Becky Spratford's Reviews > Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
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really liked it

Three Words That Describe This Book: intricately plotted, stylistically complex, story about stories

This is a story about stories. BLRW has a plot [in the book description here on Goodreads] but it is really about the characters. These unique souls who band together--friends, lovers, enemies-- all with their own motivations, in order to complete that quest.

Along the way breaks are taken from the plot to tell stories, stories that add depth to the characters and introduce the world he is creating. These tangents were among my favorite parts of the reading experience.

Speaking of the world, this is world building at its finest. James takes the time to immerse the reader into this world knowing full well that the vast majority of his readers have no idea about the intricacies of African mythology. He tales the time to share his knowledge, which takes time and is going to be foreign to most readers, but he is a skillful storyteller and he weaves it in a bit at a time. It took about a third of the way in for mw to be comfortable and then I let James guide me.

But it is told like an oral Epic. I liken it to The Iliad or the Odyssey but set in Africa probably around the Iron Age time line but of course there is magic and mythology from African culture, not Greek. But it the exact same idea.

I would also suggest reading RodKelly's review. I really like his review and as a person of color who reviews literary fiction, there were things he noticed and notes that I have left out:

Audio Narration Appeal: There is no way I would have gotten though this challenging book without the audio. Graham is a master narrator and he brought the characters to life, kept me engaged even when I was a little confused, and conveyed the beauty of it all.

Readalikes: I repeat the mention about of this book's similarity to THE ILLIAD and THE ODYSSEY.

I know many people say it is nothing life GAME OF THRONES, and yes it is nothing like the TV show, but it is very similar to the books, which are also long, challenging, full of history as much as fantasy. They are based on different mythologies-- British vs African-- but they share a lot.

I have a longer post about non-western diverse readalikes for the Martin books here:

It helps if you are willing to immerse yourself in a different culture as your starting point for the historically based epic fantasy. The Martin series is basically a fictional War of the Roses time frame with fantasy elements. The other epic fantasy series I list in that post are all entered around a different culture. Each series is shaped, in some way, by the culture's storytelling tradition oupon which it is based. So yes, in theory these series are not strict readalikes because they are each written with a very different style, but what they share is that they are using the epic fantasy tropes to tell THEIR story.
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Reading Progress

May 20, 2019 – Started Reading
May 20, 2019 – Shelved
November 5, 2019 –
page 0
November 5, 2019 – Finished Reading

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