In the 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.
Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written an adventure that’s also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf explores the fundamentals of truths, the limits of power, the excesses of ambition, and our need to understand them all.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was an interesting read. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it as far as style was concerned. I read it for the appeal of African history, folklore, and mythology. I felt the story was excellent in capturing these elements with imagination intermixed with the essence and meaning of it, subtle or not.
The interesting parts of the writing lies in the author deciding how to create and build a world for people to step into and it was all about perspective.
Do you want the reader to be given information or live it or both? Do you want them to be on the outside looking in as an observer, the inside looking out, the inside looking inside? The writing, in the way it merged fantasy with known cultural beliefs and practices was seamless and allowed me as a reader to be immersed in the story no matter what the objective was which I thought was amazingly done.
The imagery as both the natural world and level of surrealism was superb. The content itself was incredibly heavy and disturbing, and it took a certain understanding of the context of which it was written about to really deconstruct and accept what was being conveyed. From that standpoint, I felt the overall style and effect was there. I don’t know if I would have understood this one and continued to have read it to the extent I did, had I not known some of the background and concepts behind it.
Some descriptions were poetic and riddle-like, some, blunt and forceful. Deviance, truth, power, and loyalty were some running themes.
The book though was a bit long for my taste and may have felt that way because I wasn’t sure if there was some duplication in some of the phrasing, which was fine, but I did wonder if it was intentional or an oversight, much needed emphasis or overemphasis, I couldn’t decide.
Nonetheless it was a unique and reflective read for me.