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Eddings is best known for The Belgariad series, the first installment of which, The Pawn of Prophecy (1982), prompted Lester del Rey to tell him, "You've written a classic." The series introduced many to fantasy, and inspired some to write themselves (including Stephen Hunt, whose tribute to Eddings is here). Eddings was himself inspired by the success of The Lord of the Rings, which he was startled to discover was in its 78th printing when he encountered a display copy in a bookstore.
The Eddings' work includes The Belgariad series (5 books, 1982-1984) and The Malloreon series (5 books, 1987-1991), with three related books in the 1990s; The Elenium and The Tamuli (two trilogies, 1989-1994); and The Dreamers series (4 books, 2003-2006).
Eddings was famously old-fashioned, never using a typewriter or computer (he wrote out his scripts in long-hand) and was well-known for being self-effacing, once remarking, "I'm never going to be in danger of getting a Nobel Prize for literature." He was most pleased when told that his books had turned nonreaders into booklovers. "I look upon this as perhaps my purpose in life," he explained in a 1997 interview. "I am here to teach a generation or two how to read. After they've finished with me and I don't challenge them any more, they can move on to somebody important like Homer or Milton."
When asked in a recent interview what made his books so successful, Eddings replied with the same answer many of his fans would give: "Characters. My people are as real as I can make them."