Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Shaman” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.69  ·  Rating details ·  3,516 ratings  ·  560 reviews
Kim Stanley Robinson, the New York Times bestselling author of science fiction masterworks such as the Mars trilogy and 2312, has, on many occasions, imagined our future. Now, in SHAMAN, he brings our past to life as never before.

There is Thorn, a shaman himself. He lives to pass down his wisdom and his stories -- to teach those who would follow in his footsteps.

There is H
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published September 3rd 2013 by Orbit
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Shaman, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
DiscoSpacePanther From the descriptions of the cave paintings in the book, it looks as if Robinson took strong inspiration from Chauvet Cave in the Ardeche in France.

From the descriptions of the cave paintings in the book, it looks as if Robinson took strong inspiration from Chauvet Cave in the Ardeche in France.


Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,516 ratings  ·  560 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Shaman
This book was 10% story and 90% daily life of the ice age man.

Of that 90%, half of it is references to and descriptions of sex and sex organs - and it doesn't seem to have a point. I can understand trying to tell a story and make it is realistic as possible (in this case I would assume a lot of guess work based on research), and in doing so, adding some everyday personality to it so it is not too dry. But for this author, sex seemed to be number one "personality" additive. (example: there are a
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
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
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-shelf, sci-fi
I should make a disclaimer here. I hesitate to call this SF except in a single case: Kim Stanley Robinson has created a world, built it out of the kind of science we know, featuring old humans during the ice age and extrapolating from there.

It's not really SF or F, but it shares a lot of the features. Most interestingly, it feels like a lot of the low-magic fantasy novels that have come out recently. Modern feel. And of course, it reminds us of Clan of the Cave Bear. But it's much more fascinati
B Schrodinger
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, historical
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
Ryan Vaughan
Oct 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-group
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
Mar 05, 2015 rated it liked it
An interesting work of speculative fiction that depicts the day to day survival in the Ice age. The novel starts with the right of passage of a young Shaman in training, Loon, who is stripped naked and has to survive a fortnight alone. As we follow Loon's journey to becoming a Shaman, the world comes alive to us through his changing perspective. Most of the story is narrated through the perspective of the main character Loon, but it shifts once a while to other perspectives like that of the wind ...more
Fantasy Literature
Oct 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Loring Wirbel
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Those familiar with Robinson's expansive epics like 2312 or The Years of Rice and Salt, may find it tough to approach a book in which the author has deliberately aimed for minimalism. Once he decided to write a story about the Paleolithic Ice Age, Robinson could have taken the easy way out by aiming for an imaginary genealogical epic of various tribes, something like a modern Clan of the Cave Bear. But Robinson gives us a more personalized story, the description of what it may have felt like to ...more
Jon Stout
Oct 06, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jun 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
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
Sep 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: e-books, read-2013
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
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Scot Parker
My impression after reading this was that Robinson really wanted to write up a description of life in the paleolithic and decided to couch it in a bit of a story for publishability; the result is mostly description, not much story. It wasn't bad, it was fairly interesting, but I'd have preferred a bit more of a story. ...more
Jan 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2014
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
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it

Again, linear and simple doesn't mean bereft of content. There are insights about the nature of time, the importance of mothers & women, the verbal nature of peace. Shaman is a Bildungsroman that's just as much a story about discovering a world that doesn't exist anymore, as it is about discovering our present-day selves.

It's apt that Loon, the main character, starts the story naked, alone and without any tools. That first part not only shows the brutal nature of the conditions then, and th
I’m really in two minds about this book. It’s obvious that the writing is skilled, in a technical sense. Indeed, it’s difficult to find fault with it. But I felt it was lacking from a story-telling point of view.

First thing’s first, there were some minor irritations that just rubbed be up the wrong way through the whole book. The main character’s name being Loon confused me immediately and wasn’t explained until well into the book. It seemed like a really unlikable name for a character, and I ha
Johan Haneveld
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
9 Kim Stanley Robinson is one of my favourite authors, so I bought this book pretty soon after it was published. Still, I waited up till now to read it. Maybe because it isn't science fiction? But I'm glad I dove into it now. And of course it's science fiction in a way: Robinson uses up to date science about our origins and what life must have been like 35.000 years ago. He combines that with a great sense of the landscape and the environment and how harsh survival in it can sometimes be. Then h ...more
Ian Miller
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
May 22, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy, 2017
KSR is one of the most consistently brilliant SF writers at work today, from his Mars trilogy to Galileo’s Dream, Antarctica, and 2312. However, I found Shaman to be a bit of a misstep: it is a short-story idea swaddled in the many, many pages of an epic novel. Big novels demand scope and expansion; not introspection and a relentless magnification of the quotidian. This simply beats the life out of the narrative, and turns reading it into as great a test of survival as faced by the titular Loon. ...more
Ibrahim Z
Sep 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013
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
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I simply love this book. The story is beautifully imagined and the style of the writing is perfect for the tale being told. I particularly enjoyed the structure of the novel, which is rather like a series of set pieces. Two of these are: the sustained narrative involving the abduction by the northers of Loon and Elga and the resulting action including Thorn and Click; then there is Loon's odyssey in the great cave and the author's spellbinding, breathtaking description of Loon creating his paint ...more
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
An engaging vision of what life may have been like for humans in Europe about 30,000 years ago. I liked all the main characters (Loon, Elga, Thorn, and Heather), although the plot didn't always move very fast (not uncommon for Robinson!) I wonder why it had to be Europe - maybe because some of the more famous cave paintings are there, and of course for Neanderthals. Right after I finished, I looked at some images of cave paintings (especially Chauvet in France). My favorite is an outline of a hu ...more
Angie Lisle
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Aug 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Tiz. T.
So I found this book. And thought "Great! I love pre-history books!". I happily buyed it and started reading it.

The book itself was quite boring but ok. Rather meh in a lot of part but ok.

Until the protagonist ₡_₡ kills a doe.

And then he says he is very in love with her ¤_¤

The doe he killed. ¤_¤
And he dreams of having sex with the doe ¤_¤


DNF. Sorry I am not into bestiality. Even dream bestiality.
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Apr 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
The story is interesting, and has some moments that are gripping. But it's also tedious and over-long. Ultimately it's a coming-of-age story with the whole prehistoric-humans conceit. And while it captures nicely a sense of what that may have been like, I had a hard time feeling swept up in it.

See also:
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
the Third Wind (spoilers allowed) 3 32 Dec 21, 2014 06:56PM  
genre (spoilers allowed) 1 10 Jan 25, 2014 08:39AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art
  • He, She and It
  • The Leper's Bell (Sister Fidelma, #14)
  • Badger's Moon (Sister Fidelma, #13)
  • Immortality, Inc.
  • Great Classic Science Fiction
  • Smoke in the Wind (Sister Fidelma, #11)
  • The Dove of Death (Sister Fidelma, #20)
  • The Sister Fidelma 20th Anniversary Collection
  • The Haunted Abbot (Sister Fidelma, #12)
  • Dancing With Demons (Sister Fidelma, #18)
  • Act of Mercy (Sister Fidelma, #8)
  • Our Lady Of Darkness (Sister Fidelma, #10)
  • The Globe (The Science of Discworld, #2)
  • Darwin's Watch (The Science of Discworld, #3)
  • The Monk Who Vanished (Sister Fidelma, #7)
  • The Subtle Serpent (Sister Fidelma, #4)
  • The Council of the Cursed (Sister Fidelma, #19)
See similar books…
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

Articles featuring this book

Cast naked into the wilds of the Paleolithic Ice Age, a young apprentice braves the elements in Shaman, a prehistorical novel by the science...
64 likes · 17 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“You can only kill disappointment with a new try.” 10 likes
“There are no secrets, there is no mystery. We make that all up. In fact, it's all right there in front of us. You have to have enough food to get through winter and spring. That's what it all comes down to. You have to live in a way that will gather enough food each fall to get through winter.” 5 likes
More quotes…