One of TIME’s 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time
Winner of the L.A. Times Ray Bradbury Prize
Finalist for the 2019 National Book Award
The New York Times Bestseller
Named a Best Book of 2019 by The Wall Street Journal, TIME, NPR, GQ, Vogue, and The Washington Post
"A fantasy world as well-realized as anything Tolkien made." --Neil Gaiman
"Gripping, action-packed....The literary equivalent of a Marvel Comics universe." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
The epic novel, an African Game of Thrones, from the Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings
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.
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 novel unlike anything that's come before it: 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 truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
High fantasy unfolds in a magical, dangerous land that looks a lot like South Africa. The first book of Marlon James’ Dark Star trilogy introduces us to Tracker, a wanderer who can find anyone…even if they’re in the land of the dead. Tracker’s quest to find a boy who has gone missing puts him in contact with many allies—including a fearsome shape-shifting leopard—and terrifying enemies. The story takes a hypnotic and winding path, one that throws truth and reality into question at every turn, adding an element of mystery to an already riveting adventure story.
Booker winner James (A Brief History of Seven Killings) kicks off a planned trilogy with a trek across a fantastical Africa that is equal parts stimulating and enervating. Centering on the search for a lost boy, the plot is relatively straightforward, though the narrator, Tracker, moves his story obliquely "as crabs do, from one side to the next." Tracker is a "hunter of lost folk," an ornery loner with an extraordinary nose that lets him pick up the scent of his quarry from miles away. Along with several other mercenary hunters, he is hired by a slave trader to find a kidnapped boy, though who the boy is and why he is so valuable are mysteries to Tracker. Storytelling is a kind of currency in this world, as people measure themselves not only by their violent feats but also by their skill in recounting them, and they have plenty of material: giants, necromancers, witches, shape-shifters, warring tribes, and unspeakable atrocities. Indeed, there is a narrative glut, which barely lets readers acclimate to a new, wondrous civilization or grotesque creation before another is introduced. It's altogether overwhelming, but on the periphery of the novel are intriguing ideas about the performance of masculinity, cultural relativism, kinship and the slipperiness of truth. Though marred by its lack of subtlety, this is nonetheless a work of prodigious imagination capable of entrancing readers.
What a magnificent book. I can’t believe it’s over. Definitely want to take notes in the beginning but soul found so much peace from reading this
Not what it sounds like.
I expected to love this because of the reviews. I absolutely could NOT get into it. And I persisted. I really wanted to like it! I can count on one hand the number of books I have started and not finished in my life. This is one of them.
After reading the hype that this book was a Tolkien set in Africa I was all in, after all “The Epic of Sundiata” was one of my favorite reads in college. This book is very artsy and has interesting concepts but for me it never coalesced into something I found engaging enough to finish. Kudos to those of you that did.