Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy)

Marlon James
"A fantasy world as well-realized as anything Tolkien made." --Neil Gaiman The epic novel, an African Game of Thrones, from the Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven KillingsIn 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.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2021-12-23
4.75 / 5

A little confusing in places, but otherwise an amazing read.
Reviewed: 2019-07-30

I shockingly really liked this book more than I thought I would. Going into it, I'd heard about its hyper-violence and was extremely turned off. I selected it for an LGBTQ/POC book club without even realizing that it was queer, and mostly in an attempt to capitalize on its likeness to Game of Thrones. But what a doozy. The writing is just beautiful. It will be describing something absolutely horrid, but just exquisitely. And there are hardly any likeable characters to be found — Mossi is the purest, followed by a buffalo, and a giant who is not a giant, and then the Red Wolf of the title, Tracker, who isn't nice at all — but they're all compelling enough to propel you forward. It's also very funny at times. But I do have to dock a star because it can get gross, and because the time skips, particularly in the beginning, make it hard, unnecessarily, to follow what's going on. I get that it's part of the point, but I did drift off a fair number of times.

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