Well - for me, it really was The Hobbit at age 9ish. Somewhere between 9 and 11, anyway. I got completely riveted by the adventure. So much so that when I first tried the trilogy in junior high, I found it slow and boring by comparison and had to wait a few years before I matured enough to appreciate Tolkein's style. Now, of course, I find LotR much richer!
Favorite Tolkien character:
Hard to choose!
When pressed, it is a tossup between Gandalf and Sam. Why? Basically intuition and affinity.