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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful window into a world long gone
One of the greatest achievements of human curiosity is out search to understand a past that left no history, no written documents and very few artefacts. It's impressive enough when archaeologists scrape away the layers of dirt to reveal ancient tombs, bones and broken pottery and it is even more impressive when the scientists move in and date these objects. Little by...
Published 3 months ago by Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad read
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...
Published 17 months ago by Half Man, Half Book


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad read, 17 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Shaman: A novel of the Ice Age (Hardcover)
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 training an intuition to survive for a number of days; part of the training of becoming a Shaman. 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. 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. 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 2.5 stars; and didn't take long to read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite convincing., 18 Jan. 2014
By 
Pamela Thomas (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shaman: A novel of the Ice Age (Hardcover)
I was prompted to read this by a glowing review in a national newspaper, and while I did enjoy it up to a point, I was not entirely convinced by the picture of Ice Age Europe that Robinson describes. For a start, he hasn't got his fauna quite right - there have never been racoons in Europe - and although I liked the portrayal of the tribe and their daily struggle for survival, there were things that didn't quite ring true. For instance, I don't think the small children would have been parked in a 'nursery school' playing in the sand - they'd have been out there with their parents, learning the vital lessons essential to a hunter gatherer society. And some of the characters' attitudes seemed more 21st century American than Paleolithic. I think Michelle Paver's 'Wolf Brother' series, although written for older children rather than adults, gives a much more convincing depiction, or try the graphic novel 'Mezolith', which is both accurate and beautiful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful window into a world long gone, 1 April 2015
By 
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk (Oldham) - See all my reviews
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One of the greatest achievements of human curiosity is out search to understand a past that left no history, no written documents and very few artefacts. It's impressive enough when archaeologists scrape away the layers of dirt to reveal ancient tombs, bones and broken pottery and it is even more impressive when the scientists move in and date these objects. Little by little an image is created of what life was like back way back when. We are, of course, really lucky; in caves we find those fabulous paintings, so lifelike and full of life. We might not understand why they were created but we can conclude that these men of the past were just like us... and not like us. And that's what Kim Stanley Robinson gives us with "Shaman" - an image of people just like us but not like us living way back when ice and snow dominated. And what an image!
We start off by following the initiation wander of our hero Loon, abandoned, naked, even without the basic means of survival, in the cold lands. We share the hardship, adventure and fears of this experience. We shiver and hunger and our hearts race in this alien yet familiar world. I fell in love with the book at this point. I felt it became a little episodic (still good but not enough meat there to get one's teeth into) after Loon returns to his tribe and continues his training as a Shaman under the hard but likeable Thorn, but what we really get is a series of snapshots setting the stage, showing us what normality looks like. We watch Loon fall in love with Elga at the eight eight meet and share in the excitement and stressful adventure that follows later. Robinson manages to evoke the cold, fear and hunger, the wonder, even, of a world that is as familiar to its denizens as our own, yet despite that familiarity remains dangerous - these people are living on the edge of hunger and starvation so much of the time. I loved this book because of the way it enabled me to enter that ancient past, to share a moment with our unknown ancestors and appreciate what giants they were.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerfully poignant, heartbreaking story that looks back on Homo sapiens origin, 2 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Shaman: A novel of the Ice Age (Hardcover)
This chilling novel combines science fiction, speculative fiction and historical genres for an altogether unique read. Kim S Robinson's awe-inspiring vision on how we lived thirty thousand years ago is simply breathtaking, and might I add most accurate too. I am fascinated with the natural world and the beauty of Earth's wonders and landscape, including animal/ plant habitats and history of life. This book presents an incredible insight into our past like never before, told in such a compelling and readable way that you are transported right back in time. The bleak, harsh environment sent shivers running down my spine as I could clearly envisage what it must have been like during an Ice Age. The wonders of prehistoric Earth are astonishing, (which I have also explored in other non-fiction history books and works by Sir David Attenborough).

Shaman is a coming-of-age story about `Loon' (a Shaman's apprentice) during the Ice Age. Within this desolate winter land, Kim S Robinson explores what it really was like to survive in a terrible world filled with dangerous life and Neanderthals. Reading this book was a truly unforgettable experience, as vivid and captivating as if I was watching a TV BBC documentary about Planet Earth. How the author interprets the lives of his characters from the past is engaging, and it is obvious how much lengthy research has gone into this novel.

I would highly recommend this novel to not only readers of speculative fiction, but to readers of all genre, as it is written so as to reach out to a wide-readership and all kinds of taste. Deeply mesmerizing, intense and brimming full of rich detail this is a story to remember and one that I wont be forgetting in a hurry! In essence Shaman enlightens readers about our origins and the foundations of life itself, by professing how tough and hard it was to survive all those years ago. This is a book like you have never seen before and so I urge you to grab a copy and take that leap back in time...

*I won a hardback copy of Kim Stanley Robinson's novel "Shaman" through a Goodreads, first-read giveaway*

(I would like to thank the publishers Orbit and the author).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine tale, 1 Dec. 2013
By 
Dave H (Leith, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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A fine tale of life in Ice Age Europe, evocative writing and good character development, humour, excitement, and adventure. But... raccoons? Blue jays? Muskrats? Hummingbirds etc? Oh dear. I found the poor research very jarring occasionally, so one star off for that.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing read, 1 April 2014
I was drawn into this book right away and found it gripping throughout. The characters are memorable and there are wonderful scenes that will stay with me. Kim Stanley Robinson has done his homework - the cave paintings in the last chapter are real ones, in the Chauvet cave in France. They've been carbon-dated to 30,000-32,000 BCE. I love his imagining of how they were created. The book sparked my interest in the animal life in Europe back then and I found a 2006 study of interactions between the last Neanderthals and early modern humans in Swabia, Germany. The animals listed include brown and arctic hare, marmot, wolf, red and arctic fox, cave bear, cave lion, lynx, polecat, marten, hyena, mammoth, wild horse, woolly rhino, giant deer, roe deer, red deer, reindeer, bison, ibex and chamois.
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4.0 out of 5 stars As a recreation of what it might have been like for the first modern humans at the end of ..., 27 Sept. 2014
By 
Joanpau Rubies (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shaman: A novel of the Ice Age (Hardcover)
Not at all science fiction, but rather a historical reconstruction of the end of the last ice age, when the neanderthals were still around but losing ground, and the first modern humans began to paint caves such as Chavet in Southern France (the main protagonist is in fact the artist of that extraordinary cave). As a novel it is stronger on description than plot. As a recreation of what it might have been like for the first modern humans at the end of the ice age in Europe, it has many wonderful moments and some excellent research on cave painting, but also a couple of dubious choices with the fauna (racoons...).

It shares with many adventure novels an exaggerated account of the capacities of a twelve year old.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to basics, 3 Sept. 2013
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shaman: A novel of the Ice Age (Hardcover)
Going back 30,000 years to the Palaeolithic on Earth for Shaman seems like a considerable turn in the opposite direction for Kim Stanley Robinson, an author more associated with works set in the far future and on distant planets (2312, the Mars Trilogy). Surprisingly, or perhaps maybe not so surprisingly if you've read deeper into his concepts elsewhere, Shaman tackles similar science-fiction themes in its back-to-basics look at humanity. Perhaps if you can understand where you came from, you'll have a better idea of what the human race is capable of in the future.

Shaman starts out with the story of a young boy's apprenticeship to becoming the Shaman of the Raven clan. Set out naked and alone on a "wander" for two weeks at the age of 12, Loon must confront head-on the kind of hazards that face a vulnerable human in the wild and he very quickly learns the skills necessary to survive the unpredictable challenges of what lies ahead of him. More than that, he is also expected to experience a vision that places him in touch with the unseen world and help him on his path to becoming a Shaman. Loon is unsure of his calling and has a difficult relationship with his mentor Thorn, but life in the Ice Age has plenty of more challenges to throw his way.

Although the setting might be an unusual one, the themes explored by Robinson are no less grand-scale. The stripping back to basics in fact allows those essential human traits to be explored more fully. In Loon's journey (and, surprisingly, perhaps just as much if not more so in Thorn), you can recognise a similar thirst for knowledge and discovery of new horizons here, an exploration of the capacity and the tenacity of humans to learn and adapt to the world around them, to survive and thrive in adverse conditions, but that's only a part of what makes one human, and Shaman also brilliantly touches on other creative human impulses.

In the figure of the Shaman there is more than just an acknowledgement of the spiritual and sacred mysteries associated with life and with death, but also the creative urge to tell stories. The Palaeolithic man might not have the tools to write or print, but essentially in the learning and recounting of myths and tales and in the creation of cave paintings, a large part of the novel here is about the need to write, to document one's personal experience of the world, to share and pass on wisdom, to make a mark upon the world. A lot of this is tied up in the figure of Thorn, and surprisingly it's not so much Loon but the old Shaman (and even the 'old one' Click) who contributes this remarkably vital and touching human element that enriches the novel considerably.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of great imagination, 19 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Shaman: A novel of the Ice Age (Hardcover)
This is a work of great imagination. Whereas Jim Crace was able to draw on documents about medieval English life when writing Harvest, Kim Stanley Robinson was working only from fossil and forensic evidence, none of which tells us much about how people really lived and inter-related thirty thousand years ago. I found every detail entirely plausible: the preoccupation with the spirit world (the beginnings of religion), the superior ingenuity of tribes from colder climes (which was a pre-cursor to the rise and dominance of European civilisation), the closeness of ice-age humans to their environment, the relationships between neighbouring tribes, despite their linguistic differences, (which developed into nations), and the firmly-rooted moral codes which distinguished humans from the animals they killed (and then thanked). For me - and others will disagree -there were too many purple passages containing graphic accounts of sexual activity, even with animals, and perhaps too little about childcare (in all the time Loon and Elga were away from their tribe, they never once mentioned the baby they had left behind). I was also slightly troubled by the language: the author invents lots of nouns and descriptors, perhaps to show how thinking and language develops, but then sprinkles the text with very modern American phrases, e.g. `Heather showed up' and `Mama mia'. The use of a modern four-letter expletive (which Amazon won't let me repeat!) also felt anachronistic.
Despite these minor reservations, this is a wondrous book. It rightly shows that humans of thirty thousand years ago were not very different to those of us living in the twenty-first century, and that the simple, albeit very hard life, has a lot to recommend it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 4 Sept. 2013
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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Kim is an author that's always given me a great book before so when I heard that he was writing a tale set in the far past I really wanted to see what would be generated , after all I loved the Northland trilogy by Stephen Baxter so I was hoping for something similar.

What unfurled within was a tale that really worked well for me as the tales lead character took steps towards finding his way within the ancient world as Shaman of the Raven tribe. Its full of conflict, both emotional as well as physical and with a story that seeks to demonstrate the spirit of man throughout as is so often the theme within science fiction titles, really worked well for Kim as an author.

All round, when you add in some great prose, a lovely touch of pace with the Palaeolithic era brought wonderfully to life generates a story that will stay with you for quite some time. A wonderful adventure for me and definitely one I'll be recommending to others.
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Shaman: A novel of the Ice Age
Shaman: A novel of the Ice Age by Kim Stanley Robinson (Hardcover - 3 Sept. 2013)
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