Robert Jordan (James Oliver Rigney), 1948-2007
I never read The Wheel of Time series. But I know a lot of people who did. In fact, I know a lot of people who would stab out their own eyes rather than read any fiction, eat these things up. Jordan was one of the elite group who transcend the limits of their particular genre so comprehensively that they reconfigure the entire publishing industry around them. He's in the company of people like Stephen King and JK Rowling, which pretty much makes any comment on the merits of his books irrelevant. Robert Jordan took fantasy publishing from a trickling stream to a torrent. Many authors owe him a great deal.