“Top Ten Favorite Authors in Fantasy”

Another Top Ten Tuesday from the Broke and the Bookish, this one is for Top Ten Favorite Authors In X Genre. What else could I pick but fantasy?

I’m going to restrict myself to 8 for books, then add 2 additional favorites per category from other forms of media, just to be fair.

1. Guy Gavriel Kay – I’ve read four of his stand-alone historical fantasies now, and let’s just say that he’s good. He knows what he’s doing. And every one of those books has had a poignant, tragic scene that seriously got to me. Which is why I advise to have something else on hand to read/watch when you’re done with one of his books. My favorite book by far is Lions of al-Rassan; objectively, Tigana is probably the best.

Borrowed from jacquelinecarey.com

2. Jacqueline Carey – She’s mostly known for her alternate history-ish epic fantasies. These books explore the world and the cultures in them to amazing degrees. The world-building is wonderful and the author takes inspiration from the histories of various cultures (whether European, Asian, African, or Native American). Be aware that one of the core themes of this series is all kinds of freedom: religious freedom, sexual freedom, ect. Other core themes include love and understanding.

She also writes an equally good post-apocalyptic urban fantasy, which doesn’t quite read like most urban fantasies due to a more traditional literary kind of writing style.

3. Robin Hobb – I’ve read two series by this author, both very different. One was a more traditional style epic fantasy, though more complex in terms of characterization than I had been expecting. The other was a more personal kind of fantasy, about an expedition. Both were wonderful and enjoyable to me. I wish I had more time to read these, because I really want to catch up on her work. She’s a diverse writer who doesn’t necessarily stick to the same type of storytelling.

4. Seanan McGuire – She writes mostly urban fantasies (and zombie thrillers, but unfortunately they don’t count for this list). One series follows a half-fae detective and the other follows a cryptozoologist. The fae books merge just a little with traditional fantasy at times, due to the medieval-esque ways of the fae courts. McGuire has a folklore background and uses it. I love her world-building, and I love her characters, and I love her storytelling. And while the crime has to be solved at the end, when I pick up her books I never know if it’ll be solved in time. Because sometimes you lose things along the way, you know?

5. George R.R. Martin – Do I even have to explain this, since Game of Thrones came out? Everyone knows who he is. Epic fantasy, low fantasy, diverse characters, antiheroes, ect.

6. Elizabeth Bear – She wrote a few books in a fae series, the plot of which is probably too complex for me to explain in a sentence and do it justice. I hesitate to call it urban fantasy because it doesn’t feel quite like an urban fantasy book in terms of tone or plot. Contemporary fantasy? Or maybe urban fantasy needs to start feeling like a more diverse genre, I don’t know. Anyway, it’s good, it’s dark, it’s diverse. It feels like what I think fae stories should feel like–tragic and beautiful.

7. Kristin Cashore – I’ve decided to include a YA fantasist in this list. It’s rare for me to come across newer authors who don’t go straight for the typical stuff, so this author was a gift. Her books don’t feel like anything else, and there’s even no overbearing alpha male type character. It’s great that someone is showing the world you can have a decent romantic subplot without one. And especially in her third book, she starts tackling darker issues–and by that I mean actually looking at them and dealing with them instead of using them just to up the stakes.

8. Melanie Rawn – It’s been a while since this author had written high fantasies, but she’s written quite a bit of them. They had lots of characters, they were very political, and they were complex. I remember reading them intently during my high school days, before she stopped writing them. Although I recently heard she might be making a comeback, so I should probably check that out.

Pick your favorite category for # 9 and 10.


9. Thomas Siddell – He’s the creator of Gunnerkrigg Court, a fantasy/sci-fi webcomic taking place at a boarding school. The main protagonist’s characterization was one that really spoke to me and reminded me of my own younger days. I was definitely that kind of quiet, once upon a time. Anyway, fun world-building, fun characters.

10. Neil Gaiman – I guess I could have put him down for authors, but of the work that I’ve read by him, the Sandman comics are my favorite. They follow Dream, the Lord of Dreams (imagine that). It’s mythological, it’s folklorish. It follows an immortal being who eventually starts to become a little better than he’s been.


9. Hayao Miyazaki – He’s such a typical choice, but he has to make it onto this list. He made Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke. And those are just the one’s I’ve seen; he’s had a very rich career. There’s something really magical and captivating about his settings. And his stories really get to people.

10. Gen Urobuchi  – This creator works on the darker side of fantasy. I’m putting him on this list for Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero, both of which I saw the anime for. The former takes what is essentially an uplifting and optimistic young girl warrior genre (magical girls) and inserts realism and cynicism into it. Suddenly, being this kind of person is hard, especially psychologically and emotionally. And suddenly, it’s tragic. The latter is more cynical and darker. It’s about a magical fight to the death, where several of the characters are somewhat likable but it’s a foregone conclusion that many of them will die.

Live action:

9. Jane Espenson – She’s written some of my favorite episodes for Buffy: like “After Life” and “Conversations with Dead People”, both emotionally loaded episodes. She does work on Once Upon a Time, which is a show that has it’s highs and lows, admittedly; but still, she worked on the Red Riding Hood episode, which focused on one of my favorite characters. And she co-created Warehouse 13, which I’ve talked about before.

10. Felicia Day – She wrote Dragon Age: Redemption, which is the best fantasy web series I’ve ever come across. That might be because good fantasy web series are hard to pull off without a budget. But anyway, this was great:

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2 Responses to “Top Ten Favorite Authors in Fantasy”

  1. Adina says:

    Great list. You have some pretty amazing authors here. I have Jacqueline Carey’s new UF book but I haven’t gotten round to reading it yet. I’m expecting great things though 🙂

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