Now that ‘Game of Thrones’ is over, here are three reasons you should read Marlon James’ African fantasy novel, ‘Black Leopard, Red Wolf’

After eight long years and a six-episode season, Game of Thrones came to an end on Sunday night. Daenerys dies by Jon’s hand, Arya sails west of Westoros, Sansa becomes Queen of the North and a character arc that blindsided many viewers: Bran Stark becoming the King of the Seven Kingdoms. There have been widespread dissatisfaction within the show’s fanbase about Sunday’s season finale, an indication of a larger complain about how rushed the season had been, especially after Daenery’s ‘Mad Queen’ heel turn.

That said, no more Game of Thrones, no more CGI dragons and zombies with white, frizzy hair. The reality of it is stark, I know, but there are alternatives that can supply just as much engrossing, fantastical world as found in Game of Thrones. May I recommend Marlon JamesBlack Leopard, Red Wolf, the first in a trilogy of fantasy books released back in February and set in Africa. OK, you don’t know who Marlon James is – just stay with me.

Marlon James is a Man Booker Prize winner

I know, I know, this sounds like a politician mentioning his hefty academic degrees while campaigning for votes. Jamaican author Marlon James won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for his third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, which sets the attempted assassination of Bob Marley against the cacophony and violence of Jamaica as the CIA moved in. A Brief History was described by the Booker judges as an ‘extraordinary book.’ I think, in part, what they meant was James unbridled approach to writing prose – smart, eccentric, edgy, with that off-the-cuff humour.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the African version of Game of Thrones, according to James

After the popularity and platform that came with winning the Man Booker Prize, James’ next novel would look to HBO’s epic fantasy Game of Thrones for inspiration. Or so it seemed. It became a popular joke after James did an interview with a magazine, and morphed as an elevator pitch for Black Leopard, Red Wolf. James isn’t going about thrusting the book in people’s faces and calling it ‘African Game of Thrones.’ I bought the book on Amazon recently and the world James builds is immersive, with rich African mythology and beautifully wholesome characters. At more than 600 pages, I’m still reading it. God, it’s not my fault the book is damn voluminous.

Michael B. Jordan and Warner Bros. have acquired the film rights

Not long after the Black Leopard was published, Deadline reported that Michael B. Jordan’s film company Outlier Society and Warner Bros. have acquired the film rights to the book. Black Leopard follows Tracker, who has a keen sense of smell. He’s hired to find a missing child against a backdrop of competing kingdoms and violent political upheaval. The story touts a wild cast of characters including a witch, a shape-shifting leopard, a murderous hyena, and conjoined twins. And yes, YES, I’d like to see all these on the big screen.

There hasn’t been any update about when production of the film will start, given that the book has just been published and will need time to exhaust its literary shelf life. But I’m still looking forward to it. So there you have it, take care of your Game of Thrones withdrawal symptoms and dig into Black Leopard, Red Wolf and thank me later.


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