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King Solomon's Mines (1885)

by Henry Rider Haggard

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Allan Quatermain (11)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,5211051,760 (3.63)318
Allan Quatermain relates the events of his safari into the interior of South Africa in search of the legendary lost treasure mines of King Solomon.
  1. 70
    Hunter Quatermain's Story: The Uncollected Adventures of Allan Quartermain by H. Rider Haggard (MinaKelly)
  2. 70
    Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: King Solomon's Mines was written as a result of a wager between H. Rider Haggard and his brother on whether he could write a novel half as good as R. L. Stevenson's Treasure Island. Why not read them both and decide for yourself?
  3. 60
    The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Rynooo, Polenth)
  4. 30
    The Man Who Would Be King [short story] by Rudyard Kipling (mcenroeucsb)
  5. 30
    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: These novels have some similar plot elements.
  6. 20
    The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 1 by Alan Moore (LKAYC)
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» See also 318 mentions

English (96)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (105)
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
This is a classic adventure story taking the form of a long letter from Alan Quartermain to his brother, in which he narrates his experiences in search of a lost Englishman who was on a quest to find the legendary diamond mines of King Soloman.
It is presented straightforwardly and suffers from being somewhat predictable with regard to the plot, but it shows the prevalent attitudes of its time and location just as well as, say, Tess of the D'urbevilles does its time and location. Some of those attitudes make the book slightly unsettling in an unintentional way, as they are (hopefully) not widespread these days.
( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Not mine ! But it was introduced in the Guardian "A bestseller in its day, H Rider Haggard's colonial African tale now seems both misogynist and racist. Yet it remains a gripping story. [Author] Giles Foden in defence of King Solomon's Mines"
Giles Foden: "Haggard's real trade was telling stories. Along with Stevenson, he made possible the rise of the modern blockbuster. King Solomon's Mines can fairly lay claim to be second of that ilk, after Treasure Island. Haggard took the by-then already standard forms of boys' adventure books, as purveyed by Ballantyne and GA Henty, stripped them of their veneer of missionary-inflected chivalry, and made them sublime."
  duncanar | Jul 11, 2020 |
A few cringe inducing moments. The phrase "endangered species" obviously wasn't in anyone's vocabulary when this was written, but the scene where they go out and slaughter a half dozen elephants for their tusks kind of made me hate mankind. Then, when Quartermain and friends meet the hostile natives, they manage to convince them that they're gods! Yeesh.

But, if you can get past these parts, the book stands up pretty well. Quartermain is a more complicated protagonist than it would seem at first glance. I admire that, when he faces what seems like certain death near the end, he breaks down and cries. He's not an emotional superman, and he's refreshingly aware of his own mortality, in a way that many other heroes of pulp fiction aren't.

Despite the underlying racism for the natives in mass, the individual African characters are just that, individuals, with their own personalities and agendas. The plot is built around a lot of coincidences, but they seem tied together by an underlying philosophy. Quartermain isn't truly the master of his own fate; he's the first to admit that luck, both good and bad, have shaped him. He's aware of the randomness of events, so that, instead of hoping the reader doesn't notice all the unlikely events stringing things together, there's an underlying premise that all life is just one long string of unlikely events. ( )
  James_Maxey | Jun 29, 2020 |
King Solomon's Mines appeals to quite a wide audience, much more so, for example, than does the Ayesha series of books I read earlier. There is none of the introspection of that other series with Allan Quatermain's story. King Solomon's Mines' brisk sentences match its rapid pace. This is a pure adventure story, cleverly plotted and masterfully written. Sometimes, a writer just strikes gold, creates a work that resonates across his own culture and time and down through subsequent decades and centuries. So it is with this novel.

Not to make too much of the Anglo-Saxon manifest destiny at work, here, but Haggard does give perhaps a final hurrah to that voice of exploration, of encounter with new civilizations, that was coming to a rapid end in the Western world and Britain, in particular. He does it with a twist, however. The world of Kukuana and the treasures it holds, after all, is a place that remains hidden at the end, a realm unspoiled by colonial encroachment, its victorious king vowing to fight and destroy any Whites but Quatermain and his companions who would seek entry in the future. It is a Lost World that Haggard wants to remain lost.

As for the rest, exploring colonial attitudes and such--it's all boring and beside the point. Read this novel for the audience for whom it is intended. It is for those exhausted by political and religious imposition put upon peoples at the far flung edges of empire. Which is why the lasting portrait of Quatermain, writing his history of this adventure, in his hut on the edge of that edge, is so intriguing. However much he may travel back to Britain, he will always be better imagined as a sentinel, giving more protection, rather than access, to vanished and vanishing civilizations. ( )
  PaulCornelius | Apr 12, 2020 |
You need to read this book keeping in mind the era it was written. There are many sentences that will make you uncomfortable, regarding racisms, machism, hunting, etc. So, bare this in mind when you pick it up. ( )
  gmonne | Mar 22, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (63 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haggard, Henry RiderAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
BrugueraEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butts, DennisEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Casas, FloraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foden, GilesPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fuller, AlexandraIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gemme, Francis R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Green, Roger LancelynIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hampson, RobertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hogarth, PaulIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holmberg, NilsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ivry, BenjaminIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Langford, AlanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lopez, AbelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monsman, Gerald CorneliusEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nickless, WillIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paget, WalterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pardo, ÁngelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pérez Rilo, RicardoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stephens, TobyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whitear, A.R.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
This faithful but unpretending record
of a remarkable adventure
is hereby respectfully dedicated
by the narrator,
ALLAN QUATERMAIN
to all the big and little boys
who read it.
First words
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 history.
Introduction:
Now that this book is printed, and about to be given to the world, a sense of its shortcomings both in style and contents, weighs very heavily upon me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the main work for King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard. It should not be combined with any adaptation, abridgement, omnibus containing other works, etc.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Allan Quatermain relates the events of his safari into the interior of South Africa in search of the legendary lost treasure mines of King Solomon.

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Book description
One of the best-selling novels of the nineteenth century, King Solomon’s Mines has inspired dozens of adventure stories, including Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the Indiana Jones movies. Vivid and enormously action-packed, H. Rider Haggard’s tale of danger and discovery continues to shock and thrill, as it has since it was first presented to the public and heralded as “the most amazing book ever written.”

The story begins when renowned safari hunter Allan Quartermain agrees to help Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good search for King Solomon’s legendary cache of diamonds. Eager to find out what is true, what is myth, and what is really buried in the darkness of the mines, the tireless adventurers delve into the Sahara’s treacherous Veil of Sand, where they stumble upon a mysterious lost tribe of African warriors. Finding themselves in deadly peril from that country’s cruel king and the evil sorceress who conspires behind his throne, the explorers escape, but what they seek could be the most savage trap of all—the forbidden, impenetrable, and spectacular King Solomon’s Mines.
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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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