Ilze's Reviews > King Solomon's Mines

King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard
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's review
Jul 11, 2009

really liked it
Read in July, 2009 , read count: 2

I've read this book before: many years ago, my brother was given the picture version as a gift. The two of us paged through it for hours. But it echoes other memories; of Herman Charles Bosman's fictious character, Oom Schalk Lourens (because of the language use) and Mr Bones - even if it's only because Kuvukiland sounds just like "Kukuanaland", the place where King Solomon's Mines are. A lot of Schuster's movie is based on the idea of Kukuanaland and the way it's run.

That said, this tale is everything but humorous! It's serious, life and death stuff, with the adventures of Sir Henry Curtis, Capt. Good (a seaman) and the narrator, Allan Quatermain, bringing them to the coalface of death. They travel through a desert, end up in snow-covered mountains, almost starve to death, only to be faced by an army of angry men ready to kill them.

If the story in and of itself isn't too interesting, the language and culture pictured here is. We have that word abhorred by all who live in Africa: "Kafir" - and I'm surprised that the book hasn't been banned because of it! Besides the fact that the black people are treated with a lot of respect - even as servants - their role in the tale is crucial. In fact, the face and body of "Umbopa", who also travels to King Solomon's Mines, is often admired by the narrator. The main villain, besides King Twala (who reigns in Kukuanaland), is Gagool the witch (an ancient black woman). Now, placed in another story, Gagool could easily be Gollum and the three white men Bilbo and his companions, though we're not entering a gold mine protected by a dragon, but a diamond mine filled with death. Seen from Haggard's point of view, her time and culture at the time of writing, it can be said that it was 'before apartheid'. Here black and white mingle - Capt. Good even falls in love with a black maiden called Foulata - they fight together, work together and part in tears of grief.

This is the kind of adventure that'll keep anyone on the edge of their seats (and has justifiably been turned into a movie) with one major lesson: Material wealth pales in significance in the face of death.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Gregory Brengauz great book!

message 2: by Artsw (new) - added it

Artsw onga good

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