Received a copy of Shaman By Kim Stanley Robinson through the First Reads Giveaway
In a not so faraway land a long,long,lonnnnggggg time ago their lived a reluctant shaman's apprentice named Loon. He is about to embark on coming of age journey succinctly stated by the author as his own voluntary wandering. In this harrowing ice age adventure while on his path to the discovery of life's true purpose, our lead character is encountered with many troubling, potentially fatal circumstances. From the onset of his naked spiritual enlightenment his troubles are compounded initially by an end of winter's storm, an incapacity to start a fire and a litany of man eating creatures. Throughout all of this Loon must traverse through the travails of the rough terrain, albeit fittingly for thirteen days. All the while he must manage the environmental hazards on his internal path to spiritual glory and an external "na-na-na-boo-boo" to his hardened parental guardian/shaman Thorn. Thorn himself has willingly become the shaman he despised when he was an apprentice for a maleficent shaman named Tika. What everyone finds out in the end is that their are no good shamans, all shamans are bad.
One thing I have to get out of the way is the prominence of sexual related references throughout the book. Before reading this I thought Vixen was one of Santa's reindeer, Kolby was the name of my favorite Toronto Blue Jay, and Pizzle was a term taken out of the Snoop Doggy Dogg ebonics dictionary circa 2009. Now, thanks to Mr. Robinson I will never look at those terms with the same child like innocence that I once did. I have thought that a person's sexual maturity has commenced earlier in the lives of people today, but reading this book altered my realization that a persons sexual prowess thirty thousand years ago was at the stale old age of twelve. Given a person's mortality rate at that time around twenty or so, give or take a few years, it seems apropos and it must be stated for all the non-believers, "THEIR IS A GOD."
This book constantly reminds the reader about the importance of the third wind in order to see the end of your journey. For the unaware the third wind is the reinvigoration of the physiological state after a period of exhaustion. While reading this book it seemingly took me upwards of about the tenth wind to enable me to finish the novel. You are reading, tiring, gaining steam, reading, tiring, gaining steam, rinse and repeat several more times. What can you expect when the premise of the novel is survival. Survival during the paleolithic era included: hunting for food, finding shelter, obtaining water (which should not be hard), and building a fire. In a 450 page book it is hard to expect constant exhilaration when you are provided with the above topics. The author often filled in the gaps with explaining effective ways to stay warm, the responsibilities of the shaman, tribal politics, and other signs of the times.
Near the end of the novel you will reach what marathon runners or ancient tribesmen can relate to is called a runners/readers high where you reach some sort of euphoric state. If you are not patient enough to show resilience towards the seemingly boring details about the landscape and other flows of information you will not reach the payoff at the end. I realize people need to be engulfed by the book in order to see too the end which is why people have shown disliked the book. However; some people, like myself do not mind a slow burn (like an ember held in Thorn's belt). Through the consistency and the pace of the book you understand that their is a reason for all the details and that surely something will happen to tie it all together.