Fantasy is one of the most popular literary genres in the world of fiction writing. And so there is no dearth of top ten lists detailing the best writers and the best fantasy series of all time. Like most lists, this one is based on a mixture of the quality of writing, the commercial success of the books and personal opinion. If you disagree with anything about this list, please remember that this is after all, personal opinion. So here are the top 10 fantasy writers of all time.
R. A. Salvatore has written many fantasy novels starting with his initial series, The Icewind Dale Trilogy. The Drow warrior Drizzt Do’ Urden is one of his most famous characters which continues to take centre stage in The Dark Elf Trilogy. He’s read widely.
Robin Hobb is one of the only two women to feature in this list. Her Farseer and Liveship Traders series are very well written and highly recommended. Assassin’s Apprentice is a particularly good novel from the Farseer series. She knows really well how to arouse the interest of a reader.
J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has been solely responsible for making young kids interested in reading and interested in the fantasy genre. The success of Harry Potter has been unparalleled but she sits at number eight because though her books are wonderfully written, they do tend to be more in the YA class than mature dark fantasy.
Terry Pratchett is known for creating Discworld, a fantasy flat world that is balanced on the back of four elephants who stand on the back of a giant turtle. Since The Color of Magic, Pratchett has written more than 35 books in the series. The Discworld itsel had around 40 volumes in total!
Neil Gaiman started as a comic book writer and his comic book Sandman for DC has been an iconic series among comic book lovers. He got into fantasy novels and wrote American Gods, a modern fantasy that won a lot of awards. A multi-talented personality, Neil has even authored graphic novels and movies.
This is the only team of writers to be featured in this list. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman co-created the world of DragonLance and the world of Krynn. Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, Dragons of Spring Dawning and Dragons of Summer Flame are four of their most successful novels. They have written many more fantasy series and continue to write in the Dragon Ships series.
The curious case of George R. R. Martin is that he is either loved or hated by fantasy fans. His epic fantasy series ‘The Song of Ice & Fire’ has turned into one of the most successful series in modern times especially with the ‘Game of Thrones‘ TV series produced by HBO. His world is detailed and characters well formed and true in their moral ambiguity. But he has been criticized for writing too slow, killing off characters too easily, getting too involved in world descriptions and the lack of proper fantasy magic with ‘the others’ still lingering behind the wall even after 5 books. Fourth position on this list might be a tad too high for him but I had to take into account the commercial success of his novels.
Robert E. Howard created Conan, a character that stands tall along with genre defining characters such as James Bond, Dracula and Tarzan. Conan the Barbarian could be considered the book that created the Sword and Sorcery genre. If he hadn’t committed suicide at the young age of 30, the fantasy world would have been a much better place.
The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan isn’t just fantasy or just epic fantasy but a mega epic fantasy. The world created by him in The Wheel of Time series is extremely elaborative and descriptive, something that has been used as criticism against him at times. If you read patiently, Robert Jordan will take you right into his world like only few writers can.
Despite what many people say about Tolkein he just has to be on the number one position on this list as after all is said and done, he is still the father of fantasy. The Lord of The Rings has been among the most successful books of all time in all genres! The Hobbit and The Silmarillion are no less powerful than The Lord of The Rings. J. R. R. Tolkein is on number one because no fantasy writer today can honestly say that they have not been influenced by Tolkein.