In another thread I described Steven Erikson's Malazan books and David Eddings' Belgariad as representative of somewhat opposite extremes of the fantasy spectrum. It is not just tone - Malazan is dark and atmospheric, whereas Belgariad is light and very accessible, but rather bland - but a quality and contrast of characterization and world-building. For instance, the world of Malazan is the primary "character" of the books: the world is richly detailed, with a sprawling deep history, an atmosphere of magic, mystery and lost ages and civilizations. On the other hand, the characters don't feel all that accessible or, dare I say, loveable. There is no character that I at least really identified with; they all feel like pawns in Steven Erikson's symphony. The Belgariad, on the other hand, while employing significant world-building and mythology, doesn't have the same textured depth. The world is comprised of cultural analogues to our own world, the history is somewhat paper thin and doesn't evoke a sense of mystery or fantastical otherworldness. The characters, on the other hand, are very real, their personalities living and vibrant, and it is easy to fall in love with them, from "Goodman" Durnik to the sardonic Silk, to the conflicted Barak, to the queenly Polgara (who must be the archetype for all of Robert Jordan's female characters, braid-tugging and all). Some may say that Eddings' characters are a bit one-note, but they are alive. Upon finishing a Malazan book I can barely remember who the characters are beyond their interesting attributes and how much ass they kicked, yet the world and interesting discoveries I made along the way linger like a rich, complex aftertaste. Upon finishing the Belgariad, I can barely remember the world or its history, but the characters live on. I can remember Silk like an old friend, yet who is Ganoes Paran? I can't remember the feel of him. So the question--or quest--of this thread: Which authors combines both? In-depth, intricate and evocative world-building with living, warm characters? Is there anyone that bridges the gap between Malazan and the Belgariad? I honestly can't think of anyone.