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Black Leopard, Red Wolf

(The Dark Star Trilogy #1)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  2,437 ratings  ·  737 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
Paperback, 720 pages
Published February 7th 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)
Marlene Yes, it fits the definition of Fantasy genre, but definitely ADULT Fantasy.
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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,437 ratings  ·  737 reviews

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Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a lot--a labyrinth within a maze, an enigma within a conundrum. Beautifully intense prose that doesn't allow for lazy reading. Immense physicality--a very embodied narrative. The length is... a lot. I don't mind a long book but if you're expecting this to be a traditional fantasy novel you're going to get smacked in the face. The plot is meandering and elusive. There are a hundred characters and settings. Epic is truly the word for this book in terms of scope, narrative, ambition, e ...more

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 28, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

to say this isnt for me is an understatement, but to claim this is a book for the masses is just a straight up lie. this has been pitched as one of the most buzz-worthy books of 2019 and i had really high hopes for this. but it takes a very particular kind of person to enjoy this story, and that person is definitely not me. i have a lot of thoughts about this, so bear with me.

honestly, this is the most pretentious book i have ever read. its so fa
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
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
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 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, favorites
I read and reviewed this book for Lambda Literary, where my full review can be found; my thoughts also can be found on my blog.

Full of violence, suspense, and mystery, Black Leopard, Red Wolf charts the adventures of an unforgettable pair of mercenaries as they hunt for a lost boy. Taking place in a fictional continent based on Iron Age Africa, the colossal, six-part tale hybridizes fantasy, historical fiction, and epic. In terse but intricately constructed prose, Tracker, or “Red Wolf,” recount
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
Spencer Orey
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine the X-Men in a fantastical ancient Africa, on a wild roadtrip through nonstop magical terrors.

It started a bit slow for me, but by 200 pages in, I was hooked. I'll be thinking about this one for a long time. Can't wait for the sequels and the movie.

The violence in this book (especially the ceaseless sexual violence) can be very challenging and disturbing, but I think it makes a strong point that written violence should feel disturbing. It shouldn't be easy to gloss over the battles. Vio
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
Feyzan - The Raven Boy
DNF at 40%

it's a pretty good book, I suppose. if you like them dipped in dog shit, cows piss and utterly rotten.

If i were the publisher and someone had brought this book to me, I'd have advised them to consider getting some help. I don't know what is wrong with Marlon James, but I am pretty sure something is malfunctioning in his brain. Whatever the case, I am really curious to know what was going on in his life when he decided to write this book, and what kind of head space was he in when he
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
“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
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.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t even know where to begin...

Trigger Warnings: EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF... and then some!

(Seriously, take my review with a grain of salt— I like obscene and weird shit, and that’s certainly not the majority’s cup o’ tea. I like a multi-layered story that may seem pretentious on the surface, but deeply nuanced under the grimy film on top.)

*What follows is not a coherent review, but just tidbits I jotted down while reading:
-The first 100 pages were like a very long Prologue.
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
K.J. Charles
DNF at 88%, which is to say after nearly 550pp.

There is so much amazing about this book. African inspired fantasy, huge sense of culture, intriguing cast of characters, lots of really chewy stuff to think about, lovely use of language, and some really striking ideas and turns of phrase (the human-centipedy equivalent of what Europeans would call 'black magic' is 'white science'). It is horrifically violent, including much on page gore, slavery, rape and child abuse of the most horrifying sort,
Feb 08, 2019 marked it as verlaten  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
My mom got me a book of African folklore when I was a kid but she didn’t check it out very carefully, and the end of the story is that it was full of dicks. Fuuullllll of dicks. I learned a lot from that book. One guy threshes grain with his dick. The trickster Eshu-Elegba is gender-fluid with a ten-foot dick.

“It was a very sensual and sensory world," says Marlon James, who’s woven African folktales - their tricksters and their shape-changing and their dicks - into this magisterial first chapter
Stephen Robert Collins
This is biggest surprise of 2019 a complete different style of writing from his Man Booker Prize book it is as if JRR Tolkien had written a book on Malcolm X.
His style has changed but could be that this what he wanted to write originally but Killings got him famous so then do this black fantasy not enough black fantasy authors around .
This very unusual complex book with maps
I love the Cover of this it stands out well it really says 'read me, read me ' echoing across the shop.
James has taken his
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
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.
Allison Hurd
I think it's safe to say that James is gifted with words, imagination and a deeply personal emotional well that he is so painstakingly sharing. It is unfortunate that the words he's most gifted with (and I say this as someone who loves expletives) are shit and fuck, that the imagination did not come with a story as a vehicle for exploring this world, and that the personal was so personal it cut me off from it.

CONTENT WARNING: if you have most of the common triggers, I'd stay away from this book,
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
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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.” 3 likes
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