If you're looking for a good fantasy series, check out The Prince of Nothing by R. Scott Bakker. Well plotted, suspenseful, and without the obvious Tolkien rip-offs. No merry bands of travelers, quests to save the world, or anything else. Just a spectacular world still recovering for a 2000 year old apocalypse and looking at the possibility of another one. I highly recommend it. The author was a philosophy professor and PhD. However, he doesn't make the Terry Goodkind mistake by spending his novel proselytizing or transforming philisophical discourse into dialogue. Instead, the philosophy just informs his writing and its themes and gives a nice intellectual depth.
also duty-free guys falling over and grabbing their shins