This book was released about a week and a half ago. I had intended to have it finished and the review posted before then, but as I stated elsewhere, family commitments and life have been getting in the way for the last six weeks or so.
The Leopard is K. V Johansen’s second novel Pyr has published. The first was Blackdog, which I’ve had since it was published. I hadn’t read it yet because of length; I can’t always work longer books into my schedule. That turned out to be a mistake. While I don’t think The Leopard is a direct sequel, a knowledge of the characters and events from Blackdog would have proven convenient in the second half of The Leopard.
I say convenient because characters from Blackdog don’t show up until The Leopard is well under way.
The story starts out with a young girl, who it turns out could become queen of a small kingdom, searching for an assassin known as the Leopard. The kingdom she was visiting was attacked by an ambassador and his entourage from the city of Marakand. Now the goddess of the kingdom has tasked the girl with finding the assassin and having him assassinate the Voice of the Lady of Marakand, the deity of that city. The only remaining deity. The others disappeared or were killed after an earthquake there some years back.
She finds him, and along with his companion (or caretaker, the relationship is never really clearly defined), they go to Marakand.
And that’s where things get interesting. Up until they get to the city, the story is a fairly standard, albeit better written, fantasy adventure. Once they are in the city, the number of viewpoint characters moves from three to many. And along the way, the three original viewpoint characters move offstage. They’re still around, at least to a degree, but other viewpoint characters take center stage.
The Leopard was definitely not your run of the mill fantasy. There’s a strong resemblance to Harold Lamb in its pages. The writing is rich and evocative. The only time it got on my nerves were when things were shown from the Lady’s point of view. Those sections were stream of consciousness, which I’m not a big fan of.
But the story held my interest for a period of two and a half weeks, with almost a week in the middle where I wasn’t able to read it. Johansen’s work should appeal to anyone who likes Lamb or historical tales about travelers in exotic locations. There’s a sequel coming, and I intend to read it. But I’m going to read Blackdog first.