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Black Leopard, Red Wolf

by Marlon James

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Dark Star Trilogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,142526,549 (3.27)102
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.… (more)
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» See also 102 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Did not finish book. Stopped at 9%.
I almost always give books 100 pages to hook me, but I couldn't stomach any more than 60. Almost every page, of what I read, mentioned the rape of men, women, children, or animals and I couldn't do it. I also wasn't prepared for it; a lot of the positive reviews about this book seem to skim over this aspect and I'm not sure why. It is also incredibly slow and made me feel like I was reading the first draft ramblings of a man who wants you to think he's smarter than you. Every piece of dialogue was a riddle that felt like it was only written to be quoted in some literary circle jerk about all the ways you can describe genitals and gore. I'm sure his writing style is for someone, but it's not for me.

I thought the premise was interesting, but it's lost in the long-winded, tedious prose that would have really benefitted from a good editor. ( )
1 vote QuietNyx | Oct 16, 2022 |
To start off saying this book isn't for everyone it includes graphic sex (mostly male homosexuality) and violence (including rape) that may disturb some readers; especially those who just want to read it just because cover is beautiful and/or it has attracted "bandwagon" readers. When I heard this novel was about African (not American) culture and mythology I was not surprised by the graphic context (just look at news from several African nations - it's not always pretty).

That said, Marlon James is a genius how he made this fantasy. There is no contemporary novel like this in the genre which is good; we readers need freshness not formulated copycats. He reminds me of what E.T.A. Hoffmann, Robert E. Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert, and Michael Ende do for the fantasy/science fiction genre; make art out of storytelling. Also, he reminds me of Stieg Larsson where he doesn't censor his material; tells it as it is.

I don't say this a lot but I was almost feeling the same emotions as the main character Tracker in how he viewed characters and situations. However, I got the idea that I'm not supposed to trust anyone which I like as a reader. I'm excited for the second of three books to come out an hoping it makes the same impact on me as this amazing masterpiece did for me. ( )
  Jazz1987 | Aug 27, 2022 |
I read two pages. I didn't even get to the parts people say are problematic. I just didn't like the writing style.
This is another book I bought before I learned to read previews first. Wasting my money could have been avoided.
In those two pages the character already kept going around in circles and repeating himself. I just don't care for it and I wouldn't be able to stand so many pages of that.
  elderlingfae | Aug 11, 2022 |
I liked. I've been both reading the book and listening to the audiobook, and I prefer reading it. ( )
  NancyinA2 | Feb 3, 2022 |
A tale of smell and fury told as an African quest fantasy and signifying another book by James. James' lips are closed so there are no easy answers – only many questions. Characters speak but are not always understood. This book can be difficult to translate inasmuch as it seems to be written in something resembling a foreign tongue. As with James' previous work (_A Brief History of Seven Killings_), it takes work. The good news is that it gets easier as the reader becomes used to this new language. The unique idiom does manage to draw one into the foreignness of this world.

Something is not only rotten in this world, “Something ill is in this kingdom.” The quest to find the mysterious boy who only Tracker can smell, takes up most of the story – a story that he tells “to live.” And what a story it is! Once you accustom yourself to the patois, the story enthralls. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 28, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
... that’s only one example of the many ways in which James’s densely realized epic works to expand the possibilities of the form – the characters not only have desires and act on them, but grapple with problems of identity, duty, loyalty, and their own complicated motivations; at some points, Tracker’s growing rage is such that he says he’s ready to “murder the world;” at others, he acts like a more conventional hero, valuing honor over rewards. With hints of an impending war between the north and the south, and oblique references to lands across the sea, James leaves himself plenty of room for the subsequent vol­umes, and if they match the furious richness and depth of Black Leopard, Red Wolf, they may complete one of the most important and innovative fantasy epics of the century so far.
added by karenb | editLocus Magazine, Gary K. Wolfe (Apr 21, 2019)
 
In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, a story’s truth is not measured by how accurately it strives toward representing an objective reality. Rather, truth manifests in a story’s failure: as part of a world, made up of nothing but stories, that is bound to the imperfection of story. At the end of such a story, no truth, simple or otherwise, remains — only the story.
 
It is also welcome to experience a fantasy world that is derived from Africa, with a narrator who is explicitly gay. Tracker is a very human and fallible character, and often very frustrating, but by the end my heart broke with him. I don’t know if the promised sequels will follow Tracker or another character in the same world, but this book feels like a complete story in and of itself – there are no George R.R. Martin cliffhangers here.

I highly recommend this book for all adult fiction collections.
 
If James could go easier on the bloodletting and muscle-bound prose, choose subtlety and sensuousness over teenage-testosterone swagger, there’s still time for him to queer rather than pastiche the franchise fare he’s avariciously eyeing.
 
To read A Brief History of Seven Killings is to feel Kingston assembling itself in James’ mind through the voices and stories of his characters, in much the same way that he constructs the nameless land of Tracker’s birth, a place that is and also isn’t Africa. It may not be real, but listen long enough and you’ll believe in it, too.
added by g33kgrrl | editSlate.com, Laura Miller (Feb 12, 2019)
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James, Marlonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Camacho, Pablo GerardoCover Artist.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graham, DionNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yentus, HelenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
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To Jeff, for quartermoon and a million other things
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The child is dead. There is nothing left to know.
Quotations
Not everything the eye sees should be spoken by the mouth.
When kings fall they fall on top of us.
But I spend most of my days alone, and my nights with people I never wish to see in the morning. I will admit, at least to my darkest soul, that there was nothing worse to be than in the middle of many souls, even souls you might know, and still be lonely.
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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.

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