My fundamental issue with Tolkien is that I expect to see Pooh or Christopher Robin emerge from the bushes at any minute. The style of writing is just so... twee. And he's in the weeds a lot. Most fantasy writers are. But when we're talking fantasy, it's not the way I would have chosen things to go.
Robert Howard, 30 years before Tolkien:
“Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.”
Jack Vance, 4 years before Tolkien:
“Earth . . . A dim place, ancient beyond knowledge . . . Ages of rain and wind have beaten and rounded the granite, and the sun is red and feeble . . . A million cities have lifted towers, have fallen to dust. In place of the old peoples a few thousand strange souls live. There is evil on Earth . . . Earth is dying . . .”
“Of course, it is likely enough, my friends,” he said slowly, “likely enough that we are going to our doom: the last march of the Ents. But if we stayed home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later. That thought has long been growing in our hearts; and that is why we are marching now. It was not a hasty resolve. Now at least the last march of the Ents may be worth a song.”
It's just a little too TH White for me.