stories are brilliantly written and highly entertaining. Considered to be one of the greatest British novelists, sir Terry Pratchett has already written close to forty of his very humorous and highly acclaimed Discworld novels.
6. Stephen King
Definitely not an author of high fantasy like the authors in this list, but most of his books have fantasy elements, with The Dark Tower as best example. Stephen King simply is one of the greatest writers ever.
7. Raymond E. Feist
I would not go as far as qualifying him as a genius but Feist has written many, many fantasy books and several of his series are a must-read for fantasy fans with The Riftwar Saga as his best known series.. As his books introduced me to the fantasy genre, Feist has deserved his spot in this list.
8. Robert Jordan
May he rest in peace. Robert Jordan is the author of the highly acclaimed Wheel of Time series but has not been able to finalize the series before he died in 2007. I hope that Brandon Sanderson will honor him by writing a fitting end to the series.
9. Stephen R. Donaldson
His books are not an easy read but Donaldson writes very intense and his stories have great depth and loads of morality. Known for his Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (the unbeliever), his world and characters are seen by some as rivaling those of Tolkien’s.
10. Robin Hobb
Robin Hobb is a great storyteller and has proven to be very good in developing strong and believable characters in her books. Especially her Farseer and Liveship Traders series are therefore highly recommendable.
11. Ursula K. Le Guin
By writing the Earthsee series, and many other novels, Ursula K. Le Guin has had a large influence on the development of the fantasy genre during the 20th century. The series has been and still is very popular and a television mini-series was even made, loosely based on Earthsee.
12. Terry Goodkind
He is definitely not my personal favorite but Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series is highly acclaimed and very popular. It even has been turned into the television series Legend of the Seeker but unfortunately the series has been cancelled.
Official website of Terry Goodkind
There it is: a list of what I believe to be the best fantasy authors ever. I will extent and update this list over time. If you do not agree with the list or if you have additions, please leave a comment!