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Shaman

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  1,077 ratings  ·  272 reviews
A new epic set in the Paleolithic era from New York Times bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson.

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Mars trilogy and 2312 comes a powerful, thrilling and heart-breaking story of one young man's journey into adulthood -- and an awe-inspiring vision of how we lived thirty thousand years ago.
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published September 3rd 2013 by Orbit (first published January 1st 2013)
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zxvasdf
Kim Stanley Robinson, the master of survival stories, has extrapolated a riveting account of paleolithic life. Shaman is about a tribe seen through the eyes of the fledgling shaman Loon.

The first thing that strikes you a couple of pages in is that survival is hard. If you had to do what they had to do to survive, you'd probably die. We live in a world filled with provisions created by generations past, fueled by knowledge of long-suffering centuries. So these early people, they were left to thei...more
Brendon Schrodinger
Kim Stanley Robinson's new novel may seem like a change from his past works, but in a way it fits in well with his other works. Instead of spaceships we get the end of the last ice age. And although you may think that this is a huge change in what Kim usually writes, we do get a story about humans surviving and adapting through innovation and investigation, just like all of his stories. 'Galileo's Dream' may have seemed like Kim was talking about the beginnings of science, but with 'Shaman' he s...more
Sarah (Workaday Reads)
This was an intriguing story, but it was long. Not just in length (over 400 pages), but also in feel. The story spans several years, so some length is expected, I found it to take a while to read.

As soon as I started reading the story, I was struck by how much it reminded me of The Clan of the Cave Bear. It too is set in the past and features a main character who is mostly raised by an elder pair from the tribe. There are many differences between the two stories, but it’s the similarities that s...more
Kelly
Shaman is the story of Loon, a young man who comes of age thirty-two thousand years ago, in the paleolithic era. At the beginning of the book, he is stripped naked, pushed out into the rain and told not to come back for two weeks. He is on his shaman wander. Staying alive is his most immediate goal. Returning in style seems equally important. After several mishaps, Loon manages both feats—thankfully, as it would be a rather short book if he died in the first chapter.

Loon is not entirely sure he...more
Robert
After two bull's eyes in a row (Galileo and 2113) Shaman isn't exactly a miss but it is off centre. It's a deceptively long book, being a not alarming 456p until you notice the size of the print and realise you should add about 200p to get a fair comparison with your run-of-the-mill thriller paperback. Some of the problems relate to this length, one way or another. The most fundamental being that there is no plot worth mentioning for the entire first half of the book, making it fairly slow going...more
Paul Cheney
Having made his mark in science fiction Robinson is now writing historical fiction. I have read Galileo's Dream before, which i really enjoyed, so was looking forward to this one.

This story is set in Palaeolithic times, when the glaciers set the northern boundary and is centred around a character called Loon, a 12 year old, learning to be a Shaman, and his small tribe of twenty of so people. At the very beginning he is set off on his 'wander' where he is released naked and has to rely on his tra...more
Fantasy Literature
I tell you, once upon a time kids had to walk to school barefoot. And not just barefoot, but naked. In snow and rain. Uphill. And they had to not get eaten by wolves. And be chased by Neanderthals. And eat shrooms. Or at least, they did if their school was learning how to be a shaman. And if they lived back about 30, 000 years ago. And their name was Loon, the protagonist of Kim Stanley Robinson’s wonderfully detailed Shaman.

That naked walkabout occurs at the start of Shaman and it’s a fantastic...more
Jon Stout
Oct 06, 2013 Jon Stout rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anthropologists and adventurers
Shelves: scifi
The Ice Age people that Kim Stanley Robinson describes from 30,000 years ago have as much common sense and wonder as any modern adventurer. While the narrative of this Ice Age novel seems calmer and less mind-boggling than Robinson’s other novels, it portrays the humans as acting essentially the same as his future explorers of Mars, loving an adventure and seeking the meaning of it all.

There are no science fiction gimmicks, except for the use of the Chauvet Pont d’Arc Cave in France, a real cave...more
Jason
3.5 Stars


Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson is an incredibly rich and rewarding reading experience about growing up during the ice age that moves along at a glacial pace. This book centers on growing up during a time where nature ruled our world. Survival is a daily struggle and everyone and everything eats one another.

Loon is an interesting protagonist that I enjoyed more during the first parts of the book than the latter. This is historical fiction at its best. If that is your cup of tea then you...more
Angie Lisle
I hated the first half of this book. Slowly introduced characters dispersed with a lot of detail about Stone Age life made this story plod along. Once I finished the book, I saw the intent of the analogy but it was hard to stay with the story to get to that point. The details are kind of cool but I wish they were better dispersed through the plot.

The lovely passages about women, and how men should treat women, kept me going through the first half of the book. I wish these ideas (for example: th...more
Burgoo
If I were to try to create some kind of thematic key to the many books of Kim Stanley Robinson, nature would be high on the list. He’s always been fascinated with the natural world, whether it is the artificial landscape of an orbiting habitat, the wonders of other planets in our solar system, or the Earth itself. Shaman gives him a chance to explore the wonders of prehistoric Earth.

The plot itself is slight. Shaman is a coming of age story for Loon, a shaman’s apprentice during the Ice Age. But...more
Sean
It's a coming of age story about a young shaman's apprentice set in Europe during the ice age...the author does a very good job of making believable and sympathetic characters, and all the little details about everyday life in prehistory makes it feel real. The pacing was a little uneven (hey, another chapter all about walking!), but overall I really enjoyed it. Fans of "Clan of the Cave Bear" should eat this up.
David
Jul 13, 2014 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bart Everson
Recommended to David by: My Dad
This was a great beach read. It follows a boy through initiation as a shaman and growing into an adult 10000 years ago. I feel like KSR's weakest work here is some modern thinking where a more creative approach seems possible. For instance- people thinking in terms of months (and not moons) and reconciling months to years. I feel that during this time people probably rightly thought of the moon's (and women's) cycles as a separate, independent flow of time untied to the sun and seasons.

Also gene...more
Ryan Vaughan
I was torn on this one. The world in which this book is set is meticulously built and by the end the reader feels as though he has really gotten to know it. I especially liked the elements of comparative mythology that are woven throughout the book. Loon's tribe has it's own flood myth. There is even a story that resembles the Greek myth of the Minotaur. So why the one star review then?

Because the things that this book gets right are also ultimately the things that work against it. The meticulou...more
Alex
This is a wonderful story about humankind. I think the writing transcends the details. In many ways it seems more difficult to project the sense of community and human emotions to stories of the past than to speculate on the future. For me there was inconsistency in vocabulary and expressions. Where did "mama Mia" come from? Some animal names seem made up and others not. Why are certain animals unnamable and what are they? Where is this location? I would have liked a map but maybe that's the poi...more
Ian Miller
This book is a sort of docudrama of life in the upper Palaeolithic, say about 30,000 years ago. The characters are named after animals, or plants, or, in the case of the old shaman (Thorn) parts of plants. This gave me one disconcerting moment, where we have Cat up a tree watching. Sinister? Well, no. It is actually a cat thinking human thoughts.

The story starts with the young Loon going on a wander. This involves leaving the tribe with nothing (including clothes) and having to survive for a fo...more
Ibrahim Z
I really wanted to like this - Kim Stanley Robinson is one of my favorite authors. If anyone other than him had written it, I'm not sure I would have finished.

I'll admit the prose is beautiful at times, but there's really not much to this book. It's as if KSR forgot he read Clan of the Cave Bear and rewrote it from the perspective of a horny teenager. The constant fantasizing about women would annoyed me even if the book contained a real plot or message. The only interesting seeming passages wer...more
Rob
...I had high expectations of this book and Robinson's met them. How often doen that happen? In a way Shaman is very different from the books that Robinson has written until now. It lacks his passion for the process of science for instance. On the other hand, there are lots of thematic links to his other works. It may not be the solar system spanning science fiction of his more popular books, I still thinks that even fans of his work that don't usually venture outside the genre will appreciate t...more
Penny
This is the best thing KSR has done in years. Ultimately, it s a simple coming of age tale, set in Neolithic times. The story transcends the setting, at least compared anything else I've read set in that period. I found it lyrical and gently flowing, and the characters very believable as regular people. The story speaks for itself: there is no need to prove to the world that the characters invented great things, or came up with great social concepts.
Amy Irish
Well written, interesting, and on a subject I like. But coming from the boy's POV I just had a hard time connecting. Probably because the writing is so true to what a teen boy is really like -- my hats off to the author.
Zach
Shaman is a serious examination of what life was like for our distant ancestors of around 30,000 years ago, living in small, semi-nomadic groups and getting most of their calories from hunting migratory game. Robinson approaches the subject with the same rigor he brings to his science fiction work, and this short novel has all the depth of character found in his other novels. I didn't much care for The Years of Rice and Salt, which is Robinson's other foray into historical speculative fiction, b...more
Maggie Anton
I couldn't help but compare this book to Jean Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear series, and I expect other readers will too. It's clear that the two authors must have consulted the same research, because the world and peoples they describe are so similar. But the similarity ends. Robinson writes from various POV's, including a an incredible scene told from the POV of a cat. All the other scenes were third-person from the hero's POV and suddenly we're in the cat's head. It was amazing writing.

Thin...more
Crystal
I've only read three other prehistoric fiction books before, but I recently found out there's a whole trove of prehistoric fiction for me to read.

This book in particular reads a lot more like a survival story. In other words, if you really hated those sections of Lord of the Rings that are all about Sam and Frodo surviving on rabbits and fish during their quest, well - this book is really not for you. However, I enjoyed this book fairly well. It looks like Robinson did a lot of research, and thi...more
Lachinchon
An average rating for an average book. It starts strong with the "wander" of its protagonist, a late (Upper) paleolithic adolescent boy named Loon, a right of passage in which the young man must spend a fortnight in the wilderness, literally naked and alone. Upon his return to his clan, the book drops into neutral and never changes gear. I would compare it to driving across Nebraska with cruise control set five miles below the speed limit. Everything is conveyed too dispassionately. The only cha...more
Robert
A definite historical fiction read with a setting of some 20,000 years ago. A young man is apprenticed to the Wolf Clans Shaman and from page one the reader is taken upon this young mans journey as he becomes Shaman for the Wolf Clan. So we have the apprentice Loon and some other central characters as we journey along. There is Thorn, a crusty old bastard that is the Clans current Shaman that is tasked with the teaching of Loon. Heather is something akin to the Clans Witch, one well versed in va...more
Timothy Pecoraro
There is plenty to love about Shaman, especially the details that only people who have studied Neolithic or native cultures would catch. The characters are well drawn and have their motivations laid out for the reader to explore. I loved all of the crossroads of the real and unreal. The supernatural realism almost drips from some of the pages of this book. My usual opinion of the author is that his books are too long. On this, Shaman does not stray. Not that I would be the first in line to cut s...more
Dan
For a long time I've been hoping to find a good piece of scholarship dealing with the peoples of the ice age, specifically the people who painted the caves in France and modern-day Europe. I know that there isn't all that much to go on, however, I assumed there would be at least a few people in this field of archaeology, anthropology, and sociology who could at least offer some solid, historical, factual knowledge on what these people were like, how they lived and survived, what they might have...more
Paranormal Haven
Thirty thousand years ago, during an ice age lives Loon and his tribe. Loon is the apprentice to the shaman, Thorn. Loon doesn’t actually want to be a shaman, or at least not take on all of the responsibilities. He finds his own his coming age, falls in love, learns how to care, be cared for, and how to become a shaman.

Shaman starts with Loon going on his Wander, a ritual where he is placed in the forest naked, and must survive to come home after a set amount of time. The book opens with lush d...more
Matt
There are no dragons in Kim Stanley Robinson's ice age novel Shaman. There are no elves, no spaceships, no magic. Rather, Robinson achieves the fantastic by showing the reader that's what old is fresh, and what's new is timeless. The magic of Shaman is found in humanity's quest for continuity and meaning.

Shaman is set during the ice age, and its premise is simple: a boy, Loon, is apprenticed to his tribe's shaman, Thorn. Loon reluctantly pursues the shaman's path and grows into a man. There are...more
Sharonewoods
Life 32,000 years ago...when Neanderthals were still around, the glaciers stood a mile high to the north and writing, agriculture, and even the religions we call the most ancient did not exist. This book is Kim Stanley Robinson's imagination of what that was like. Based on the paintings in the Chauvet Cave in France (discovered in the 1990's and believed to be anywhere from 29,000 to 32,000 years old), this novel introduces us to a set of characters who drew those paintings. This book isn't for...more
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1858
Kim Stanley Robinson is an American science fiction writer, probably best known for his award-winning Mars trilogy.

His work delves into ecological and sociological themes regularly, and many of his novels appear to be the direct result of his own scientific fascinations, such as the 15 years of research and lifelong fascination with Mars which culminated in his most famous work. He has, due to his...more
More about Kim Stanley Robinson...
Red Mars (Mars Trilogy, #1) Green Mars (Mars Trilogy, #2) Blue Mars (Mars Trilogy, #3) The Years of Rice and Salt 2312

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