1. Fritz Lieber's Swords Against series.
2. George R.R. Martin's SoIaF series [no brainer that will probably make tons of other lists]
3. Umberto Eco, Foucalt's Pendulum [a little more obscure/forgotten to make up for GRRM]
If you become a technician, you just whup 'em on pure technique. /W.Shields