Thursday, January 5, 2012

King Solomon's Mines

King Solomon's Mines, by H. Rider Haggard

It's the first book for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Challenge! I gather that Allan Quartermain, the narrator of this story, is the leader of the League. King Solomon's Mines was the first book about Allan Quartermain, but it was so popular that Haggard wrote another 15 or so stories about him. I've only ever read one Haggard book, and it wasn't a Quartermain story.

Quartermain is an expert hunter living in South Africa, and he's approached by a couple of men who want to search for a lost brother. It so happens that Quartermain knows that the brother went searching for King Solomon's Mines, and he is also the sole possessor of a 300-year-old map to the mines. So off they trek, across veldt and desert and mountain, until they end up finding a lost civilization. Their noble bearer Umbopa turns out to be the lost rightful king, so he gets the support of several generals and they all depose the evil usurper Twala, bringing justice to the people of Kukuana. And then the intrepid explorers find the mines, but the super-evil witch Gagool has plans for them!

It's all very exciting and rip-roaring, and not as entirely horrifically racist as it could be (which is not to say that you'll never be taken aback, but it could have been a whole lot worse), and the writing style is pretty good for an adventure novel that was dashed off in six weeks. Indiana Jones and other serial adventures owe much to Haggard, so it will be pretty familiar if you read it--just keep in mind that this is one of the originals that inspired all the imitations.


Hanna said...

Congratulations on being the first to finish a book for this challenge!

...not as entirely horrifically racist as it could be. That made me giggle. I admit though, I had expected at least a slight amount present, so I'm quite glad to hear that there isn't!

I bought this book last Summer before even thinking about starting this challenge, but then I put it off so I could include it. I suddenly feel more inspired after reading your review though!

Good luck with the other books - only eight left :)

Jean said...

Thanks Hanna! Now I didn't say that there was *nothing* to object to--just that it could have been a whole lot worse...thanks for hosting!

Karen said...

I was expecting it to be more racist than it was too. Pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Quite enjoyed the adventure stories for the most part.