George R.R. Martin
Unlike most fantasy writers, George R. R. Martin did not favor his characters over his stories. In fact, he often killed them off or left them headless within the pages of his books. But that level of character assassination was just one characteristic that made Martin's work stand out. The former television writer gained international acclaim for his best-selling epic fantasy novel series, beginning with A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One (1996). Set in an imagined medieval world, Martin's compelling fantasy saga dealt with kings and knights, swords and magic, and otherworldly races all scheming to gain control of a mystical empire. Martin often dealt with dark themes and was a genius at developing multifaceted characters that lived in worlds where good does not always prevail over evil. He went on to pen several best-selling sequels, with each volume exceeding the 1,000 page mark, including A Clash of Kings (1999), A Storm of Swords (2000), A Feast for Crows (2005), and A Dance with Dragons (2011). Dubbed "the American Tolkien" by TIME magazine, the writer's landmark series made its leap to television with HBO's acclaimed series "Game of Thrones" (2011- ), a visual spectacle that brought to life a world fraught with political intrigue, sex and destruction that only a master storyteller like Martin could imagine.