Adam of the Wertzone has a review of Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World. It is pretty even handed in its complements and its criticism and well worth a look for those who’ve never read the series. Adam does point out the strong Tolkein influence of Jordan’s work and I would add that I think Jordan uses that as an in for the first novel and departs somewhat as the series progresses. He also points in his review to Terry Brooks as an author who ripped off Tolkein but whenever I think of major Tolkien ripoffs I think of Dennis McKiernan’s The Iron Tower. As derivitive as Brooks work is his later books (specifically some of the ‘modern’ ones) at least show some originality and never really swing into the heavy handed wholesale copying of McKiernan’s Iron Tower.
If you’ve never read the book, or read it a while ago, head on over a take a look.