An American fantasy writer, he is known for several popular series, including The Belgariad (1982–84), The Malloreon (1987–91), and The Elenium (1989–91). His non-fantasy works include High Hunt (1973) and Regina's Song (2000).
He graduated from Reed College (BA) and the University of Washington (MA) and worked for several years as a college lecturer.
He published his first novel, Pawn of Prophecy, in 1982.
He married Judith Leigh Schall in 1962. The couple co-authored numerous fantasy novels, including the books in The Dreamers Series (2003-2006).
He and Philip Whalen both attended Reed College.