Wow. I've read through this entire thread, and there seem to be three different types of authors being discussed. First - the classics like Homer, to whom I'm having some difficulty drawing lines from Tolkien's works, but that's ok. The second group, call them the free-thinkers, like Jack Vance (yes, a phenomenal writer in his own regard, but nothing he did can compare to Tolkien's world), Lewis, Herbert, and another of my favorites, Anne McCaffrey (I still remember the day it dawned on me that klah was coffee..lol).
Finally, there are those writers who, were there no Tolkien, would be writing news stories and chasing ambulances. Terry Brooks and David Eddings lead this list, and Robert Jordan is also among the leaders (I agree his first five books were great, but after that it seemed like he was afraid to end the story). I am amazed, however, that nobody has mentioned the biggest Tolkien ripoff artist of them all, R.A. Salvatore. I can't give exact references, because it's been years and I really don't want to read his books again, but I can recall seeing entire sections that were lifted from LOTR. Deplorable. Maybe that's why nobody mentioned him - sheer disgust.