Black Leopard, Red Wolf Summary & Study Guide

Marlon James
This Study Guide consists of approximately 48 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Black Leopard, Red Wolf.
This section contains 582 words
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Black Leopard, Red Wolf Summary & Study Guide Description

Black Leopard, Red Wolf Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: James, Marlon. Black Leopard, Red Wolf. New York: Riverhead Books, 2019.

The novel is set in a fantasy world based on African mythology. The protagonist is known only as Tracker. He is born in the city of Juba in the North Kingdom, but after leaving the care of his parents, he goes to Ku, the village from which his ancestors originate. However, Tracker turns on the Ku after they murder an innocent woman and the children she protected. Tracker kills his uncle—a Ku leader—and brings his head to the chief of the rival Gangatom tribe. Tracker also meets Leopard, a hunter who has the ability to shapeshift into a leopard. They form a romantic/sexual relationship before parting ways.

Tracker and Leopard reunite five years later in the city of Malakal. Leopard recruits Tracker for a high-paying tracking job, as Tracker’s superhuman sense of smell makes him one of the best trackers in the land. Tracker agrees to the job. The employer is a cruel, wealthy slaver who wants them to find a missing boy. The slaver hires other people as part of the tracking party as well: a shapeshifting mermaid named Bunshi, a witch named Sogolon, a very large and muscular man named Sadogo, and mercenaries named Nsaka and Nyka. The tracking party begins traveling towards the city of Kongor, where the Great Hall of Records stands, as they believe that it may give them more information about the boy. As they travel, they go through an evil forest called the Darklands, and they are nearly driven insane by the monsters and spirits there.

The party eventually arrives in Kongor, and they begin investigating the murder of a local nobleman named Basu Fumanguru. They learn that Fumanguru wrote and published criticisms of the King, who is eager to begin an unnecessary war with the South Kingdom. They also learn that Fumanguru secretly hid and protected the missing boy. Thus, the tracking party now believes that the King has some specific interest in finding the boy. The party soon learns that the boy is actually the rightful King and that the current King is actually a usurper. Leaopard decides to leave the party and track the boy on his own. The party leaves Kongor and travels south towards the boy’s scent, as perceived by Tracker. They are joined by a Kongori prefect named Mossi.

The party eventually arrives in the city-kingdom of Dolingo. Dolingo is ruled by a Queen and is quite technologically advanced. The party soon realizes that Dolingo culture values scientific advancement over all other moral considerations. The Queen imprisons the party, wishing to perform experiments on them. The party manages to escape. They then travel north, as the boy’s scent now points to Kongor. Tracker and Mossi soon form a romantic/sexual relationship. The party reunites with Leopard in Kongor, and they face off against Ipundulu, the lightning-bird monster that currently possesses the boy. The party kills Ipundulu, but then a monster named Sasbonsam steals the boy away. Tracker eventually begins following Sasbonsam on his own, as Tracker believes that finding the boy and placing him on the throne may help to avert war between the North and South Kingdoms. At the end of the novel, Tracker is still tracking the boy, with the implication that the story will be continued in the following books of the trilogy.

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