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Black Hills

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  2,548 ratings  ·  393 reviews
When Paha Sapa, a young Sioux warrior, "counts coup" on General George Armstrong Custer as Custer lies dying on the battlefield at the Little Bighorn, the legendary general's ghost enters him - and his voice will speak to him for the rest of his event-filled life.

Seamlessly weaving together the stories of Paha Sapa, Custer, and the American West, Dan Simmons depicts a
Hardcover, 487 pages
Published February 24th 2010 by Reagan Arthur Books (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,548 ratings  ·  393 reviews

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Feb 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved the premise of BLACK HILLS, and Simmons delivers an absolutely brilliant story. Meticulous historical research, coupled with wonder and Native American magic make this novel a superb read. Highly recommended.
Edward Lorn
Dec 02, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF due to absurd sex letters and boring bullshit. Easily one of Simmons's worst. Which is sad because the book isn't terrible all the time. But when it is terrible, holy shit, it's almost unreadable.
11811 (Eleven)
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure why I finished listening to this but every time I thought I was at a dead end it would turn back onto Fascination Street. (Maybe not the same street The Cure sang about. That would require further tiresome research.)

I love Simmons but, like his genres, my ratings are all over the place. This gets somewhere between one and five stars. At half the length of masterpieces like The Terror and The Abominable, it felt twice as long.

He could have shaved a hundred pages by sticking with
Feb 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
May 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's been almost a full year since I've read my first Simmons novel, Summer of Night. Black Hills will mark my seventh Simmons read. Contrary to popular opinion, this one ranks as one of my favorites by him.

I can easily see why people would think that this is boring, and for a number of reasons. Folks may not have much interest in Native American culture. Or can get bored with historical fiction when they want that SCI-FI fix. I can also say that there was not a whole lot suspense. But for me,
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 ...more
Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
16/12 - I can't remember ever being quite so relieved to have finally finished a book. Usually bad books get to be quite fun to read because I can post hilarious status updates showcasing the horrendous editing, writing, dialogue, etc., but Black Hills didn't have most of that, it was just really, REALLY boring and slow. I hated about 97% of the minutes I spent reading this - skimmed from somewhere in the 200s, skipped Custer's sex scene reminiscences (grossest and most awkward I've read in a ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: ghost-fiction
As usual his need to show off his research is in abundance, but here it stifles the story rather than revealing motivation, and chunks of exposition appear just when things were getting interesting. Still, he's a magical writer when he lets his imagination soar, and parts of this, in particular the sections dealing with the protagonist's spiritual quests really soar.

It's not in the same upper bracket as The Terror or Carrion Comfort, not as gripping as Drood, and hasn't got the thrills of The
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 07, 2010 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
May 22, 2010 rated it it was ok

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
Joshua Buhs
Aug 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Judy Pancoast
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Ben De Bono
Feb 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it
This isn't the best of Simmons.There were moments of literary brilliance here and then there were parts that were so boring I wanted to rip my eyes out.This is very uneven work,pace is slow and some parts are nothing more than Dan Simmons showing of how well he did his historical research.But Paha Sapa is splendid character.Following his life journey is what made me stick with BLACK HILLS,even when I wanted to throw this book as far as I could and then pick it up an throw it again.Frustrating ...more
John Boettcher
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 17, 2011 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
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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,
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.
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Greg McClay
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it

This is a Forrest Gump type of fantasy-history where history happens normally but its told through the eyes of a single person and with fantasy/horror elements thrown in but no impact on actual events, unless you want to interpret them that way. So I guess it comes down to whether you enjoy the time period and the players. The time covers 60-70 years so there's lots of interesting tidbits. Black Hills is an interesting character though a bit stoic. Quite a few others breeze in and out through
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
May 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
P.A. Pursley
Jul 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Awful. Just awful. The only reason it gets two stars is because I only give one star to books I couldn't finish, and I managed to finish this one. Although, to be fair, I spent the last 150-200 pages hate reading it (and I meant vehement, burning, fire shooting out of my eyes hate reading).

I have paired my issues with the book with which drug I think the author was on that is responsible.

The Meandering Plot (Weed)
-“Ok, so this young Native American is inhabited by the ghost of George Custer,
Lou Repetto-conry
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
couldn't get into it...
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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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
“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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