Lev Grossman’s 10 Must-Read Fantasy Novels

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by J. K. Rowling

Rowling is not a great crafter of the sentence. Her excessive fondness for adverbs, for example, must ultimately be weighed against her in the critical scales. But what she created was an utterly modern fantasy, up to date and state of the art, precise down to the atomic scale, both epic in scope and gleaming in every detail. It’s a triumph of world-building, stripped of any early-20th-Century mossy earnestness, a magical setting so rich that an entire generation, on a species-wide scale, has more or less moved into it. What writer before her ever delved within the wizard’s wand itself, to tell us what lay at its core (phoenix feather, dragon heartstring, unicorn hair)?