I also read plenty of fantasy, I actually read a lot before I got my hands on Tolkien. And, boy, was I hooked! For life! NOTHING I read so far cannot compare to Tolkien, IMO. I heard that Thomas Covenant was good, I'm looking forward to reading it... But... none of the books I read had this wonderfull feeling of lofty and epic; and none of them had layers and layers of history and myth of their worlds... And lets not even mention language! (heh! I don't think anyone can compare to Proffessor T!!! ) Most authors seem to write a story, and then "build" a world around it, but the effect is always pale. Tolkien started with the world first (long before the Hobbit and LOTR), with its genesis, its causes and consequences, but all of that adorned in a wonderfull epic and mythological manner... and you really get the feeling that world is old...so old, that all the memory had turned into myth, and all the chronicles into legends... And, above all, it is the wonderfull feeling of bitter-sweet, and his "hope without guarrantee". It makes all his work seem non-pathetic, with only lofty and true emotions.Eledhwen said:It also creates a bad taste in the mouth about all the time wasted reading it! Thank God for free lending libraries - at least I don't waste money too! I don't mind Tolkein derivatives; I really enjoyed reading "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever", for instance, but practically every character and scene was a re-write of a Tolkien idea. It was like he pinched the different world from CS Lewis and the rest from Tolkein. What really irritates me is run-of-the-mill writers (like Raymond Feist) having their stuff publicised as better than Tolkien (quote: If Tolkien made you fly, Raymond Feist will make you soar!).
And why do people love it so much? Because it has "something". Maybe it's because Tolkien wasn't a run-off-the-mill writer, he didn't create his world for earning money, but because he wanted it wih all his heart. And people can feel that. I believe they can connect to that. Do you know any other fantasy book that has so many followers?