Lev Grossman’s 10 Must-Read Fantasy Novels

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Just look at the map: Earthsea is a sprawling archipelago of tiny islands, as if someone took Middle Earth and smashed it like a plate on a hard tile floor. A Wizard of Earthsea is a primally moving fairy tale, the great original story of a sorcerer’s education, but it’s also joyfully subversive: in 1968 Le Guin took fantasy — still a very male, very English, rather Christian tradition — re-engineered and re-plumbed it utterly, and bent it to her own marvelous purposes. Her magic system alone, rooted in a true and ancient language of things, is one of the monuments of modern fantasy.