Sunday, December 29, 2013
Set in ice age, this is the story of Loon, a young apprentice shaman. It opens with Loon, naked and weaponless, on his "wander," a trial to see if he has what it takes to survive. If, at the end of a few weeks, Loon manages to take care of himself, he can come back to his tribe a man.
Loon does manage to survive but in the process he injures his ankle and the injury doesn't heal properly and this injury will continue to hamper Loon's activities. But the injury isn't only thing that is plaguing Loon. The shaman of the tribe, Thorn, wants Loon to settle down to his studies, but Loon just doesn't really care that much about being a shaman. Then, to anger Thorn even more, Loon falls for a foreign woman, Elga and marries her, becoming even more distracted from his apprenticeship. Then it turns out that Elga's people want her back and, at a large multi-tribal gathering, they steal Elga away. Loon sets out in pursuit only to find himself captured by her people and forced into slavery.
When Thorn gets word of Loon's capture, he sets off north to rescue both Loon and Elga, with the help of a Neanderthal friend, Click. He succeeds and the four of them set off for home hotly pursued by Elga's tribe. Their trek home is a terrible ordeal, with Loon's bad ankle, winter blizzards, and eminent starvation. But they do make it back and Loon finds new meaning in his shaman studies and settles down to become the tribe's new shaman in the course of time.
This was a very absorbing and, at times, intense read. A window on the past, as the author sees it, a time of struggle and life constantly on the edge. Loon's story is fascinating, frightening, enlightening and a terrific tale of our early ancestors. A very enjoyable read, one of those stories that I will remember long after reading.
For another review see http://valsrandomcomments.blogspot.com/2013/10/shaman-kim-stanley-robinson.html.