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Touted by its 1885 publisher as “the most amazing story ever written,” King Solomon’s Mines was one of the bestselling novels of the nineteenth century. H. Rider Haggard’s thrilling saga of elephant hunter Allan Quatermain and his search for fabled treasure is more than just an adventure story, though: As Alexandra Fuller explains in her Introduction, in its vivid portrayal of the alliances and battles of white colonials and African tribesmen, King Solomon’s Mines “brings us the world of extremes, of the absurdly tall tales and of the illogical loyalty between disparate people that still informs this part of the world.”
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9780307431349
List price: $2.99
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By common consent one of the greatest adventure novels ever written. Much better than the very silly racist movie with Sharon Stone. Haggard knew Africa and shows real respect for his African characters, notably Ignosi --in fact, in some ways Ignosi seems to maneuver European explorers into taking him back to claim his thron.more
An excellent story in the ripping yarns / lost world genre! Very easy to read with a great storyline but you can tell it's from a different era, wouldn't get past the self censorship today.more
Great white hunter and guide Allan Quartermaine has been hired by Sir Henry Curtis to aid in the search for his missing brother who disappeared in a remote region of Africa. There, it is rumored, that the source of King Solomon's legendary wealth can be found. Curtis and Quartermaine are joined by Captain Good.This, of course, is the tale of their journey, and the hazards and wonders they experienced.King Solomon's Mines was the prototype of Indiana Jones type adventure stories, and was great fun to read!more
It is seldom that a book, even a classic, grabs me like this one. I am in love!Story construction, narrator's voice, elegant turn of phrase, wonderful characters. It's all there. I'm sorry it took me so long to find it.more
This is an old fashioned adventure yarn and its hero, Alan Quatermain, is a direct ancestor of Indiana Jones. I'm not going to claim that Haggard even at his best is the same order of classic as the best by Charles Dickens, the Brontes, George Eliot or Thomas Hardy. But like fellow Victorians Arthur Conan Doyle or Robert Louis Stevenson or Rudyard Kipling, Haggard really could spin a good yarn. Ten of his books are on my bookshelves. I gobbled those up in my teens and most I remember very, very well even decades later. My favorite of his novels involved Ayesha, known as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, especially the book Wisdom's Daughter. King Solomon's Mines is his most famous novel though, probably helped by the film of that title. It does have humor, some unforgettable scenes and images, and lots of adventure and daring do. Yet I could list several novels by Haggard I liked better. And I think that has to do with Quatermain himself, the epitome of the "Great White Hunter" with the kind of casual racism of the age and glory in bagging game you might expect. I prefer Haggard's Eric, the Viking from Eric Brighteyes. Or Olaf from The Wanderer's Necklace. Or his Odysseus from his Homer homage written with Andrew Lang, The World's Desire. And above all his indomitable Ayesha, one of the great heroines of Victorian literature. So while this is Haggard's best known work, I don't think it's necessarily his best or the one a contemporary reader would enjoy the most.more
Classic adventure book, great for young boys or anyone that likes a straight forward adventure.more
This is, I think, the longest I have gone between re-reading of books -- more than 25 years ago I first read Haggard at a (horrible) sleep-away camp. (I think I also read "Starman Jones" while I was there, and I know I borrowed the "Pelman the Powershaper" series from one of the counselors). Some very small things I remembered: the chain-mail, the hag's trap. Almost all else had passed. A vivid adventure, and with a prose style so much better than we expect from genre fiction now. "A sharp spear," runs the Kukuana saying, "needs no polish"more
I love classic adventure stories, and this one did not disappoint! It wasn't an epic, like Count of Monte Cristo, but it offered the reader plenty of continuous excitement and action on par with an Indiana Jones movie. The novel tells of Allan Quartermain, a 19th century elephant hunter in Southern Africa, who is convinced by two English men (Curtis & Good) to help search for Curtis's brother and hopefully find overflowing riches at the elusive mines of King Solomon on the way. The group is joined by Umbopa, an African porter who, as it turns out, has a surprising secret. Many challenges hinder their road to fortune ... witches, tribal warfare, desert dehydration, angry elephants... the thrills just don't stop. Can they find the elusive diamonds and still have their lives to show for it?more
In a nutshell, this is a proper old-fashioned adventure yarn. It is narrated by the now-iconic Allan Quatermain, an English hunter making his living shooting game in South Africa. He is on a boat returning to his home in Durban when he meets Sir Henry Curtis and his friend, naval officer Captain John Good. Sir Henry is attempting to find his brother, last seen heading out on a suicidal mission across the desert in search of King Solomon's legendary diamond mines. He enlists Quatermain's (rather reluctant) help and the three set out for the mountains, aided by a crudely-drawn map left to Quatermain by the last fool to attempt the journey.What follows is a real Indiana Jones story that had me completely absorbed from start to finish. First the desert must be navigated, then there are mountains to cross, only for the exhausted trio to find themselves embroiled in a bitter tribal war on the other side. It could have been so dull, but Quatermain's plentiful dry humour and beautiful flights of description proved irresistable. The excitement and suspense is genuinely riveting - there are a couple of deliciously gruesome moments that sent me mentally diving behind my sofa cushion - and when I reached the last page I felt utterly bereft. Having been so completely immersed in the trio's African exploits, I wasn't quite sure what I could read next that could POSSIBLY compare (always the sign of a great book!).The characters are exquisite creations, each and every one of them. Sir Henry, the great fair Viking with his deep integrity and ferocious strength as a warrior. Captain Good, with his eye glass, impressive swearing abilities (never rendered here, by the way!) and determination to dress like a gentleman despite the harsh conditions. Even foul old Gagool, the ancient and evil Kukuana witch doctress, was so brilliantly drawn that I felt a wave of revulsion every time she graced the page with her presence. The biggest thing I'll take away from the book, the element that will stick with me the most, is the incredible set-piece imagery, some of which wouldn't seem out of place in a Lord of the Rings film. I think certain 'snapshots' from the book are forever imprinted on my memory, they're so unforgettable. The great twin mountain peaks at sunrise. A wounded bull elephant charging through the trees. Key moments from the tribal war. The moment when the trio first enter the Kukuana Place of Death (that was perhaps the most memorable scene of all for me). I mean... wow. I'm actually glad that no decent film adaptation of the book has ever been made, because now I'm not tempted to watch it. It'd take a damn fine movie to match up to the pictures in my mind! Perhaps I should write to Peter Jackson...more
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.more
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.more
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.more
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 is tell the reader that Quatermain is going to get out of everything okay, because he lives to tell the story, after all. And even worse, another reason he gives in the beginning for writing the book is that his two traveling companions, Good and Curtis, want him to. Alright, great, now we know that not only the main character, but ALL THREE of the main characters will survive. It made the climatic scenes just a bit less suspenseful.Quatermain never really came alive as a character for me. I think that from what I have seen, Haggard is better at writing vivid, exotic settings than grounded, realistic people. Quatermain describes himself a few times in the beginning chapters as a "timid, cautious man," but his past and future experiences make me wonder what would ever make him say this. He's an elephant and lion hunter on a deadly journey through the African wilderness, after all! Maybe he's just a bad describer, going back to the whole pointlessly calling gazelles "brutes" thing. My main problem with Quatermain, far more hindering to the story than mislabeling some gazelles, was that he seemed so lacking in passion and personality. When Good and Curtis try to get him to come with them on their journey, he agrees without ever giving a reason. Is he a thrill-seeker? Loves an adventure? Is bored with life and wants something new? Seeking treasure? Lover of mysterious African lore? Something... Anything?Well, no. None of those options. Or maybe all of them. We just never know.Quatermain agrees to go, but never gives a reason. In fact he appears to just agree right on the spot without even thinking it over, but tells the two men only minutes later that he does not believe they will find any diamonds, and that they will probably die. At least they're starting their journey off on a realistic note, I suppose!Quatermain remains icy cool and calm in the most hopeless of situations, and the only traces of humanity we ever see in him are some slight nostalgia or appreciation over the untamed beauty of the African landscape. Needless to say, noting a sunset here and a birdcall there are far from enough to fill him out as a character.Hopefully, the next books in the series will provide a more likable Quatermain, but even if they don't, I'll still read them."King Solomon's Mines" was a fun adventure that I got through quite quickly. Or... quite slowly, if you count the 10 lamentable years it has sat on my shelf (shelves) untouched.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
Classic adventure story. Without Haggard's Alan Quartermain, we would not have Indiana Jones!more
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 readingmore
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 65more
A rip-roaring boys own adventure!more
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.more
Basically, this was a wonderful adventure story and morality tale all in one. It has all the pitfalls of gender bias, stereotyping, blah, blah, blah.....they are a given in literature of a certain era. Taking all that into account, it was just plain a wonderful adventure. Questions it raised: What is wealth? What is wisdom? What is courage?more
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.more
A rattling adventure story that, if anything, I found rather too fast to read. It lacked some of the depth of the author's other classic, She. Quite a dramatic final section.more
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.more
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Reviews

By common consent one of the greatest adventure novels ever written. Much better than the very silly racist movie with Sharon Stone. Haggard knew Africa and shows real respect for his African characters, notably Ignosi --in fact, in some ways Ignosi seems to maneuver European explorers into taking him back to claim his thron.more
An excellent story in the ripping yarns / lost world genre! Very easy to read with a great storyline but you can tell it's from a different era, wouldn't get past the self censorship today.more
Great white hunter and guide Allan Quartermaine has been hired by Sir Henry Curtis to aid in the search for his missing brother who disappeared in a remote region of Africa. There, it is rumored, that the source of King Solomon's legendary wealth can be found. Curtis and Quartermaine are joined by Captain Good.This, of course, is the tale of their journey, and the hazards and wonders they experienced.King Solomon's Mines was the prototype of Indiana Jones type adventure stories, and was great fun to read!more
It is seldom that a book, even a classic, grabs me like this one. I am in love!Story construction, narrator's voice, elegant turn of phrase, wonderful characters. It's all there. I'm sorry it took me so long to find it.more
This is an old fashioned adventure yarn and its hero, Alan Quatermain, is a direct ancestor of Indiana Jones. I'm not going to claim that Haggard even at his best is the same order of classic as the best by Charles Dickens, the Brontes, George Eliot or Thomas Hardy. But like fellow Victorians Arthur Conan Doyle or Robert Louis Stevenson or Rudyard Kipling, Haggard really could spin a good yarn. Ten of his books are on my bookshelves. I gobbled those up in my teens and most I remember very, very well even decades later. My favorite of his novels involved Ayesha, known as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, especially the book Wisdom's Daughter. King Solomon's Mines is his most famous novel though, probably helped by the film of that title. It does have humor, some unforgettable scenes and images, and lots of adventure and daring do. Yet I could list several novels by Haggard I liked better. And I think that has to do with Quatermain himself, the epitome of the "Great White Hunter" with the kind of casual racism of the age and glory in bagging game you might expect. I prefer Haggard's Eric, the Viking from Eric Brighteyes. Or Olaf from The Wanderer's Necklace. Or his Odysseus from his Homer homage written with Andrew Lang, The World's Desire. And above all his indomitable Ayesha, one of the great heroines of Victorian literature. So while this is Haggard's best known work, I don't think it's necessarily his best or the one a contemporary reader would enjoy the most.more
Classic adventure book, great for young boys or anyone that likes a straight forward adventure.more
This is, I think, the longest I have gone between re-reading of books -- more than 25 years ago I first read Haggard at a (horrible) sleep-away camp. (I think I also read "Starman Jones" while I was there, and I know I borrowed the "Pelman the Powershaper" series from one of the counselors). Some very small things I remembered: the chain-mail, the hag's trap. Almost all else had passed. A vivid adventure, and with a prose style so much better than we expect from genre fiction now. "A sharp spear," runs the Kukuana saying, "needs no polish"more
I love classic adventure stories, and this one did not disappoint! It wasn't an epic, like Count of Monte Cristo, but it offered the reader plenty of continuous excitement and action on par with an Indiana Jones movie. The novel tells of Allan Quartermain, a 19th century elephant hunter in Southern Africa, who is convinced by two English men (Curtis & Good) to help search for Curtis's brother and hopefully find overflowing riches at the elusive mines of King Solomon on the way. The group is joined by Umbopa, an African porter who, as it turns out, has a surprising secret. Many challenges hinder their road to fortune ... witches, tribal warfare, desert dehydration, angry elephants... the thrills just don't stop. Can they find the elusive diamonds and still have their lives to show for it?more
In a nutshell, this is a proper old-fashioned adventure yarn. It is narrated by the now-iconic Allan Quatermain, an English hunter making his living shooting game in South Africa. He is on a boat returning to his home in Durban when he meets Sir Henry Curtis and his friend, naval officer Captain John Good. Sir Henry is attempting to find his brother, last seen heading out on a suicidal mission across the desert in search of King Solomon's legendary diamond mines. He enlists Quatermain's (rather reluctant) help and the three set out for the mountains, aided by a crudely-drawn map left to Quatermain by the last fool to attempt the journey.What follows is a real Indiana Jones story that had me completely absorbed from start to finish. First the desert must be navigated, then there are mountains to cross, only for the exhausted trio to find themselves embroiled in a bitter tribal war on the other side. It could have been so dull, but Quatermain's plentiful dry humour and beautiful flights of description proved irresistable. The excitement and suspense is genuinely riveting - there are a couple of deliciously gruesome moments that sent me mentally diving behind my sofa cushion - and when I reached the last page I felt utterly bereft. Having been so completely immersed in the trio's African exploits, I wasn't quite sure what I could read next that could POSSIBLY compare (always the sign of a great book!).The characters are exquisite creations, each and every one of them. Sir Henry, the great fair Viking with his deep integrity and ferocious strength as a warrior. Captain Good, with his eye glass, impressive swearing abilities (never rendered here, by the way!) and determination to dress like a gentleman despite the harsh conditions. Even foul old Gagool, the ancient and evil Kukuana witch doctress, was so brilliantly drawn that I felt a wave of revulsion every time she graced the page with her presence. The biggest thing I'll take away from the book, the element that will stick with me the most, is the incredible set-piece imagery, some of which wouldn't seem out of place in a Lord of the Rings film. I think certain 'snapshots' from the book are forever imprinted on my memory, they're so unforgettable. The great twin mountain peaks at sunrise. A wounded bull elephant charging through the trees. Key moments from the tribal war. The moment when the trio first enter the Kukuana Place of Death (that was perhaps the most memorable scene of all for me). I mean... wow. I'm actually glad that no decent film adaptation of the book has ever been made, because now I'm not tempted to watch it. It'd take a damn fine movie to match up to the pictures in my mind! Perhaps I should write to Peter Jackson...more
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.more
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.more
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.more
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 is tell the reader that Quatermain is going to get out of everything okay, because he lives to tell the story, after all. And even worse, another reason he gives in the beginning for writing the book is that his two traveling companions, Good and Curtis, want him to. Alright, great, now we know that not only the main character, but ALL THREE of the main characters will survive. It made the climatic scenes just a bit less suspenseful.Quatermain never really came alive as a character for me. I think that from what I have seen, Haggard is better at writing vivid, exotic settings than grounded, realistic people. Quatermain describes himself a few times in the beginning chapters as a "timid, cautious man," but his past and future experiences make me wonder what would ever make him say this. He's an elephant and lion hunter on a deadly journey through the African wilderness, after all! Maybe he's just a bad describer, going back to the whole pointlessly calling gazelles "brutes" thing. My main problem with Quatermain, far more hindering to the story than mislabeling some gazelles, was that he seemed so lacking in passion and personality. When Good and Curtis try to get him to come with them on their journey, he agrees without ever giving a reason. Is he a thrill-seeker? Loves an adventure? Is bored with life and wants something new? Seeking treasure? Lover of mysterious African lore? Something... Anything?Well, no. None of those options. Or maybe all of them. We just never know.Quatermain agrees to go, but never gives a reason. In fact he appears to just agree right on the spot without even thinking it over, but tells the two men only minutes later that he does not believe they will find any diamonds, and that they will probably die. At least they're starting their journey off on a realistic note, I suppose!Quatermain remains icy cool and calm in the most hopeless of situations, and the only traces of humanity we ever see in him are some slight nostalgia or appreciation over the untamed beauty of the African landscape. Needless to say, noting a sunset here and a birdcall there are far from enough to fill him out as a character.Hopefully, the next books in the series will provide a more likable Quatermain, but even if they don't, I'll still read them."King Solomon's Mines" was a fun adventure that I got through quite quickly. Or... quite slowly, if you count the 10 lamentable years it has sat on my shelf (shelves) untouched.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
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.more
Classic adventure story. Without Haggard's Alan Quartermain, we would not have Indiana Jones!more
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 readingmore
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 65more
A rip-roaring boys own adventure!more
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.more
Basically, this was a wonderful adventure story and morality tale all in one. It has all the pitfalls of gender bias, stereotyping, blah, blah, blah.....they are a given in literature of a certain era. Taking all that into account, it was just plain a wonderful adventure. Questions it raised: What is wealth? What is wisdom? What is courage?more
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.more
A rattling adventure story that, if anything, I found rather too fast to read. It lacked some of the depth of the author's other classic, She. Quite a dramatic final section.more
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.more
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