BLACK LEOPARD RED WOLF REVIEW( BK. 1-THE DARK STAR TRILOGY). WORTH THE HYPE?
Marlon James has done it again. But this time with fantasy. In our opinion, his first foray into this demanding genre was a roaring triumph.
The structure of the narrative is very much in line with his style of writing, but now infused with an imagination that stuns. James has created a world that amazes, creatures that terrify and confound, characters that intrigue and repel and a story that wholly pulls the reader in.
The first-hand account is given by our first story-teller, Tracker(he is imprisoned). His tale is drawn out by the inquisitor during his interrogation. What follows is a saga that overwhelms the senses, in a good way. Tracker recounts his journey to find a boy after having been recruited by a slaver. He meets the other members of the search party and has a personal connection with one, who is revealed to have betrayed Tracker later in his retelling. Their journey takes them through cities that for all their differences in structure and politics, hide a darker side. Through forests that conceal bloodthirsty, flesh-seeking monsters and demons, men twisted by white science, lands that alter the mind's perception of reality and time.
However, there were always parts of the story that just did not sit well with Tracker. And each time he sought more information, the version either changed or gained another facet. So Tracker goes off seeking the truth, and uncovers what appears to be a hidden conspiracy, and he means to get to the bottom and understand the true motives of this mission.
Tracker also reveals aspects of his personal life, his discovery of his father's identity, his time with the Sangoma, living with and protecting the mingi children, his betrayal by a friend and lover, to the gruesome loss of his love and family. This novel is beautifully descriptive and even with what some may call fillers, just served to further build the world that Tracker inhabits. A world that depicts sexuality with no filter or apology, raw violence and the intricacies and complexities that define relationships.
The first story has been told, now we await Sogolon's version, will there be similarities or will we be given a completely new account and in what style will she recount it.
A truly epic saga.
There are situations that could be triggers for certain readers(e.g. sexual violence, violent murders), so approach with care and caution.
As for whether it is worth all the hype, we will leave that decision up to every reader.