Martin's work probably wouldn't exist without Tolkien having preceded him. The parallels one could draw between "The Lord of the Rings" and "A Song of Ice and Fire" if he or she was so inclined are many and quite intricate. But Tolkien definitely produced the superior work. He basically set the standard for all modern fantasy. His prose is more poetic, his mythology is more detailed, his characters are better sculpted, his plots are more ambitious, and his languages are all original. That's something that so many people, even huge fans of his, often tend to forget or to overlook - that the man essentially created an entire universe populated by scores of races and species and beings primarily to serve as a vehicle for the original languages that he created himself. Martin is a fine historian and more than a halfway decent writer. He deserves all the credit and more that he gets for crafting such a fine story - he really does know how to tell a tale, doesn't he? But the parallels between his work and the real historical events which inspired them are only thinly shrouded at best. Tolkien was more adept at making most elements of his saga analogous. My guess is that if someone were to tell Martin that his work is superior to Tolkien's that he'd laugh in the person's face. Even he knows that Tolkien could have spoken for hours about the universe he created - his drafts trace the origins back to millenia before the story even picks up. And to reiterate, the man was a linguistic scholar of the first order. He didn't have HBO producers hiring teams of linguistic experts to compose dialogue for him. He created Elvish, Dwarvish, Orkish (Black Speech), and many, many other languages from scratch - and many of those languages can be further divided into separate dialects, each with its own set of grammatical rules and pronunciation inflections. The man was truly amazing. Personally I enjoy them both, but my own personal opinion is that history is going to remember Tolkien much more fondly.