A Wizard of Earthsea
by Ursula Le Guin
I have not read many fantasy novels, but I have a big soft spot for the genre, mainly because of nostalgic feelings about A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin, first published in 1968. My hip uncle and aunty lent it to me when I was in about year 7, and it was the first proper fantasy book I'd read. I loved it immediately, everything about it appealed to me.
Ged, a young boy with a talent for magic is shipped off to a boarding school for budding wizards...Erm, sound familiar at all? One day, a dangerous spell goes awry, and Ged accidentally lets loose a malevolent shadowy monstrosity. This mistake changes the course of Ged's life, as he flees the nameless creature all over Eathsea. A succinctly written fantasy that's easy to read, and though set in a traditional sort of magic and dragons world, LeGuin sidesteps a lot of the traditions of the genre that became cliches over the years.
A Wizard of Earthsea was the first book of a trilogy (and later, a quartet), and while I read the two following books, they didn't grab me as much. But the first one is a ripper and well worth a read. One of the few books I've managed to read twice, and one of the even fewer that I'd be keen to pick up a third time.