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March 26th, 2013, 07:50
I don't think in terms of "best of the best", which makes this trickier. I tend to appreciate different authors for different aspects of their writing. Having said that:

Peter Hamilton: Great Space Opera (Donaldson's Gap series great too)
Guy Gavriel Kay (esp Lions and Mosaic): Most beautifully written
Steve Perry (Matadora trilogy): most concise series ever (and very well done)
Mickey Zucker Reichert: Best mythology adaptation (Renshai trilogy)
Steven Erikson: Best (dark) epic fantasy (ending left me a little cold)
Charles Sheffield/Ken MacLeod: good hard sci-fi

Man, I could go on all night, I'll just list a few other authors I like, then I gotta go to bed:

Joe Abercrombie, Stephen Baxter, Gregory Benford, Jack McDevitt, Lois McMaster Bujold, Sara Douglass, Alan Dean Foster (most, anyway), George RR Martin, Julian May, Robin Hobb (sans Liveship), KJ Parker (excellent), Harry Turtledove, Vernor Vinge, etc., etc., etc. -I left out a lot of worthy authors, but I need to crash (~3AM)

Good luck; you won't regret Rothfuss- somewhat traditional storyline, he just wrote the hell out of it.
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