Inspiration for all of the fantasy work I have done stems directly from the love my father showed when I was a lad, for he spent many hours telling me stories he made up as he went along, tales of cloaked old men who could grant wishes, of magic rings and enchanted Swords, or wicked sorcerers and dauntless swordsmen. . . . All of us tend to get ample helpings of fantasy when we are very young, from fairy tales such as those written by the Brothers Grimm and Andrew Lang. This often leads to reading books of mythology, paging through bestiaries, and consultation of compilations of the myths of various lands and peoples. Upon such a base I built my interest in fantasy, being an avid reader of all science fiction and fantasy literature since 1950. The following authors were of particular inspiration to me.
—E. Gary Gygax, Dungeon Master’s Guide (1979)
A great deal of fantasy literature has been published since the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons wrote those words, including breakthrough works set in the shared worlds of D&D. The following list includes Gary’s original list and some additional works that have Inspired the game’s designers in the years since.
Ahmed, Saladin. Throne of the Crescent Moon.
Alexander, Lloyd. The Book of Three and the rest of the Chronicles of Prydain series.
Anderson, Poul. The Broken Sword, The High Crusade, and Three Hearts and Three Lions.
Anthony, Piers. Split Infinity and the rest of the Apprentice Adept series.
Augusta, Lady Gregory. Gods and Fighting Men.
Bear, Elizabeth. Range of Ghosts and the rest of the Eternal Sky trilogy.
Bellairs, John. The Face in the Frost.
Brackett, Leigh. The Best of Leigh Brackett, The Long Tomorrow, and The Sword of Rhiannon.
Brooks, Terry. The Sword of Shannara and the rest of the Shannara novels.
Brown, Fredric. Hall of Mirrors and What Mad Universe.
Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Mythology.
Burroughs, Edgar Rice. At the Earth’s Core and the rest of the Pellucidar series, Pirates of Venus and the rest of the Venus series, and A Princess of Mars and the rest of the Mars series.
Carter, Lin. Warrior of World’s End and the rest of the World’s End series.
Cook, Glen. The Black Company and the rest of the Black Company series.
de Camp, L. Sprague. The Fallible Fiend and Lest Darkness Fall.
de Camp, L. Sprague & Fletcher Pratt. The Compleat Enchanter and the rest of the Harold Shea series, and Carnelian Cube.
Derleth, August and H.P. Lovecraft. Watchers out of Time.
Dunsany, Lord. The Book of Wonder, The Essential Lord Dunsany Collection, The Gods of Pegana, The King of Elfland’s Daughter, Lord Dunsany Compendium, and The Sword of Welleran and Other Tales.
Farmer, Philip Jose. Maker of Universes and the rest of the World of Tiers series.
Fox, Gardner. Kothar and the Conjurer’s Curse and the rest of the Kothar series, and Kyrik and The Lost Queen and the rest of the Kyrik series.
Froud, Brian & Alan Lee. Faeries.
Hickman, Tracy & Margaret Weis. Dragons of Autumn Twilight and the rest of the Chronicles Trilogy.
Hodgson, William Hope. The Night Land.
Howard, Robert E. The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian and the rest of the Conan series.
Jemisin, N.K. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and the rest of the Inheritance series, The Killing Moon, and The Shadowed Sun.
Jordan, Robert. The Eye of the World and the rest of the Wheel of Time series.
Kay, Guy Gavriel. Tigana.
King, Stephen. The Eyes of the Dragon.
Lanier, Sterling. Hiero’s Journey and The Unforsaken Hiero.
LeGuin, Ursula. A Wizard of Earthsea and the rest of the Earthsea series.
Leiber, Fritz. Swords and Deviltry and the rest of the Fafhrd & Gray Mouser series.
Lovecraft, H.P. The Complete Works.
Lynch, Scott. The Lies of Locke Lamora and the rest of the Gentlemen Bastard series.
Martin, George R.R. A Game of Thrones and the rest of the Song of Ice and Fire series.
McKillip, Patricia. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.
Merritt, A. Creep, Shadow, Creep; Dwellers in the Mirage; and The Moon Pool.
Miéville, China. Perdido Street Station and the other Bas-Lag novels.
Moorcock, Michael. Elric of Melniboné and the rest of the Elric series, and The Jewel in the Skull and the rest of the Hawkmoon series.
Norton, Andre. Quag Keep and Witch World.
Offutt, Andrew J., ed. Swords against Darkness III.
Peake, Mervyn. Titus Groan and the rest of the Gormenghast series.
Pratchett, Terry. The Colour of Magic and the rest of the Discworld series.
Pratt, Fletcher. Blue Star.
Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind and the rest of the Kingkiller series.
Saberhagen, Fred. The Broken Lands and Changeling Earth.
Salvatore, R.A. The Crystal Shard and the rest of The Legend of Drizzt.
Sanderson, Brandon. Mistborn and the rest of the Mistborn trilogy.
Smith, Clark Ashton. The Return of the Sorcerer.
St. Clair, Margaret. Change the Sky and Other Stories, The Shadow People, and Sign of the Labrys.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.
Tolstoy, Nikolai. The Coming of the King.
Vance, Jack. The Dying Earth and The Eyes of the Overworld.
Weinbaum, Stanley. Valley of Dreams and The Worlds of If.
Wellman, Manly Wade. The Golgotha Dancers.
Williamson, Jack. The Cosmic Express and The Pygmy Planet.
Wolfe, Gene. The Shadow of the Torturer and the rest of The Book of the New Sun.
Zelazny, Roger. Jack of Shadows and Nine Princes in Amber and the rest of the Amber series.