Fans of Robinson’s Mars series, or the much praised and awarded 2312, may find the novel Shaman a bit of a departure. Gone are the deeply scientific studies of far space — science fiction is not included in Shaman. What fans will find familiar is the incredibly detailed environment, the study of setting and source and the meticulous crafting of plot and timeline. This particular type of historical fiction has been done better before; nothing new or surprising is related in the story of Loon, the shaman-in-training. Still, the characters are fascinating and their stories breathe.
Loon, the orphan of the wolf tribe, embarks on his shaman wander in the midst of deep, cold winter. He discovers his own resilience in his solitude. When he returns to the tribe, he is broken in multiple ways — his body, his desires for the future and his expectations of his mentor, Thorn. The eight-eight gathering approaches, where Loon must decide whether he will be shaman, hunter, husband, father or somehow find a way to make all of the things he desires part of his reality.