Top Ten Fantasy Authors
The fantasy genre has gained a great deal of popularity in recent years due to the success of films such as Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter movies. It’s hard to believe that at one time the fantasy genre was considered a sub-genre of Science Fiction and didn’t really gain its own identity until the 70’s. Some literature purists will insist that fantasy novels shouldn’t even be published and lack any real contribution to the art of reading, but whether they like it or not Fantasy is here to stay and will continue to gain popularity.
10. Robin Hobb
Robin Hobb is a relative new comer to the scene of Fantasy but in her time she has managed to make a very big name for herself. Her books are extremely character driven and she creates very unique worlds in which to place her stories. While she may lack the depth of some of the other authors on this list, she tells a very solid story that is worth the time it takes to read the book.
9. Terry Brooks
Author of the Shannara books and the Magical Kingdom books, Terry Brooks is a staple of fantasy literature. While his Shannara books definitely some of his deepest and best work, any book he has written is going to be a good read. If there is any real fault you can find with Brooks it’s that he hasn’t written enough books.
8. Terry Goodkind
Terry Goodkind first appeared with the bestselling Wizard’s First Rule and since then has published many volumes in his Sword of Truth series. What make Goodkind stand out from other authors is that he combines a gritty and dangerous world with an easy to read style that is surprising for a work of such depth. If you are in the mood for books that make you ponder the role of morality and ethics in everyday life this is a series you will love.
7. Mercedes Lackey
Some people criticize Mercedes Lackey as being too fluffy and too light to be considered a serous force within the fantasy genre. What her detractors do not take into consideration is how popular she is and how good she is at her craft. Her books are definitely light and easy to read, but her characters are deep, her stories compelling and when you finish one of her books you can’t help but have a warm feeling in your heart and a small smile on your lips. Lackey may not be breaking new ground but she tells one heck of a good yarn.
6. Robert Jordan
Author of the tremendously popular Wheel of Time Series, Robert Jordan was the leading force in fantasy for decades. Even after his death his legacy lives on and there are many who consider him the greatest fantasy author of all time. Jordan may deserve to be higher on this list, but when he is stacked up against the others the fact is that his work has not had the impact on the genre these others have. If he had not died when he did it is very possible he would have made even more of a contribution to the genre.
5. Piers Anthony
Easily one of the most prodigious authors of all time regardless of genre Piers Anthony is without a doubt one of the most significant contributors to fantasy literature since its beginning. His books range from the light-hearted Xanth series to the more dark and sinister Firefly. There are few authors who could manage to put out as many books as Piers Anthony did and even fewer who could maintain the same level of quality through every page.
4. Anne McCaffery
Another very prolific author, Anne McCaffery penned the enormously popular Pern series and several others. What makes McCaffery’s appearance on this list a bit weird is that her books actually fit just as well under the science fiction genre as fantasy. The reason she is on this list though is that the Pern books read more like fantasy, and that several established fantasy authors found their wings and voice under her tutelage.
3. J.K. Rowling
Fantasy purists will gripe about Rowling’s inclusion on this list because of her use of the modern world as the launch point of her universe. Yet, the argument can be made that fantasy is about the fantastic and the world of Harry Potter is definitely fantastical. While it is true that she has not contributed the same amount of work to the genre as other authors on this list, she did bring fantasy fiction to the fore front of readers both young and old and for that she needs to be recognized.
2. George R.R. Martin
If any fantasy author has made a case that this genre should be considered real literature, it is George R.R. Martin. Yes, his worlds are pure fantasy, but his story telling is just as gripping as anything penned by anyone else. Martin’s books are dense and extremely detailed drawing you into his world like only a true master of the craft can. When you turn the last page of any of his novels you find yourself almost lost because you were so immersed in his world. Be warned, if you want to tackle his Song of Ice and Fire series you will need to be ready for some of the most gut-wrenching but amazing writing you have ever experienced.
1. J.R.R. Tolkien
No list about fantasy Authors can be complete without at least a mention of the grandfather of the genre. J.R.R. Tolkien brought the fantasy genre out of pulp and kicked it on its way to becoming a legitimate force in the literary world. He didn’t do this on purpose and he most likely would disagree that his work was truly that significant. Whatever Tolkien’s opinions may have been there is absolutely no denying his contribution to not only fantasy but to literature as a whole. His work about hobbits, elves, dwarves and the rise of mankind in Middle Earth, is what made ever other entry on this list possible.