Listen What is life It is a feather, it is the seed of the grass, blown hither and thither, sometimes multiplying itself and dying in the act, sometimes carried away into the heavens But if that seed be good and heavy it may perchance travel a little way on the road it wills It is well to try and journey one s road and to fight with the air Man must die At the worst he can but die a little sooner According to the blurb this is the first novel written in English taking place in Africa Another and a better known fact is that this is the first Lost World novel and H Rider Haggard was the father of the trope The book is told in first person by Allan Quatermain In the beginning of the story he is getting old, but still doing his dangerous business of elephant hunting in South Africa One day two English gentlemen approached him Their names were Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good The former s brother was lost while trying to find legendary diamond mines of King Solomon yes, THAT Solomon from the Old Testament They wanted to ask Allan to join them in their search considering his experience and survival skills It turned out Allan knew something about this business, so after lots of hesitations and pondering he decided to accept the offer A dangerous adventure followed culminating in our party ending up in a lost world No dinosaurs this time though, sorry Now that I finished the book and had some time to think about it I realized it has great descriptions of South African landscapes There were plenty of them, but they were short enough not to become boring I have never been even close to that place, but I am now convinced it is gorgeous In case I have not made this clear before, the book is old fashioned adventure This means people that love the genre will love it and people trying to look at it from the modern point of view will hate it I belong to the first category, so my vote is Yea I found it curious that in the books written at around this time any warm blooded male upon seeing an elephant or better yet the whole herd would immediately grab a high caliber gun and start shooting It seems we became kind toward other animals since then I also admit that there are some Imperialistic undertones present, and no wonder considering the time the story was written was the height of the power of British Empire What I did not find was blatant racism that reviewers are quick to point out Right in the beginning of the tale Allan said that there are black people that are real gentlemen and there are while people that are not In other words, he was an equal opportunity guy If you are still not convinced read the chapter The Last Stand of Grays and try to find anything racist in the noble stand of the black army In any way, my rating is 4 stars and I stand by it. This book is the response to a five shilling dare from Haggard s brother that he couldn t write a book half as good as Treasure Island Haggard was enormously popular in his time he and Robert Louis Stevenson were the two dominant adventure writersIt s enormously imaginative Alan Quatermain is a brilliant character, a wiry and wily old Ulysses who describes himself as a coward There s a scene near the end involving artificial stalagmites that s exhilaratingly evocative and creative and creepy And at the same time, you see a bunch of now familiar bits appearing for the first time it s impossible to miss the gleam of Indiana Jones in Quatermain s eye.So why isn t Haggard as well loved today as he was back then It might be consistency Stevenson has Kidnapped, Treasure Island and Jekyll Hyde as three classics, and Haggard only has this and maybe She, which I haven t read And Jekyll Hyde is kindof on a level slightly higher than any of these pure adventure stories, as fun as they are.But it s probably also due to Haggard s awkward views on race This is a novel of the colonial era It depicts white men exploiting native populations for treasure, and it has a reputation as racist.Is it actually racist Erhow s not as racist as people seem to think sound Like I m equivocating Okay, to get into this you re gonna have to view spoiler Quatermain and his men arrive in a fictional African nation and promptly exploit local politics to overthrow the local king and install one friendly to their mission, which is to loot the kingdom of its treasure They cheerfully present themselves as gods and take advantage of the locals superstition, and it s quite clear that the natives need the intervention of the white gods to bring justice to their kingdom So far, so bad.On the other hand they unknowingly bring with them the exiled, rightful ruler of the kingdom, who is in fact exploiting them in order to return to power This guy knows perfectly well they re not gods, and is alternately amused and annoyed at their charades He, and several other native characters, are presented as shrewd, tactically adept, dignified men Quatermain s crew help him back to the throne and then leave, under stern orders that white people and particularly their missionaries are never to set foot in his land again This, then, is clearly not a colonialist book Both the locals and the whites are in accordance that continued white interference would be annoying at best and catastrophic at worst Given the times, and that Haggard was himself part of the colonial infrastructure, one could argue that this is a pretty liberal view Haggard repeatedly compares this African society to European society In Kukualand, as among the Germans , every able bodied man is a soldier Ch IX Cruel Africans are compared to cruel Europeans One, counted Twala the king, just like a black Madame DeFarge, before doing something particularly ghastly Ch X Yeah, I kinda loved that Tale of Two Cities reference In both cases, the message is that this is a savage, cruel land, and so is Europe And listen to the tone of contempt in the king s farewell speech Ye have the stones now you would go to Natal and across the moving black water and sell them, and be rich, as it is the desire of the white man s heart to be Ch XIX It s not perfect Quatermain s crew make the new king promise not to go indiscriminately slaughtering his people like the old one did, and he sortof grumbles about it, although you never have the impression he was planning on doing that anyway The view here seems to be of an Africa that could use a little interference from Europe but temporary and wise interference So, y know, that s not how Africa has ever seen it But it s also not how many Europeans of the time saw it Honestly, I was troubled by Quatermain s tendency to shoot every animal he saw than by his behavior toward the locals hide spoiler Sir H Henry Rider Haggard, the British inventor of the lost civilization adventures stories has here one of his most famous and best, King Solomon s Mines, a wonderful if improbable trek through the thick jungles, high mountains, scorching deserts of this fascinating land For any person interested in this fun type of genre and those discovering it , a new captivating city, quite old in reality, hidden from our knowledge for thousands of years is found, obviously I shouldn t need to say, for the young at heart Allan Quatermain, Englishman , an African explorer in the dark continent of the nineteenth century, well known for his bravery is hired by wealthy Sir Henry Curtis to find his younger brother George Mr Quatermain, a hunter among other things, he could use the money and agrees to guide the dangerous expedition, yet not feeling too good about its prospects Along with Sir Henry is Captain John Good, former British naval officer and a close friend of Curtis Both believe the irrational George, has traveled to the interior of Africa seeking his own fortune Having quarreled with Sir Henry , the angry, penniless but proud man left England, not wanting to depend on his rich older brother for a living George was looking for the legendary King Solomon s Mines, a myth most think, still to a desperate person, has nothing to lose Meeting Umbopa, a mysterious African , who seems to know a great deal about the unknown territory, can he be trusted they need to explore, and finding their way, a task quite unappealing and very dangerous to them too So Umbopa consents to go with the Englishmen there, something is not right here, but they have no other option Journeying through a water less desert, they barely survive the monumental ordeal, the burning Sun always above , next comes a warlike tribe in Kukuanaland, the strange country ruled by Twala , their unfriendly king Also an evil ageless witch Gagool, who helps Twala terrorize the people and the whole tribe fears greatly with good reason Diamonds , numerous as grains of sand are unearthed, but where is George And how to get out of Kukuanaland alive Umbopa reveals he s Ignosi, the rightful king he says, however his cousin has another opinion When many tribesmen join him, in his quest to overthrow Twala , civil war breaks out Blood flows freely, until the conflict is ended, however can they escape through the treacherous mountains and get back to England An enjoyable adventure novel, from the zenith days of the British Empire. I always fascinated treasure hunt books and this book did really surpassed my expectations A real adventure it was Its a story of survival, revenge, making of a king, greatest treasure hunt, and friendshipI was hooked from the start and the story just got riveting with every page This book reminded me of many adventure movies, both from Hollywood and Bollywood it is the nickname for the Hindi language film industry, based in Mumbai, India And now I can guess from where those movies have got their inspiration Unlike movies, which always have some love story interwoven in the script, there is but a very minor love story which ends quite differently and abruptly, and I kinda liked it Even though many subplots were quite predictable, I was never left disappointed, rather it was a very interesting story filled with thrill and suspense and I was always eager and excited to find what s going to happen next , which culminates with a happy ending.Highly recommended H Rider Haggard S King Solomon S Mines Has Entertained Generations Of Readers Since Its First Publication In Following A Mysterious Map Of Dubious Reliability, A Small Group Of Men Trek Into Southern Africa In Search Of A Lost Friend And A Lost Treasure, The Fabled Mines Of King Solomon Led By The English Adventurer And Fortune Hunter Allan Quartermain, They Discover A Frozen Corpse, Survive Untold Dangers In Remote Mountains And Deserts, And Encounter The Merciless King Twala En Route To The Legendary Hoard Of Diamonds 2017 Summer Lovin Reading ListKing Solomon s Mines is very much a product of its Victorian, colonial times Don t go into this book expecting anything else Allan Quartermain is an unlikely protagonist, an elephant hunter, something that would get him publically shamed on the internet nowadays This is very much an adventure tale, set in deepest, darkest Africa White men have no doubt that they are at the very tippy top of the social hierarchy and have no compunctions about expressing that belief They believe Africans to be primitive, superstitious, and prefer them subservient An African may be king in his own lost kingdom, but must still admit his unworthiness to equality with a ne er do well hunter like Quartermain.Not recommended for the overly politically correct, but providing many insights into the colonial mindset that still plagues us today A fantastical adventure in the Victorian style. I got my copy of this book on holiday in Devon as a child, probably on a Wednesday afternoon The bookshop was shut, but there was a shelf of books outside with sign asking you to put the money under the door if you wanted something and for twenty pence I had myself a copy.It is a Vikings meet Zulus story, noble savages and fearless adventurers view spoiler with false teeth hide spoiler Every so often I get the feeling that a good old timey adventure book would be a good thing to read This is hopefully the last time I think this as the results are always dire Conan Doyle s The Lost World was one hell of a struggle Chesterton s The Man Who Was Thursday was dreadful However, Rider Haggard s King Solomon s Mines takes the prize for most unreadable load of old toss ever 3 Englishmen ponce into Africa on a treasure hunt They cross romantic terrain, shoot majestic animals, patronise and insult black people, before leaving with a few pocketfuls of giant diamonds back to Blighty What ho Sounds a bit of a lark, what It s not First off, Haggard has his hero Quatermain say in the first chapter that they went to Africa, did this, did that, and made it back home with the treasure Oh great, now I m really on the edge of my seat Now when Quatermain and chums are in danger and the chapter ends on a cliffhanger by Victorian standards I ll know that they make it out because this was explained in the first chapter Also, Haggard has the annoying habit of describing every single meaningless detail in a scene So when they cross the desert, you have endless descriptions of wind, and how thirsty everyone is, and how if they don t make it they ll die and the characters start whinging and don t stop and will they make it Look an oasis, we re saved No tension whatsoever anyway, we all know they make it BECAUSE THEY SAY SO AT THE START All this needless exposition and attempts at drama are useless if we know the characters make it The most offending attempt at literature in this amazingly labelled classic is the way Haggard deals with Africans They re all noble savages who for some reason speak like medieval dukes Thou hast , ye , sayest not , hark , etc all make regular appearances in their speech but does he honestly think Africans speak like that The Englishmen patronise the Africans like pets and Haggard has the Africans run about like gormless children, either behaving nobly ie standing around bored saying nothing, or like coked up teens with a hormone imbalance, ie screaming, tearing hair, killing people randomly No attempt at characterisation is made and none of the characters seem at all real In fact they all sound remarkably the same, like a middle class educated Englishman This is the most tedious novel I ve ever read, it actually made me angry while I was reading Haggard can t seem to accept the reader has the capacity to fill in the gaps For example, rather than say they went to the ridge and sat down , he has to say they gathered up their things items are listed and digressed , and after several parting words list numerous mundane words , hastened up the path description of path and weather , while we wondered about list everything thats happened thus far and upon reaching the ridge list various mundane observations the characters have made while walking we sat down and gazed at the view list needless description of mountain range It s EXHAUSTING I hurled the book away from me every time I sat it down about every 3 chapters and am amazed at my tolerance for poor writing How is this a classic It s not at all on the level of Great Expectations or The Picture of Dorian Gray or numerous other examples There s no profundity, no great story, no great writing Haggard is a very minor writer and his contribution to literature is very small, if at all recognisable I am amazed this is listed as a classic when it is the 1880s version of a Lee Child novel Give this a wide book berth, it s appalling. When reading and then reviewing a novel written in the 1880s, one has to sort of teleport back a century or so to be fair Reading an artifact vs a contemporary work of historical fiction requires an entirely different barometer In many instances, the reader has to put aside the shock of sexism and xenophobia in order to jump into the tale Occasionally, the old styled language and pace is painful I remember once being iced in at the tiny Tupelo, Mississippi airport for seven hours There was no coffee shop or sundry store just vending machines, and the only thing I had to read with him me was Far From the Madding Crowd Omg I actually prayed for death a time or two But not so with this Sure, it is dated, but this is the still muscle bound great, great grandpa to Indiana Jones Like In Cold Blood being the firstborn of the true crime genre, Mines is the initial spark of every action adventure quest story written Sure, they eat the hearts of elephants in here But there is a bunch of polygamy in the Bible, and its readers overlook that, right I had a blast reading this old tale Give it a go Okay, good adventure story that has been around for a long time it s been made into several movies none of which actually resemble the book all that much For one thing, there s no heroineat all There s only two semi main female characters in the entire book.First, there are things in this book that will offend some readers They are unintentional the book is a product of it s time, the late 1800s The racial attitudes here are from that era and anyone picking up the book should be aware of that going in There are a couple of things that I m sure will be found offensive to many and ironically so in some ways as the writer is actually being racially liberal for his day If possible, forgive these dated faults and see the positive story that s here But, no one can blame those who find the book too unpalatable to read It s just the way it is Okay, that being said the story is imaginative and rolls along pretty reliably The writing style holds up pretty well though there are times when it gets a bit tedious Hang on it s just being a bit flowery and detailed It picks back up.There is a slight anticlimax tied into the ending but it s just used to tie up a dangling story thread Again, not a bad thing.So, be aware of the fact that there are some troubling 19th century racial stereotypes and read it for the story Pretty good.