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Of Swords And Sorcerers: Books For Magical Escape

"Three Books. . ." is a series in which we invite writers to recommend three great reads on a single theme.

When I was 14, I wanted be a sorcerer. This did not go over well at school.

"Your father's an electrician. Why not be an electrician?" said the headmaster. But I was in the grip of an addiction to fantasy literature and role-playing games that would last my entire adolescence, and I wanted to be Frodo, Merlin or Dr. Strange.

The allure of fantasy to a boy like me was clear: I was useless at sport, clueless when it came to fashion, laughed at by girls, kicked by bullies and bored to distraction by the grim, gray reality of 1970s England, which was like Poland, but without the excuse of totalitarian communism.

My entire youth is recalled in shades of concrete gray. Only fantasy gave it color.

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Mark Barrowcliffe