Part Cherokee and born in Spokane, Washington, to George Wayne Eddings and Theone (Berge) Eddings, in 1931, Eddings grew up near Puget Sound in the City of Snohomish. He described a good day in Seattle as "when it isn’t raining up". Rain became a consequent feature in many of his novels. After graduating from Snohomish high school in 1949, he worked for a year before majoring in speech, drama and English at junior college. Eddings displayed an early talent for drama and literature, winning a national oratorical contest, and performing the male lead in most of his drama productions. He graduated with a BA from Reed College in 1954. He wrote a novel for a thesis at Reed College before being drafted into the U.S. Army. (He had also previously served in the National Guard.) After being discharged in 1956, Eddings attended the graduate school of the University of Washington in Seattle for four years, graduating with an MA in 1961. Eddings then worked as a purchaser for Boeing, where he met his Future wife.
Eddings's call to the world of fantasy came from a doodled map he drew one morning before work. This doodle later became the geographical basis for the country of Aloria, but Eddings did not realize it until several years later. Eddings' story of this was that upon seeing a copy of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, in a bookshop, he muttered, "Is this old Turkey still floating around?", and was shocked to learn that it was in its seventy-eighth printing. Eddings realized that the world of fantasy might hold some promise for his talents, and immediately began to annotate his previously forgotten doodle. However, he had included Tolkien's work in the syllabus for at least three sections of his English Literature survey courses in the summer of 1967 and the Springs of 1968 and 1969.
After seven years as a tenured college professor, Eddings moved to Denver in 1971 to work in a grocery store. He later said this was because of a failure to receive a pay raise. He also began work on his first published novel High Hunt, the story of four young men hunting deer. Like many of his later novels, it explores themes of manhood and coming of age. Convinced that being an author was his Future career, Eddings moved to Spokane where he once again relied on a job at a grocery shop for his funds. He worked on several unpublished novels, including Hunseeker’s Ascent, a story about mountain climbing, which was later burned as Eddings claimed it was, "a piece of tripe so bad it even bored me." Most of his attempts followed the same vein as High Hunt, adventure stories and contemporary tragedies. The Losers, tells the story of God and the Devil, cast in the roles of a one-eyed Indian and Jake Flood. It was not published until June 1992, well after Eddings's success as an author was established, although it was written in the seventies.
On February 28, 2007, David Eddings' wife, Leigh Eddings (born Judith Leigh Schall), whom he married in 1962, died following a series of strokes that left her unable to communicate. She was 69. Eddings cared for her at home with her mother after her first stroke, which occurred three years before he finished writing The Dreamers.
Eddings resided in Carson City, Nevada, where he died of natural causes on June 2, 2009. Dennis, Eddings' brother, confirmed that in his last months, Eddings had been working on a manuscript that was unlike any of his other works, stating "It was very, very different. I wouldn’t call it exactly a satire of fantasy but it sure plays with the genre". The unfinished work, along with his other well renowned manuscripts, went to his alma mater, Reed College in Portland, Ore., along with a bequest of $18 million to fund "students and faculty studying languages and literature." Eddings also bequeathed $10 million to National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver for pediatric-asthma treatment and research. Eddings's wife Leigh had asthma throughout her life.