This National Book Award finalist starts with a failure — Tracker, a man with an uncommonly good nose, is telling the story of how he ended up in this jail cell, about the boy he was meant to find, about how he came to have the eye of a wolf. Black Leopard, Red Wolf unspools in spirals, and we learn more about how he came to this quest (and the ragtag rogue’s gallery that he uneasily agreed to work with), when he first met the leopard who can turn into a man, what monsters he has known and slain. Marlon James has created a fantasy epic for the ages, a twisting, betrayal-studded, magic-imbued adventure that mesmerizes even when the violence on the page gets especially gruesome. I would not pick this up if you’re looking for a light book; I insist you read it if you're looking for an unforgettable tale that will rearrange your thoughts and blow your hair back. Recommended By Michelle C., Powells.com
Tracker has a nose: he can find anyone. But when he takes a job to locate a missing child, he ends up as part of a splintered fellowship running headfirst into a conspiracy of magic and kings. James’s meditative prose delivers a gripping fantasy adventure rooted in African mythology and history. Recommended By Madeline S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
FINALIST FOR THE 2019 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
The New York Times
Named a Best Book of 2019 by The Wall Street Journal, TIME, NPR, GQ, Vogue,
and The Washington Post
"Gripping, action-packed....The literary equivalent of a Marvel Comics universe." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
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.
“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 something very new that feels old, in the best way.” 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.” Louise Erdrich
“A sprawling, epic fantasy….Fuses mythology, fantasy, and African history into a sensual, psychological triumph.” Esquire
“A miracle.…If Charles R. Saunders’ Imaro series opened the door to new ways of telling epic fantasy...then Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf just ripped the whole damn door off its hinges.” Tor
“James’ sensual, beautifully rendered prose and sweeping, precisely detailed narrative cast their own transfixing spell upon the reader. He...broadens the genre’s psychological and metaphysical possibilities.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
About the Author
Marlon James is the author of the New York Times bestseller A Brief History of Seven Killings, The Book of Night Women, and John Crow’s Devil. A Brief History of Seven Killings won the Man Booker Prize, the American Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Fiction, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Book of Night Women won the Minnesota Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as the NAACP Image Award. A professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, James divides his time between Minnesota and New York.