Black leopard, red wolf

Marlon James, 1970-

Book - 2019

"In the 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"--

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SCIENCE FICTION/James, Marlon
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Series
James, Marlon, 1970- Dark star trilogy ; 1.
Subjects
Genres
Fantasy fiction
Published
New York : Riverhead Books 2019.
Language
English
Physical Description
620 pages : illustrations ; 24cm
ISBN
9780735220171
0735220174
Main Author
Marlon James, 1970- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

The first installment in the Dark Star trilogy has been touted as "an African Game of Thrones, and, indeed, James, author of the Man Booker Prize winner A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014), throws pretty much every fantasy and horror creature known into this brilliantly chaotic mash-up of genres and styles. Readers will discover mermaids, vampires, zombies, and witches, along with edge-of-your-seat chills and cheeky humor. James' tale digs its hooks in and never lets go, rather like the claws of the flesh-eating Zogbanu trolls, or the teeth of a vicious ghommid. Yet for all the fantasy and action, James never loses sight of the human story as his hero, Tracker, searches for the truth about a mysterious boy. Tracker's quest across wildlands and through cities brings him tantalizingly closer to the elegant, shape-shifting Leopard. James' world building weaves in cultural references from Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mali, Congo, Burkina Faso, and Senegal as he spins his griot's tale of love, revolutions, murder, and magic. Gender-bending romance, fantastical adventure, and an Afrocentric setting make for an inventive and engaging read. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The buzz is growing, thanks to James' powerful draw and the launch of a trilogy with appeal for fans of Afrofuturism and Black Panther. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Evocative language, intensive architecture, an epic sensibility, and a strong feeling of time and place: the qualities defining the Man Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings should make for great fantasy, even if this first book in a trilogy goes its own special way. At its heart is Tracker, asked to find a boy who disappeared three years previously and nonplussed to find himself attached to a search party. Drawing on African mythology; I love Marlon James! Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

As with his Man Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings, James's first foray into fantasy demonstrates epic sweep, an intensely layered structure, and raw if luscious language that pins readers to the page with enough concrete detail to discourage a breezy skim-through. Placed firmly in the genre by its dark magic, unstoppable twists and turns, dangerous kingly aspirations, and imperfect but essential fellow-creature bonding, the narrative is refreshingly distinctive in its grounding in African history and folklore. Its protagonist is the Tracker, a tough-talking loner whose sense of smell leads him to his quarry and here to a momentous task. The opening pages show the Tracker as a young man leaving home both to escape his family and confront his people's enemies, as he refines his skills, discovers a shocking secret about his parentage, helps a group of children (e.g., Smoke Girl, Giraffe Boy) abandoned for their weirdness as cursed, and meets the sardonic, shapeshifting Leopard, with whom he forms a close but testy relationship. But the journey's the thing, as the Tracker is later engaged by a slaver to find a kidnapped child, reputedly the son of a North Kingdom elder who riled the king and was slaughtered with his family. In his efforts, the Tracker grudgingly allows himself to be joined by the Leopard, the Moon Witch Sogolon, the perfidious Nyka, and others. As they move through the Darklands and subsequent fraught territories toward the Southern Kingdom, they encounter witches and demons, flesh-eating trolls, splendidly dressed mercenaries, vampires, necromancers, ancient griots, and a wise, magisterial buffalo. References to harsh pansexual encounters often shift events forward, and the entire story is framed as a tale told to an inquisitor, though we are a long way from understanding from whence he came—this is the first in the "Dark Star" trilogy. VERDICT As the Tracker realizes, "The only way forward is through," and it's the same for readers. Highly recommended for fantasy lovers who welcome a grand new challenge, as James launches an unglorified if gloriously delivered story that feels eminently real despite the hobgoblins, and for literary readers, eager to see the world—and James's particular talents—in a new light. [See Prepub Alert, 7/31/18; Editors' Spring Picks, p. 22.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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. (Feb.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Hired to find a mysterious boy who disappeared three years before, Tracker joins a search party that follows the boy's trail through ancient cities and into dense forests, and encounter creatures intent on destroying them.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"In the 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"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Hired to find a mysterious boy who disappeared three years before, Tracker joins a search party that is quickly targeted by deadly creatures, in the first novel of a trilogy from the author of A Brief History of Seven Killings.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

One of TIME’s 100 Best Fantasy Books of All TimeWinner 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 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.