This review is from: In Search of King Solomon's Mines: A Modern Adventurer's Quest for Gold and History in the Land of the Queen of Sheba (Paperback)
`In Search Of King Solomon's Mines' was first published over a decade ago, but it is still a treasure whose value becomes more apparent with the passing of years.
Ten years ago I was captivated by the journey through Ethiopia, by the ancient churches hewn out of solid rock in Lalibela, the hair-raising ascent to the monastery in Debra Damo, the desert trek with people from the greatly feared Danikil tribe and their sullen camels, the final leg under atrocious conditions after the dilapidated jeep that once belonged to Haile Sellasie had been abandoned and six mules had been hired.
What I now realise is that `King Solomon's Mines' is about much more than a physical country. This being Africa, ordinary people are exceptionally kind and generous, and spirits are never far from their thoughts. In the eastern town of Harar, Yusuf has the responsibility of slaughtering cattle and feeding the meat to jinn in the form of hyenas, which would otherwise come to the city walls at night and take the children. In the West, the mountain peaks known as Sheba's Breasts are out of bounds to locals because of their association with the Devil.
At a deeper level, this book is about the People of the Book, Jews, Christians and Muslims, about their common heritage in the Old Testament of the Bible, and about the situation in which they now find themselves. It is written in language of majestic simplicity. For me, this treasure is still not completely in focus, but I trust that time and Tahir Shah will eventually succeed in dispelling my ignorance.