Feature

Best books ... chosen by Lev Grossman

Lev Grossman is <em>Time</em> magazine&rsquo;s book critic and the author of <em>The</em> <em>Magicians,</em> a novel about a secret college for students of magic. Below, he lists his choices for &lsq

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (HarperCollins, $7). A shoo-in. Whether you’re young or old, Christian or whatever, Lewis’ tale of children crossing from one world to another—and discovering their power there—is pure Turkish Delight: The more you read, the more you want.

The Once and Future King by T.H. White (Ace, $8). Underrated to this day. White brought the story of King Arthur—the ultimate English epic—out of its medieval crypt and breathed life and power back into it in a modern idiom. Even his second lead, Lancelot, is a tragic masterpiece: a passionate lover of God whose very passion makes God cast him down.

Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories (Dark Horse, seven volumes, $13 each). Two men. One big, one small. One brutal, one subtle. Both haunted and hardened by their tragic pasts. Leiber writes high fantasy with a touch of the Shakespearean, but his heroes are pure hard-boiled noir. A founding work in American fantasy.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner, $20). I was never a Tolkien fanatic, but he is indisputably the first and greatest of the great modern fantasy-world builders. The mines of Moria alone would put him on this list: “The Dwarves delved too greedily and too deep ...”

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, $16). Two 19th-century English sorcerers and their troubled frenemy-ship, rendered in gorgeous, bittersweet Regency prose. Clarke’s novel reads like the work of one who has seen magic done, for real, in front of her, and has come to tell you about it. This is one of the first masterpieces of the 21st century in any medium.

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link (Harvest, $14). If I had to pick the most powerfully original voice in fantasy today, it would be Kelly Link. Her stories begin in a world very much like our own, but then, following some mysterious alien geometry, they twist themselves into something fantastic and, frequently, horrific. You won’t come out the same person you went in.

Recommended

North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan
A Japanese news network shows footage of Kim Jong Un.
escalations

North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan

Hurricane Orlene makes landfall on Mexico's coastline
Workers preparing for Hurricane Orlene
crash into you

Hurricane Orlene makes landfall on Mexico's coastline

King Charles III participates in 1st public event since death of queen
King Charles III and Camilla, queen consort arrive in Dunfermline, Scotland
A Visit from His Majesty

King Charles III participates in 1st public event since death of queen

Iranian Supreme Leader blames U.S., Israel for protests across country
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 2017
Who's to blame?

Iranian Supreme Leader blames U.S., Israel for protests across country

Most Popular

5 toons about Trump's spiraling legal woes
Political Cartoon.
Feature

5 toons about Trump's spiraling legal woes

National Archives says some Trump administration records are still missing
A view of the National Archives and Records Administration building in Washington, D.C.
More Trouble for Trump?

National Archives says some Trump administration records are still missing

Ukraine takes full control of Lyman while Russian media points fingers
Ukrainian flag in Donetsk
do svidaniya

Ukraine takes full control of Lyman while Russian media points fingers