If there's one series on this list that fits the traditional fantasy mold to a T, it's The Riftwar Saga. The fist volume was published almost thirty years ago, with a long history and well-developed world that rivals George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire, despite being only three books long. Squabbling kingdoms, ancient magic and a world war all flesh out the long story.
The primary character is an orphan named Pug, who begins his career as a magician's apprentice. Across thousands of pages and decades of story time, high magic and good-old-fashioned steel determine the various rulers of the world – heights to which Pug ascends via luck, skill, and no small amount of scheming.