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Moon Witch, Spider King
Cover of Moon Witch, Spider King
Moon Witch, Spider King
Dark Star Trilogy, Book 2
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“Masterfully flips the first installment on its head... James makes the mythic tantalizingly real.’” —Esquire
 
"Even more brilliant than the first.” —Buzzfeed
An Instant New York Times Bestseller

 
From Marlon James, author of the bestselling National Book Award finalist Black Leopard, Red Wolf, the second book in the Dark Star trilogy.
In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Sogolon the Moon Witch proved a worthy adversary to Tracker as they clashed across a mythical African landscape in search of a mysterious boy who disappeared. In Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon takes center stage and gives her own account of what happened to the boy, and how she plotted and fought, triumphed and failed as she looked for him. It’s also the story of a century-long feud—seen through the eyes of a 177-year-old witch—that Sogolon had with the Aesi, chancellor to the king. It is said that Aesi works so closely with the king that together they are like the eight limbs of one spider. Aesi’s power is considerable—and deadly. It takes brains and courage to challenge him, which Sogolon does for reasons of her own.
Both a brilliant narrative device—seeing the story told in Black Leopard, Red Wolf from the perspective of an adversary and a woman—as well as a fascinating battle between different versions of empire, Moon Witch, Spider King delves into Sogolon’s world as she fights to tell her own story. Part adventure tale, part chronicle of an indomitable woman who bows to no man, it is a fascinating novel that explores power, personality, and the places where they overlap.
“Masterfully flips the first installment on its head... James makes the mythic tantalizingly real.’” —Esquire
 
"Even more brilliant than the first.” —Buzzfeed
An Instant New York Times Bestseller

 
From Marlon James, author of the bestselling National Book Award finalist Black Leopard, Red Wolf, the second book in the Dark Star trilogy.
In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Sogolon the Moon Witch proved a worthy adversary to Tracker as they clashed across a mythical African landscape in search of a mysterious boy who disappeared. In Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon takes center stage and gives her own account of what happened to the boy, and how she plotted and fought, triumphed and failed as she looked for him. It’s also the story of a century-long feud—seen through the eyes of a 177-year-old witch—that Sogolon had with the Aesi, chancellor to the king. It is said that Aesi works so closely with the king that together they are like the eight limbs of one spider. Aesi’s power is considerable—and deadly. It takes brains and courage to challenge him, which Sogolon does for reasons of her own.
Both a brilliant narrative device—seeing the story told in Black Leopard, Red Wolf from the perspective of an adversary and a woman—as well as a fascinating battle between different versions of empire, Moon Witch, Spider King delves into Sogolon’s world as she fights to tell her own story. Part adventure tale, part chronicle of an indomitable woman who bows to no man, it is a fascinating novel that explores power, personality, and the places where they overlap.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover

    One

    One night I was in the dream jungle. It was not a dream, but a memory that jump up in my sleep to usurp it. And in the dream memory is a girl. See the girl. The girl who live in the old termite hill. Her brothers three, who live in a big hut, say that the hill look like the rotting heart of a giant turn upside down, but she don't know what any of that mean. The girl, she is pressing her lips tight in the hill's hollow belly, the walls a red mud and rough to the touch. No window unless you call a hole a window and, if so, then many windows, popping all over and making light cut across her body up, down, and crossway, making heat sneak in and stay, and making wind snake around the hollow. Termites long ago leave it, this hill. A place nobody would keep a dog, but look how this is where they keep her.

    Two legs getting longer but still two sticks, head getting bigger but chest still as flat as earth, she may be right at the age before her body set loose, but nobody bother to count her years. Yet they mark it every summer, mark it with rage and grief. They, her brothers. That is how they mark her birth, oh. At that time of year they feel malcontent come as a cloud upon them, for which she is to blame. So, she is pressing her lips together because that is a firm thing, her lips as tight as the knuckles she squeezing. Resolve set in her face to match her mind. There. Decided. She is going to flee, crawl out of this hole and run and never stop running. And if toe fall off, she will run on heel, and if heel fall off, she will run on knee, and if knee fall off, she will crawl. Like a baby going back to her mother, maybe. Her dead mother who don't live long enough to name her.

    With the small light coming and going through the entry holes, she can count days. With the smell of cow shit, she can tell that one brother is tilling the ground to plant new crops, which can only mean that it is either Arb or Gidada, the ninth or tenth day of the Camsa moon. With one more look around, she see the large leaf on which they dump a slop of porridge last evening, one of only two times every quartermoon that they feed her. When they remember. Most of the time they just let her starve, and if they finally remember, late in the night, they say it's too late anyway, let some spirit feed her in dreams.

    See the girl. Watch the girl as she hear. It is through her brothers yelling about when to plant millet, and when to rest the ground, that she learn season from season. Days of rain and days of dry tell her the rest. Otherwise, they just drag her out of the termite hill by rope bound to the shackle they keep around her neck, tie her to a branch and drag her through the field, yelling at her to plow the cow shit, goat shit, pig shit, and deer shit with her hands. Dig into the dirt with your hands and mix the shit deep so that your own food, which you don't deserve, can grow. The girl is born with penance on her back. And to her three brothers she will never pay it in full.

    Watch the boys. Her brothers, the older two laughing at the youngest one screaming. Boys like they were born, wearing nothing but yellow, red, and blue straw pads on their elbows and shins, and tiny straw shields over their knuckles. The older two both wear helmets that look like straw cages over their heads. Helmets in yellow and green. The girl crawl out of her oven to watch them. Her oldest brother spin a stick as tall as a house. He swirl and twirl and jump like he is dancing. But then he rolls, jumps up, and swing the stick straight for middle brother's neck. Middle brother scream.

    "Whorechild!"

    "We from the same mother," oldest brother say, and laugh. He turn away for a blink but still...

About the Author-
  • Marlon James is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and A Brief History of Seven Killings, which won the 2015 Man Booker Prize, as well as the novels The Book of Night Women and John Crow’s Devil. A professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, he lives in New York City.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 10, 2022
    Sogolon, the antagonist of Black Leopard, Red Wolf, tells her side of the story in Booker Prize winner James’s brilliant second Dark Star fantasy, which chronicles Sogolon’s life from childhood through to the search for the lost boy at the center of the first book. Furtive Sogolon, the Moon Witch, manages to live far longer than most expect for a girl of “little use” with no family ties. She witnesses mad kings rise and fall and women suffer at their hands, all while the Aesi, or the king’s chancellor, remains a constant at the right side of the throne. Sogolon becomes a living record of all the kingdom has been through—and to the Aesi, this makes her a threat. Now each works against the other as they try to find the lost boy for their own purposes. If book one centers on the nature of storytelling, this volume turns its focus to memory, archiving, and history as Sogolon works to correct the record. The two stories run parallel to and contradict each other, and James mines the distance between them to raise powerful questions about whether truth is possible when the power of storytelling is available only to a few. This is a tour de force. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media.

  • AudioFile Magazine Bahni Turpin shows extraordinary range in her expert narration of this sprawling fantasy, the second installment of the Dark Star Trilogy. In MOON WITCH, SPIDER KING, listeners are treated to the fascinating and tumultuous 177-year life story of the witch Sogolon--from her painful childhood to her rise to extraordinary power. Turpin smoothly navigates this complicated story, enlivening the unique rhythm of James's prose. She embodies Sogolon completely, collapsing the distance between narrator and character. But that's only the beginning--she also gives life to dozens of other characters, reinventing her voice for each one. She perfects high-pitched whines and deep-throated growls, dozens of accents, voices melodic and rough. Her stunning narration will keep listeners riveted through every minute of this epic fantasy. L.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2022, Portland, Maine
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Dark Star Trilogy, Book 2
Marlon James
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