It just struck me that Tolkien's storyworld, while epic in scope, is almost anti-epic in construction. There's no long-foretold son of kings who is the main character (he's secondary); there's no time when things were better that predates the present-day of the story, most tellingly to me. Things SUCKED before the War of the Ring! For thousands of years! The book ends with things that were valued vanishing from the earth, sure- but the earth is better off without them. You know, I have just a touch more respect for Tolkien, recognizing that. Is this an aspect of the finnish tales he borrowed from, does someone more mythically versed than I know?