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She: A History of Adventure

(Ayesha #1)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  10,461 ratings  ·  858 reviews
She is the story of Cambridge professor Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey, and their journey to a lost kingdom in the African interior. The journey is triggered by a mysterious package left to Leo by his father, to be opened on his 25th birthday; the package contains an ancient shard of pottery and several documents, suggesting an ancient mystery about the Vincey ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 317 pages
Published October 22nd 1998 by Oxford University Press (first published 1886)
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Melanie Pereira page 210 - a beautiful 'philosophy' in this book!

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Henry Avila
Jun 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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 ...more
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
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Apr 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Dracula and Heart of Darkness.
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
Aug 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
“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
Tom Lazenby
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"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 ...more

- Well, having created my older-men-younger-women shelf...

- ... people thought you needed one called older-women-younger-men?

- Exactly. So of course I'm adding She.

- You mean Her?

- Look, which one of us is the grammarian?

Barry Pierce
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
Dan Porter
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.
Dec 13, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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 ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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...
Jun 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes their ladies long-winded
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
*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
M.J. Johnson
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
‘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 ...more
Dannii Elle
This might possibly be my lowest rated book on all of Goodreads. I read this book for my university course and hated everything about it. The whole thing just felt...pointless! I waded through it but this would probably have become my first ever DNFed book (I feel a strange obligation to the author to finish all books) if it was not part of my required reading. Ordinarily, if I dislike a book, for whatever reason, I hold off on slating the book completely in favour of rereading it a few years ...more
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.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book a long, long, long time ago, when there was no internet. And i loved it very much. It captured my imagination like no other story could.
If Ayesha were telling this story, the book wouldn't be half this boring. The writing was okay, but the themes of race, female authority and sexuality were so Victorian. The ending also felt forced. (view spoiler)
May 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: ghost-fiction
It had been many years since I read this - sometime back in the early '70s at a guess, and my memories of it have also been colored by the Hammer movie that I've watched several times in the interim. The movie is still watchable, but I fear the book hasn't aged well at all. Where it still stands up is in the imaginative sequences - the lost cities, the immense caverns, the pillar of fire and she-who-must-be-obeyed herself, all of which show Haggard to be capable of stirring the blood, which he ...more
Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا
This is the first novel I have read as a young girl, I've read it over and over again a lot of times, I bought a new edition because mine was worn out, I love it!! I always wonder why didn't they make it into a movie (A new adaption I mean)?!? It's the best fantasy novel ever!!!

Apr 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
The Ursula Andress film maimed my childhood. I was indoctrinated with a craving for beauty. The book is infinately eerier. Your lover's corpse is a creepy keepsake.

Ayesha is basically Miss Havisham but with looks, immortality, sorcery, brilliance, an underground desert kingdom, enslaved minions...


*especially to the enslaved minions*
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it
I was first introduced to H. Rider Haggard in my class on British Imperialism in college where we studied history though novels of the time. We studied his "King Solomon's Mines" with the intent of viewing the British Empire as 19th century contemporaries might have - and what better place to do this than through propagandist adventure novels targeted at young boys?! I'd like to say that "She" - one of Haggard's more grown up novels - is a step up, but I can't say that with thorough conviction. ...more
Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا
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
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truly bizarre Gothic adventure novel about eternal youth, savage Africans, and all those other cultural imperialisms so favored in the Victorian era! Cheerio! Watch out for the hotpots!
Jan 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Eh, not sure. See review
Recommended to Jason by: Whim
Shelves: 2016, classics

Well, this was disappointing on multiple levels. 2.5 stars rounded up to three.

Let me get the unforgivable out of the way before I get started. She's real name is Ayesha. According to the editor it's pronounced Assha (and how the hell you say that, I have nary a clue. ASS-hah? uh-SHAW?) Regardless of this helpful tidbit, my brain kept saying Iesha which always brought to mind this awful thing. It's been in my head on and off for three weeks now. Go ahead. Click on the link. Give it a
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my third Haggard novel I've read, and it's a top notch, ripping yarn. Although similar to other Haggard's creations, (such as lost civilizations, strange beings with strange powers, at least one friendly native among hostile tribes, hidden untold treasures) it is an enthralling tale, layered and well seasoned with Haggard's ability to weave in different world views and philosophies into the tale. His book is engaging, without being preachy, unapologetically Imperial British, and ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
OK, standard disclaimer: This book was written in 1885 or 1886. It contains racial and gender attitudes that are Really Not Cool. I think it's better than many of its contemporaries in that regard (for one thing, Haggard had actually lived in Africa for a while, so to some extent he kind of knew what he was talking about), but if as a result you don't want to read it, I'll completely understand. (And, to be fair, when I first read this book, I was a lot younger, meaning that I myself wasn't as ...more
Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*
I was surprisingly riveted by this book, given its age. I guess classics are classics for a reason, but I was surprised that She appealed so much to my current sensibilities. It is not hard to see why this book was the talk of the town (the town being London) at the time of its publication. There are plenty of vivid, memorable moments: the depiction of mortal combat between a lion and a crocodile, the terrifying "hot-pot" scene, and every rousing scene with the titular "She". All left a lasting ...more
Mar 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
H. Rider Haggard is one of those "classic" adventure writers I missed as a child while I was devouring Verne, H. G. Wells, and Edgar R. Burroughs. Then there were the Lost Worlds tales of that guy who dabbled in fantasy-adventure when he wasn't writing about a detective-doctor duo. Now that I have read my first Haggard novel, She, I am glad I put him off for so long because he is REALLY BORING!

Tedious descriptions, stiff dialogue and simply mediocre writing is the order of the day in the land of
Sep 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Considering it was written in 1886-1887, this was a fun, adventuous read. It also really brings light to issues of the Victorian era such as gender and race.

My favourite: the fact that it was written in installments. This meant that every chapter is left off on a cliffhanger, keeping you wanting to read more.
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Goodreads Librari...: Cover missing 2 8 May 20, 2019 11:25AM  
Reading 1001: She by H. Rider Haggard 1 7 Oct 31, 2018 12:47PM  
'She' is 1 6 Aug 29, 2018 07:56AM  
SHE is everywhere! 1 13 Dec 07, 2015 04:06PM  
What Is Wrong With "She"? 1 48 Nov 25, 2013 12:34PM  

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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

Other books in the series

Ayesha (4 books)
  • Ayesha: The Return of She (She #2)
  • She and Allan (Allan Quatermain #11)
  • Wisdom's Daughter (She #4)
“Yea, all things live forever, though at times they sleep and are forgotten.” 957 likes
“The moon went slowly down in loveliness; she departed into the depth of the horizon, and long veil-like shadows crept up the sky through which the stars appeared. Soon, however, they too began to pale before a splendour in the east, and the advent of the dawn declared itself in the newborn blue of heaven. Quieter and yet more quiet grew the sea, quiet as the soft mist that brooded on her bosom, and covered up her troubling, as in our tempestuous life the transitory wreaths of sleep brook upon a pain-racked soul, causing it to forget its sorrow. From the east to the west sped those angels of the Dawn, from sea to sea, from mountain-top to mountain-top, scattering light from breast and wing. On they sped out of the darkness, perfect, glorious; on, over the quiet sea, over the low coast-line, and the swamps beyond, and the mountains above them; over those who slept in peace and those who woke in sorrow; over the evil and the good; over the living and the dead; over the wide world and all that breathes or as breathed thereon.” 71 likes
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