Lee Broderick's Reviews > The People of the Mist

The People of the Mist by H. Rider Haggard
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Sep 04, 12

bookshelves: fiction, fiction-classics, fiction-adventure, africa
Read from July 29 to August 18, 2012 — I own a copy

It's been a long time since I read any of H. Rider Haggard's books, not least because I had long been of the informed opinion that there were no others worth reading. So how true is that?

Well, it's difficult to make comparisons over such a large gap, but a few things did strike me as I read this. Firstly, Leonard Outram is not the usual Haggard romantic lead: he is made to carry all of the burden in the plot, playing the wise old-head as well as the dashing adventurer. Roles Haggard had kept strictly divorced in the novels I had previously read (She, King Solomon's Mines and Allan Quatermain). The other principle character, Otter, is one of Haggard's more interesting creations: a physically deformed, clever, wry, athletic and almost super-humanly strong dwarf who is stymied only by his casting as the loyal servant and his role in making comments on the action directed towards the reader (usually beginning, bizarrely, with "Wow!).

The book actually begins rather well, after a gothic romance fashion, but loses its way somewhat in the middle and never really recovers from that. The ending, in fact, is more than a little silly and seems like a twist in the plot contrived for no other reason than to surprise the reader - in short for its own sake.

As for the other characters, many could be pulled from his other books or from similar writers, but it's notable that Juana is a very strong female lead obviously intended to contrast in every aspect with Jane Beach.
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