Tolkien and Pullman are my two favorite writers from this course. I think that they both qualify as major writers, since they demonstrate such amazing skill building worlds and believable characters. In the Donaldson trilogy, I felt no connection to Thomas Covenant, and I could have cared less if he died. When reading LOTR or His Dark Materials, I found myself rooting for the characters, Will and Lyra in particular. I think that creating characters that are relateable and unique is a characteristic of a skilled and talented writer.
The key difference between the two writers involves religion. Tolkien was a devout Catholic, but he took special care not to tie religion of any type into his works, which extend beyond the LOTR trilogy. There is no mention of a "God" or a "Creator".
Pullman's work seems to have a hidden agenda, although he denies it. Pullman is not a religious man, although he grew up in a religious household. He even has his character, Lyra, kill the authority (god) to his sigh of relief.
It is amazing to me that the Harry Potter series received so much criticism because the characters use withcraft, yet I never heard such open criticism about Pullman, especially since both authors are writing for a young adult audience. I am shocked that there were not more public outcries. Could this be due to the fact that Rowling's series was more popular?