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Robinson (2312) makes a shift from near-future SF to prehistorical fiction with this entertaining but slight ice-age bildungsroman. Loon, a young man on the verge of adulthood, marks his birthday by surviving alone in the wild for two weeks. Returning to his "pack," he learns various practical and artistic skills. He's often as rebellious as he is studious, and as driven by teen hormones as any contemporary teen hero (using prehistoric safe-sex methods to avoid sowing his wild oats), but he matures when he falls in love with Elga, a girl from another pack. After their love leads to her pregnancy, they encounter complications that could drive them from Loon's pack and his friends. Robinson creates a rich world, but there's not much new (or much at all, really) in the underlying story, which is predictable right down to the final line. Fans of the author's smooth prose and intense research will find enough of both, but the book is far outclassed by both Robinson's earlier works and other prehistory novels. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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This book proves once again that Robinson's (2312; Antarctica; The Years of Salt ane Rice; "Mars" trilogy) fascination with the human condition and mankind's journey transcends easy genre labels. This journey begins in undated prehistory when ice still covers the land to the north. Loon begins his wander naked and alone in the cold fourth month of the year at the new moon. By surviving and returning to camp in style at the full moon he becomes a man of the Wolf pack. His apprenticeship to Thorn, the pack's shaman, also intensifies. At the great annual gathering of many packs, Loon meets and falls in love with Elga. The following summer, after the two have married, Elga is kidnapped by a clan of northerners who live between the sea and ice. There is a natural cadence to these lives that is reflected in Robinson's prose, whether describing grand adventures, intimate moments, or the work of the pack through the wheel of the seasons. VERDICT 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. His fans as well as fans of Jean Auel or those who simply enjoy a great wilderness tale will be delighted.-Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*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.--Schroeder, Regina Copyright 2010 Booklist