Prize-Winning Jamaican Author Marlon James Writing Fantasy Trilogy

Marlon James

Jamaican Marlon James, who won the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2015 for his novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” has announced that he is writing a fantasy trilogy called “Dark Star.” The first book of the trilogy, “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” is set to be published in the fall of 2018. According to James, the series was inspired partly by an argument over JRR Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” in which the author expressed his concern about the lack of diversity in the cast of its film adaptation. He realized that there was a “huge universe” of African mytholtogy and history, complete with “crazy stories” and “fantastic beasts” that was just waiting to be examined. James also said he decided to write the trilogy because he wanted to “geek the hell out of something.” James is using ancient African mythology, legends and language to write these books in a manner similar to how Tolkien used Celtic and Norse mythology to produce “The Lord of the Rings.” James said he is fascinated by old, epic African stories, especially African epics that are as old as “Beowulf” and others like “The Epic of Son-Jara” and “The Epic of Askia Muhammad,” which he has researched for some time. The series is set in a fantasy world sometime after the fall of the Roman Empire in the ancient African kingdoms of Kush and Songhai, among others. James says the “very basic plot” involves a slave trader who hires mercenaries to find a child who may have been kidnapped; finding the child takes nine years, and he is dead. The novel is about trying to determine how this happened. James also says he is enjoying creating an entire world an is studying African languages with the idea of inventing one for his trilogy. Each book will have appendices, maps and guides to the countries and languages described, and James has already begun to draw the maps that will accompany his text. The following two novels in the Dark Star trilogy will be entitled “Moon Witch, Night Devil,” and “The Boy and the Dark Star.”

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Stephanie Korney