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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
If you are a casual reader, or even just a casual reader of fantasy, this book might not be for you. If you are interested in reading a story that obliterates the typical expectations for fantasy, and carves a new path in the genre, pick up BLACK LEOPARD RED WOLF. If you are interested in reading characters who are round and nuanced and full of conflict and dramatic tension, this book is for you. If you are interested in reading a book that challenges you with elevated prose and writing that requires your brain to be engaged, then stop reading my review and start reading BLACK LEOPARD RED WOLF. There are a lot of reviews that say this book is boring, or too convoluted, or not like most fantasy (as if that’s a bad thing). You have to understand that you are entering a new world, with a style of storytelling we do not often digest in western culture (again, not a bad thing to have something new and unique). The first hundred or so pages are massively world-building, so be patient. Embrace the new, it’s good—dare I say better than the old, tired genre of sword & sorcery. I have read Game of Thrones. This is not Game of Thrones. This is better. I look forward to reading the next entry in this series. A second read through definitely helps to readdress the first hundred-ish pages & truly understand what’s happening, the world building is so dynamic and intricate. Brilliant piece of prose!
At first I thought this would be a book that I would give up a few chapters in. Both from my lack of interest of reading for the past ten years or so, and from how the book began. But then I got to the main story and I couldn’t stop reading. Solid read.
Some cool ideas mostly wasted in plot sludge.