About the Author
H Rider Haggard was born in 1856 in Norfolk but went to South Africa in 1975 and pronounced the British annexation of the Transvaal. He returned to England for good in 1882, after which he studied law and was called to the bar. He was a prolific writer, best known for his adventure novels which inspired a whole new genre of writing and influenced writers as diverse as Freud, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Arthur Conan-Doyle and George Lucas;Rider Haggard was also interested in social justice and wrote extensively on the subject. He was knighted in 1912 and died in 1925.
Read an Excerpt
King Solomon's Mines
By H. Rider Haggard
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2016 Haggard, H. Rider
All rights reserved.
I MEET SIR HENRY CURTIS
It is a curious thing that at my age — fifty-five last birthday — I should find myself taking up a pen to try to write a history. I wonder what sort of a history it will be when I have finished it, if ever I come to the end of the trip! I have done a good many things in my life, which seems a long one to me, owing to my having begun work so young, perhaps. At an age when other boys are at school I was earning my living as a trader in the old Colony. I have been trading, hunting, fighting, or mining ever since. And yet it is only eight months ago that I made my pile. It is a big pile now that I have got it — I don't yet know how big — but I do not think I would go through the last fifteen or sixteen months again for it; no, not if I knew that I should come out safe at the end, pile and all. But then I am a timid man, and dislike violence; moreover, I am almost sick of adventure. I wonder why I am going to write this book: it is not in my line. I am not a literary man, though very devoted to the Old Testament and also to the "Ingoldsby Legends." Let me try to set down my reasons, just to see if I have any.
First reason: Because Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good asked me.
Second reason: Because I am laid up here at Durban with the pain in my left leg. Ever since that confounded lion got hold of me I have been liable to this trouble, and being rather bad just now, it makes me limp more than ever. There must be some poison in a lion's teeth, otherwise how is it that when your wounds are healed they break out again, generally, mark you, at the same time of year that you got your mauling? It is a hard thing when one has shot sixty-five lions or more, as I have in the course of my life, that the sixty-sixth should chew your leg like a quid of tobacco. It breaks the routine of the thing, and putting other considerations aside, I am an orderly man and don't like that. This is by the way.
Third reason: Because I want my boy Harry, who is over there at the hospital in London studying to become a doctor, to have something to amuse him and keep him out of mischief for a week or so. Hospital work must sometimes pall and grow rather dull, for even of cutting up dead bodies there may come satiety, and as this history will not be dull, whatever else it may be, it will put a little life into things for a day or two while Harry is reading of our adventures.
Fourth reason and last: Because I am going to tell the strangest story that I remember. It may seem a queer thing to say, especially considering that there is no woman in it — except Foulata. Stop, though! there is Gagaoola, if she was a woman, and not a fiend. But she was a hundred at least, and therefore not marriageable, so I don't count her. At any rate, I can safely say that there is not a petticoat in the whole history.
Well, I had better come to the yoke. It is a stiff place, and I feel as though I were bogged up to the axle. But, "sutjes, sutjes," as the Boers say — I am sure I don't know how they spell it — softly does it. A strong team will come through at last, that is, if they are not too poor. You can never do anything with poor oxen. Now to make a start.
I, Allan Quatermain, of Durban, Natal, Gentleman, make oath and say — That's how I headed my deposition before the magistrate about poor Khiva's and Ventvögel's sad deaths; but somehow it doesn't seem quite the right way to begin a book. And, besides, am I a gentleman? What is a gentleman? I don't quite know, and yet I have had to do with niggers — no, I will scratch out that word "niggers," for I do not like it. I've known natives who are, and so you will say, Harry, my boy, before you have done with this tale, and I have known mean whites with lots of money and fresh out from home, too, who are not.
At any rate, I was born a gentleman, though I have been nothing but a poor travelling trader and hunter all my life. Whether I have remained so I known not, you must judge of that. Heaven knows I've tried. I have killed many men in my time, yet I have never slain wantonly or stained my hand in innocent blood, but only in self-defence. The Almighty gave us our lives, and I suppose He meant us to defend them, at least I have always acted on that, and I hope it will not be brought up against me when my clock strikes. There, there, it is a cruel and a wicked world, and for a timid man I have been mixed up in a great deal of fighting. I cannot tell the rights of it, but at any rate I have never stolen, though once I cheated a Kafir out of a herd of cattle. But then he had done me a dirty turn, and it has troubled me ever since into the bargain.
Well, it is eighteen months or so ago since first I met Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good. It was in this way. I had been up elephant hunting beyond Bamangwato, and had met with bad luck. Everything went wrong that trip, and to top up with I got the fever badly. So soon as I was well enough I trekked down to the Diamond Fields, sold such ivory as I had, together with my wagon and oxen, discharged my hunters, and took the post-cart to the Cape. After spending a week in Cape Town, finding that they overcharged me at the hotel, and having seen everything there was to see, including the botanical gardens, which seem to me likely to confer a great benefit on the country, and the new Houses of Parliament, which I expect will do nothing of the sort, I determined to go back to Natal by the Dunkeld, then lying at the docks waiting for the Edinburgh Castle due in from England. I took my berth and went aboard, and that afternoon the Natal passengers from the Edinburgh Castle transhipped, and we weighed and put to sea.
Among these passengers who came on board were two who excited my curiosity. One, a gentleman of about thirty, was perhaps the biggest-chested and longest-armed man I ever saw. He had yellow hair, a thick yellow beard, clear-cut features, and large grey eyes set deep in his head. I never saw a finer-looking man, and somehow he reminded me of an ancient Dane. Not that I know much of ancient Danes, though I knew a modern Dane who did me out of ten pounds; but I remember once seeing a picture of some of those gentry, who, I take it, were a kind of white Zulus. They were drinking out of big horns, and their long hair hung down their backs. As I looked at my friend standing there by the companion-ladder, I thought that if he only let his grow a little, put one of those chain shirts on to his great shoulders, and took hold of a battle-axe and a horn mug, he might have sat as a model for that picture. And by the way it is a curious thing, and just shows how the blood will out, I discovered afterwards that Sir Henry Curtis, for that was the big man's name, is of Danish blood. He also reminded me strongly of somebody else, but at the time I could not remember who it was.
The other man, who stood talking to Sir Henry, was stout and dark, and of quite a different cut. I suspected at once that he was a naval officer; I don't know why, but it is difficult to mistake a navy man. I have gone shooting trips with several of them in the course of my life, and they have always proved themselves the best and bravest and nicest fellows I ever met, though sadly given, some of them, to the use of profane language. I asked a page or two back, what is a gentleman? I'll answer the question now: A Royal Naval officer is, in a general sort of way, though of course there may be a black sheep among them here and there. I fancy it is just the wide seas and the breath of God's winds that wash their hearts and blow the bitterness out of their minds and make them what men ought to be.
Well, to return, I proved right again; I ascertained that the dark man was a naval officer, a lieutenant of thirty-one, who, after seventeen years' service, had been turned out of her Majesty's employ with the barren honour of a commander's rank, because it was impossible that he should be promoted. This is what people who serve the Queen have to expect: to be shot out into the cold world to find a living just when they are beginning really to understand their work, and to reach the prime of life. I suppose they don't mind it, but for my own part I had rather earn my bread as a hunter. One's halfpence are as scarce perhaps, but you do not get so many kicks.
The officer's name I found out — by referring to the passengers' lists — was Good — Captain John Good. He was broad, of medium height, dark, stout, and rather a curious man to look at. He was so very neat and so very clean-shaved, and he always wore an eye-glass in his right eye. It seemed to grow there, for it had no string, and he never took it out except to wipe it. At first I thought he used to sleep in it, but afterwards I found that this was a mistake. He put it in his trousers pocket when he went to bed, together with his false teeth, of which he had two beautiful sets that, my own being none of the best, have often caused me to break the tenth commandment. But I am anticipating.
Soon after we had got under way evening closed in, and brought with it very dirty weather. A keen breeze sprung up off land, and a kind of aggravated Scotch mist soon drove everybody from the deck. As for the Dunkeld, she is a flat-bottomed punt, and going up light as she was, she rolled very heavily. It almost seemed as though she would go right over, but she never did. It was quite impossible to walk about, so I stood near the engines where it was warm, and amused myself with watching the pendulum, which was fixed opposite to me, swinging slowly backwards and forwards as the vessel rolled, and marking the angle she touched at each lurch.
"That pendulum's wrong; it is not properly weighted," suddenly said a somewhat testy voice at my shoulder. Looking round I saw the naval officer whom I had noticed when the passengers came aboard.
"Indeed, now what makes you think so?" I asked.
"Think so. I don't think at all. Why there" — as she righted herself after a roll — "if the ship had really rolled to the degree that thing pointed to, then she would never have rolled again, that's all. But it is just like these merchant skippers, they are always so confoundedly careless."
Just then the dinner-bell rang, and I was not sorry, for it is a dreadful thing to have to listen to an officer of the Royal Navy when he gets on to that subject. I only know one worse thing, and that is to hear a merchant skipper express his candid opinion of officers of the Royal Navy.
Captain Good and I went down to dinner together, and there we found Sir Henry Curtis already seated. He and Captain Good were placed together, and I sat opposite to them. The captain and I soon fell into talk about shooting and what not; he asking me many questions, for he is very inquisitive about all sorts of things, and I answering them as well as I could. Presently he got on to elephants.
"Ah, sir," called out somebody who was sitting near me, "you've reached the right man for that; Hunter Quatermain should be able to tell you about elephants if anybody can."
Sir Henry, who had been sitting quite quiet listening to our talk, started visibly.
"Excuse me, sir," he said, leaning forward across the table, and speaking in a low deep voice, a very suitable voice, it seemed to me, to come out of those great lungs. "Excuse me, sir, but is your name Allan Quatermain?"
I said that it was.
The big man made no further remark, but I heard him mutter "fortunate" into his beard.
Presently dinner came to an end, and as we were leaving the saloon Sir Henry strolled up and asked me if I would come into his cabin to smoke a pipe. I accepted, and he led the way to the Dunkeld deck cabin, and a very good cabin it is. It had been two cabins, but when Sir Garnet Wolseley or one of those big swells went down the coast in the Dunkeld, they knocked away the partition and have never put it up again. There was a sofa in the cabin, and a little table in front of it. Sir Henry sent the steward for a bottle of whisky, and the three of us sat down and lit our pipes.
"Mr. Quatermain," said Sir Henry Curtis, when the man had brought the whisky and lit the lamp, "the year before last about this time, you were, I believe, at a place called Bamangwato, to the north of the Transvaal."
"I was," I answered, rather surprised that this gentleman should be so well acquainted with my movements, which were not, so far as I was aware, considered of general interest.
"You were trading there, were you not?" put in Captain Good, in his quick way.
"I was. I took up a wagon-load of goods, made a camp outside the settlement, and stopped till I had sold them."
Sir Henry was sitting opposite to me in a Madeira chair, his arms leaning on the table. He now looked up, fixing his large grey eyes full upon my face. There was a curious anxiety in them, I thought.
"Did you happen to meet a man called Neville there?"
"Oh, yes; he outspanned alongside of me for a fortnight to rest his oxen before going on to the interior. I had a letter from a lawyer a few months back, asking me if I knew what had become of him, which I answered to the best of my ability at the time."
"Yes," said Sir Henry, "your letter was forwarded to me. You said in it that the gentleman called Neville left Bamangwato at the beginning of May in a wagon with a driver, a voorlooper, and a Kafir hunter called Jim, announcing his intention of trekking if possible as far as Inyati, the extreme trading post in the Matabele country, where he would sell his wagon and proceed on foot. You also said that he did sell his wagon, for six months afterwards you saw the wagon in the possession of a Portuguese trader, who told you that he had bought it at Inyati from a white man whose name he had forgotten, and that he believed the white man with the native servant had started off for the interior on a shooting trip."
Then came a pause.
"Mr. Quatermain," said Sir Henry suddenly, "I suppose you know or can guess nothing more of the reasons of my — of Mr. Neville's journey to the northward, or as to what point that journey was directed?"
"I heard something," I answered, and stopped. The subject was one which I did not care to discuss.
Sir Henry and Captain Good looked at each other, and Captain Good nodded.
"Mr. Quatermain," went on the former, "I am going to tell you a story, and ask your advice, and perhaps your assistance. The agent who forwarded me your letter told me that I might rely on it implicitly, as you were," he said, "well known and universally respected in Natal, and especially noted for your discretion."
I bowed and drank some whisky and water to hide my confusion, for I am a modest man — and Sir Henry went on.
"Mr. Neville was my brother."
"Oh," I said, starting, for now I knew of whom Sir Henry had reminded me when first I saw him. His brother was a much smaller man and had a dark beard, but now that I thought of it, he possessed eyes of the same shade of grey and with the same keen look in them: the features too were not unlike.
"He was," went on Sir Henry, "my only and younger brother, and till five years ago I do not suppose that we were ever a month away from each other. But just about five years ago a misfortune befell us, as sometimes does happen in families. We quarrelled bitterly, and I behaved unjustly to my brother in my anger."
Here Captain Good nodded his head vigorously to himself. The ship gave a big roll just then, so that the looking-glass, which was fixed opposite us to starboard, was for a moment nearly over our heads, and as I was sitting with my hands in my pockets and staring upwards, I could see him nodding like anything.
"As I daresay you know," went on Sir Henry, "if a man dies intestate, and has no property but land, real property it is called in England, it all descends to his eldest son. It so happened that just at the time when we quarrelled our father died intestate. He had put off making his will until it was too late. The result was that my brother, who had not been brought up to any profession, was left without a penny. Of course it would have been my duty to provide for him, but at the time the quarrel between us was so bitter that I did not — to my shame I say it (and he sighed deeply) — offer to do anything. It was not that I grudged him justice, but I waited for him to make advances, and he made none. I am sorry to trouble you with all this, Mr. Quatermain, but I must to make things clear, eh, Good?"
Excerpted from King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard. Copyright © 2016 Haggard, H. Rider. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Preface Introduction H. Rider Haggard: A Brief Chronology A Note on the Text
King Solomon’s Mines
Appendix A: Victorian Critical Reaction
- The Saturday Review, 10 October 1885
- Robert Louis Stevenson, 1885
- The Spectator, 7 November 1885
- The Literary World, 23 January 1886
- Gerard Manley Hopkins, 28 October 1886
- The Dial, May 1887
- The Book Buyer, August 1887
- The Church Quarterly Review, January 1888
- Fortnightly Review, 1 September 1888
- Forum, May 1889
Appendix B: Haggard on Africa and Romance
- “Notes on King Solomon’s Mines” (1906)
- “Anecdote” (c. 1876)
- “A Zulu War-Dance” (1877)
- “About Fiction” (1877)
Appendix C: Historical Documents: Natives and Imperialists in South Africa
- Fred Fynney, Zululand and the Zulus (1880)
- John Ruskin, Lectures on Art (1873)
- Cecil Rhodes,“Confession of Faith” (1877)
- Cecil Rhodes, Speeches (1881-1900)
- Olive Schreiner, Trooper Peter Halket of Mashonaland (1897)
- Olive Schreiner, Thoughts on South Africa (1890-92)
Appendix D: Historical Documents: Spoils of Imperialism: Gold, Diamonds, and Ivory
- The Bible, I Kings 10: 1-13
- Kebra Negast (c. 14th Century)
- “The Ophir of Scripture,” The Illustrated London News, 11 January 1873
- Hugh Mulleneux Walmsley, The Ruined Cities of Zulu Land (1869)
- Olive Schreiner, “Diamond Fields” (c. 1880)
- Frederick Courteney Selous, A Hunter’s Wanderings in Africa (1890)
Works Cited and Recommended Reading
Reading Group Guide
1. H. Rider Haggard is said to have written King Solomon’s Mines on a bet, and in a scant six weeks. Does the novel show signs of the author’s haste? Does it seem to have been written more for commercial success than out of any sense of artistic expression?
2. The novel was indeed an astonishing blockbuster in its day, and has remained in print for well over a hundred years. Does its success then, or its endurance to this day, surprise you?
3. Haggard spent some years living in Africa, and he fills King Solomon’s Mines with details he absorbed. Do his depictions of the African landscape and its people feel authentic to you? Do you find it surprising that his detailed portrayal of a tribal battle is actually very close to the truth?
4. Consider the author’s portrayals of, particularly, Umbopa, Twala, Gagool, and Foulata, and of blacks in general. Does Haggard attempt to make his black characters seem real (or at least as real as his white characters), or does he succumb, do you think, to racial stereotyping? Consider that Haggard describes the virtuous Umbopa as very attractive (and relatively light-skinned), while Twala, the villain, is ugly (and dark-skinned). How does Haggard’s portrayal of blacks affect your appreciation of the novel?
5. Haggard dedicates the novel to “big and little boys.” Is there anything in the novel to hold the interest of big or little girls? Does the absence of a romantic plot (with one notable exception) surprise you? Or does it seem in keeping with the tastes of the novel’s intended audience? Consider the fact that the most famous film versions of King Solomon’s Mines introduce significant female characters who are not in the novel, and that these movies are as much about romance as about adventure. What does this tell you about Haggard’s audience - and Hollywood’s?
6. Do you think that readers in Haggard’s day found the interracial romance of Good and Foulata, however lightly touched upon it may be, shocking? Are you surprised that Haggard presents it so matter-of-factly? Would he have dared, do you think, to present a romance between a black man and a white woman?
7. King Solomon’s Mines is largely a realistic novel. Does the sequence in the Place of Death seem to veer into the realm of fantasy? Does it break the tone of the rest of the book?
8. Allan Quatermain proved so popular with readers that, even having killed him off in a sequel, Haggard felt compelled to revisit this character in numerous further novels and short stories. Can you understand the enduring fascination of this elephant hunter? Consider the popular characters of recent pop culture who have appeared in numerous sequels: Batman, Harry Potter, and particularly Indiana Jones, who might be seen to owe a creative debt to Quatermain. Why do you think such characters inspire ongoing interest?
9. Alexandra Fuller, in her Introduction to this Modern Library Paperback Classic, finds much in King Solomon’s Mines that is relevant to her experience of Africa in recent years and today. Consider what, if anything, twenty-first-century readers may learn from Haggard’s novel about current issues of imperialism, colonialism, race relations, even the environment.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My only regret is that I waited thirty-seven years to read this amazing adventure. Unlike most contemporary fiction, the author made me feel as though I were experiencing the story instead of just reading it. Treat yourself to some true story telling.
Before i read this book, i avoided classics like the plague. This was my first classic that i read amd i loved it. I reread it about four times and loved better each time.
The main character Allan Quatermain unexpectedly falls into the exploration of a unknown civilization in Africa on a quest to find a missing adventurer and possibly King Soloman's treasure. The explorers soon find themselves amidst African kings, tribal warriors, and an elderly sinister seer. The book is filled with adventure and is regarded as one of the best books ever written.
The start of the Lost World style of fiction, a precursor to the pulp novels to come later - it's a good adventure. A significant portion is taken up with a rather detailed account of military maneuvers in a civil war the heroes find themselves in the middle of, not quite the two-fisted daring that Allan Quartermain holds in the public mind's eye. Historically, from a literary point of view, it's very interesting to see the early elements of adventure pulp novels planting their seeds. From a strict story point of view, the narrative occasionally bogs itself down recounting bland details, but still the adventure keeps itself apace and concludes grandly.
This book is undoubtedly a classic that started the whole Lost World craze. I got kind of bored reading it. The writing was pretty good, and the plot was really entertaining. Some of the travel parts just dragged on. For much of the book I found myself wondering what was so exciting. There are a few humorous parts, like Good walking around with his pants off and being worshiped as a God. The end notes helped with the context of the story.
Sometimes a classic is a classic just because it provides so much entertainment to readers over the years. This is just a good fun read. Don't look for any deep social comment, Just take it as a fun entertaining story in which every guy can think 'I am Allan Quartermain.' This has obviously been the inspiration for so many of the adventure stories that have been written since KIng Solomons Mines publication in the the late 19th century. Just read it, and have fun.
King Solomon's Mines is a very thrilling book, and contains a number of scenes and ideas that have clearly inspired many other authors and creators. Indeed, the archetype of the cynical, hard-bitten adventurer was created by Haggard, and even modern day heroes such as Indiana Jones owe a great deal of inspiration to Haggard's Alan Quartermain. Unfortunately, like most books from the era that deal with Africa, there is a fair amount of racist/imperialist stereotypes and ideas. However, readers who can overlook these regrettable concepts will find an exciting, rousing and inventive read.
This a classic rip-roaring adventure yarn about a group of men heading into deepest darkest Africa on the hunt for a lost brother and treasure. This book is most definitely a product of its times, with all the racism and chauvinism which that entails, but despite that it actually manages in some ways to be a more sympathetic treatment of "the natives" than many other books of a similar era. Just don't go in expecting enlightened attitudes!The story is engaging, and the voice of the "narrator" of the piece shows a writer at the full peak of his talent. He manages to maintain the line between Quatermain's natural voice and the voice of someone attempting to write a proper narrative for others to read, which maintains the fiction of Quatermain writing about his experiences very well. The humour is often unexpected, the story is well-paced, and the action is well-written. It's not a deep read, but it's a thoroughly engaging one.
Written in slightly old-fashioned prose, it is the story of a search for a lost brother. It will take them through the desert, through cold mountain reaches, to meet the evil King on the other side of the mountain, and to involve themselves in a war. It is one desperate adventure after another. Shockingly for the modern day reader, the ideas of the time period are highlighted, and the reader will probably recoil from the hunting of elephants, and the deaths of so many characters during the course of the story. It has parts that are bloody, gruesome, and unsavory.If nothing else, however, it's a good, classic story to have under the belt for all those references to it in other stories, shows, and movies.
This book is a light and easy read. It's fairly fast-paced, although it does get a bit bogged down in the middle with the struggle between the rival Kukuana kings. It's got a bit of a potboiler feel to it, with plenty of things thrown into the mix.Overall, it's a good read as long as you don't take it seriously and you're not looking for great literature.
Sometimes a classic is a classic just because it provides so much entertainment to readers over the years. This is just a good fun read. Don't look for any deep social comment. Just take it as a fun entertaining story in which every guy can think " I am Allan Quartermain." This has obviously been the inspiration for so many of the adventure stories that have been written since King Solomon's Mines publications in the late 19th century. Just read it and have fun.
Themes: Exploration and conquest, hunting, long lost heirs, missing brothers, starcrossed lovers, witchcraft, raceSetting: South Africa about 1890 maybe?Yes, this has some graphic descriptions of an elephant hunt. In fact, the main character, Allan Quartermain is a hunter. That's how he makes his living, killing animals, especially elephants, for their hides and their ivory. Yes, there is a lot of racism in the book. Some racial epithets, but even more a feeling of white man's superiority that permeates the whole book. By the end of the book, I think that the white folks are more tolerant of the black, but there is still a gap. So if that is going to keep you from enjoying the book, I'm warning you now not to pick it up.But I loved it. I'm not sure what it says about me that I could overlook that, if that means there are some deep hidden character flaws or if it means that I am more shallow than the rest or what, but I stinking loved this book. It was a kick butt adventure yarn. Elephant stampedes, Sheba's Breasts (that made me giggle), treasure maps, missing brothers, diamond mines, evil witch doctor ladies, it totally has it all. And I got it for free for my Kindle. You absolutely can't beat that. Now I'm going to find more by this author and save them for when I'm having a really rotten day and need something absorbing and fun to make me feel better. 5 stars.
An exciting fast paced book; but the reader should beware that the book was published in 1885 and does reflect the racist attitudes of the time. Lovers of animals might also be offended by the wholesale slaughter of elephants etc within. That said however, the work is well written,with a good plot and plenty of interesting dialogue.
A classic adventure story that still has the power to grab you. Chocked full of humour, Alan and his friends battle across the desert hunting elephants, dying of hunger, duping the natives and getting themselves in scrapes. Complete with happy ending. Marvellous.
THE Victorian boy's adventure novel. Interesting plot that will remind readers of Indiana Jones. Actually, pretty much any male hero adventurer with a slightly supernatural bent. Unlike so many of these, though, Alan Quartermain is short, unattractive, a coward, and ultimately pragmatic above all else. Maybe one of my new favourite characters. Though the entire story takes place in Africa, this actually isn't as completely racist as it could be. That seems like faint praise, but Haggard definitely treats the various African tribes much better than, say, John Smith does Native Americans. They are still definitely considered less civilized than the Europeans, but never mocked or called devils. Their skills in various areas are often praised. At the end of the day Quartermain becomes BFFs with a few men of a fictional tribe as equals, even if there are quite a few not so nice mentions of the fact that relationships between blacks and whites were not a good idea. There is a definite slight tang of Orientalism (yes I know Africa isn't the Orient you know what I mean).All in all a very enjoyable read and very few cringe-worthy moments. An interesting side-note, it is mentioned that the tsetse fly kills cattle and livestock, but not humans. I wonder if that was because the sleeping sickness hadn't arrived in humans yet or if the association just hadn't been made.
Great adventure story, one of the first of its genre. Lost diamonds, biblical legendary, forgotten peoples, war, and the restoration of a king. A search for lost diamonds turns into an amazing adventure. My modern day sensibilities had trouble with what was acceptable over 100 years ago (elephant hunters and they even eat Giraffe steaks!) Even from this adventure novel there are great life lessons:"What is life? Tell me, O white men, who awise, who know the secrets of the world, and the world of the stars, and the world that lies above and around the stars; who flash your words from afar without a voice: tell me, white men, the secret of our life--whither it goes and whence it comes!You cannot answer me: you know not, Listen, I will answer. Out of the dark we came, into the dark we go. Like a storm-driven bird at night we fly out of Nowhere; for a moment our wings are sen in the light of the fire, and lo we are gone again into the Nowhere. Life is nothing. Life is all. It is the Hand with which we hold off Death. It is the glow-worm that shines in the night-time and is black in the morning. It is the white breath of the oxen in winter; it is the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself at sunset." p 65
This was a great read and I would reconment it to any teen that enjoys quest and adventure stories. Just because it is old (classic) does not mean its not great!
This is the first of the Alan Quartermain novels, that adventure series from the late 1800s. As a ground breaking adventure novel, I suppose I should have liked it better. The problem is, I've read so many "lost world" tales in my day that King Solomon's Mines seemed a bit cliched. I do have to admit, though, that despite the racism and other 19th Century attitudes, the story has weathered pretty well. The novel is nowhere near as thick as some of its contemporaries that I've read.--J.
A classic adventure yarn, set in 19th-century southern Africa, and written in 1885. Although it takes liberties, and reflects the limited knowledge of the interior of Africa at that time, it is at least written by someone who lived in Africa and had some idea what he was talking about. His view of the "natives" reflects contemporary views, but he comes over as relatively progressive for his times. Very British, very manly and patriarchal, but well worth reading
Classic adventure story. Without Haggard's Alan Quartermain, we would not have Indiana Jones!
I have owned a copy of "King Solomon's Mines" since I was a little girl. I specifically remember picking one up at a library sale around the age of 11. So, for ten years, this book has been carted around with me through 11 moves, 5 states, 4 different bookshelves, and who knows what else. Besides being a classic, I owed it to this particular copy to finally read it.I'm glad that I did (sorry it took me so long, Quatermain), because this is a fun, exciting adventure. I wish I had read it the day I took it home from that book sale as a kid, because this book reminded me of childhood adventure stories. There is a small group of people setting out on a dangerous journey, in which of course all sorts of dangers occur, but in the end through bravery and luck, everything turns out happily. It was familiar, but satisfying. The plot is that Allan Quatermain, a wild game hunter in 1800's Africa, is recruited by two other men to search for lost treasure - a diamond mine of unimaginable wealth. Apparently, others have gone before them searching for the same diamonds (including a brother of one of the men in the party) but no one has ever survived. Or, that's what we have to assume, since no one ever came back. Quatermain and his two friends, joined by an African bushman, journey across mountains and deserts, surviving thirst, hunger, murderous native tribes, witch doctors, and other such perils.I really loved that this book was set in South Africa, as my boyfriend is from there. In fact, he is from Durban, in the KwaZulu-Natal region, which is the most specific setting that the book ever offers us. I've been slowly learning Afrikaans from my boyfriend over the past 2 years, but rarely - in fact, never ever - have I found any use for it. So I can't describe how delighted I was to come across quite a few words I recognized.Haggard throws some dashes of comedy into the story, too. I thought that their first encounter with the natives was absolutely hilarious. Hunter tribesman come upon the group when Good is in the middle of dressing and shaving. He also has false teeth and glasses, leading the natives to think that he is a god. They think that he grows hair on only one side of his face, and assume that there must be some deep significance to the fact that he goes about with his legs bare. When he later attempts to put pants on, they say "Would my lord cover up his beautiful white legs?" So for the rest of the time he is with the natives, Good must keep shaving one side of his face and banish any pants. Quatermain also furthers the natives assumptions by telling them great stories about how they are from the stars. It was pretty funny.Besides adventure and comedy, a few parts in the book also got quite detailed, in a Jules Verne type of manner. Our narrator goes into great detail about the supplies they are taking with them, and then goes on to tell us all about the wagons that will be holding the supplies, and the oxen that will be pulling these wagons. He even launches into a few paragraphs about how to immunize oxen against disease - tips for anyone traveling the wilds of Africa, I suppose.I know that others would see it as tedious, but I just love tiny little insignificant details like that.As for the negative, I didn't like Quatermain's disrespect toward animals and his occasional racist quips, though the racist part wasn't exactly unexpected, as this was written by a man of 1800's British Africa. Quatermain has a habit of describing natives and animals with negative words like "brutes" and "wretches" for no apparent reason. The African people are there for him to dismiss as beneath him, and the beautiful African animals are there for him to slaughter.In the old tradition, Quatermain begins the narrative by telling us that he is speaking about his experiences and is relating the tale for his son. He never addresses his son in any part of the book, so I felt that this "fireside story" was pretty pointless. If anything, all that it does i
Before reading A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen I¿d never heard of Allan Quatermain. So I went into this with low expectations and was more than pleasantly surprised at what I found. This adventure story is more about friendship than treasure. Sir Henry Curtis (Incubu) is searching for his last brother who was last scene on his way to find the illusive King Solomon¿s Mines, which are allegedly filled with diamonds. Curtis hires Quatermain (Macumazahn) to travel with him with the stipulation that if Quatermain dies, which he fully expects to, Curtis will provide for his son. Curtis¿ friend Captain John Good (Bougwan) will also embark on the quest. As the three men begin their journey they have no idea what¿s in store for them; harsh desserts, elephant hunting, a war between tribes and so much more. Though parts of the story were predictable, they were still entertaining and the plot never lags. The adventure story had real heart, which made it stand apart from more generic versions. I loved Quatermain¿s honesty. There are moments when he says he doesn¿t want to fight because it¿s senseless, courage be damned. He¿s honorable and sincere, a true friend to the end. I absolutely thing he deserves a spot in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
This book is not politically correct - nor should one expect it to be because it was written in 1885 by a British man, back when colonialism was all the rage. Set in Africa, the main character Allan Quatermain finds himself leading a search and rescue mission being financed by Sir Henry Curtis. Sir Henry is looking for his brother, who was last seen headed for King's Soloman's Mines. Sir Henry's good friend-literally, his name is Captain Good, is along for the adventure. Quatermain is a hunter by trade, and so along the way there is, you guessed it, hunting. For ivory, for sport, for food - Quatermain has been promised that he and Good can split whatever financial gain and treasure they acquire during their travels. In addition, Sir Henry has made provisions for Quatermain's son in the event that they do not return from their mission. This is a great adventure story told in first person narrative that set the stage for a new genre in literature - the "Lost World" genre that was a precursor to our modern day equivalents such as the Indiana Jones stories. There is also a lot of humor in this book. For example, when the Kukuanas discover Quatermain's party on their land, the penalty would have been death if not for the fact that Captain Good is so fastidious. Caught in the middle of his "elaborate toilet" Good rises to stand before the natives half dressed, half shaved, wearing a monocle, and in his nervousness, he pulls his false teeth out of place and then returns them to their proper position."How is it, O strangers," asked the old man solemnly, "that this fat man (pointing to Good, who was clad in nothing but boots and a flannel shirt, and has only half finished his shaving), whose body is clothed, and whose legs are bare, who grows hair on one side of his sickly face and not on the other, and who wears one shining and transparent eye- how is it, I ask, that he has teeth which move of themselves, coming away from the jaws and returning of their own will?"Quatermain convinces the Kukuanas that they are "white men from the stars" and thus, their lives are spared. Captain Good, however, must now keep up his charade and is not allowed to have his pants back. The rest of the story is one rolling adventure - tribal war, treasure beyond the imagination, betrayal....I debated between 3.5 and 4 stars for this book because the story is a 4, but the book does drag a bit in places. In the end, I decided on 4 stars because the slow bits are more than made up for by all of the fun.
This is the first Rider Haggard novel I've read, and it was a hoot. Ripping adventure in the fictional wilds of Africa, leavened by some surprisingly lyrical descriptive and even contemplative passages. Recommended.
King Solomon's Mines was reputedly written on a wager, with H. Rider Haggard betting a friend that he could write a better adventure novel than Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. It's a classic adventure novel, with three stiff upper lip Englishmen venturing into the South African veldt in search of a lost brother and the fabled treasures of King Solomon's mines.I haven't read Treasure Island, but if it's anything like Stevenson's Kidnapped, which I read and enjoyed a few weeks ago, I would personally say that Haggard failed his bet. King Solomon's Mines contains all the elements of a proper adventure novel - kitting up for an expedition, nearly dying in the wilderness, uncovering a Lost World kingdom, huge battles, restoring a rightful king, beiing trapped in a treasure chamber etc. - it's almost as though he's following a recipe. I found myself quite bored throughout, particularly during the wooden and lifeless battle scenes. This is fairly typical of 19th century novels, as far as I'm concerned, and it was more that Kidnapped pleasantly surprised me than that King Solomon's Mines let me down. But Stevenson is certainly the better writer; he has a wit and a charm about him that is wholly lacking in Haggard, which is unsurprising, given that the latter wrote a formulaic novel just to win five pounds.