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Black Leopard, Red Wolf

(The Dark Star Trilogy #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  613 ratings  ·  266 reviews
The epic novel from Marlon James, the Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings: an African Game of Thrones.

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: "H
Hardcover, 720 pages
Expected publication: February 28th 2019 by Hamish Hamilton (first published February 5th 2019)
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Juju Noooo. Not YA at all, and the first few pages should make that abundantly clear. For mature readers. Plus it's very dense and the narrative dialect…moreNoooo. Not YA at all, and the first few pages should make that abundantly clear. For mature readers. Plus it's very dense and the narrative dialect may not be for everyone... but wow, it's stunning.(less)
Bradley It's pretty much wrapped up in the end, but with some mystery as to what's going to happen next.

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3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  613 ratings  ·  266 reviews

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as you can see, i am very far behind in my reading challenge, and this book is largely to blame. i have been looking forward to this book for a whole year, and i’d planned on spending the day of its release reading all 620 pages cover to cover, with occasional breaks for restorative snacks. that was the plan.

insert laughter of god(s).

instead, this took me nearly a week to get through. it’s certainly possible for a human to read it in one very intense day, but it would not have been enjoyable, t
شيماء ✨
book: *is an epic fantasy*

me: hm. ok

book: *is set in a fantasy version of Africa and is deeply rooted in African mythology, complete with vampires, witches, necromancers, shape-shifters and double-crossing ex-boyfriends while on a mercenary job*

me: oh shit. ohgh fuck!!!!!
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It seems rather simplistic to say the book isn’t enjoyable, especially since I doubt that’s what the author was aiming for in the first place, but this is no easy fare. While it’s sold as a fantasy novel, it’s styled more in the vein of the classical poetic tradition, an inventive and challenging blend of imagination, myth, and history. Of course, the African foundation brings with it different types of stories and forms than those which underly the Greek/Roman mythic tradition but the same fund ...more
I felt oddly removed from this book at the beginning, and by the end I was crying every other page. So there's that.
Feb 11, 2019 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who appreciate high-brow lit, NOT GOT fans
Recommended to Tatiana by: promise of Afro-centric fantasy
I surrender.

I can handle many things as a reader:

The highly stylized, dense prose, when you don't really understand what's going on but just have to immerse yourself in a narrative until it starts making sense.

All the raping and gore and general fixation on penis as THE center of everyone's world.

Messiness of time lines.

James uses every tool in his toolbox of pretentious literary devices. If he wants to dedicate half a page to explaining that Leopard smells like ass, ok, fine, go for it. I can
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, jamaica, 2019-read
Fuck the gods!, as the protagonist of this epic would put it, this clearly is a 5-star-read, and I don't even like fantasy! James takes his readers to an ancient, otherwordly Africa, where themes of Greek and African mythology merge into a sprawling tale about the battles between different tribes and kingdoms, all of them with their own beliefs, powers, and cultures. We join our narrator Tracker, who possesses the gift of a heightened sense of smell, in the quest for a young boy -but the first s ...more
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: big-books, 2019
Black Leopard, Red Wolf is an epic sword-and-sorcery fantasy novel from Booker Prize-winning author Marlon James. This is not literary fiction dressed up in genre clothing! What it is: fantasy at its freshest and most exciting, deeply rooted in African history and myth.

Lone wolf Tracker and a rag tag bunch of shapeshifters, witches and mercenaries reluctantly team up to locate a missing child, encountering along the way all manner of winged demons, evil spirits, slavers, white scientists, and
Eric Anderson
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can watch my over-excited fangirl video review here!

What a wholly-immersive wild adventure this novel is! Going into it I knew Marlon James has a talent for writing intricate sweeping tales from having read his previous novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings". That book greatly enhanced his international prominence having won the Booker Prize in 2015. That same year I was one of the judges of The Green Carnation Prize and we also selected his novel as a winner - not just for the magnificen
“Black Leopard, Red Wolf” by Marlon James is the first book on the Dark Star Trilogy. This trilogy has already been dubbed in the publishing world as “the African Game of Thrones” and I will tell you why soon. The publication date for this is January 2019 but thanks to those amazing people over at Riverhead Books I get an early peek into this enthralling tale.

We meet the main character Tracker, a hunter who is know for his nose- once he catches the scent of a person he cannot let it go until
Ron Charles
Stand aside, Beowulf. There’s a new epic hero slashing his way into our hearts, and we may never get all the blood off our hands.

Marlon James is a Jamaican-born writer who won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” his blazing novel about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley. Now, James is clear-cutting space for a whole new kingdom. “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” the first spectacular volume of a planned trilogy, rises up from the mists of time, glistening like visc
Read By RodKelly
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
By now, one can easily identify certain features that define the "Jamesian" style: cinematic violence, shameless sexuality, perverse, sharp humor and wit, flawlessly rendered settings, and virtuosic, rhythmic language. There is also the strong presence of the fantastic: ghosts and spirits, obeah women and demons who haunt the pages of his visceral stories.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf finds Marlon James at the peak of his powers, unafraid to shed the cloak of realism that won him the Man Booker prize
OK, I'm done with this one. I tried. Adding to my DNF pile, not to be revisited. I tried the audio. I love accents and this one was a heavy accent that required a lot of concentration on my part...and constant rewinding. I also had the print which I frequently had to use when I was confused. But it seemed I was more confused reading this one than I wanted to be. It's also very, very graphic. I'm not a prude but it just seemed to me a lot was unnecessary. I was so excited for this one but I've ma ...more
Daniel Greene
I have so many feelings about this one. Can't really see myself giving it a simple 1-5 rating. Needs a heck of a lot of discussion.
Thomas Wagner
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
[4.5*] Even if it weren’t riding a wave of pre-release hype based on its author’s reputation as a winner of the Man Booker Prize, Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf would be a landmark epic fantasy. More than perhaps any recent work in the field since Steven Erikson wrapped the Malazan Book of the Fallen, this is a story that takes the “epic” aspect of the genre seriously and takes a running jump into the deep end with both feet.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf isn’t interested in any rules but its o
Feb 08, 2019 marked it as verlaten
I cannot finish this. I was so looking forward to the experience. I sang the praises of his A Brief History of Seven Killings. Yet, unless I read a convincing contra argument, I refuse to suffer another 400 pages after surviving nearly half a doorstopper ravaged by the most, and most graphic of, anal rapes/assaults of men, women, boys and beasts that could be rammed into 300 pages of literary fiction.

Mayhaps, this the way of this fantasy world, but I, a jujube warrior, choose to evade its tortur
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC from Riverhead Books through the goodreads giveaway program.

This has a chance to be an impactful book. 'Black Leopard Red Wolf' feels raw; gritty even. It is graphic in its violence and sexuality and is far removed from the romanticized fantasy of Tolkien, Jordan or even Rothfuss. Maybe more like Martin, although I have not read 'A Song of Ice and Fire'. Gaiman's blurb was spot on when he called it hallucinatory; several events drift between the real and surreal. James' new wor
"Black Leopard, Red Wolf" is a novel unlike any I have ever read before both in content, in structure, in attitude, and its uniqueness is both a blessing and a curse. James offers us a fantasy adventure story that takes place in Africa perhaps in the mid-1500's among numerous West African kingdoms, set around lakes, rivers, mountains, swamps, and dark forbidding fantasylands that many would prefer to travel around than to go straight through. It is a world peopled by were-hyenas, shapeshifting t ...more
Chris Morgan
I really, really, really wanted to like this. At first I was deeply engrossed, but within the span of fifty pages, I had all but zoned out. The stream-of-consciousness style of writing with an overuse of pronouns over names, stop-start stacatto style sentences and abundance of coarse sex just rubbed me wrong. The setting is rich, but almost glossed over. Characters are archetypal and dialogue is often a tedious back and forth of riddles where nothing makes sense. James frequently uses peusdo-dee ...more
Jun 13, 2018 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts  ·  review of another edition
'But to write this book I had to unlearn everything — about how language works, character works, story works, even how truth works. The trade-off is that I also ended up with Werehyenas, children made of air and dust, and vampires who have no problem hunting you in broad daylight.' I MEANNNN

Can't wait to read this 720-page behemoth of a book

Hiu Gregg
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-releases
This book… Where to start with this book?

Black Leopard, Red Wolf has drawn a lot of attention since before it was even written. Ever since the supremely talented Marlon James, hot off the back of a deserved Man Booker Prize win for the fantastic A Brief History of Seven Killings, announced that he was going to write the “African Game of Thrones”, literary fiction and genre fiction fans alike have been waiting to see just what the hell such a book would look like.

Well, it’s here now. And it’s cer
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I would like to thank GR giveaways and Riverhead Books for this ARC. You made me very happy and several of my GR friends envious. I wish I could pass my copy on to all of them.

A new Marlon James! Yes, yes. I am a huge fan of James and was thrilled when the publication of a new novel was announced. Not only am I fan of his work, but I was lucky enough to attend a very special author event at Harvard where I found him so smart, so funny and so likeable that my respect and admiration only increased
DNF @41%. Nope can’t do it. This was one of my most anticipated 2019 releases so to say I’m disappointed is a huge understatement but I just can’t read this way too much brutality and rapey rape for me. Just not interested in reading that.
wanderer (Para)
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher (Riverhead Books) on Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

This has been one of the most hyped and anticipated fantasy releases of 2019. Literary fantasy set in Africa? Yes please. I wanted it so much and couldn’t believe my luck getting an early copy. The first few pages were wonderful. But, ultimately, as a long-time fantasy reader, I was left underwhelmed and disappointed.

I saw that I was still a boy. There were men stronger, and women t
I finally finished BLACK LEOPARD, RED WOLF. Took me over a week to do it and I’ll be honest, I skimmed the last 100 pages.

Im a little gun shy about reviewing it. In the end, I realized I’m not a fan of Marlon James’s writing style. The story should have ended around the 400 page mark and there’s too many lulls where I was kinda...bored. The language was kind of circular and the intentionally bad grammar really bugged me.

HOWEVER, I gave it three stars because the story itself is super tight, well
Jan 14, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
January 2017
Please, don't be one of those books that sound absolutely awesome but turns out to be dull. Please.
August 2018
It has a cover now? Pretty. I'm intrigued.
December 2018
Added summary and release day - it will come out in February 2019. That's sooner than expected. James is no Martin.
February 2019
Well, it's out.
"And mostly it was just looking for a rocking story. Let’s not forget all the simple pleasures of reading about witches and monsters and fairies and goblins. Dashing knig
I found this book tough going. Not for the violence, not for the profanity, but for some of the scenes or settings, which I had some trouble visualizing. Also, everyone’s pretty unlikeable. At the same time, I did enjoy this book (if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have finished it.) I liked his “Brief History” more, but I think I’ll be coming back to this book sometime. Marlon James’ vision and and the scope of his world fascinated me, and despite the constant brutality, I sometimes also found Tracker’s a ...more
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was...a lot. It took me a week to get through and, even at more than 600 pages, it shouldn't have taken that long. It was very much not for me. I want books to barrel along, to compel me to keep reading and this one just didn't. It was good and will probably work excellently well for a lot of readers. I, sadly, was just not one of those readers, much as I wanted to be.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, readsoullit
Unpopular opinion... I didn’t LOVE this book. Fuck the Gods I wanted to, but truth? It was just okay. 🤷🏾♀ ...more
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, arc
You, with your eye of a dog, me with my eyes of a cat. We are quite the pair, are we not, Tracker?

One of the things I most admired about Marlon James' Man Booker-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings was how authentic every shifting voice was – each section could have been written by a different author. Now with Black Leopard, Red Wolf, James has given us something totally different once again: a Tolkeinesque epic fantasy set amongst the kingdoms of precolonised sub-Saharan Africa, complet
Nils | nilsreviewsit
I received a free advanced copy of Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James, from @penguinukbooks in exchange for an honest review. Thank you you for the copy!
Unfortunately, this book really wasn’t for me, and I really did struggle with it. It’s not often that I say that a book is too dark, or that it should come with trigger warnings in the synopsis, but for this one both counts were exactly my view.
I’ll start with the positive. The book is written with skill, and it’s clear that James certainl
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Marlon James is a Jamaican-born writer. He has published three novels: John Crow's Devil (2005), The Book of Night Women (2009) and A Brief History of Seven Killings (2014), winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize. Now living in Minneapolis, James teaches literature at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

James was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to parents who were both in the Jamaican police: his mo

Other books in the series

The Dark Star Trilogy (3 books)
  • Moon Witch, Night Devil (The Dark Star Trilogy, #2)
  • The Boy and the Dark Star (The Dark Star Trilogy, #3)
“Bi oju ri enu a pamo.

Not everything the eye sees should be spoken by the mouth.”
“The child is dead. There is nothing left to know.” 2 likes
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