In the stunning first novel in Marlon James’s Dark Star trilogy, myth, fantasy, and history come together to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child.
Black Leopard Red Wolf – Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.
As Tracker follows the boy’s scent—from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers—he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?
Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a saga of breathtaking adventure that’s also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truths, the limits of power, the excesses of ambition, and our need to understand them all.
Video Review: Black Leopard, Red Wolf
Praise for Black Leopard, Red Wolf:
“Gripping, action-packed… The literary equivalent of a Marvel Comics universe — filled with dizzying, magpie references to old movies and recent TV, ancient myths and classic comic books, and fused into something new and startling by his gifts for language and sheer inventiveness.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“The first volume of a promised trilogy, a fabulist reimagining of Africa, with inevitable echoes of Tolkien, George R.R. Martin and Black Panther, but highly original, its language surging with power, its imagination all-encompassing. . . . Marlon is a writer who must be read.” —Salman Rushdie, TIME
“James’ visions don’t jettison you from reality so much as they trap you in his mad-genius, mercurial mind. . . . Drenched in African myth and folklore, and set in an astonishingly realized pre-colonized sub-Saharan region, Black Leopard crawls with creatures and erects kingdoms unlike any I’ve read. . . . This is a revolutionary book.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Marlon James is one of those novelists who aren’t afraid to give a performance, to change the states of language from viscous to gushing to grand, to get all the way inside the people he’s created… [Black Leopard, Red Wolf] looks like another great, big tale of death, murder and mystery but more mystically fantastical… Not only does this book come with a hefty cast of characters (like Seven Killings), there are also shape shifters, fairies, trolls, and, apparently, a map. The map might be handy. But it might be the opposite of why you come to James—to get lost in him.” —The New York Times
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About the Author
Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. His novel A Brief History of Seven Killings won the 2015 Man Booker Prize. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction, and the Minnesota Book Award. It was also a New York Times Notable Book. James is also the author of The Book of Night Women, which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and an NAACP Image Award. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. James divides his time between Minnesota and New York.
Originally published: 5 February 2019
Page count: 620
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, High fantasy, Historical fantasy