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  1. Agree on Umbridge. Voldemort was evil and monstrous sure, but he's almost a Macguffin. Umbridge was very real and human. That's true across a lot of books for me. For example, Sauron is just basically faceless evil but Saruman is the worst in a more specific way. From other genres, Lady Catherine de Bourgh of course... and Ledward and Wray from POB.
  2. New William Gibson in 2018
  3. How about the first five books of the Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny? Magic, swords, world building (literally), humor and an epic saga of family, mystery, honor and swashbuckling. The second five books have their moments. Added bonus - quickly, tightly plotted books. Nothing against the GRRMs and Neil Stephensons of the world but let's be honest, their works would both be well served by a great editor.
  4. They're very different series of course, but this is one of the ideas behind 'the Magicians' trilogy. One character goes on a very different life path than her friend after failing to get into wizarding school. Harry Potter is weird like that in that the world is both so deeply realized and yet, like with most fantasy/sci-fi world building, there's aspects which seem to be weirdly limited given the stakes. See also Star Wars.
  5. The Fifteen Lives of Harry August. We'd never know if we are living in just one timeline in the life of a ourobourran.