Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Book - 2019
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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?
Publisher: [London] :, Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Books,, 2019.
Copyright Date: ©2019.
ISBN: 9780241315583
9780241315545
Characteristics: 620 pages : maps ; 24 cm.

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OPL_AnnaW May 01, 2020

A fantasy novel based in African mythology, this dark story offers compelling characters, vivid imagery, and a violent plot.

JCLJordanY Apr 01, 2020

Black Leopard, Red Wolf slowly reveals its world to the reader, all of its beauty and horror, amidst a winding story that meanders through time at the narrator's whim. This story is certainly not for everyone. Atrocities are commonplace and the author does not shy away from introducing them early in the narrative. It is however a unique novel in fantasy; I began reading it in hopes of finding new perspectives and ideas in the genre and was not disappointed.

s
selfishgiant
Dec 13, 2019

Globe 100 2019. Lord of the Rings that pays homage to African and Caribbean folklore

k
KellyLatimer
Nov 26, 2019

An entertaining novel that gives insight into African mythology and creatures of lore. While I wasn't the biggest fan of the author's writing style at times, and found it a little depressing to read if the depiction of some tribal rituals and beliefs is in any way a true reflection of current culture, it was overall an enjoyable book.

d
derikam
Oct 29, 2019

If you don't go in looking for a happy ending then you'll probably enjoy it more. It's a big book but very easy to read.

s
snailgem
Oct 25, 2019

COULD NOT get into this. Too much violence, sex, and violent sex. Plus, it was too jump around confusing for me.

j
jstalmer
Oct 02, 2019

This story was a ride and the ending was a trip. It had the quality of a dream. Though upon further thought, the whole story had that quality. It almost felt like one of those mid-century lava lamps, a little trippy and a lot fluid. There's a flood of shape-shifting in this novel, by creature and story. The landscapes were many, some magical and some not, some of the dream world and some of the waking world, some of the living and some of the dead, and all sorts of lands that had no such defining borders.

The novel is a straight-up adventure story dipped in folklore, with swaths of humor and thought-provoking questions and pearls of wisdom. Though it never preaches, only ponders. The characters all seemed original and even though there are so many characters, and at times they are short-lived, each presence was palpable. There was an intensity to all the characters that made them seem very real.

The story touches on many themes and things. Truth is a huge one as is history and power. It is asked in the novel what makes a better warrior: one with nothing to lose or one with something to fight for (or with everything to lose). If you have nothing to go home to does that help or hinder a warrior on a mission? It's a loaded question. One that is never completely answered, but still is an excellent question to leave in the reader's lap. The story touches on dualities of gender, beast and human, time and space, and life and death. The lines get blurry on all fronts. One gets the sense that nothing is ever what it seems and is subject to change at any moment.

Even though this novel is of the fantasy genre, its prose is elevated to the literary realm. The quality of writing is beyond exceptional. With the exception of a few parts, the reading was a lot clearer than I was expecting. James is an excellent writer that gets deep in the weeds. But he starts off slow, with only one narrative focus, to introduce us to this strange world.

The first line was powerful: "The child is dead." This is followed by, "There is nothing left to know." The beginning of this story was very telling of the journey the reader is about to embark on. And make no mistake, the reader is taken on the journey. Forget thinking you will be allowed to just sit in your comfy armchair, keeping danger at arms length. It's just not that kind of read. For much of the novel, I felt outside of the characters. I was rather right there beside them. It was an interesting vantage point and one not without merit. A clever anchor.

At one point in the novel, a character states that looking for meaning will only drive someone mad. It may drive the reader mad if they try to wrap this novel up in a neat little bow of meaning. It's a messy novel with too many facets. It may behoove the reader to take some gems as a parting gift and leave the story in all its messy glory. One thing that was given a lot of space was about truth to power. How none of us owns the truth and nothing can be done to make truth not truth. Truth is truth even after rulers who spread lies that take root in every man's heart. The manifestation of this is in characters that sing history that doesn't pander to a leaders lies, but which garners it's wrath. It seemed like they were a manifestation of the duality of power and truth. While the former can never truly quell it, it can cast truth as a lie for a time.
The disparate pieces pulled together the last 100 pages. The story ended up being so rich and vibrant and ominous and over-the-top, while at the same time deep and timeless. Ultimately, we each have to answer for ourselves if we want the truth or a good story. How the reader answers that question will skew how one views this novel.

Nicr Aug 02, 2019

Magic and marvels and bodies pile up as Tracker and his friend, the shapeshifting Leopard, search for a kidnapped child. A deeply imagined, passionate and beautifully written journey into an uncanny mythological world.

l
LauraSteinert
Jul 15, 2019

page one talks about the "goats they f*** for sport." page two mentions the
young girl too small for your big . . ."
I'm done.

m
Mel_EpicReading
Jun 24, 2019

FIVE STARS!
This site has too short of a character maximum for me to write my entire review here! :)
So, the major highlights to know:
1) This is NOT Young Adult. It is gory, horrific, brutal and (at times) very disturbing.
2) It is brilliantly written. James made me feel, smell and experience everything our characters did , saw and smell (even when I didn't want to).
3) The darkness of this book spoke to me on a very intimate level.
4) If you can get past Chapter 8 then you will be fine. That is the pinnacle of the gore and ickiness.
5) So many characters, maps, new monsters and creatures from African folklore; and so much more! If you want epic, elaborate fantasy this is it.
6) It is very long and sometimes drawn out. Like any typical epic fantasy there are dragging points and moments where you may feel lost. It all comes together at the end in a beautiful way but there are some slog sections.
7) I usually read a book in about 3-4 days (max) when it's 600+ pages like this one. This book took me 23 days. I needed time to digest, understand and take breathers.
8) I LOVED this book. It is immediately moved to my favourites shelf.
9) Our narrator "Tracker" is unreliable. As this series progresses it is said that the next book is the same events from someone else's perspective. So if you missed some things in book 1 I'm assuming book 2 will shed light. I think many things are intentionally ambiguous.
10) It's okay not to like this one. If you couldn't get through it I appreciate why. But please don't say that anyone who loved this book is an awful person. That is simple not true. Fiction is fiction. It's not like I'm condoning the actions in this book in real life. Instead I'm merely saying that I absolutely loved it for what it was; and part of that is that it is grim dark fantasy fiction.

This is a shortened version of my review.
My full review is available on Goodreads.

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lydasoun
Jan 02, 2020

lydasoun thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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Mel_EpicReading
Jun 24, 2019

Mel_EpicReading thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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cfierflyer
Mar 20, 2019

cfierflyer thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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