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Life, Law & Libros

King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (2 stars)

Mini-reviews are tweaked versions of reviews I wrote before starting the blog. It's a good way to show some love to older books (and keep me from panicking when I slack off and don't have anything new). The originals remain on Goodreads (unless it was, like, one sentence), and the new reviews get posted here in between reviews of books I'm currently reading. How to tell them apart? The mini-reviews get this cool intro paragraph. :)

King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard
Series: Allan Quartermain #1
Genres: Action/Adventure, Classic
Published on January 29, 2008 (first published 1885)
Published by Penguin Classics
Final Rating: 2 stars

The first great "Lost World" action-adventure-a precursor to Indiana Jones

H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines has entertained generations of readers since its first publication in 1885. Following a mysterious map of dubious reliability, a small group of men trek into southern Africa in search of a lost friend-and a lost treasure, the fabled mines of King Solomon. Led by the English adventurer and fortune hunter Allan Quartermain, they discover a frozen corpse, survive untold dangers in remote mountains and deserts, and encounter the merciless King Twala en route to the legendary hoard of diamonds.

If you've never heard of this book, I'll bet you've heard of Allan Quartermain before- from "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" if nothing else. This book is advertised as the grandfather of Indiana Jones and other Lost World thrillers, and that's pretty accurate.
At the same time, if you go in expecting their non-stop action and cinematic effects, you'll be disappointed. King Solomon's Mines takes place in an earlier time, colonial Africa, and it has a narrative style to match.

That's not to say it's boring. There's plenty of adventure, and the story is fairly entertaining. A sojourn across desert and mountains, instigating a civil war, nearly buried alive ... fun stuff. At the same time, the plot is somewhat predictable to those well versed in Indiana Jones and the like. Several times, I wanted to shout, "Are you stupid?!" But it's Allan Quartermain. He's the original.

Also, he was in the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and was played by Sean Connery. You have to read at least one of his stories just for that. ;)


  1. This was one classic that bored me almost to tears. It didn't at all meet my high expectations of an adventure novel.

    1. That is the one thing I'm finding with "classics." Because the narrative styles are so different, best to go in with as few expectations as possible. :)

  2. Ya, but that was the role that caused Connery to retire. God they messed that movie up so bad, it should have been so good!

    1. An excellent reason to go back and read the source material. ;)

      The movie definitely could have been better, and I think it was also in the unfortunate position of featuring some less recognizable characters in terms of today's pop culture. Everyone knows Batman, Superman, Spider-man and some of the X-men. Allan Quarterman, Captain Nemo, a grown up Tom Sawyer and even the Invisible Man don't have quite the same name recognition.