“It’s fragile what we know. It’s gone every time we forget. Then someone has to learn it all over again.”
In a not so faraway land a long, long time ago their lived a disinclined shaman’s apprentice named Loon. He is about to embark on a coming of age journey succinctly stated by the author, as his own “voluntary wandering”. While on his path to the discovery of life’s true purpose, this harrowing ice age provides our lead character 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, the inability to start a fire and a litany of man eating creatures. Throughout all of this Loon must negotiate his way through the rough terrain and all of its anticipating flora and fauna. Lucky for him, if all goes according to plan it will last thirteen days. With dangerous animals, potentially hazardous nourishment, and precarious landscapes that Loon must manage on his internal path to spiritual glory, he also has one great source of motivation; to send a proverbial “na-na-na-boo-boo” to his hardened parental guardian/shaman Thorn. You see, Thorn himself has gradually become the shaman he longed to avoid developing into. He emerged as a reflection of his own personal maleficent shaman Tika. The man he despised, but what everyone soon discovers in the end is that there are no good shamans, all shamans are evil.
“Bad things don’t just grow on one path, they’re everywhere.”
One thing I have to get out of the way is the preponderance of sexual related references throughout the book. Before reading this I thought Vixen was one of Santa’s reindeer, Kolby was the type of beef from Japan that produced succulent steak, 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 childlike innocence that I once did. I have thought that a person’s sexual maturity had commenced earlier in the lives of people today, but reading this book altered my realization that a person’s 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, that “THERE IS A GOD.” Good to know that you wouldn’t have been killed at the time when you hit the big 2,0 complete with your wolf fur shawl, down to your bark-skin moccasins and stone ax ready for action.
“No one else can live your life for you.”
Most people today are familiar with the term second wind, but what this book constantly reminds the reader about is the importance of the third wind in order to see the end of your journey. It is why most branches of military, sports franchises, and police departments place a tremendous amount of intrinsic value of on cardiovascular health because if you can’t run, you lose, or worse, you die. For the unaware the third wind is the invigoration 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 over and over again. 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; what changes the dynamic is doing it all on your own.
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, ancient tribesmen, or voracious readers can relate to or refer to as a runners/readers high. This is where you reach some sort of euphoric state which in most cases is a good thing, but for me while reading Shaman I can’t shake the feeling that I had a bad trip. 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 a disenchantment with 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 there is a reason for all the details and that surely something will happen to tie it all together, that is if you get that far.
“You can only kill disappointment with a new try.”