Following the Man Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings, novelist Marlon James’ next project will be an epic fantasy series titled The Dark Star Trilogy. This news was recently divulged in an Entertainment Weekly interview with James, during which the author shared details about the forthcoming books, which are set to be published by Riverhead.
Per the official summary, the series focuses on three characters who are “locked in a dungeon in the castle of a dying king, awaiting torture and trial for the death of a child. They were three of eight mercenaries who had been hired to find the child; the search, expected to take two months, took nine years. In the end, five of the eight mercenaries, as well as the child, were dead.” The three volumes in the series—titled Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Moon Witch, Night Devil and The Boy and the Dark Star—each track one character’s telling of what occurred over those nine years, collectively amounting to a literary version of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, which James cites as an influence.
But the bulk of the inspiration for these novels is a mixture of widely read fantasy classics—The Lord of the Rings novels, Earthsea, Game of Thrones—and African folklore, the latter of which James feels especially drawn toward. According to him, the idea for The Dark Star stemmed from an argument he had with his friend, which revolved around ethnic and cultural diversity within the fantasy genre and led James to realize that a huge reservoir of African cultural and literary history lay waiting to be tapped. Tolkien may have built Middle Earth on the bedrock of Beowulf, but James will also be rooting his novels in African epics as old as the English epic poem.
By the end of the EW interview, James has name-dropped writers as wide-ranging as Salvador Dalí and Gabriel Garcia Marquez as influences, and teased a whole world of mythic enchantments waiting to be explored. Consider us intrigued.
Riverhead hopes to release book one of The Dark Star Trilogy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, in the fall of 2018—keep an eye out for the official release date.