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Black Hills

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  1,587 ratings  ·  289 reviews
'Black Hills' is an imaginative tale of alien cultures set on a collision course from an author who continues to build on his substantial fan-base to attain a wider readership.
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Quercus Books (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kemper
When will Dan Simmons come up with some original ideas? This latest is about a Lakota (Sioux) Indian named Paha Sapa (which means Black Hills) who has the psychic ability to read a person’s memories and get a glimpse of their future by touching them. After trying to count coup on a dying soldier at the Little Big Horn, he ends up with the spirit of George Custer inhabiting his consciousness. This puts Paha Sapa at odds with Crazy Horse, whose memories he also absorbs, and forces him to run away ...more
Robert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aaron
The beauty of Dan Simmons is how well he transcends genre. Not content to just be a science-fiction novelist, or a horror novelist, or a crime novelist, or a historical ficiton novelist, he does a bit of dabbling in all of those genres. And that's the thing: he doesn't just dabble. He kicks each genre square in the ass.

Simmons is such a damn fine writer that his work can be enjoyed as the beautiful works of art they are, regardless of the genre. In fact, the genre of each individual work is irr
...more
Sandi
I am so glad I listened to the audiobook of Black Hills instead of trying to read it. It's so dense and convoluted that I don't think I would have made it through the print version. Plus, it was pretty cool listening to the two readers. The one who narrates all of Paha Sapa's experiences sounds like a Lakota. He does a great job with all the Lakota words and phrases that would have just fouled me up royally if I had been trying to read it. The reader who does Custer's ghost sounds sufficiently 1 ...more
Marvin
Three and a half stars.

Black Hills is another intelligent marathon of a book by Dan Simmons. It's actually a bit shorter than his last two, The Terror and Drood, at 500+ pages. It is also not quite as good at his last two novels but still an entertaining and impressive read. In Black Hills, Ten year old Sioux Indian Paha Saba touches General Custer at Little Big horn at the time of Custer's death and causes the boy to be haunted by his spirit. The novel follows Paha Saba throughout his life culm
...more
Tropean

I'll still read everything Simmons writes, but this one was, for me, just OK. For the last few years I've marveled at Simmons' ability to write so much, so quickly, about such a range of topics. And yes, I understand that an author of Simmons' prominence will (may?) have a research assistant or two helping out. But at several times during Black Hills I was reminded of Mark Twain's apology to a friend that he wrote him a long letter "because he didn't have time to write a short one." There were p
...more
Karen
This book was a real disappointment. Dan Simmons wrote one of my most favorite books ever: The Terror. Black Hills, on the other hand, seemed to go on and on, delving into detail no matter how trivial and not in service of forwarding the plot. I liked some of the characters well enough, and truly enjoyed the descriptions of what it was like living in Plains Indians' society before most tribes were killed off or forced onto reservations. As others have commented in reviews of this book, many of t ...more
Ben De Bono
I have mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand, the subject matter really isn't something that interests me. If this hadn't been a Dan Simmons novel there's no way I would have picked this up. On the other hand, the writing is spectacular. The characterizations are great, the prose is poetic and the history is fascinating. Even though I didn't care for the overall subject matter, I was completely caught up in the story just because of how well written it is.

That pretty much sums up my thoug
...more
Bill
Stretching from the years just after the Civil War until the years just before World War II, this amazing novel ties together several historical events into the life story of a Lakota Indian who, quite unusually for his people, was named after a place, Paha Sapa, the sacred Black Hills. The story opens when, as a 10-year-old who has followed the warriors and older boys to the battlefield, Paha Sapa finds himself inhabited by the spirit of General George Armstrong Custer at the moment he counts c ...more
Tim
The main problem with "Black Hills" is that it's not as flat-out sensational as Dan Simmons' previous two novels, "The Terror" and "Drood." The secondary problem is Simmons' growing tendency to show off his research. The first gripe probably is a little unfair (three five-star novels in a row would be a lot to ask), the second quite legitimate but an ultimately minor complaint in another strong book from a man who clearly has become an American master.

"Black Hills" has nowhere near the the knife
...more
Ben
One of my favorite books by Dan Simmons. I love the mix of historical fiction and magical realism that he's been doing lately and this is maybe the best of the bunch. The historical subjects are probably what sets this one apart a bit from the others for me. I'm a bit of an American history buff so I really enjoyed reading about the Black Hills, the Lakota people, Custer, and Mount Rushmore.

Like the last few Simmons books, I wasn't crazy about the ending. However, as a big Neal Stephenson fan, I
...more
Gef
This sets the bar pretty high for the rest of the 2010 releases I read. It's also my first chance reading a Dan Simmons novel, and I think I'll be reading a lot more of his work in the years to come. This is a coming-of-age tale, with a love story, with a dash of the supernatural, and a kind of requiem for the Native American ancestry. I dare say anyone who reads this book will be contemplating it long after they've set it down.
Nick
Simmons has reduced, effectively, from his recent 'war-and-peace' length works (Drood, The Terror). It's a beautiful novel, almost a great-american-novel contender, blends some classical themes and moves from dystopia to utopia-image with a compelling image of what could be for America.
David
Very poor by Simmons' standards. I remember reading once that he likes to battle his editors to keep his books as close to his original vision as possible; this effort is proof that sometimes your editors know what they are talking about. There are far too many drawn out, ponderous passages that drain the will to continue reading out of you. Some of Simmons' writing here is very pompous indeed. The inclusion of Custer seems baffling, his only real part in the story was to add a 'Fifty Shades of ...more
Melanie
I stuck this out because of my interest in Native Americans and the settlement of the west, but was I rewarded for my perseverance? No! Apparently Dan Simmons has many loyal fans--I gleaned this from reading some of the Goodreads online reviews-- I will not be one of them. Regurgitated history combined with metaphysical speculation, cardboard cutout characters combined with an overly complicated plot-- how does this guy sell books? The highly imagined life of one Sioux, Paha Sapa ("Black Hills" ...more
Joshua Buhs
Maybe it's me.

I haven't found any good long novels in a while--and maybe that's a me problem. Maybe I just don't like them anymore, even though I loved Dan Simmons' Terror and Summer of Night when I read them. Maybe. But I think there's enough problems with this story that it's the book's problem, not mine.

In my experience, Simmons is an uneven writer. I still think of the Terror as one of my favorite stories. But I Carrion Comfort was an interesting novella stretched over 700 pages, A Winter's
...more
Morgan
Mar 14, 2012 Morgan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical drama, supernatural drama
Past, Present and Future collide during the construction of Mount Rushmore.

On the day that General Custer was killed, a young Indian boy named Paha Sapa was also on the battle field. Seeking to claim glory and be counted as one of the warriors of the tribe the young Paha Sapa, his name means “Black Hills”, places his hands on General Custer at the moment of his death. Unknown to Paha Sapa at the time is that he has a special gift that allows him to occasionally “absorb” the memories and experien
...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Simmons's previous novels The Terror (2007) and Drood (2009) meld historical figures and events to occult phenomena, and Black Hills follows a similar pattern. Here, Simmons fuses the triumph of American Western expansion and the marvels of early 20th-century science and engineering with Native American spirituality and mysticism. Simmons is a gifted storyteller whose meticulous research and evocative prose deftly transport readers to another time and place. However, the Christian Science Monito ...more
S.L. Dixon
A terrific, although bleak, story.
The character Paha Sapa was wonderful, his woe and strife maybe hope he blew it all to bits.
Custer was an awesome addition, the letters and memories with Libbie were a lot of fun. Bringing the ghosts out a bit, but never all the way kept the dynamic working.
The description of America of the past through the eyes of someone not marveling over the unstoppable machine called progress was a fresh view (for the period anyway... North America has come to hate progres
...more
Amy Brown
Interesting piece of historical fiction. I love anything about the Black Hills. It took me a long time to finish though. There was a lot going on.
Donna Humble
Once I got into the book and used to the flashbacks and flash forwards I enjoyed this book. An interesting look at Little Big Horn and Mount Rushmore. I did feel the ending was a bit too pat but, it was a good read.
Pierre-emmanuel
Bel ouvrage sur la disparition d'un monde, celui des indiens d'Amériques à la fin du XIXe et au début du XXe. Toujours très bien construit, on ne sait malheureusement pas vraiment où veut en venir l'auteur...
Sean
Hate to say this, but I was never really into the cult of Dan Simmons. I tried to get into Hyperion, but I think I was reading it during the worst possible time: during college with a heavy workload - and working 25 hours a week. Therefore, I just never was able to get pulled into the vast universe that Simmons painted. Plus, the dialogue was a bit stilted.

So, I wasn't too eager to read 'Black Hills.' Historical fiction is a very dicy gamble. Add the fact that it involves a non-Native American
...more
Sue
I am a huge fan of Dan Simmons! His books are always intriguing and NEVER formulaic, though he often combines elements of well-researched history and way-out-there fantasy -- a combination that ensures the reader can never quite guess what is going to happen, no matter how well she knows the history of a event.

This particular book combines the historical events of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the carving of Mount Rushmore with the fictional life of
...more
Stephen
If I told you that this was a novel about a young Lakota boy, who was present at the Battle of Little Big Horn, and who fell upon General Custer's body as he (Custer) died, taking Custer's soul into his own body and consciousness, and then didn't tell you anything further. You'd probably 1) think I was nuts, 2) think the novel was nuts, and 3) never pick this book up. But if I went on to tell you that this was a shockingly beautiful and sentimental novel that both praised and lamented the story ...more
Jo
I liked it, but it was just too long. I just wanted it to be over and done. a lot of people would have just given up, but I am stubborn and like to finish what I have started. the research was amazing but this book needed serious editing.
Leah Lucci
This book has some pretty interesting elements:
- a Native American boy who can see the past, the future, and absorb spirits
- a battle between the Natives and the whites
- a white soldier absorbed into a Native American boy's body upon death
- a Native American man (the boy grown up) attempting to blow up Mount Rushmore and/or kill the president

But alas, the book didn't survive the 50-Page Test. (After 50 pages, I wasn't compelled to continue). I have no idea how something with that bizarre a prem
...more
Rob
There were enough parts of this story that I truly enjoyed, enough to get me through to the end. However, I felt like I was slogging through huge chunks of it throughout -- for me, this book could have been half as long and I would have enjoyed it better - A little like "Moby Dick" syndrome, haha. Storyline is interesting, the historical detail is also pretty interesting, following the main character's life as the timeline jumps around. Overall my poor little eyes glazed over during some of the ...more
Amy
The chapters with Custer....just awful!
Jesse Whitehead
Paha Sapa, a name that literally means Black Hills in his native Lakota sneaks off to count coup as a small boy during the battle of Little Bighorn. He inadvertently touches the dying Custer and absorbs part of his ghost. Over the next decades he witnesses the destruction of his people, and participates in Wild Bill’s Wild West Show, helps build the Brooklyn Bridge and works as a powder man on Mount Rushmore under the ever watchful eye of Gutzon Borglum.

The story and the prose are excellent as a
...more
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Dan Simmons was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1948, and grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional "Elm Haven" in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, ...more
More about Dan Simmons...
Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #1) The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #2) The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #4) Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #3) The Terror

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