Read about one of my favorite childhood authors, David Eddings, dying last night. Well, maybe not “childhood,” but at least “early teenage years.” His were the first “modern fantasy” books that I read, and I loved them to death. And sure, looking back at them, today’s fantasy readers can sort of dismiss them casually. The Belgariad, Mallorean, Elenium, Tamuli–yes, they seem to blend together after a while, and the same plot devices and character types are used, but you know what? That’s where fantasy was back then. Eddings took a look at the field, decided there was a hole there–to make current fantasy that builds on Tolkien without completely aping him–and filled it. And because he brought attention to that area, I’d argue there’s a whole lot of fantasy present today that wouldn’t be present otherwise. In fact, I might go so far as to argue that without Eddings, a whole lot of the YA fantasy movement we see so strongly today wouldn’t have been able to take off. Maybe not even Harry Potter. But perhaps I’m overstating my case. Regardless, his books brought me many years of happy reading, and for that I am grateful.