In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, we meet Tracker in a jail cell as he recounts his life to the priest inquisitor. His exceptional nose and his wolf eye make him unforgettable (as well as his smart mouth), and he achieved fame for the case of a missing boy, which put the Tracker in an unlikely search with a group of people he wish he didn’t have to work with. After three years, it’s not possible that the boy is still alive, and yet, everyone believes he is. What importance could the boy have, and who is telling the truth?
What a book! The Red Wolf is such an interesting character and I was fascinated by him from page one. He’s so snarky, tough and unapologetic for who he is, and his complicated relationships throughout the book made for such a brilliant read. The writing is explosive, unflinching and yet there is something beautiful about it. It’s incredibly raw. It will be an uncomfortable read for lots of people, as it can get very crude and there is lots of violence and sex. This isn’t a book for everyone – I’d say, if you don’t like A Song of Ice and Fire or The Poppy War because of the violence and language, you will definitely dislike this book.
In some ways, this was like reading a classic fantasy story – it has all those great elements of an epic, following Tracker since his early years into manhood, lots of adventure, many interesting characters and a world-building so rich I was left in awe. I don’t know how much Black Leopard, Red Wolf was inspired by Tolkien, but I got quite a few parallels between the two books. However, don’t expect a regular European fantasy epic adventure. This is deeply, deeply African and so striking in its originality. The writing style makes it feel almost like a myth or a fable.
You will never be able to just glaze over a few pages. Each sentence captures your attention, demands it and takes time. There is a lot going on and things can change in a moment. This is definitely one where you feel each of the 620 pages – and I loved it. I was so immersed in the book, sometimes going back paragraphs to make sure I understood everything. I wanted so much more after I was done with it.
I finished this book thinking – this is one of the best fantasies I’ve read, ever. Read this for an intense experience in a fantasy world as dangerous as it’s lush. I am ecstatic that Marlon B. Jordan got the filming rights for this trilogy!