Nesa Sivagnanam's Reviews > King Solomon's Mines

King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard
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Feb 07, 2011

it was amazing

Here is a book that makes me, at least, glad for the fine art of making a bet. King Solomon’s Mines was written in answer to a five shilling challenge to produce a book as good as Treasure Island. It was a huge bestseller in the 19th Century and has never gone out of print, inspiring writers as diverse as Freud, Conan Doyle and the film-maker George Lucas. So we might just have this book to thank for the wonder that is Star Wars.

King Solomon’s Mines gave me a larger than life hero. If I could I would have run away, not to join the circus, but to be with Allan Quartermain on his marvelous adventures. He’s been a trader and hunter all his life and knows Africa, the Heart of Darkness, as well as any white man.

Here Allan mounts an expedition into the uncharted interior of South Africa to help Sir Henry Curtis find his brother. And the bait? The vast riches contained in the legendary diamond mines of King Solomon.

Quatermain has a mysterious map purporting to lead to the mines, but had never taken it seriously. However, he agrees to lead an expedition in return for a share of the treasure, or a stipend for his son if he is killed along the way. He has little hope they will return alive. They also take along a mysterious native, Umbopa, who seems more regal, handsome and well spoken than most porters of his class, but who is very anxious to join the party.

Take this book home and journey with Quartermanin into the land on King Twala who came into power by murdering his brother and driving his brother’s wife and infant son into the desert to die. Twala rules unchallenged with an evil, impossibly ancient hag Gagool as his right hand woman. She holds regular witch hunts and all who might oppose Twala are sniffed out and killed. Find out what happens when Gagool sets eyes on Umbopa. Will they survive this encounter?

And what of the King Solomon’s mines – a treasure room inside a mountain, carved deeply within the living rock and full of gold diamonds and ivory. Will Quartermain and his friends triumph over evil or will darkness hold sway?

Aside from breathtaking, nail-biting adventure, King Solomon’s Mines filled my world with the most amazing people and landscapes. It kept me awake reading under my blankets with a torch desperate to know what would happen next. And, all these years later, the magic still works.

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