The Rock of Ivanore by Laurisa White Reyes is a fantasy novel for middle school through adult readers. It is the first book of the Celestine Chronicles. Marcus is an orphan in a small town. He is raised and considered an apprentice by the elderly enchanter Zyll. When the annual Great Quest is announced in Quendel, to find the Rock of Ivanore. The outcome of the quest will decide the future of Marcus and a handful of other fifteen year old boys from the village. The boys set of on the quest with no idea what the Rock is or where it can be found. Marcus must reach deep within himself to develop new powers of magic and find the strength to survive the wild lands and fierce enemies he encounters as he searches for the illusive Rock. If he succeeds, he will live a life of honor; if he fails, he will live a life of menial labor in shame. With more twists and turns than a labyrinth, and a story in which nothing is at it seems, this tale of deception and discovery keeps readers in suspense until the end.
The Rock of Ivanore is a solid fantasy quest story, complete with characters coming of age, magic, massive battles, deceit, and life changing secrets. This book takes the classic genre and makes is feel new again. I think part of the success here is the characters. While many parts of the story might sound familiar, something here seems to make everything loose the 'I've read this before' feeling that you might expect. Familiar bits; Marcus is an orphan with magical knowledge and little confidence in it, there is a strong but selfish boy in the group that is a bully; a sidekick for the bully; a chubby asthmatic boy, and the typically quiet by general good boy all on a quest together but still also kind of competing against each other. That might sound cookie cutter, but while reading the world and character building is so well done that it all seemed new to me. Marcus is honestly a 'good boy'. He might not always make the right decision, but he tries to always do what is morally right even if it puts him in danger. Kelvin also tries to do what is right, but is more pragmatic about everyone's safety.
The characters that I have not mentioned yet are my favorites. Bryn is a Croc- a shape shifting man eater from the forest in which the boys begin their journey. I absolutely loved the development of this character. There is also Xeres- the unexpected mentor for Marcus that just happens to be housed in Zyll's walking stick who can only be heard by its bearer. Then there is Jayson- the mysterious warrior that is much more than he seems. Some of the twists and turns do not surprise as much as they might others, but the read was fun and had me holding my breath on several occasions. I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series, The Last Enchanter.
I recommend The Rock of Ivanore to readers that enjoy well built worlds and characters in fantasy fiction. The middle school and young adult crowd can enjoy the book, as can adults. I think reluctant readers that need high action combined with solid characters could be tempted into reading this book, and hopefully the series as it continues on.