Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Ayesha #1

She: A History of Adventure

Rate this book
On his twenty-fifth birthday, Leo Vincey opens the silver casket that his father has left to him. It contains a letter recounting the legend of a white sorceress who rules an African tribe and of his father’s quest to find this remote race. To find out for himself if the story is true, Leo and his companions set sail for Zanzibar. There, he is brought face to face with Ayesha, She-who-must-be-obeyed: dictator, femme fatale, tyrant and beauty. She has been waiting for centuries for the true descendant of Kallikrates, her murdered lover, to arrive, and arrive he does – in an unexpected form. Blending breathtaking adventure with a brooding sense of mystery and menace, She is a story of romance, exploration discovery and heroism that has lost none of its power to enthrall.

317 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1887

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

H. Rider Haggard

1,944 books1,006 followers
Sir Henry Rider Haggard, KBE was an English writer of adventure novels set in exotic locations, predominantly Africa, and the creator of the Lost World literary genre. His stories, situated at the lighter end of the scale of Victorian literature, continue to be popular and influential. He was also involved in agricultural reform and improvement in the British Empire.

His breakout novel was King Solomon's Mines (1885), which was to be the first in a series telling of the multitudinous adventures of its protagonist, Allan Quatermain.

Haggard was made a Knight Bachelor in 1912 and a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1919. He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament as a Conservative candidate for the Eastern division of Norfolk in 1895. The locality of Rider, British Columbia, was named in his memory.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,739 (21%)
4 stars
4,057 (31%)
3 stars
4,077 (32%)
2 stars
1,419 (11%)
1 star
440 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,152 reviews
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,259 reviews5,627 followers
July 26, 2022
احب حقا تلك الروايات العابرة للعقود بل للقرون والالفيات..قدتكون قيمتها الادبية متواضعة وشخصياتها مسطحة واحداثها ملفقة..و قد يتسرب بين السطور الحس الاستعماري المميز لللقرن 19 -..
ولكن يظل لها سحر من نوع خاص جدا..💬
فهذه الرواية اعجبت ابيك وجدك وجدك الأكبر ايضا..فتقراها متحفزا.. بالطبع لن تعجبني في عصر ..الموبايل و التكنولوجيا..في عصر الأفلام الثري دي.. و المسلسلات ذات الخدع الخرافية

و لكن تضبط نفسك منجذبا للحبكة البارعة.. وماخوذا بتفاصيل عصر ولى ومضي
و عندها تفهم لماذا بيع منها 100مليون نسخة
ولماذا تمت ترجمتها لاربعين لغة
وستفهم ايضا كيف ولماذا سيجلس حفيدك بجانبك بعد ستين عام ليقرا هاري بوتر بنفس حماسك القديم ..👓
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
469 reviews3,255 followers
July 24, 2018
"She- who -must -be -obeyed," sounds like a fun gal and for sure, gets her kicks in, kind of lethal though. Ayesha is a 2,000 year old woman and still looks marvelous for her age , lives in the middle of Africa during the 1800's , rules a remote tribe of hungry cannibals, people have strange taste. When Englishmen arrive in her barbaric land, with hidden wealth , instead of being eaten, are saved by the impressive Queen. Leo is one of the tireless explorers and the fierce She, believes he is a reincarnation of a former great love. This wandering group , composed of four men quite different truth be told, would I lie? Maybe , but not here, trust me.
Ludwig Horace Holly , his foster son Leo and their servant Job, last, an inscrutable sea captain misnamed Mahomed here, a man not expected originally in the entourage, a
Arab sailor turned guide, are a little nervous you can imagine... there is a fine line between heroics and foolishness .They the intrepid travelers, very unwisely, even at the zenith of the British Imperial Age, come to this dangerous continent, an uncharted territory with unfriendly tribes, deadly diseases, hostile terrain, death all around, at the urging of Leo's late father, father doesn't know best always. Discovering the ruins of an ancient city, destroyed not by war , but a merciless plague that this magnificent, fascinating , lost civilization once powerful, now very dead has only old buildings left standing but how spectacular they are, breathtaking to the treasure seekers, then again sad is another word that comes to mind. The Arab a friend but quiet, disappears from the scene, a vicious war breaks out. In the conclusion, the Englishmen are brought deep down into the bowels of dark caves by the cruel Ayesha, to show an amazing event. Surprising to the Queen , it's her great exit or is it.? Will She, the dazzling beauty return? After all this legend is invincible, immortal, everyone says and knows ...The gifted writer and inventor of the Lost World books H. Rider Haggard, this She ( 100 million copies sold), and King Solomon's Mines are his most celebrated products, probably his best too...adventures in the netherworld you can call them....A fun 1965 film version of this novel starring Ursula Andress, should not be missed; her most celebrated role was in Dr. No...getting out of the sea on the beach as Sean Connery looks on.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11.2k followers
October 22, 2011
Well, shit snacks…this was a disappointing pile of shattered expectations. While journeying through the early works of speculative fiction, I’ve encountered some amazing novels...this, I'm very bitter to say, IS NOT one of them. This was my first experience with H. Rider Haggard and I think I will take some time before seeking out any of his other works.

My problem was not the not-even-thinly-veiled misogynistic attitudes, or the matter-of-fact racist and anti-semitic opinion or even the pervasive imperialist ideologies permeating the narrative. Hell, that kind of stuff can be a real hoot in these classic stories and rarely distracts me from enjoying an otherwise well-told tale (as exemplified in my love of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard to name but two).

However, you are not allowed to be BORING!!

Apparently Mr. Haggard didn’t get the memo because he starts off dull, introduces some uninteresting tedium and follows through with a blank-shooting climax that barely had a pulse. In addition to be boring, the story lacks depth and the writing is far below the quality I’ve come to expect from books of the period.

Okay…with that off my chest, I am starting to feel better. Before I unleash my next rant salvo, I should probably give you at least a thumbnail of the plot.


Ape-faced Englishman, Horace Holly and his stunningly handsome adonis of a ward, Leo Vincey, find themselves on a perilous trip to a hidden African colony rumored to be ruled by a 2000 year old white sorceress. After WAY too much time getting there and some run ins with some natives right out of central casting, they eventually meet Ayesha (aka She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed). There they learn that She has been waiting for the reincarnation of her true love who she slayed in a jealous rage 20 centuries before. Many long-winded dialogues and infodumps later the story wraps up.

MY THOUGHTS (cont.):

Most of my major criticism is above and centers on the story being dull and the writing being inferior to most of the other classic literature I have read in the speculative fiction genre. I would say the prose was on par with Edgar Rice Burroughs, who I do not think was a strong writer. However, at least ERB made up for some of his lack of technical skill with some amazingly inventive concepts, characters and stories. I didn’t find much of that here.

Now, I am not slapping a 1 star on this because I recognize the debt owed to this book as a trailblazer in the “lost world” sub-genre. I also think the character of Ayesha was at times pretty interesting and I thought Haggard did an okay job showing her as acting consistent (for the most part) with someone who had lived for so long that normal social conventions ceased to have meaning for her. Also, I recognize the attempt at trying to portray this as a form of gothic love tale full of regret and longing across the space of millennia. This wasn’t nearly enough to save this book from being a huge disappointment, but the book wasn’t all bad.

Before I wrap up, there is one very random passage from the book I want to share because it seemed so very, very creepy and odd and it kept coming back to me even though it has nothing really to do with the plot. Early on in the story, while Holly is at Oxford and Leo is a young boy, the narrator describes the following:
In a very little while…the boy became the favourite of the whole College… in whose favour all rules were relaxed. The offerings made at his shrine were without number, and thereon I had a serious difference of opinion with one old resident Fellow… who was supposed to be the crustiest man in the University, and to abhor the sight of a child. And yet I discovered, when a frequently recurring fit of sickness had forced Job to keep a strict look-out, that the unprincipled old man was in the habit of enticing the boy to his rooms and there feeding him unlimited quantities of “brandy-balls” and of making him promise to say nothing about it.
Woooooooooahh doggy. Let me get this straight. Old man luring small boy to his room and plying him with alcohol and sugar and making him promise not to tell the other grown ups. This had a very “to catch a predator” vibe to me and did a thorough test of my gag reflex. Sorry, but I needed to share that because it stuck in my head for the rest of the story.

Overall, this was a completely forgettable story and a giant wad of Meh. 2.0 stars.

Oh, and let me in closing that as well-trained, happily married man, the concept of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed is pretty old hat for me. Now a story about He-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed….that would be a truly imaginative tale full of fantastical elements, but it would take a seriously creative person to write it.

Maybe I could…hold on, what’s that?...okay, coming dear…gotta go…SHE needs a foot rub.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
August 14, 2017
There’s just so much going on in here; it’s like one massive explosion of Victorian anxieties.

Indeed, this novel speaks volumes about the time in which it was written; it’s a late Victorian novel, and is deeply rooted in the genre of the Imperial Gothic. So, that means it was written when the empire was in its golden age, the effects of the “golden glow” of mid Victorianism lingered on. The economy was booming, British Imperialism was at its apex, but the Empire’s security was a constant doubt as fear began to permeate the high levels of success. Fear of a fall, fear that the colonised would fight back, fear of the new woman’s effect on the patriarchy and a fear that the Empire would degenerate and devolve. And this can be seen with the uncanny Gothic elements associated with the colonised other.

For me, this quote brings everything together:

“The terrible She had evidently made up her mind to go to England, and it made me absolutely shudder to think what would be the result of her arrival there. What her powers were I knew, and I could not doubt but that she would exercise them to the full. It might be possible to control her for a while, but her proud, ambitious spirit would be certain to break loose and avenge itself for the long centuries of its solitude. She would, if necessary, and if the power of her beauty did not unaided prove equal to the occasion, blast her way to any end she set before her, and, as she could not die, and for aught I knew could not even be killed, what was there to stop her? In the end she would, I had little doubt, assume absolute rule over the British dominions, and probably over the whole earth.”


Oh my, this is such a massively underrated novel. Stick with me; I’ve got a lot to say about this book’s brilliance. There will be spoilers a head.

Firstly, the quote confirms Victorian fears of the colonised fighting back. Ayesha (She) is in the heart of Africa in the midst of colonial rule. As with Stoker’s Dracula, the foreigner is associated with fear inducing Gothic elements. Ayesha is a supernatural being; Ayesha is immortal and has spent most of her existence in a dark and oppressive temple that lingers with the echoes of the dead; she exists almost exclusively in this gloomy sepulchre of decay and ruin. Indeed, it’s like she has been buried alive, hidden and forgotten by the world in her dark and ancient tomb; she has become an object of the uncanny and is suggestive of Freud’s idea of “the false semblance of the dead.”

The civilisation Ayesha is representing is one that is the exact opposite to Western life. Holly narrates it at as a land of barbarism, sacrifice and cannibalism: it is a land of the dark savage opposed to the supposed land of the rational west. Haggard creates an image of Africa that has undertones of the gothic, of the unusual, of the monstrous; that much so that it give Holly nightmares caused by “the sepulchral nature” of his surroundings. Ayesha, herself, embodies the threat of Africa as she is the ruler of such a people. This underpins the Victorian anxiety, which is often represented in fin-de-siècle fiction, of the colonised becoming the coloniser and the fall of Imperial rule to such a land.

However, the possible empowerment of the colonised in She is directly associated with gender. Ayesha is a woman. But, she is also a potential conquer, a leader and a Queen. Women are frequently compared to the colonised. Victorian womanhood is arguably a form of colonisation in which the women are forced to accept the culture of the men. The character Ayesha transgresses this; she is suggestive of the “New Woman” in the quote because she refutes the standards of a male dominated world; she even has the potential to supplant an entire patriarchal society with her dreams of Empire. Perhaps Haggard was reluctant to accept this idea (bad, bad Haggard!) as we’ll later see with the novels ending.

“Smaller she grew, and smaller yet, till she was no larger than a baboon.” Her age is brought upon her in one instant; she collapses, and Holly remarks “ here, too, lay the hideous little monkey frame, covered with crinkled yellow parchment, that once had been the glorious She. Alas! it was no hideous dream-it was an awful and unparalleled fact!


It is no coincidence that at the end of the novel Ayesha undergoes a physical metamorphosis. The novel is post Darwin, The Descent of Man was published in 1871, so the transformation is suggestive of a reversal of evolution. When attempting to renew her immortality, and to urge Holly and Leo to follow in her wake, Aysha reverses the magic: she devolves. When Ayesha, a woman who represents anxieties over a declining Empire, the empowerment of the new woman, and reverse colonisation collapses and devolves, her immortality spent, it brings all these anxieties together, and serves as a symbolic punishment for her transgressions.

Perhaps Haggard was a misogynist, despite depicting an empowered woman, Ayesha is brought down at the end of the novel to a very base state. Regardless of that (not that isn’t an important issue, though Haggard’s notion of womanhood is conflicting) the importance of this work resides in its depiction of Victorian fears, and in its ability to present them so superbly. This is an excellent book for study. I had so much fun reading it.
Profile Image for Praveen.
179 reviews292 followers
November 7, 2019
While I was still wondering, what to read next, suddenly like a great sword of flame, a beam from the setting sun pierced my bookshelf, and smote upon the row, wherein was laid "She", illuminating Ayesha's lovely form, made on the front cover, with unearthly splendor.

I picked it up, kicked off the dust from its cover and read the introduction, the theme appealed to me and I decided it to be my next read. :)

It turned out to be a dreadful but enchanting experience when I finished it. Being one of the early works of fantasy literature, this has a sub-genre of adventure romance.

Initially, it looked like an adventurous travelogue and too much expository but the story became immensely attractive when "She", a two thousand years old sorceress, entered the story. I am sure her extraordinary portrayal by the author might have mesmerized its readers when it was first published.

 I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and I can easily perceive why this novel is counted among the highest selling novels of history.

I appreciate astonishing imagination of Haggard and his capacity to make very impossible-looking like adventures appear real. The seductive Ayesha replicates the long-lasting fidelity to her husband and she is the embodiment of personal independence and her supreme authority over men.

See what the narrator felt of "She" when he saw her for the first time emerging from behind the curtain...

“The curtain agitated itself a little, then suddenly between its folds there appeared a most beautiful white hand (white as snow), and with long tapering fingers, ending in the pinkest nails. The hand grasped the curtain and drew it aside, and as it did so I heard a voice, I think the softest and yet most silvery voice I ever heard. It reminded me of the murmur of a brook.”

“say a figure, for not only the body but also the face was wrapped up in soft white, gauzy material in such a way as at first sight to remind me most forcibly of a corpse in its grave-clothes. And yet I do not know why it should have given me that idea, seeing that the wrappings were so thin that one could distinctly see the gleam of the pink flesh beneath them."

“of a tall and lovely woman, instinct with beauty in every part, and also with a certain snake-like grace which I had never seen anything to equal before. When she moved a hand or foot her entire frame seemed to undulate, and the neck did not bend, but curved."

A wonderful read for them who have a taste of adventure, supernatural portrayals and have a propensity towards a mystic storyline.
Profile Image for Tom Lazenby.
Author 5 books4 followers
April 20, 2012
"She" is a great book--bottom line. Initially, I was going to say that I was surprised to see that this book did not get more five star ratings. But then I can understand some people's "frustration" with it. Granted, it is slow/verbose at some parts (primarily the beginning in my opinion). But we must remember that this book was published in 1887, the age of no television, radio, Internet, etc. As such, certain description that may be deemed unnecessary in today's world (though there are still so many 300+ page novels today that are loaded with filler) was required back then to transport the reader to some faraway, uncharted territory. Life was slower paced and people read for entertainment. And I believe "She" has to be judged by those standards, as a book of its time, and yet, remarkably, it has succeeded in standing the test of time. That fact alone can attest to its greatness. In a way, I actually feel sorry for people who don't recognize this book as the extraordinary work of literature that it is. Not only is Haggard's grasp of vocabulary and coupling of words commendable in itself, but the philosophy that underlies and pervades the entire novel is reason enough to read it. And no, it is not misogynistic in the least. If anything, women are elevated to the level of deification.
That being said, "She" is not an "easy" read. Unlike novels today,(where readers have to be "hooked" within the first 10-15 pages, lest they get bored and go surf the Internet) "She" requires one to be a little more patient. Like any courtship worth undertaking, you may have to wait before you reach the "pleasure zone." But when you get there, it's worth it!
Profile Image for Daren.
1,328 reviews4,398 followers
December 20, 2021
My edition of this book is 1930 published, cloth covered book, in small print. It is not an easy read, with thin paper, an old fashioned font and a verbose writing style one might expect from a book written in 1886.

I will cut to the chase quickly in this review. While the story is held up for its originality and magnificence at the time of publishing, for me this was a laboured read, and the overwrought verbose nature of the narrative was hard to stay motivated with. The story was good, the characters had enough to make them interesting and I am glad I read it. I probably enjoyed this a little less than King Solomon's Mines (3 stars), and it was a step below Allan Quatermain (4 stars), which was probably to do with the reduced action.

This book is, however, a trailblazer in the lost worlds genre, and the character of Ayesha is a good one, so all is not lost. With some more editing it might have kept its momentum up for for me. I see others enjoyed this more than I did, perhaps I am too impatient at this time of year!

I already own the sequel, and the third of the series (the Allan Quatermain crossover) which I will read in due course I expect.

3 stars
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.2k followers
August 6, 2018
“Often I sit alone at night, staring with the eyes of the mind into the blackness of unborn time, and wondering in what shape and form the great drama will be finally developed, and where the scene of its next act will be laid.”

I first heard about this book when it was discussed in Margaret Atwood’s science fiction anthology, In Other Worlds. She goes into the history of demonic women in literature, and H. Rider Haggard’s adventure She gets mentioned frequently. When I saw a copy in the bookstore, I was curious enough to buy it.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: yes, this book is very much a product of its time. It concerns a group of British men exploring Africa, so you can imagine that the racial politics are…not ideal. Also the central “She” of the book, the goddess/demon ruler of a lost civilization, is described as impossibly beautiful, which means she has to also be white, logic be damned. In short, this is an adventure story written by old white dudes, for old white dudes, so buyer beware.

(I will also add that Haggard seems hilariously unaware of the subtext of some of his scenes. Our group of adventurers includes a young man named Leo, and Haggard’s narrator spends a very hefty amount of page space describing how goddamn beautiful this guy is, in loving and fawning detail, and we’re supposed to just interpret this as one totally straight guy admiring the supreme bangability of another totally straight guy. Anyway, this is mostly because there aren’t any women in this book until like page 100, so Haggard had to make do with the characters available.)

But god damn, this book was fun. It’s an old school adventure yarn in all the best ways, with swashbuckling and daring escapes and terrifying rituals (and, okay, scary natives). The set pieces are stunningly described, and you can imagine yourself as a kid in the 19th century, sitting by the fire and listening in rapt horror as someone reads this book out loud to you:

“…from every point we saw dark forms rushing up, each bearing with him what we at first took to be an enormous flaming torch. Whatever they were they were burning furiously, for the flames stood out a yard or more behind each bearer. On they came, fifty or more of them, carrying their flaming burdens and looking like so many devils from hell. Leo was the first to discover what these burdens were.
‘Great heaven!’ he said, ‘they are corpses on fire!’
I stared and stared again – he was perfectly right – the torches that were to light our entertainment were human mummies from the caves!
On rushed the bearers of the flaming corpses, and, meeting at a spot about twenty paces in front of us, built their ghastly burdens crossways into a huge bonfire. Heavens! How they roared and flared! No tar barrel could have burnt as those mummies did. Nor was this all. Suddenly I saw one great fellow seize a flaming human arm that had fallen from its parent frame, and rush off into the darkness. Presently he stopped, and a tall streak of fire shot up into the air, illuminating the gloom, and also the lamp from which it sprang. The lamp was the mummy of a woman tied to a stout stake let into the rock, and he had fired her hair. On he went a few paces and touched a second, then a third, and a fourth, till at last we were surrounded on all three sides by a great ring of bodies flaring furiously, the material with which they were preserved having rendered them so inflammable that the flames would literally spout of of the ears and mouth in tongues of fire a foot or more in length.”

I’m like 99% sure that’s not how mummies work, but I don’t even care because holy shit flaming mummies! This book has everything!
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
576 reviews7,754 followers
November 4, 2014
Eh this novel is a bit too... Victorian for its own good. It's basically a couple of white English guys go to Africa and say the most racist things they possibly can. Apart from the blatant and offensive racism, the story is enjoyable. This isn't a novel that takes itself seriously. It's a light, fun read, nothing more.

Since this is one of the most influential and best-selling novels of all time (it's sold 100 million copies, the same as The Hobbit and double the amount of copies Deathly Hallows has sold) it is kinda disappointing that it is overall so-so. Oh well.
August 19, 2022
This was a very tedious read. The writing was so-so, it was verbose, and the story - although somewhat unusual - was not all that interesting. Lots of descriptions of dark caves. Lots of statements that he can't describe something followed by a page and a half of its description. Inconsistent philosophizing/moralizing with no resolution. Spent the last third of the book wondering if it would ever end.
Profile Image for Gary.
948 reviews207 followers
June 24, 2023
What a book of mysticism , philosophy and horror. I remember watching the TV series when I was seven. Now 43 years later I have read the book and one scene that stood out in mine unfolded when I read it exactly as I remember I suppose that goes to show the magic of both the book and the series.
Profile Image for rachel.
773 reviews150 followers
April 23, 2011
First of all: the summary of this book is inaccurate. Ayesha does not have the "violent appetite of a lamia," which, if you are me, is a disappointing mislead because I was expecting something awesome. She doesn't thirst for blood so much as kill either when her orders are disobeyed (like when the tribe of people ordered to bring our main characters to her unharmed tries to cannibalize them, which would piss anyone off I think) or when the only man she passionately loves is possessed by another woman.

She is a thoroughly Victorian female villain, in that it's her beauty, sex appeal, and passion that give her power, as much or more than her cunning does. Her beauty entraps men -- even our main character, who happily proclaims himself a misogynist because no woman back home will have him thanks to his ugliness. Clearly you don't read pulp fiction -- especially pre-1900s pulp fiction -- expecting enlightened gender politics, but I was annoyed that this "evil" woman just acts the way she does because she's so in love with some guy. Be moar evil, Ayesha? :(

Alas, I am a sucker for adventure stories/potboilers/penny dreadfuls with your quintessential gentlemen in three piece suits nearly tumbling off cliff ledges and cartoonishly gracing "savages" with their White Nobility and admiring the beauty of the African landscape before whipping out a rifle and totally owning some majestic big game, and maybe encountering dinosaurs.* And that's what this book is. Love it or leave it.

* = There are no dinosaurs in this book, but there are mummified human corpses set on fire and used as torches. Cool.
Profile Image for Dana Al-Basha |  دانة الباشا.
2,256 reviews819 followers
December 27, 2020
This is the first novel I've read as a young girl, I've read it over and over again, many times, I bought a new edition because mine was worn out, I love it!! I always wonder why they didn't make it into a movie (A new adaptation I mean)?!? It's the best fantasy novel ever!!!

Profile Image for Sidharth Vardhan.
Author 23 books699 followers
May 20, 2020
The racism, lookism and other bad -isms might be said to be values of characters narrating the story rather than author's. Ayesha is definately one of the most fascinating characters and single-handedly holds like about 70 percent of what makes book enjoyable. The other 30 is shared between ideas discussed, humor and occassionally beautiful prose. The Adventures weren't half as interesting.
Profile Image for Ryan.
137 reviews52 followers
January 6, 2018
The Good:
It felt like a genuine trip back in time. Even the Africa depicted here no longer exists, if it ever did (the author spent time in Africa as an employee of the British Empire). The story is interesting, with cool fantasy ideas infusing the contemporary (for its time) setting.

The Bad:
It’s very old fashioned. Some of the passages in here would make your fascist grandfather cringe: “Job, like myself, is a bit of a misogynist” muses the narrator. Every character in the book is at least somewhat cartoonish.

'Friends' character the protagonist is most like:
Holly is pretty much a badass version of Ross.
Profile Image for Traveller.
228 reviews719 followers
January 16, 2015
Thanks, Manny for reminding me that I'd read this as a child/teenager (I think about 3 times)? And absolutely adored it! (way back when, no idea how I'd find it now).

Pygmalion, you can go eat dust in SHE's er... HER wake.

She rules!

..and I really want some of what She had...
Profile Image for Rifat.
460 reviews235 followers
November 9, 2020
হেনরি পড়া শুরু করি বোধহয় এই বইটার নাম শুনে। পাঠকদের বিভিন্ন রিভিউ আর প্রশংসা দেখে খুব আগ্রহ হয়। এইজন্য ভাবি যে এই বইটা না পড়ে আগে অন্য বই পড়ে দেখি কেমন লাগে। যদি এই সুন্দর বই পড়ে অন্য বই ভালো না লাগে!! এইখানেই প্যারা খেলুম! অতি চালাকি করার কারণে গলায় দড়ি পড়লো >_<

হোরেস হলি ছিল একদম নিঃসঙ্গ মানুষ। চেহারার ভীষণ রকমের কদর্যতার কারণে কোনো সঙ্গীও নেই তার। তার সাথে বন্ধুত্ব হয় একজন লোকের সাথে, নাম ভিনসি। ভিনসি মারা যাওয়ার আগে একটা রহস্যের দ্বার খুলে দিয়ে যায় হলির সামনে। ভিনসি তার ছেলে লিও আর একটা প্রাচীন পারিবারিক ইতিহাসের রহস্য সমাধানের ভার দিয়ে যায় হলির কাছে। হলির দায়িত্ব থাকবে সে যেন এই ব্যাপারগুলো লিওর ২৫ বছরে পদার্পণের সময় বলে, লিও কি করবে না করবে সে ব্যাপারে সে-ই সিদ্ধান্ত নেবে।
যথাসময়ে হলি এই কাহিনী উন্মোচন করে, ভিনসির রেখে যাওয়া জিনিস থেকে তারা জানতে পারে ক্যালিক্রেটিস, তার স্ত্রী আমেনার্তাস ও আরেকজন রহস্যময়ী পরমা সুন্দরী শ্বেতাঙ্গিনীর কথা। এর ক'দিন পরেই এই রহস্যের ব্যাপারে জানতে হলি আর একজন ভৃত্যকে সাথে নিয়ে অজানার উদ্দেশ্যে বেড়িয়ে পরে লিও।
আর অপর দিকে,
সে: যাকে মানতেই হবে! সে অপেক্ষা করে আছে দু'হাজার বছর ধর��, তার প্রিয় ক্যালিক্রেটিস আসবে যাকে সে নিজ হাতে হত্যা করেছিল।

শুরুর দিকে একটা এডভেঞ্চার এডভেঞ্চার ভাব ছিল। মাঝে একদম ঢিমে তালে চলেছে। একেবারে শেষের দিকে টানটান উত্তেজনা ছিল।
সত্যি বলতে কেন জানি প্লট খুব একটা ভালো লাগে নি। হেনরি হ্যাগার্ডের আগের যে লেখাগুলো পড়েছি, ঐগুলোই বেশি ভালো লেগেছে। সত্যিই, আমি মনে মনে আশা করে ছিলাম যে "শী" এর কাহিনী ঐগুলোর থেকে অনেক ভালো হবে। কিন্তু ঐ যে! একজন এইচ আর হ্যাগার্ড। মানুষের রূপের বর্ণনা যে এত সুন্দর করে দেয়া যায়, এমন বর্ণনা বোধহয় আর কারোর লেখায় দেখিনি।
সামান্য ফাঁক হলো পর্দা । তারপর হঠাৎ সেটার আড়াল থেকে বেড়িয়ে এলো সুন্দর সুগোল একটা শাদা হাত । তুষারের মতো শাদা । আঙুলগুলো লম্বা, ক্রমে সরু হয়ে এসেছে ডগার দিকে, শেষ হয়েছে গোলাপী নখ দিয়ে। আলতো করে পর্দার প্রান্ত ধরলো হাতটা । সামান্য টেনে আনলো এক পাশে । তারপরই একটা কণ্ঠ স্বর শুনতে পেলাম,'বিদেশী !'
মনে হলো এমন কোমল মিষ্টি কণ্ঠ আর কখনো শুনি নি আমি । ঝরনার মৃদু কল্লোলের কথা মনে পরে গেল আমার ।

স্টোরিঃ ৩/৫
বর্ণনাঃ ৫/৫, সবমিলিয়ে ৪ তারা।
এত সুন্দর বর্ণনার জন্য অনুবাদককেই ধন্যবাদটা দেয়া উচিত। ভালো অনুবাদ।
আর সেবা প্রকাশনী সবসময় এমন অসুন্দর (পড়ুন- হালকা বিদঘুটে) প্রচ্ছদ ছাপে ক্যান!🙂

~৭ নভেম্বর, ২০২০
Profile Image for Shovelmonkey1.
353 reviews887 followers
June 21, 2011
*Sigh* - that was a bit of a mission. I think I was more excited about this book before I read it! The story was good but the overly wordy verbose madness of some of the characters made my thinky thing a bit hurty. Haggard may have written it in a six week whirl wind but the dense text and convoluted poetic speeches make it feel less khamsin-like and more leaden than the worlds heaviest box of pencils.

I have to admit to skim reading some of the speeches in order to preserve my sanity (and my thinky thing!). On the whole though, I would not mind discovering a lost city (it's better than writing about the osteology anf stratigraphy of 196 skeletons which is what i'm doing this week) but I don't like the idea of being "hot-potted" so maybe I'll just stay home instead!
Profile Image for aitana ☾.
252 reviews147 followers
December 25, 2021
did i finish this? yes
did i pay any attention to it? no
therefore, am i going to fail my exam on it tomorrow? probably
Profile Image for Dana Al-Basha |  دانة الباشا.
2,256 reviews819 followers
December 27, 2020
The 19th Century best-seller set in a mysterious African kingdom explores the complex themes of imperial arrogance, sexual obsession, power and isolation that lie behind the high adventure.

Ludwig Holly and his ward Leo's quest for the truth behind the legend of Leo's ancestry takes them to Africa, where they find Ayesha, 2000 years old but beautiful beyond all description, despotically ruling her secret kingdom.

Ayesha, the queen whose beauty enthralls and terrifies all who see her, believes Leo to be the lover for whom she has waited 2,000 years.

Profile Image for M.J. Johnson.
Author 3 books226 followers
September 28, 2014
‘She’ is reckoned to be one of the most widely read books ever written, and fifty years ago was estimated to have sold over eighty million copies. It has been translated into numerous languages and made into several film versions. I recall getting a little hot under the collar myself when as a lad I saw Ursula Andress in the titular role. Like King Solomon’s Mines it is difficult for the modern reader to encounter views that are now considered to be quite unequivocally racist. The European world powers at the end of the nineteenth century were obsessed by the fearful idea of racial degeneration; Rider Haggard may have been influenced by this concept after witnessing the ruins of ‘Great Zimbabwe’ which were explored and excavated in the 1870s; they may have been, at least in part, responsible for the ancient lost city in 'She' and his imagined native Armahagger people who live amongst the ruins and have, it must be said, very little to recommend themselves (incidentally, the white ruled Rhodesian Government for many years put political pressure on archaeologists to deny that such a city as ‘Great Zimbabwe’ could have been built by any black races). The book also touched on the rapidly changing role of women in the industrialised world. It was a hugely influential book in its day; its female protagonist Ayesha - the She of the title - has been cited as a female prototype in the works of Freud and Jung; the White Queen, Jadis, in C.S Lewis’s Narnia books owes a debt to her; as too does the character of Shelob in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Like King Solomon’s Mines it is without any shadow of doubt a very good example of the lost world literary genre, however its often racist and Imperialist ideals are sometimes quite unpalateable - and any modern reader has to bear this fact in mind before proceeding.
Profile Image for Boadicea.
186 reviews56 followers
April 29, 2021
Finally, I finished this book and released a long sigh, it's quite a story. It was sold to me as being an early novel of the "lost world" genre but to promote it as a forerunner to the successful Indiana Jones franchise, really misses the mark badly.

To be sure, it's a cracking adventure story; a tale of doomed obsessive love, interwoven with early religious and spiritual philosophies culled from Greek, Egyptian, Muslim, Jewish and Gentile belief systems that made my head spin with the creative imagination that spawned this late Victorian fiction. And there's a nod to the Aztecs and the Mayan cultures in there somewhere, with ritual sacrifices, cannibalism, "hotpotting" and baptism by fire.

There's a nod to Apollo, the Greek god; Charon, the boatman to the underworld who drives the narrative; Job, who suffers a doomed existence; as well as Mahomed, the Muslim initial recipient of the Amahagger hospitality.

And, of course, the inimitable Ayesha, "She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed", the sibilant siren who would rival Medusa for her killing abilities but whose beauty and allure is wondrous beyond compare.

But, there's also the cannibalistic tribe, the Amahagger, whose matriarchal stewardship and social engagement seem impressively egalitarian by the standards of today so must have raised eyebrows some 135 years ago when the book was published.

So, myths and legends abound, all woven into a well-fashioned tale of derring do spun with care and impressive attention to detail. And I want to go back to the beginning and revisit it all again!

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Thibault Busschots.
Author 3 books80 followers
December 8, 2022
A professor and a young man travel to Africa and find a lost city. She, She-who-must-be-obeyed, or simply: Ayesha, rules this city. She has magical powers and is immortal. And in the young explorer she sees the descendant and possibly the reincarnation of the man she once loved thousands of years ago.

I love lost world stories and this is easily one of the best and most gripping lost world stories I’ve come across. Ayesha is just an absolutely fascinating and phenomenal character, the plot is solid as a rock, the setting is really cool and the pace is quite fast.

This book was written in the Victorian era and thus the world views can unfortunately be a bit awkward for a modern reader. But if you can look past those, it’s without a doubt a fantastic escapist adventure worth reading.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,233 reviews1,046 followers
September 29, 2013
I'd never read this classic of adventure-fantasy before. For some reason, I'd always assumed the the author was a contemporary of Robert E. Howard, and that it was published sometime in the 1930s or thereabouts. Not so! It was published in 1887!

The story is fairly simple: An ugly, rather reclusive academic is asked to become ward of a young boy. When the boy, Leo, comes of age, he opens a package left to him by his dead father, and discovers a tale that he is descended from a fabulously long line of Greco-Egyptians, and that somewhere in darkest Africa, there is an immortal goddess who is somehow bound up in his life. Although taking this with a grain of salt, the two are compelled to go investigate the tale - and indeed, they find the fabled, immortal SHE, Ayesha, who believes that Leo is the reincarnation of her long-dead love - who, incidentally, she murdered in a jealous fit.

Although, for his time period, Haggard was apparently considered to be remarkably tolerant and broad-minded, a lot of this book wound be found quite shocking in may ways to most modern audiences.
Haggard does go out of his way to be clear that many of the prejudices in the book are those of his characters - but prejudices of his own (or of the society of his times) can also be found coming through loud and clear. There are definite racist, anti-Semitic and very non-feminist views voiced, as well as the fact that the lower-class Englishman, their servant, is basically a humorous sidekick, his class used for laughs. (which, now that I'm thinking about it, has really kinda become a cliche in this whole genre, even in recent times.)

My copy of the book was from 1972, and I was a bit surprised that it was published unexpurgated, as I know that a bunch of Robert E. Howard's works were censored in their publications from around that time (eliminating references to 'subhuman black savages' and that sort of thing.) (I have mixed feelings about that... I'm generally against censorship, but I'd rather read stories without such content, obviously.)

However, I did enjoy reading this book. It IS an entertaining story, subtexts aside. And it's also interesting, historically, to see the attitudes of the 19th century through the lens of a story like this. It's also interesting to see how much philosophizing, poetics, & etc are included in what was unapologetically written as a sensationalist adventure story - a 'wild romance', as it's referred to in the opening of the sequel!

The attitudes, and the different levels of them, seen in this book could fuel quite a lot of analysis - I'm not surprised that it's been studied in college classes - but right now I'm too tired to get into an extended essay!
Profile Image for بسام عبد العزيز.
974 reviews1,289 followers
October 15, 2014
واحدة من الروايات الكلاسيكية التي تمجد في الرجل الأوروبي الأبيض العظيم و تحقر الرجل الأفريقي الأسود الهمجي... و يبدو أنها كانت موجة سائدة بين الكتاب الإنجليز في عصر الدولة التي لا تغيب عنها الشمس..

طبعا العنصرية التامة تسود أحداث القصة برمتها..
الأفارقة الهمج الذين قتلوا الأوروبي المسالم..
الأفارقة الهمج الذين يأكلون لحوم البشر...
الأفارقة الهمج الذين يرون زميلهم يصارع الموت ولا ينقذوه بل ينقذه الرجل الأبيض الشجاع..

دائما و طوال أحداث الرواية لابد أن يكون الرجل الأبيض هو الأفضل.. الشجاع الجسور المتعلم الذي يجيد عدة لغات المتحضر المتمدن..

أما عن العبثية و اللامنطقية المتناهية فحدث ولا حرج.. الكاتب يقول ان البطل من أسرة عريقة استمرت إلى 65 جيلا متعاقبا... حسنا.. لمعلومات الكاتب فإن كل شخص على وجه الأرض له نفس العدد من الأجيال.. فالبشر لم يأتوا على دفعات من الفضاء مثلا! و لم يخلقوا في معامل!
كذلك.. لماذا لم يحاول اي شخص طوال 65 جيلا أن ينتقم من الأميرة؟! لماذا انتظروا كل تلك الفترة؟!! و ما هذه المصادفة التي تجعل البطل الذي يقرر الذهاب في رحلة الانتقام هذه يعيش في نفس فترة الكاتب ليحكي له؟!!

و ما سبب هذا الانتقام أصلا؟!!! أن جندي أبيض قتل؟!! أليست الامبراطورية الانجليزية قد قتلت آلاف السود.. فجأة يصبح دم انجليزي واحد أكثر أهمية من آلاف السود؟!!!

و حتى الملكة التي تحكم الأفارقة المتوحشين هى نفسها ملكة بيضاء.. من أين أتت ؟ لم يذكر هذا.. لكن المهم أنها بيضاء.. و لأنها بيضاء فلابد ان تكون لها القوة و السيطرة على الأفارقة المتوحشين الهمج!

أما عن جهل الكاتب التام بالتاريخ و الجغرافيا فحدث ولا حرج!!!! القبائل الأفريقية التي انتقلت إلى الشمال لتقوم بتكوين الشعب المصري الفرعوني؟!!! اللغة العربية التي تتحدث بها القبائل في وسط افريقيا؟!!! ما هذا الجهل اللامتناهي؟!! أم هو تضليل و لي للحقائق؟!!

لم تعجبني افكار الرواية..
Profile Image for Wreade1872.
708 reviews166 followers
April 29, 2016
Hated 'King Solomons Mines' when i read it years ago so thought i'd give Haggard a second chance with this. Pretty decent, one of the characters bears a strong resemblance to Beast from the X-Men :lol.
Ayesha is pretty interesting and there are some nice weird touches. Only problems, ending not that great and no relatable characters, both main heroes are almost super-human.
Profile Image for Ana.
Author 14 books199 followers
November 11, 2021
À imagem do que aconteceu com a minha leitura de As Minas de Salomão (do mesmo autor), deparei-me aqui com mais uma brilhante aventura muito bem narrada, que me deu imenso prazer ler. Fiquei também novamente com a sensação de que se tivesse lido estas aventuras de Rider Haggard na minha fase juvenil, teria conseguido apreciar ainda mais estas histórias.

Ainda assim, apesar de na minha opinião já ter passado a "fase mais apropriada" para ler este género de histórias, conseguí deixar-me levar pelo enredo e viver esta aventura com bastante emoção e interesse.

Achei a história de uma enorme criatividade, muito bem construida, com personagens fortes e memoráveis.

No início fez-me lembrar um pouco a história de Verne "Viagem ao Centro da Terra", por os personagens serem detentores de documentos e indicações sobre como chegar a um local que parece uma fantástica invenção e decidirem viajar para resolver o mistério. Apesar de também a Viagem ao Centro da Terra ser uma grandiosa e emocionante aventura, considero-a mais ligeira e juvenil que esta.

Em She, não se perdendo o traço de livro juvenil e de aventuras fantásticas, há toda uma exploração de grandes temas, tais como a vida e a morte, o bem e o mal, a existência, o amor, a religião e outros, que são por vezes abordados de forma até bastante profunda.

Tive muito prazer em ler este livro e sabendo que existe uma continuação, sem duvida que gostaria de a ler.
Profile Image for M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews.
4,225 reviews344 followers
May 2, 2017
I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed the premise, and as far as writing style goes, it was decent for its time. However, there are certain parts of this book that are just awkward, and what happened at the ending was just... pretty meh. It's interesting as a study in fiction of its time, but for entertainment value, it's a hit and miss. I neither like or dislike it, but I will admit that the title of 'She-who-must-be-obeyed' is quite memorable.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,152 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.