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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diamonds Lost Forever?
A REVIEW OF `KING SOLOMON'S MINES' BY H. RIDER HAGGARD

In many ways, `King Solomon's Mines' is THE classic adventure story. First published in 1885, and written in response to a wager that he could not produce a story half-as-good as `Treasure Island', H. Rider Haggard left a legacy which continues today, not only in literature, but also in such films as...
Published on 21 July 2011 by Barty Literati

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars For people who hate literature
Every so often I get the feeling that a good old timey adventure book would be a good thing to read. This is (hopefully) the last time I think this as the results are always dire. Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" was one hell of a struggle. Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday" was dreadful. However, Rider Haggard's "King Solomon's Mines" takes the prize for most...
Published on 7 July 2012 by Sam Quixote


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars For people who hate literature, 7 July 2012
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: King Solomon's Mines (Collins Classics) (Paperback)
Every so often I get the feeling that a good old timey adventure book would be a good thing to read. This is (hopefully) the last time I think this as the results are always dire. Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" was one hell of a struggle. Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday" was dreadful. However, Rider Haggard's "King Solomon's Mines" takes the prize for most unreadable load of old toss ever.

3 Englishmen ponce into Africa on a treasure hunt. They cross romantic terrain, shoot majestic animals, patronise and insult black people, before leaving with a few pocketfuls of giant diamonds back to Blighty. What ho!

Sounds a bit of a lark, what? It's not. First off, Haggard has his hero Quatermain say in the first chapter that they went to Africa, did this, did that, and made it back home with the treasure. Oh great, now I'm really on the edge of my seat. Now when Quatermain and chums are in danger and the chapter ends on a "cliffhanger" (by Victorian standards) I'll know that they make it out because this was explained in the first chapter!

Also, Haggard has the annoying habit of describing every single meaningless detail in a scene. So when they cross the desert, you have endless descriptions of wind, and how thirsty everyone is, and how if they don't make it they'll die and the characters start whinging and don't stop and will they make it..? Look an oasis, we're saved! No tension whatsoever anyway, we all know they make it BECAUSE THEY SAY SO AT THE START! All this needless exposition and attempts at drama are useless if we know the characters make it.

The most offending attempt at literature in this amazingly labelled "classic" is the way Haggard deals with Africans. They're all "noble savages" who for some reason speak like medieval dukes. "Thou hast", "ye", "sayest not", "hark", etc all make regular appearances in their speech but does he honestly think Africans speak like that?! The Englishmen patronise the Africans like pets and Haggard has the Africans run about like gormless children, either behaving "nobly" ie. standing around bored saying nothing, or like coked up teens with a hormone imbalance, ie. screaming, tearing hair, killing people randomly. No attempt at characterisation is made and none of the characters seem at all real. In fact they all sound remarkably the same, like a middle class educated Englishman.

This is the most tedious novel I've ever read, it actually made me angry while I was reading. Haggard can't seem to accept the reader has the capacity to fill in the gaps. For example, rather than say "they went to the ridge and sat down", he has to say "they gathered up their things (items are listed and digressed), and after several parting words (list numerous mundane words), hastened up the path (description of path and weather), while we wondered about (list everything thats happened thus far) and upon reaching the ridge (list various mundane observations the characters have made while walking) we sat down and gazed at the view (list needless description of mountain range)." It's EXHAUSTING. I hurled the book away from me every time I sat it down (about every 3 chapters) and am amazed at my tolerance for poor writing.

How is this a classic? It's not at all on the level of "Great Expectations" or "The Picture of Dorian Gray" or numerous other examples. There's no profundity, no great story, no great writing. Haggard is a very minor writer and his contribution to literature is very small, if at all recognisable. I am amazed this is listed as a classic when it is the 1880s version of a Lee Child novel. Give this a wide book berth, it's appalling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diamonds Lost Forever?, 21 July 2011
This review is from: King Solomon's Mines (Collins Classics) (Paperback)
A REVIEW OF `KING SOLOMON'S MINES' BY H. RIDER HAGGARD

In many ways, `King Solomon's Mines' is THE classic adventure story. First published in 1885, and written in response to a wager that he could not produce a story half-as-good as `Treasure Island', H. Rider Haggard left a legacy which continues today, not only in literature, but also in such films as `Indiana Jones...' and `National Treasure'. The plot is simplicity itself: Whilst in deepest Africa, gnarled elephant hunter, Allan Quartermain receives an irresistible offer from two fellow Englishmen to join them on a quest to find the lost treasures believed to be hidden in King Solomon's Mine. Added to this, one of the fellow adventurers, Sir Henry Curtis, is looking for his brother who seemingly disappeared on the same quest. Equipped with plenty of guns and ammunition, Quartermain's scrawled map of the region, and some native companions, they are off.

`King Solomon's Mines' wastes no time laboriously setting the scene. Indeed, the first third of the book is a fast-paced tale, full of movement, during which our heroes face all manner of hardships, attempting to reach the road that leads to untold riches. The perils that they face are evocatively and realistically told and the reader is easily drawn into the adventure.

And then, it rather grinds to a halt. The middle third takes the narrative in an entirely different direction. All thoughts of lost treasure and missing siblings vanish, as we are caught up in a bitter and brutal civil war between two rivals for the throne of Kukuanaland. Admittedly, once the fighting begins, the action comes thick and fast. However, for many pages, the momentum of the quest is lost. It's not that these pages are not entertaining. Far from it. They are filled with much humour and mystery, and make the best use of false-teeth and eclipses that I can recall in a novel! Nevertheless, the effect is a bit like expecting the crowd at a football match to be as equally interested in the half-time entertainment as they would be in the match itself.

Thankfully, we rejoin the hunt for the gold and diamonds in the final third of `King Solomon's Mines', and the wait is definitely worthwhile. The telling of the finding of the treasure is brimming with suspense, excitement and some liberal dollops of horror. Like the best moments of `Raiders Of the lost Ark', it all works brilliantly. The effect is enhanced by having Quaertermain as the narrator. At the start of the tale he made it clear that he was no fearless hero, and his responses to the unfolding predicament of the adventurers add a veneer of believability to what could have been presented as excessively far-fetched hokum.

Thus, on turning the final page, `King Solomon's Mines' emerges a terrific (if flawed by its pedestrian second act) adventure classic, worthy of its endless reprints. Haggard clearly knew that he was onto a winner as Quartermain was to return in a whole series of novels, the most famous being the first eponymous sequel. `King Solomon's Mines' may not be pure gold, but it shines brightly enough to keep lovers of boys'-own-fiction hunting for more such treasures.

Barty's Score: 8.5/10
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4.0 out of 5 stars King Solomon's Mines, 23 Mar. 2013
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I enjoyed this book, full of adventure and a really good read. I would recommend this book to every body
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fab story, 22 Mar. 2013
By 
C. Newton "The Book Worm" (Europe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: King Solomon's Mines (Collins Classics) (Paperback)
Ordered for my 11yo son who loves adventure books, felt he needed to read some off the classics as they aren't offered in school. He loves the story unfortunately the film is very dated
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable yarn but of another age, 14 Jun. 2012
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Although I had heard of this novel I had never read it as a child. I bought the Kindle edition of King Solomon's mines after visiting King Solomon's pillars and the ancient copper mines in the Negev desert. I foolishly thought this was the topic of the story. However, the tale is about the search for a lost world in the heart of Africa. Even though it was not what I expected I still thought it was a great tale and well written; like an Indiana Jones story. It was written before Africa had been fully explored by Western colonialists and should be read with that in mind. At the time readers may well have believed there was an undiscovered diamond mine in Africa. Some of the language in the text is set very much in the time it was written. For example, I felt the attitude of the main characters to the Africans was rather patronising (even racist)to a reader in modern day England. Women featured very little - certainly not a feminist novel! Maybe a new version is needed for the modern reader. I'm glad I have finally read this novel as it is a classic but it hasn't encouraged me to read anything else by Rider Haggard.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are thinking Debra Kerr you will be shocked, 9 Jan. 2012
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: King Solomon's Mines (Collins Classics) (Paperback)
I grew up on the movie so it was quit a shocker to read the book. As stated in the beginning there are no petticoated women in this book. It is a men's adventure written by a man for men. You can not miss the hand of H. Rider Haggard as he has a unique sense of humor that pops up at the strangest times. And as with written stories this one is much more intricate than the movie adaptations. You will find many assumptions of the time such as any complex construction must have been built by white people and natives on their own may turn savage.

The story is told first person by Allan Quatemain. Nevil is off to make his fortune by finding King Solomon's lost diamond mines. Allan sends him a map to help. This is the last anyone heard from Nevil. Turns out that Nevil is really the estranged brother of Henry Curtis. Sir Henry Curtis now wants to make amends and he with his friend Captain John Good, bribe Allan Quartermain to take them across an endless desert and trough impassible mountains to an adventure that will hold you to the very end. Along with them is their self imposed helper Umbopa who carries a secret of his own.

King Solomon's Mines Starring: Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger
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King Solomon's Mines (Collins Classics)
King Solomon's Mines (Collins Classics) by Henry Rider Haggard (Paperback - 1 April 2010)
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