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Shaman Hardcover – September 3, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; First Edition/First Printing edition (September 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316098078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316098076
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Shaman follows Loon from his experience on a late-winter shaman’s journey of skill and endurance to his true adulthood. The wander that begins the story is the beginning of his passage into manhood, and a shaman’s trial. Loon doesn’t want to be a shaman, at least not in the way his tribe’s shaman is, with magic and old stories. He does like the painting. In this prehistoric world, life is genuinely focused on survival, and on the flow of seasons—and so there is often a sense of fear, but there’s plenty of time for humor as well. The novel does generally succeed in its ambitious scope. It is more uneven when it comes to the viewpoint character—Loon is, after all, a 14-year-old boy. It is occasionally tiresome to be subjected to the inner workings of a fictional teenage boy, but aside from that, this novel bears the markings of Robinson’s consummate skill with a sort of anthropological fiction. Robinson’s prose is transparent, capable of sustaining massive plots, and a certain amount of troublesome characterization can be forgiven in the face of spectacular world building. --Regina Schroeder


"2312 is a monumental tour-de-force that re-imagines the solar system in ways no one has envisioned before. Whether comparing the compositions of Beethoven to those of skylarks and warblers, or describing a life-threatening sunrise on Mercury, Robinson fills 2312 with joy and exuberance, danger and fear, and the steadily mounting suspense of a mystery that spans the planets. This is the finest novel yet from the author who gave us the Mars Trilogy and GALILEO'S DREAM. An amazing accomplishment."—Robert Crais

"Intellectually engaged and intensely humane in a way SF rarely is, exuberantly speculative in a way only the best SF can be, this is the work of a writer at or approaching the top of his game."—Iain M. Banks on 2312

"Robinson's extraordinary completeness of vision results in a magnificently realized, meticulously detailed future in which social and biological changes keep pace with technological developments."—Publishers Weekly on 2312

" In his vibrant, often moving new novel, "2312," Robinson's extrapolation is hard-wired to a truly affecting personal love story. [...] Perhaps Robinson's finest novel, "2312" is a treasured gift to fans of passionate storytelling; readers will be with Swan and Wahram in the tunnel long after reaching the last page."—LA Times

"Robinson's expert world building and lyrical prose offer Jack London-esque pleasures as they depict the stark beauties of the icy landscape - it's desolation, dangers and the desperate choices it forces people to make when pushed to the edge of existence. Richly detailed."—Kirkus

"This novel bears the markings of Robinson's consummate skill with a sort of anthropological fiction...Spectacular world building."—Booklist

"A seriously composed and compelling novel about prehistoric life...some of the most intelligent entertainment you can find."—NPR Books

"A thrilling journey through an age of ice and stone - one of Kim Stanley Robinson's best!"—Greg Bear

"This book proves once again that Robinson's fascination with the human condition and mankind's journey transcends easy genre labels...Despite all his previous accolades, this may be Robinson's best work to date, focused so sharply as it is on the simplest way of being human."—Library Journal

"The novel is an amazing piece of recreation, vividly evoking the deprivations, animalistic beliefs and day-to-day struggles of a primitive tribe."—Financial Times (UK)

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Customer Reviews

The characters are very well developed.
Andrei Stieber
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'm about 1/2 way through but have almost put this book down a few times.
matt pierce

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 85 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on September 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Kim Stanley Robinson is full of ideas. The danger in a KSR novel is that he will develop his ideas with enthusiasm while relegating the plot and characters to the status of afterthoughts. When -- as in Shaman -- KSR decides to tell a story rather than disguising a series of essays as a work of fiction, he is a talented writer. In Shaman, KSR avoids pedantic lectures while achieving a blend of humor and poignancy in a solid, enjoyable novel.

In a departure from the work for which KSR is best known, Shaman looks at the past rather than the future, probing prehistoric characters to reveal the essential and enduring features of humanity. The novel begins with a rite of passage as adolescent Loon, sent naked into the woods on the night of the new moon, begins a wander from which he must not return until the full moon rises. Loon eventually ingests some mushrooms to induce a vision, a necessary step if he is to follow Thorn's teachings and become a shaman. Raised by Heather and Thorn after his parents died, Loon is restless (and like all young men, hormone-driven). He is an unwilling apprentice with little interest in becoming a shaman, although he admires Thorn's cave paintings. Thorn teaches him songs and poems that recall the past but Loon is focused on the future. He looks forward to the pack's summer trek and the festival at which a score of packs gather, in part because it provides his only opportunity to meet new girls.

The plot meanders a bit but it is largely the story of Loon's young life, and since lives meander, it isn't surprising that the plot does. At the novel's midway point, however, a story breaks loose when someone close to Loon disappears, sending Loon on a search to distant northern lands.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 2, 2013
Format: 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.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By cdogzilla on September 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A beautiful story well-told. "The Gold Coast," "The Years of Rice and Salt," and "Red Mars" are my favorite of Kim Stanley Robinson's novels, and this falls right in that grouping. While different from each, it shares the strengths of each. I just wrote a quick reaction/review over at LibraryThing having just finished a few moments ago, and I'll re-read it before trying to write more in depth about it; but, in brief, I think anyone who already enjoys some or any of Stan's novels with love this one and it would also be a great introduction to his work for anyone who hasn't read anything of his previously.

I found it utterly engaging, if a bit earthy and gross, but only in ways that make sense/felt plausible for the characters in the world of the story he's telling. It's beautifully written, never "over-written", and balances humor and tension in a story that's both fantastical and grounded. It is both simple and sublime.

In my LibraryThing review, I talk a little more specifically about it echoed, for me, some of the strongest elements of "The Gold Coast":
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Debbie C Grossman on December 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is what Clan of the Cave Bear, et al should have been, but wasn't. Well-developed, believable characters; a great story arc; and obviously well-researched.
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32 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Jfruit on December 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good book with decent plot, but I found myself pulled out of the story repeatedly by the use of modern slang and thoughts. At one point a stone age character exclaims "Mama Mia!". This modernism is mixed with the author's well crafted made up nouns. This mixture had the effect of pulling me out of the story's flow.
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More About the Author

Kim Stanley Robinson is a winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. He is the author of eleven previous books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Fifty Degrees Below, Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt, and Antarctica--for which he was sent to the Antarctic by the U.S. National Science Foundation as part of their Antarctic Artists and Writers' Program. He lives in Davis, California.

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