Monday, August 1, 2011

King Solomon's Mines, by H. Rider Haggard


An excellent story, and a precursor to much of the adventure literature and film that has been so popular for the past hundred years. Although the story itself is devoid of the supernatural elements to justify placement in the fantasy genre, the story itself is reminiscent of the early fantasy stories and undoubtedly influenced the genre. For those who enjoy the adventures of Indiana Jones and his ilk, this is a must-read. Haggard dedicates the story to "all the big and little boys who read it," and he knows how to please his audience. Elephants tear people in two, men kill other men in armed combat, and women function largely to massage the male ego or to provide for man's physical and material needs. The writing is a bit dated--vestiges of racism of the time remain, though in Haggard's case it appears to be the result of foolish ignorance rather than animus. And Quatermain's big-game hunting adventures are rather unsettling in this modern era of Endangered Species Lists and wildlife preservation. Still, it's an important piece historically, and quite enjoyable to boot. Definitely worth reading.

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