"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, an African Game of Thrones, 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.
Praise for Black Leopard, Red Wolf:
"Marlon James is one of those novelists who aren't afraid to give a performance, to change the states of language from viscous to gushing to grand, to get all the way inside the people he's created... [Black Leopard, Red Wolf] looks like another great, big tale of death, murder and mystery but more mystically fantastical... Not only does this book come with a hefty cast of characters (like Seven Killings), there are also shape shifters, fairies, trolls, and, apparently, a map. The map might be handy. But it might be the opposite of why you come to James-to get lost in him." -The New York Times
"James is a professed fantasy nerd, so Black Leopard, Red Wolf will certainly appeal to fans of all the well-acknowledged authors with at least two initials - George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, etc. But if you've read James' 2014 novel A Brief History of Seven Killings (decidedly not a sci-fi or fantasy book but a 700-page world-building epic about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley), you'll drag yourself to the midnight queue to buy Black Leopard regardless of the whole 'Game of Thrones' selling point." -Huffington Post
"Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the kind of novel I never realized I was missing until I read it. A dangerous, hallucinatory, ancient Africa, which becomes a fantasy world as well-realized as anything Tolkien made, with language as powerful as Angela Carter's. It's as deep and crafty as Gene Wolfe, bloodier than Robert E. Howard, and all Marlon James. It's something very new that feels old, in the best way. I cannot wait for the next installment." -Neil Gaiman
"This book begins like a fever dream and merges into world upon world of deadly fairy tales rich with political magic. Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a fabulous cascade of storytelling. Sink right in. I guarantee you will be swept downstream." -Louise Erdrich
"The novel teems with nightmares: devils, witches, giants, shape-shifters, haunted woods, magic portals. It's terrifying, sensual, hard to follow-but somehow indelible, too." -Vogue
"A miracle... If Charles R. Saunders' Imaro series opened the door to new ways of telling epic fantasy, and N.K. Jemisin's Inheritance trilogy leapt over the threshold, then Marlon James' Black Leopard, Red Wolf just ripped the whole damn door off its hinges." -Tor
"A sprawling, epic fantasy... Fuses mythology, fantasy, and African history into a sensual, psychological triumph." -Esquire
"Marlon James is the author of some of the most lush, lyrical, evocative prose of the last couple of decades, and so it's no wonder that his fans have been waiting with bated breath for his first foray into the fantasy world with Black Leopard, Red Wolf... James imbues the story with mythology and magic, and explores the outer limits of truth and power, as he crafts one of the most fully, imaginatively realized fantasy universes ever. Our only question is: When does the next book come out?" -Nylon
"James' sensual, beautifully rendered prose and sweeping, precisely detailed narrative cast their own transfixing spell upon the reader. He not only brings a fresh multicultural perspective to a grand fantasy subgenre, but also broadens the genre's psychological and metaphysical possibilities. If this first volume is any indication, James' trilogy could become one of the most talked-about and influential adventure epics since George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire was transformed into Game of Thrones." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An epic fantasy with deep roots in African history and myth... A thrilling story." -Southern Living
"With Black Leopard, Red Wolf, [Marlon James] brings us another epic story... Lyrically written and drawing from African history and mythology, Black Leopard, Red Wolf will be the book everyone is talking about." -PopSugar
"[Marlon James] throws pretty much every fantasy and horror creature known into this brilliantly chaotic mash-up of
Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. His novel
A Brief History of Seven Killings won the 2015 Man Booker Prize. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction, and the Minnesota Book Award. It was also a
New York Times Notable Book
. James is also the author of
The Book of Night Women, which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and an NAACP Image Award. His first novel,
John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the
Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and was a
New York Times Editors’ Choice. James divides his time between Minnesota and New York.