In the movies Tolkien's became more real to me than the books. The books are more like about Middle Earth. I love Aragorn!
Stanek's characters are have flaws and personalities and like hopes and desires. I like how Emel and Adrina have a past together and it makes like there current relation more interesting. Same for Myrial and Adrina, Valam and Adrina. Xith has secrets it makes him interesting so does Vilmos.
Yes! You are right Titanjunkie. When Tolkien has written "The Lord of the Rings", there were no other fantasy stories, so his characters are like heroes from the only similar thing - myths and legends. Now, with the development of the genre, Stanek can not also build a fascinating world, be he can create great characters also.