A Fight Over The Hobbit Inspired Marlon James To Create an Epic African Fantasy Trilogy

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You may have read Marlon James’ award-winning book A Brief History of Seven Killings, which is a sprawling novel that spans decades and chronicles the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in 1976 in Jamaica, and its aftermath. His next project takes a step away from history fiction and dives head first into epic high fantasy bringing together many of his passions into a trilogy just waiting to set the world of fire.

Marlon James is a self-proclaimed fantasy geek, and he had expressed the desire to “geek the hell” out of something for quite some time. After getting in an argument over the lack of diversity in the casting of The Hobbit films, James had an idea. As he explained to Entertainment Weekly, he decided to create his own sprawling fantasy trilogy focusing on the vast range of African mythology and legends rather than the Nordic and Celtic legends that Tolkien drew his inspiration from.

The intricate plot to the series, called the Dark Star trilogy, is understandably being kept under wraps. But broadly, it will focus on a slave trader who hires a band of mercenaries to track down a boy that is believed to be kidnapped. The trilogy will span several years, and will be told in different perspectives. It won’t be until the final book that readers will learn the truth about what has happened to the boy.

And just like Frodo and Sam’s seemingly innocuous journey to destroy a piece of pernicious jewelry was punctuated by lore and fantastic creatures throughout Middle Earth, the Dark Star trilogy’s adventures will have amazing creatures and mythology for readers to discover. And since African mythology and legends haven’t been well represented in a lot of high fantasy, it will be a great change for readers who love fantasy and mythology to learn about an entirely new and fantastic facet of fantasy.

But attempting to write a fantasy epic with Tolkien as your inspiration is no small feat, and James certainly isn’t treating it as one. He’s been researching African legends, mythology, and lore for years, and while he isn’t creating his own unique language like Tolkien did with Elvish (yet, anyway, according to  The Guardian, he isn’t officially ruling it out), he’s been researching African languages to punctuate his story and will stuff his books with lengthy maps and appendices just like Tolkien did. We’ll keep you up to date about this series as we learn more about it in the near future.

Are you excited to read the Dark Star trilogy? What are some of your favorite, lesser-known legends and lore? Tell us your thoughts in the comments! 

Image credit: Penguin Random House

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