One of my favorite authors is Patricia McKillip, noted fantasy author. I just finished reading her latest book, The Bards of Bone Plain. I think I first discovered her with the Cygnet duology (The Sorceress and the Cygnet; The Cygnet and the Firebird), though it could have been The Forgotten Beasts of Eld too. I have several of her books in hardcover, which is a sign of how much I value her books. She was a guest of honor at WisCon a few years ago, and I not only got to hear her read but also have her autograph a copy of Harrowing the Dragon, her short story collection.
Why is she one of my favorites? Her writing is poetic, but that's not all I admire about her. Her plots are original, and her books still inspire a sense of wonder in me with the way they make magic feel truly magical and otherworldly. It's also impressive that her more recent books are all stand-alones. One of her books inspired me with an idea for a fantasy novel, but I'm still in the research phase and don't have a lot of details fleshed out yet. My style isn't anything like hers, and I don't think I could ever match it. But she's worthy of study. I recommend her work to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy.