Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 329

There are five main themes that run through the 2019 novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon Jones.

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The first and most important theme is truth. Throughout Tracker's quest, he repeatedly questions which of the other characters are telling him the truth. A subtheme to this first one is secrets. All of the characters are keeping secrets about themselves. The main secret is centered around the mysterious boy whom Tracker is hunting. Questioning the truth is a large part of Tracker's development in the story.

The second theme is ambition. Several members of Tracker's team, as well as some tertiary characters, are concerned with ambition. The exploration of the desire for power is strong in this novel.

The third theme is twofold: duty and honor are both a big part of Tracker's identity and are some of the reasons he continues the quest for the missing boy.

The fourth theme is politics. Through the story, tensions are building between multiple tribes in both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. Tracker witnesses many of these tensions over his time looking for the boy. This theme ties into the fifth and last theme of Black Leopard, Red Wolf.

The final main theme is Machiavellianism. Niccolò Machiavelli was a fifteenth-century Italian politician whose famous book The Prince has become the inspiration for many politicians and monarchs over time. Machiavellianism focuses on two ideas: that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and that those in power should attain and keep their power through any means necessary. The concept that the ends justify the means is a controversial, but effective, political strategy explored in many novels.

A bonus theme to Black Leopard, Red Wolf is fantasy. Its author, Marlon Jones, has expressed his desire as a reader to see more books explore fantasy outside of the mindset and constrains of Western society. With this book, Jones has attempted to write a fantasy novel with elements of nonwestern culture, people, and traditions.

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