Long before Harry Potter was accepted to Hogwarts, the first installment in the highly acclaimed six-book Earthsea Cycle series saw a young Ged sail to the heart of the series’ titular archipelago—one of the most original fantasy worlds of its time—to study at the magical island of Roke’s school of wizardry. It’s there that Sparrowhawk, as Ged becomes known, makes a terrible mistake that haunts him for years on his path to becoming the greatest sorcerer in all the realm. In Earthsea, it’s those who understand how to wield the power of words who are truly wise—a creed that Ursula K. Le Guin, who used her writing to subvert racist and sexist tropes often present in a genre historically dominated by white male authors, upheld in our own world. Le Guin would go on to win the Hugo, Nebula, Locus and World Fantasy awards (each more than once) later in her career, but it was the seminal book A Wizard of Earthsea that broke down barriers and provided a blueprint for countless beloved fantasy properties to come. —Megan McCluskey

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