Shaman: A novel of the Ice Age Paperback – 10 Jun 2014
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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 . . . Superb (SFX)
An intelligent, and at times mesmerising novel (Irish Examiner)
An extraordinary portrayal of life in the Palaeolithic era, 30,000 years into our past, by the multi-award-winning author described recently by the Sunday Times as 'one of science fiction's greats'See all Product description
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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.
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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