Shaman: A novel of the Ice Age

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Robinson himself has been a proud defender and advocate of science fiction as a genre, which he regards as one of the most powerful of all literary forms. Help Centre. My Wishlist Sign In Join. Be the first to write a review. Add to Wishlist. Ships in 7 to 10 business days. Link Either by signing into your account or linking your membership details before your order is placed. Description Product Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! Industry Reviews Vivid and beautiful.

Astonishing - Guardian An amazing piece of recreation, vividly evoking the deprivations, animalistic beliefs and day-to-day struggles of a primitive tribe - Financial Times Low-tech lives and Ice Age conditions are all superbly evoked - Daily Mail Robinson's prose is rich and detailed. About the Author Kim Stanley Robinson born March 23, is an American novelist, widely recognized as one of the foremost living writers of science fiction.

Other Books by Kim Stanley Robinson. Red Moon. In Stock. Popular Searches her body and other parties buy greeting cards a space odyssey book year calendar children of dune. Item Added: Shaman. View Wishlist. Italian cavemen? So, if you are really into prehistoric fiction, then you would probably like this book. If you are into Fifty Shades of Grey and always wished that it had been set in prehistoric times instead - give this one a go.

Other than that. View all 19 comments. Jul 30, zxvasdf rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , netgalley. 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 Kim Stanley Robinson, the master of survival stories, has extrapolated a riveting account of paleolithic life. So these early people, they were left to their wits, the insistence of hunger. Everything that can be eaten is eaten. Along with the meat, there's the fat, kidneys, intestines, the tongue, marrow. Nothing is wasted. Once the season becomes warm, it is a race to collect enough resources to survive the next winter and spring, which is the hardest because summer is within reach, but winter won't leave just yet.

Most of the prose in the book is devoted to detailed descriptions of the landscape which fill the transitions from place to place; you are overwhelmed by the immense, unfeeling brutality of nature. You are utterly dwarfed. The ice doesn't wait for you to cross when the spring melt occurs. The mountain lions will eat you if you are too slow. If there is no food, you watch yourself die. So you have a scattering of tribes slowly inventing a set of rules to fit their environment and social conditions.

The shaman is there to keep the people in line. Rude and abrasive, his demeanour is a slap in the face, and his songs are parables of remembrance. Make no mistakes again, the shaman says as he flicks your ear. That is his magic. Apart from the incessant struggle to stay alive, Shaman is about defining your humanity. Loon struggles with his understanding of the world, and his adopted parents, Thorn the shaman and Heather the herb woman, shares with him the wisdom of a hard lifetime.

As befits youth, Loon rails against his teachers, but eventually discovers many of their truths to be correct, and erroneous as well, while discovering some of his own truths. Shaman made me realize how inadequate much of modern man is to conditions of survival. Could we consume the fat pads behind the eyes and kidneys with relish?

Would we derive pleasure from small morsels of collected mushrooms? Would we attempt stealth to purloin a day old carcass from ravenous mountain lions? Life's a bitch they say, but we haven't realized she's mellowed some since then. Through Loon's eyes, we find that maybe long ago man isn't as much different from ourselves as we might think. People have always loved, slept, eaten, fucked, shared, fought, killed, envied. It's always the circumstances that have changed, not the people. So Kim Stanley Robinson humanizes this abstract concept we have of the ice men we have dredged from the glaciers.

Shaman reconciles the present with the past, creates a connection between our descendants and ourselves. All you have to do is put yourself in Loon's place. Try to vividly imagine his all-consuming misery, and the equally consuming moments of small pleasures. Feel the cold on your flesh, the thud of your spear in the flank of a bison. The flick of the shaman's finger on your ear. View all 8 comments. Aug 13, Brendon Schrodinger rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-fiction , science-fiction.

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. Kim has stated that his inspiration for this novel come from extensive hiking near glaciers and the type of environments that Europe would have been like at the end of the last ice age. On these hikes Kim would imagine what it would have been like to be a human at this time.

Other inspiration has come from the ongoing investigation of Otzi, the five and a half thousand year old body found exposed in a glacier in Clothes and other artifacts found with the body have survived wonderfully and provide a great insight into the technology and innovation of the time. What Kim produces is a heart-warming, coming of age tale of an apprentice shaman.

Shaman a Novel of The Ice Age by Kim Stanley Robinson 9780356500454

We join him in his first wandering, cast aside into the wilderness naked and with no tools. We learn an awful lot about his clan and how they function in day to day life. And every character you encounter is well-drawn and is a complete individual. These people and the book itself does well to remove itself from using the standard caveman stereotype and indeed shows that 'humanity' has been with us all along and did not come about with the rise of civilisation. I found that I did not enjoy this novel as much as some of Kim's other works such as the Mars trilogy and 'Galileo's Dream', but compared to most other works out there, it is still a brilliant and thoughtful work full of wonder and heart.

In my opinion even when Kim is experimenting and trying something different like this, he could write the pants off all but a few authors. Jul 11, Sarah Workaday Reads rated it liked it Shelves: netgalley , read-in This was an intriguing story, but it was long. Not just in length over pages , but also in feel. The story spans several years, so some length is expected, I found it to take a while to read. It too is set in the past and features a main character who is mostly raised by an elder pair from the tribe. The story is told in a way that makes the narration seem a bit distant.

Overall, this was a story that was more intriguing that entertaining. There was a lot that happened over the years that the book covered, and it is impossible to talk about most of it without giving away various plot points.

Shaman (novel) - Wikipedia

View 2 comments. Sep 19, Kelly 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 Shaman is the story of Loon, a young man who comes of age thirty-two thousand years ago, in the paleolithic era.

Loon is not entirely sure he wants to be a shaman, and throughout the handful of years that follow, he strives for adulthood with a quiet force that while presented as uncertainty is actually borne of a relentless conviction that he will be who he wants to be, regardless of what others require of him. Of course, he grows up to be exactly who he is supposed to be.

His journey to manhood is dogged with the usual trials, the most important of which is the pinch of a hungry belly. The story is set in an era where food is of paramount importance. It means all. Without food, there is no life. Feeding themselves and their clan is a constant struggle. Their rituals and superstitions. Marriage, birth and death. Hierarchy and the role of men and women.

Moral fortitude and tolerance. Their days might have been largely defined by what they would eat that night, but not to the exclusion of being utterly human. Shaman is not speculative fiction in the traditional sense, but anything written about such distant periods of history has to be speculative in a sense.

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Who knows if the attitudes detailed by Robinson actually held true. The interpretation of nature and ghosts. The apparent enlightenment of these people. But he did a lot of research for this book and it reads like a labour of love—and an homage to our existence. Who we are, essentially. Which is what science fiction is often about, really.

Particularly when written by Kim Stanley Robinson. I really enjoyed this book. As usual, I hit the sixty percent mark and wondered if what I read was largely pointless. I paused at about that mark in The Years of Rice and Salt and Shaman seemed like another extended ramble, this time about the likeable Loon; exquisitely detailed, but paced just behind the curve of excitement.

Something compelled me to keep reading—and that is exactly the point. Here, Robinson has cast himself in the role of shaman and he knew that telling his tale in a simple and linear manner would allow his audience to complicate the experience at will as they related it to their own lives. Shaman will be one of those books I remember reading, and the experience of reading, and I recommend it for readers of all genres.

Written for and originally posted at SFCrowsnest. Oct 06, Jon Stout rated it liked it Recommends it for: anthropologists and adventurers. Shelves: scifi. The Ice Age people that Kim Stanley Robinson describes from 30, years ago have as much common sense and wonder as any modern adventurer. The rest of the novel is concerned with the struggle to survive and a kidnapping by a northern tribe. But the tone is not one of oppressive misery. With a feminist streak, and in other ways, the book seems politically correct.

The story suggests that his contributions live on in the human beings, just as the shaman passes on his legacy in the cave paintings. Oct 18, Fantasy Literature 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. 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, years ago. Sep 06, Jason rated it liked it Shelves: read , e-books. 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 3. If that is your cup of tea then you will sure to find something to like in this story. Kim Stanley Robinson is a fantastic writer and I am a big fan. This book is not one that I would normally read, but for fans of the genre it is really great. Dec 06, Loring Wirbel rated it really liked it. Those familiar with Robinson's expansive epics like 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 Those familiar with Robinson's expansive epics like or The Years of Rice and Salt , may find it tough to approach a book in which the author has deliberately aimed for minimalism. But Robinson gives us a more personalized story, the description of what it may have felt like to be a rising member of a hunter-gatherer pack too fluid to be called a tribe.

This means that pages are spent describing how the protagonist starts fires from duff, carves the perfect flint arrowhead, visits the shitting fields, collects medicinal plants, and learns sacred cave painting. A 21st-century overachiever might say nothing happens, but Robinson wants us to get into the seasonal rhythm of a people whose primary goals are building up enough food stores and body fat in summer months to survive another starving spring.

Robinson is subtle in introducing concepts of interrelationships among people who have developed a workable language, but not the social structures that lead to constant competition and wars. The occasional interactions with Neanderthals are described as encounters with the Old Ones - the Neanderthals have very little language skills beyond animal imitations, but their closeness to some natural processes are enough to make humans somewhat scared of them - while Neanderthals live in a puzzled awe of humans.

When Loon makes a trek to rescue his wife from the northers, the assumption among all the people of the southern packs is that these humans, jende , who live along the ice wall are barbarians. Yet Loon learns that they are rich in food and clothing products to last several winters, and that they have domesticated wolves. This raises a question to be repeated many times across the centuries of civilizations to come: Who are the barbarians? The story's climax, and most exciting reading, comes in the chapters covering the escape of Loon, Elga, Thorn, and Click from the jende.

Robinson is at his best in describing winter scenes and tests of human endurance that would rival the best of outdoor adventure travelogues. He does not fall into easy fictional tricks by conjuring a direct encounter with the northers, but the description of a death along the way carries its own sadness and dread that is just as great. The book might have ended with the return to the Wolf camp, but Robinson was writing about the making of a shaman.

Thus, we learn of the reconciliation with the northers, the passing of the torch from one shaman to the next, and the test of solo cave painting. Those expecting a typical Robinson epic may be puzzled and bored at times with this book. But it is a special treat when a majestic artist attempts minimalism.

There are times when enforced minimalism fails. Robinson passes the test, however, and gives us a glimpse into what daily life might have been like before the rise of agriculture and written language. An interesting work of speculative fiction that depicts the day to day survival in the Ice age.

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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 An interesting work of speculative fiction that depicts the day to day survival in the Ice age. 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 or a Wolverine, or a ghost.

This gives a kind of magical sense to the world. It gives us a sense of awe and mystery. Loon and heather's friendship with the outcaste neanderthal is my favourite part of the story. Like his other novels, this too leaves us with a feeling of optimism. Here too the authour tries present us the enduring human qualities. He explores the important role stories and myths have played through out our history. Unfortunately, the lack of consistent pacing and a plot that is not very compelling makes this a very meandering read.

After two bull's eyes in a row Galileo and Shaman isn't exactly a miss but it is off centre. It's a deceptively long book, being a not alarming p until you notice the size of the print and realise you should add about p 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 After two bull's eyes in a row Galileo and Shaman isn't exactly a miss but it is off centre.

The most fundamental being that there is no plot worth mentioning for the entire first half of the book, making it fairly slow going. There are various events, or things mentioned seemingly in passing, where one thinks, oh! I bet that turns out to be important later! And they all do, but not until at least the half-way mark, some of them not until very near the end.

So the set up just goes on and on. It's not boring but there is nothing driving it. Oct 23, Ryan Vaughan 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 I was torn on this one. The meticulous world building comes at the expense of plot and pacing. The daily life and struggles of Loon's tribe are described in great detail. The only problem was that great detail did not contribute to moving the plot forward. In fact amount of plot could have been conveyed In a few really interesting short stories.

Christopher Buckley once joked that he felt Tom Clancey's books went right from his computer to the printing press with no stops at the editor. That is also the feeling I got with this book. Dec 20, Zach rated it really liked it. Shaman is a serious examination of what life was like for our distant ancestors of around 30, 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.

The Art of Ice Age

I didn't much care for The Years of Rice and Salt , which is Robinson's other foray into historical speculative fiction, b Shaman is a serious examination of what life was like for our distant ancestors of around 30, years ago, living in small, semi-nomadic groups and getting most of their calories from hunting migratory game.

I didn't much care for The Years of Rice and Salt , which is Robinson's other foray into historical speculative fiction, but having a pre-historical setting apparently freed him of his tendency to get bogged down in political minutiae. Instead, we're treated to the gripping coming of age story of Loon, a 12 year old hunter gatherer, as he becomes a full member of his pack of people. His journey is as affecting as it is fascinating.

Loon is being trained as a shaman by the pack's current one, Thorn, and is also instructed by the pack's herb woman, Heather. Thorn and Heather represent two sides of the human yearning for knowledge. As a shaman, Thorn is preoccupied with the big questions: why are we here, what happens when we die, etc. She cares about answering practical questions that can be used concretely to improve the tribe's life: what herbs have medical effects, which wood is best for starting fires, how can a woman be delivered safely through childbirth.

Loon's sensibility is pulled in both directions -- he loves the big spiritual world and evocative cave paintings Thorn shows him, while also appreciating Heather's practical improvements to daily processes. And in a pre-writing era, Thorn and Heather both have an urgency to the instruction they provide Loon: anything they aren't able to pass onto him before they die is basically lost forever, or until another generation learns it again from scratch. This is the fundamental tragedy of pre-literary civilization to a science-minded individual like Robinson.

And we know from archaeological records that it was a lived truth for early people. For example, there's good evidence that Australian aboriginals discovered and lost the technology for bows and arrows at least 3 times before European contact. This is a very adult treatment of the subject material, and Robinson doesn't pull any punches. Some readers might be shocked or disgusted when, e. Loon eats some hallucinogenic mushrooms, masturbates into the soil, then eats his semen mixed with dirt as part of a spiritual journey.


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Or, when Loon and a female pack member, both 12 years old, run off into the bushes to get each other off by rubbing each other's genitals. These scenes aren't graphic per se, just matter of fact, and they definitely succeed in relaying the sensibilities of a culture for whom sex was no big mystery or taboo, just as much a part of life as the menstruation hut the pack's women excuse themselves to once a moon.

Everywhere you look in the pack's art, culture and mythos you find spurts and kolbys, their two rather charming words for the genitals. Most of the novel is what might, from another author or with a less rigorous style, be called an adventure tale. Loon certainly experiences his fair share of adventure, and survival is his and his pack's main objective for much of the narrative. Probably the most speculative aspect of the novel is the pack's interaction with remnant Neanderthals, who they call old ones. We know modern man had these interactions, and even interbred with Neanderthals to the extent that roughly 2.

In Shaman, their interaction with modern humans is infrequent, often hostile, and mysterious to both sides of the encounter. It's not a major part of the story, but it's very interesting when it comes up. Shaman is a rare treat, something I would love to see more of from science fiction authors. In many ways, you can see the shape of Shaman presaged by Robinson's earlier novels. More than any other science fiction author I have read, Robinson is fascinated with the question of what makes us human, about how our evolutionary and cultural heritage shaped us into what we are today.

You can see this in all his novels, but especially in the "Science in the Capitol" trilogy beginning with Forty Signs of Rain , with his protagonist who becomes obsessed with living an ancient lifestyle in the modern world. He tried a more direct answer first with The Years of Rice and Salt , and there his emphasis was with culture, beginning in the middle ages. Shaman attempts an answer much closer to the evolutionary side of things, which culture as we know it still just primitive gestures, practices and knowledge so easily lost between generations.

I found it much more satisfying than The Years of Rice and Salt , and I expect most science fiction fans will as well. 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 Having made his mark in science fiction Robinson is now writing historical fiction.

At the very beginning he is set off on his 'wander' where he is released naked and has to rely on his training an intuition to survive for a number of days; part of the training of becoming a Shaman.


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He survives, and his training progresses. At a meeting of tribes he meets with girl, who returns with him to his tribe where they marry.

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At the next gathering she is snatched back by her tribe and Loon follows. He is captured and is taken back to be used sa a slave. His mentor Thorn decides to try a rescue of Loon and Hega from the tribe. Overall the story isn't too bad. It has reasonably well formed characters and moderate plot development.


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Robinson manages to convey really well just how tough it was for humans then, and just how close to starvation that they were on a regular basis. Where the book failed for me was the dialogue. Whilst humans have been capable of complex communication for thousands of years it seems like the dialogue was from the middle ages at times. Closer to 2. Feb 24, Bart rated it really liked it. Again, linear and simple doesn't mean bereft of content.

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, an That first part not only shows the brutal nature of the conditions then, and the ingenuity of the human mind, it also serves as a metaphor for us readers, ready to embark into a world which we know nothing about, and in which we would not be able to survive more than a few days.

In the end, it turns out this novel is also about a pragmatic morality and the guilt that may come with that. Still, the Ice Age people deal with things - as the hand that was dealt to them was clear and simple indeed. Please read the full review - words - on Weighing A Pig But I felt it was lacking from a story-telling point of view.



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