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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
1,602488,554 (3.33)97
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 97 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
***WHO SUCKED ME IN***

Thomas from SFF180 in their SFF180 🐉 Anticipated Fantasy 2019 video published on 24 dec. 2018

Why am I hesitant? The books Marlon James wrote earlier didn't really grabbed my attention. I don't want to read a fantasy story based on African folklore by a dark skinned author, and then not like it.

Which is nuts because I've read loads of crappy fantasy books by light skinned authors and just kept on reading. But although fantasy is getting more divers it still feels like dark skinned authors aren't 'allowed' to write crappy books, or to evolve in their writing because there are so few of them.

Which is a crap reason to not want to read this story. I just convinced myself into wanting to read this story, even if it is crappy. Sjeez. Sometimes I get annoyed with myself for very good reasons.
  Jonesy_now | Sep 24, 2021 |
Not an easy one to read. A fantasy adventure that takes place in Africa, with real and mythical beings interspersed. Marlon James writes well, no doubt, but the book rambles through towns, tribes, cities, people, and the reader is left without a real road map. The protagonist Tracker is from a highly dysfunctional family, but seems to be a protector at heart, perhaps because it was something he always wanted, but never had? In any case, he is hired to find a missing boy by a merchant, who is acting as agent for a politicking person with a focused but highly non-traditional agenda. Tracker's companions come and go, creating even more confusion. Personally, I liked Sadogo best from among his posse. Be warned, there is an enormous amount of violence and killing, sex and rape, especially male rape, and a general negative view of women. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
I'm going to be honest, here: I spent the first third of the book somewhat bewildered by the unfamiliar mythological references and long, chewy names ... and then the story clicked in and I was totally hooked for the rest of it. Initially challenging, at least for this sheltered reader, but worth it. ( )
  qBaz | May 28, 2021 |
I liked. I've been both reading the book and listening to the audiobook, and I prefer reading it. ( )
  A2Seamster | Apr 9, 2021 |
Too hard to read for a dyslexic.
Very enjoyable until I gave up trying though so I’ll probably try the audiobook. ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (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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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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