Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lost Worlds

Part of my New Year's Eve was spent reading the final chapters of my Christmas Holiday book, King Solomon's Mines. My first impression of this book was Wilbur Smith meets Indiana Jones. It is a book with an interesting background.
It was written and published in 1885 and began the whole genre of Lost World adventure literature as it's theme is discovering uncharted territory in deepest darkest Africa. It was written as a result of a wager between the author, H. Rider Haggard and his brother, that he could write a better novel than Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island". It took 6 weeks to write and he had a difficult time finding a publisher, but when he did, the biggest problem was being able to print copies fast enough for the huge demand of this immensely popular book.  
The story revolves around a trio of men searching for one of their brothers. There is a legend of a mine, which was the source of King Solomon's wealth, and there is an old map supposedly created by an ancient Portuguese explorer who had actually seen the treasure and died trying to escape from the evil that surrounded the treasure.
There is bush lore, big game hunting, Zulu wars, starvation, thirst, ancient curses, and diamonds secreted away in chambers beneath a massive snow covered mountain. Death and treachery are around every corner, and in the end, the reader is sure there will be no solution for the predicament the trio find themselves in. But keep in mind that Allan Quartermain, one of the trio, is writing the story, so there has to be a way out, and there is.
The writing is a bit simplistic, but descriptive enough to appeal to more than the juvenile reader. I found it interesting that all the images for this book, in a Google search, depicted a white woman clinging to a macho white hunter, in the clutches of danger. There is only one romantic interest in the actual story, and that is between a young black Zulu girl and one of the adventures. There are no white women in this story. This perhaps indicates the sensibilities of the culture during the time when movies were first made, based on this book. I prefer the reality of the original story.
A good read and a bit of a page turner, I give it 4 stars considering it was written 160 years ago.  

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