“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.
This marathon of a book is over 600 pages and is the longest book I have for 2018. They say size matters and trust me, even with over 600 pages, I still wanted more. Even with the book’s comparison to Game of Thrones, this book is unlike anything I have ever read. In the first installation of the Dark Star Trilogy, Marlon shows off how diverse a writer he is, and I was here for all of it.
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 that person is found, dead or alive. It is because of this specific skill Tracker is commissioned to look for a boy who disappeared under very mysterious circumstances three years ago. Tracker finds out he is not the only person looking for the boy, and the search turns into a team effort, but not everyone on the team can be trusted. The group that accompanies Tracker on his search is filled with mysterious characters all with secrets and hidden agendas.
Tracker’s team includes an over 300-year-old witch, a shape-shifting man-animal, a giant who refuses to die and other mythical creatures, each with a unique strength. Throughout their search we learn more about them, but their stories are all long and winding, filled with death, secrets and magic.
Tracker and his team move from one city to a next, through enchanted forests and magical doors. Their journey is filled with curve balls and mythical creature intent on killing them. The group ends up getting divided, mistrust surrounds them, and Tracker cannot help but question why he decided to find this boy and who he can trust to help him complete his mission.
This book took me on the most magical journey. I was thrust into the world of Tracker and to be honest, I had a hard time leaving. I cannot remember the last time I read a book that absolutely captivated me. I said before that this book is unlike anything I have ever read.
To be fair, it took awhile for me to get into the book but after the first 70 pages it was smooth sailing. I think with the numerous characters and interwoven story lines of each character is becomes a bit hard to keep track of who is who. Also, Tracker’s story isn’t told in a linear way, so you get bits and pieces of Tracker’s history over the course of the book. That threw me off because I kept having to piece together the timelines. I also wanted more from Tracker as a character, I felt some story lines, particular that of his early family life wasn’t properly explored. I needed to understand more of his early life to get a deeper feel for his motivations. In true Marlon James’ fashion the book is filled with very graphic scenes both sexually and in the description of how persons died. If you can push through these scenes without your stomach turning, then you are good to go.
Honestly, Marlon James did not disappoint with his first installation of the Dark Star Trilogy. I was kept guessing the entire time. This boy’s disappearance befuddled me, and James was able to keep the mystery going for the entire time. The characters are diverse, colourful and intriguing. The premise is absolutely refreshing and new. I cannot wait for the next installation in this series. I am hoping this series makes it to the big screen, I want to see these characters come to life. This is a must read for me!
P.S. How gorgeous is this cover?!!!