Rock of Ivanore by Laurisa White ReyesMy rating: Children's Fantasy
This is a fantasy adventure for younger readers, about a group of boys participating in their village's traditional rite of passage. Marcus, an orphan apprenticed to the village sorcerer, is somewhat surprised that he's allowed to take part - and even more astonished when his master gives him a talking staff with a decidedly grumpy outlook. Xerxes was one of my favourite characters, always complaining at being stuck with the somewhat hapless Marcus (and yet, being a staff, quite unable to go his own way), and I would have liked to know more about his history. Actually, there was a lot more I would have liked to know, about the various different cultures and species, and about what determines who can and can't do magic (of the boys, it seemed only to be Marcus).
I found the story difficult to get into, at the beginning, not least because I struggled to believe in the boys' motivations as they set out on their quest. Not only do they all dash off in different directions with very little idea of what they're looking for or where they might find it, but when they then meet up (seemingly by chance) a little further along the road, they're actually happy to see one another and continue together. Which didn't quite ring true, if they're in competition for the glory of success.
However, once Marcus stumbles across the secret of the Rock, the pace really picks up and things get more interesting, and by the half-way point I was rooting for the boys to succeed. All in all, I found it a fun and diverting adventure.