Just recently I saw a review at Books 'N Border Collies of King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (published in 1885). The first thing that caught my eye was the name Allan Quartermain; I thought, Cool, now I get to figure out who he is! Then I read this: "Hero Allan Quartermain is the original Indy, minus the snake phobia and whip." Ok, now I've GOT to read this book! I mean, who doesn't love Indiana Jones?!
Plus, this book counts toward the Irresistible Review Challenge AND the 1% Well Read Challenge - even more reason to read it ASAP.
Following the advice of the reviewer, I read the book online at Project Gutenberg. Ok, ok, so I printed it out (using very small font to save space) and read it on paper ... online reading just gives me a headache after a while. This is an excellent resource for cheap (read FREE) reading thrills - go check it out!
One site I found summarizes the book this way:
Improbable and fable-like, the story tells of English adventurers who travel to the interior of a remote African country, a vanished empire with legends of lost treasure.That's a pretty good summary, really. Of course there is much more to the book than that, but that IS the basic idea. I also found this tidbit of info which I thought was fascinating. Cool, huh?
I had some issues with the first several chapters of this book. The problem for me comes when I read older books (keep in mind this was published in 1885) and find myself judging the characters by modern standards.
Allan Quartermain's job is hunting elephants. Ugh. With all we know about these majestic animals today, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to kill them; reading about it in some detail was really depressing. I tried to remember that people thought differently in those days but it didn't help all that much.
Then we have the relationships between the white/European characters and the black/native African characters. Racism was part of life when this book was written but again, I'm looking back on it with "modern" eyes and it's pretty sad. Most of the black African characters were stereotypical, as were the white Europeans and white Africans.
However, that being said, it was when Quartermain and his companions get where they're going the story really got entertaining for me and I found it hard to put down. There's nothing in here that is completely surprising but it is still fascinating and exciting all the same. The author's use of language - although somewhat antiquated - was very entertaining. The book is written as a letter from Quartermain in Africa to his son in England; it's full of side notes and PS-type items that Quartermain throws in from time to time to shed light on his story. Plus, Quartermain has that dry sense of humor that I appreciate.
On the whole I truly enjoyed it and am glad that I read it. I don't know if I'd agree that Quartermain = Indy, but he's still lots of fun to read.
And for those of you who are, like me, huge Indy fans, check out the 19 Things We Learned from Indiana Jones. My favorites are #5 & #12 ... which are yours?
As always, if you've read and reviewed this book please comment with your link and I'll add it to my post.
Puss Reboots has a review ... and others?
Today is the FINAL DAY to enter the two contests I'm running! Winners will be announced tomorrow morning so be sure you've got your name in. Click here and here to enter.