I said I’d get around to writing about this. Don’t hold your breath.
- Book: King Solomon’s Mines
- Author: H. Rider Haggard
- Publication year: 1885
This book is supposed to be the genesis of all “lost world” genre books. But, to me, it screams bigoted colonialism which pisses me off in any genre. I don’t like the view (especially when it is author driven and not just character driven) that anyone–no matter race, gender, or beliefs–should be written off as a simpleton just because of a difference in technology and customs.
Yes. I could be diplomatic and say Haggard was a creature of his time and values. Well, times change. Novels don’t.
If you can get around the arrogant “white man is the superior being” language in the text, the tale isn’t dreadful. It does feel a bit simple–more like a teenage adventure tale–but there are still twists and turns to be had: a lost brother, a treasure hunt, treachery, tribal civil war, witches, almost certain death, and stalagmite-bodies of dead kings. Oh, and–in case you forgot where you were–the obligatory great-white-hunter scene of wanton destruction of animals.
But, as is to be expected to generate hope for any adventuresome reader:
So we left it. Perhaps, in some remote unborn century, a more fortunate explorer may hit upon the “Open Sesame,” and flood the world with gems. But, myself, I doubt it. Somehow, I seem to feel that the tens of millions of pounds’ worth of jewels which lie in the three stone coffers will never shine round the neck of an earthly beauty. They and Foulata’s bones will keep cold company till the end of all things.
Here lies the adventure of King Solomon’s Mines.
- Did I enjoy this book? Not in any particular way.
- Will I read this book again? That is highly unlikely without a specific reason for doing so.
- Will I attempt to read more H. Rider Haggard? I may give it one more shot.
PS. If you do go digging in to this novel, you might hear the echoes of other adventure stories as you go. While this book’s attitudes may rub me the wrong way, I do think this book has made serious ripples in the literary pond…