Black Leopard, Red Wolf (James) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Gripping, action-packed.… The literary equivalent of a Marvel Comics universe—filled with dizzying, magpie references to old movies and recent TV, ancient myths and classic comic books, and fused into something new and startling by his gifts for language and sheer inventiveness.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times


Marlon James is one of those novelists who aren’t afraid to give a performance, to change the states of language from viscous to gushing to grand, to get all the way inside the people he’s created.… [Black Leopard, Red Wolf] looks like another great, big tale of death, murder and mystery but more mystically fantastical.… Not only does this book come with a hefty cast of characters (like Seven Killings), there are also shape shifters, fairies, trolls, and, apparently, a map. The map might be handy. But it might be the opposite of why you come to James—to get lost in him ("Ten Things Our Critics Are Looking Forward to in 2019").
Wesley Morris - New York Times


[A] sprawling fantasy novel set in a dark-age Africa of witches, spirits, dazzling imperial citadels and impenetrable forests. In a genre dominated by imagery derived from the European middle ages, Black Leopard, Red Wolf feels new and exciting
Wall Street Journal


Fantasy fiction gets a shot of adrenaline.
Newsday


Like the best fantasy, like the best literary fiction, like the best art period, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is uncanny.
Boston Globe


Stand aside, Beowulf. There’s a new epic hero slashing his way into our hearts, and we may never get all the blood off our hands.… James is clear-cutting space for a whole new kingdom. Black Leopard, Red Wolf, the first spectacular volume of a planned trilogy, rises up from the mists of time, glistening like viscera. James has spun an African fantasy as vibrant, complex and haunting as any Western mythology, and nobody who survives reading this book will ever forget it. That thunder you hear is the jealous rage of Olympian gods.
Washington Post


Black Leopard, Red Wolf is bawdy (OK, filthy), lyrical, poignant, violent (sometimes hyperviolent), riotous, funny (filthily hilarious), complex, mysterious, and always under tight and exquisite control…. A world that is both fresh and beautifully realized…. Absolutely brilliant.
Los Angeles Times


James is a professed fantasy nerd, so Black Leopard, Red Wolf will certainly appeal to fans of all the well-acknowledged authors with at least two initials—George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, etc. But if you’ve read James’ 2014 novel A Brief History of Seven Killings…, you’ll drag yourself to the midnight queue to buy Black Leopard regardless of the whole "Game of Thrones" selling point.
Huffington Post


Black Leopard, Red Wolf aims to be an event, and to counter the dominant impression of the genre it inhabits.… Black Leopard delivers some genre-specific satisfactions: the fight scenes are choreographed with comic-book wit.… But it deliberately upends others. When I first saw the news that James was writing a fantasy trilogy, I had assumed that, after reaching the pinnacle of critical acclaim, with the Booker, he was pivoting to the land of the straightforward best-seller.… Instead, he’d written not just an African fantasy novel but an African fantasy novel that is literary and labyrinthine to an almost combative degree.
The New Yorker


The novel teems with nightmares: devils, witches, giants, shape-shifters, haunted woods, magic portals. It’s terrifying, sensual, hard to follow—but somehow indelible, too.
Vogue


James’ visions don’t jettison you from reality so much as they trap you in his mad-genius, mercurial mind.… Drenched in African myth and folklore, and set in an astonishingly realized pre-colonized sub-Saharan region, Black Leopard crawls with creatures and erects kingdoms unlike any I’ve read.… This is a revolutionary book.
Entertainment Weekly


[A] planned trilogy with a trek across a fantastical Africa that is equal parts stimulating and enervating.… Though marred by its lack of subtlety, this is nonetheless a work of prodigious imagination capable of entrancing readers.
Publishers Weekly


★ An epic sweep, an intensely layered structure, and raw if luscious language that pins readers to the page… A gloriously delivered story that feels eminently real despite the hobgoblins, and for literary readers, eager to see the world… in a new light. —Barbara Hoffert
Library Journal


★ Wrought with blood, iron, and jolting images, this swords-and-sorcery epic set in a mythical Africa is also part detective story, part quest fable…. James' trilogy could become one of the most talked-about and influential adventure epics since George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.
Kirkus Reviews

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