Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was really a very talented writer, and he had many tales to tell that did not involve the famous Sherlock Holmes. The Lost World is perhaps the best known of his noncanonical stories. He describes a lush, mysterious plateau in the remote Amazonian regions of South America in which creatures thought to have died out eons ago still stalk the earth. Professor Challenger, while possessing some of the confidence and intellect of a Holmes, could not be more different in his passions and boisterous, conceited behavior; it is his contention that a "lost world" does exist. Recruiting a disbelieving zoologist, a famed adventurer, and a fresh, young newspaper man to go with him, the group sets out for the inaccessible reaches of the jungle and manages, after some great effort, to reach the isolated plateau. By an act of treachery by an Indian bearing a grudge against the famed Lord Roxton, their portal of entry is destroyed, leaving them trapped in the mysterious new land they dub Maple White Land after an American who earlier discovered the place but died soon thereafter (but not before encountering Professor Challenger in the Amazon and revealing to him its existence and location). They build a camp and begin investigating the area, quickly discovering unknown forms of plant life and animal life, including dinosaurs and pterodactyls. As if the monstrous reptilian beasts aren't hazard enough for them, they soon find themselves besieged by a vicious race of ape-men, whom they eventually take on in alliance with a separate race of Indians. The newspaperman narrates events in a series of postings he manages to get sent back to London, describing the creatures and their habits. Each man is called upon to distinguish himself through deeds of heroism in order to escape this newly discovered world and return to civilization with the scientific coup of all time.
Conan Doyle's characterizations and descriptions of both man and beast are rich and vibrant. Ironically, the lost world seems much more real than the world of London. The scientific meetings held in front of a number of disbelieving scholars result in great commotions, tempests of defamations and praises, fainting women, and combatant men. When Challenger reveals his proof of the exploits that have been related, untold chaos and zeal follow quickly on the heels of one another. As for the reporter, he made the astounding journey because of a woman--while this part of the story is somewhat silly, it is nevertheless fitting. The woman he loves declares that she can only love a man who has taken great risks and won fame for himself, and this sets our protagonist on as daring an adventure as could be found at any time. It may well be that such compulsions of the heart have led to many great acts and discoveries in history; it is even more probable that such exploits have been rewarded in the predictable way our protagonist's was, the details of which I will endeavor not to disclose here.
All in all, it's a wonderful tale of adventure, cunning, heroics, and scientific achievement. Somewhat surprisingly, there are not that many dinosaurs described in the story. We have a fleeting glimpse of a stegiosaur, but we mostly read of medium-sized dinosaurs such as the "iguanadon." There is no brontosaurus or T-Rex here, which is somewhat disappointing. The jungle action actually centers around the ape-men and Indians, as once again, even amid the prehistoric realm of Jurassic life, we find that humanoids, even of the most primitive type, are the most dangerous, ruthless animals on the earth.