Finally, Strider's here. I say "finally" not because I knew he was coming but because it's about time there was a character who took this heroic-quest thing seriously. These hobbits are dogged by Black Riders, they get their asses handed to them by a tree, a barrow-wight plays dress-up with them, and five minutes later they're drinking beer and dancing on a table. As a race, or a species, they seem somewhat overly inclined toward jollity (though I like the round-windows thing). But now, between Strider and Sam -- who will cultivate to a uniform two-inch depth anyone who so much as looks funny at Frodo -- this party's starting to shape up.
I like Tom Bombadil, not least because so far he's the only male character to talk about a female as if she really exists as a person and not a kind of abstract idea. He brings his wife flowers! Too bad his regard for Goldberry doesn't rub off on the hobbits, who breathlessly ask her who Tom is but don't care at all who she is, though she's obviously every bit as supernatural, probably some kind of naiad. It's like the very first thing in a long line of things that bugged me about Star Wars, when I finally got around to experiencing that: Luke's obsessed with finding out who his father is, but he doesn't give a damn about his mother. You'd think he'd be more interested in her, being as women appear to be very rare in that particular galaxy, kind of like male calico cats.