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Black Hills

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  2,036 Ratings  ·  343 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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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
Apr 21, 2015 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dansimmons
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
Jun 24, 2011 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Sep 06, 2011 Marvin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
May 23, 2010 Tropean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

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
Ben De Bono
Feb 23, 2010 Ben De Bono rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 06, 2010 Gef rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 01, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 30, 2010 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 03, 2010 bsc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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
Mar 14, 2012 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  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
John Boettcher
Jul 19, 2016 John Boettcher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After reading most of the works the Dan Simmons has read, I have come to believe that he can do no wrong.

I would read a grocery list if he published it.

Every time I grab another one of his books, there are always those little quips at the beginning from authors and newspapers and other publications touting the book, but I have little faith in them because how many authors just have their publishers pay for that thing to be done?

But all of Simmons's praise is deserved. All reviews by me on Sim
Carrie Fleharty
Feb 15, 2016 Carrie Fleharty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dan Simmons wrote a wonderful book about the history of the Black Hills, the struggle for Native Americans, Custer's last stand, and the building of Mount Rushmore. I know I enjoyed the book because of my travels to the Black Hills when I was six. I learned more about the building of the monument through the writing of Dan Simmons, and I explored his accounts and found them to be spot on correct. Dan Simmons writes an amazing story of Paha Sapa and uses the background of history to weave a belie ...more
Nov 03, 2011 Melanie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
P.A. Pursley
Aug 08, 2015 P.A. Pursley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-read
Dan Simmons shows his genius as a writer and researcher yet again in his 2010 novel "Black Hills." As told from the view point of Paha Sapa, a Lakota indian, who takes on the dying soul of General Custer, it journeys through the planning, sculpting, and lost funding of Mount Rushmore. Because it is told from the viewpoint of a Native American, it also goes into the history and take over of the plains indians in South Dakota. Dan Simmons has a way of writing that makes history come alive. It is c ...more
Judy Pancoast
Sep 07, 2015 Judy Pancoast rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dan Simmons wrote my all-time favorite book, "Summer of Night." So why has it taken me so long to get to this one? I don't know- because I wasted a lot of time reading lesser writers when I could have been enjoying the spectacular epic story of Paha Sapa, Lakota. To be honest, I was dumb. I let the genre label "historical fiction" keep me away. I'm not necessarily "into" historical fiction, nor do I particularly seek out stories of Native Americans, so I finally picked this up for only one reaso ...more
Jan 31, 2013 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Shawn Leslie 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
Jan 30, 2014 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed it and was patient with it in the beginning. But a gazillion pages later, I really needed the author to wrap it up already! I appreciated learning some of the historical facts but definitely think the story could have been told in half the effort. I also thought the ending was rather anti-climatic.
Donna Humble
Jun 01, 2014 Donna Humble rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 09, 2013 Jo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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...
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.
Jul 01, 2010 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The chapters with Custer....just awful!
Christopher Roberts
Parts of this book are brilliantly written. It also has a structure that is very complex and ambitious, which is something I loved about it. However, it never really gelled for me because of a number of flaws. The first thing that bothered me was that the book was often too on the nose in regards to how it approached the subject of Native American genocide. This is a problem with white writers in general when approaching racism as a subject. Having read one other Dan Simmons book, his character ...more
3.5 Stars

Black Hills was a very interesting listen. It follows Paha Sapa a 10 year-old Sioux boy as he rides through the aftermath of the battle of Little Big Horn, to his time working on the construction of Mt. Rushmore, to his last days. Now interesting doesn't necessarily mean good or bad, it was different. The first thing to note is the time line of the story. It begins when he is 10 then the next chapter he is in his late 60's, then he is a man in his 20's. It took a few chapters to figure
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Dan Simmons 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, journalism and art.

Dan received his Master
More about Dan Simmons...

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“PAHA SAPA PULLS HIS HAND BACK SHARPLY BUT NOT BEFORE HE feels the rattlesnake-strike shock of the dying Wasicun’s ghost leaping into his fingers and flowing up his arm and into his chest. The boy lurches back in horror as the ghost burns its way up through his veins and bones like so much surging venom.” 1 likes
“Then the young men, streaming blood on their painted chests and backs, would stand and begin their dancing and chanting, leaning back from or toward the sacred tree so that their bodies were often suspended totally by the rawhide and horn under their muscles. And always they stared at the sun as they danced and chanted. Sometimes they danced the full two days. More often, they would dance and leap until the pain caused them to fall unconscious or—if they were lucky and Wakan Tanka smiled on them—until the rawhide and horn ripped through their powerful chest or back muscles and freed them.” 1 likes
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