The first book in Le Guin’s famed Earthsea cycle introduces Ged, a young and brilliant, albeit cocky, wizard who attempts to use magic he doesn’t fully understand, with dire consequences. The tale reads like many a classic fantasy story, but some core elements are subverted: Ged is dark-skinned, and a flawed hero, unlike the impeccable white heroes of so many other fantasies. As with all of Le Guin’s writing, the language is lucid and lyrical, with each sentence revealing something new. This book also establishes the world of Earthsea: a world made up of islands scattered in a neverending sea, introduced by a map drawn in Le Guin’s own hand. I regret I never had a chance to read these books as a child, because younger-me would have found them revelatory; fortunately, adult-me was no less enthralled.