My Thoughts: This story is the start of a middle grade fantasy trilogy. I found it quite long and not very engaging. I couldn't connect with either character because I didn't feel that I knew enough about either of them. The book started slowly with not much happening for the first couple of chapters.
Jason falls into a hippo's mouth and then ends up in Lyrian. While he mentions wanting to go home, he really doesn't seem very upset. He decides to go on a quest to find the six syllables that make up the magic word that will defeat the evil mage who rules the country and look for a way home along the way. He is more or less forced into the hunt because he is convinced that the evil mage - Maldor - will be trying to catch him anyway. He is a a strong, tall young man who looks older than his actual age and who is an excellent baseball pitcher. His parents want him to follow in the family footsteps and become a dentist but he is much more interested in animals and baseball.
Rachel also finds herself in the fantasy world when she trips through a stone arch when visiting a park with her parents. She is bright and home-schooled. She is also treated as a second-class citizen in the fantasy world. She chooses to go along with Jason in the hopes of finding her way home too.
The pair has a large number of adventures as they attempt to locate all the parts of the magical word. The also meet a number of people - friends and enemies - on their journey. One of the most unusual inhabitants of the world is a displacer named Ferrin. Displacers can sever body parts yet still live and remain connected to their displaced parts. He first befriends Jason and Rachel but they soon learn that he is a spy for Maldor.
This story might be good for middle graders who want to read about adventures, dangers, and young people going on heroic journeys. They can look forward to the next two adventures in the Spring of 2012 and the Spring of 2013.
A hero sacrifices for the greater good. A hero is true to his or her conscience. In short, heroism means doing the right thing regardless of the consequences. Although any person could fit that description, very few do. Choose this day to be one of them.