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For what it's worth(little), I'd put you at #1. When I tell my friends as much, they look at me like I'm sacrilegious... until they read your books. It's kind of like saying Led Zeppelin is better than the Beatles(also true)... one followed the other, and obviously you have the benefit of Tolkien as an inspiration just like I have the benefit of your work.

Tolkien was the original encyclopedic type fantasy, which often reads like a history text. Taking nothing away from LOTR, I think it is still a dry read for the average reader. While I've enjoyed the same detailed historical presentation in Ice & Fire, I think there is another element that sets your work apart. The light fantasy & correlation to real historical periods, like the war of the roses, brings the reader into a more familiar and comfortable setting... giving the extraordinary events all the more impact. Furthermore, the point of view chapters are very realistic and relatable. You even understand and empathizes with characters you don't like (I try so hard not to feel for Theon).

Thanks for that inspiration, and for all the entertainment, discussion, and daydreams your work has given us. Thanks also for the Gift chapter last year; it was a very unexpected and gratifying bit of holiday cheer. Congrats on a well deserved honor, and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

P.S. Sorry about the Giants, but I did warn you. The flames don't lie.

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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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