The travellers face many dangers on their quest - the baking desert heat, the hostile lost tribe they discover and the evil 'wise woman' who holds the secret of the diamond mines. King Solomon's Mines is a brilliant adventure that has gripped generations.
(P)2009 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
I discovered this book after watching League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and learning that Sean Connery's character in the movie, Allen Quatermain, is taken from HR Haggard's books.
This story is unlikely to disappointment fans of Indiana Jones-type adventure; the plot is well-written and only occasionally requires suspension of disbelief to get through. The narration as well is very good. Overall, a remarkable novel from a different time.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines (1885) is worth listening to if for no other reason than because of its seminal influence on the adventure genre, especially of the "lost world" or "planetary romance" variety wherein an intrepid hero explores an exotic hidden civilization in an inaccessible place and thereby acts as a catalyst for Big Change, ala Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard.
Allan Quartermain, who leads the expedition to King Solomon's mines hidden among the mountains of Africa and finds much more than he expected, is an interesting narrator-protagonist: honest, middle-aged, experienced, physically unimposing, and none too brave. The story he tells is variously suspenseful, violent, humorous, horrifying, moving, and sublime. Its views of animals ("beasts" to be hunted for food or sport), of women (baby-bearers, damsels in distress, or witches ideally to be avoided), of indigenous people ("natives" not to be mated with or lived among permanently) are unpleasant to me today. But Quartermain also impressively (given his Victorian era) admires exceptional "natives" and recognizes them as being at least the equal of their white counterparts, pointedly refuses to use the n-word, poignantly depicts an inter-racial romance, and even expresses the destructive side of the involvement of white "civilization" with native cultures. And the story has neat themes about the dangerous pursuit of wealth, the transitory nature of life, the wonders of nature, and the mysteries of the past.
The reader, Toby Stephens, does an excellent job breathing wit and life into the characters; I particularly enjoyed his Gagaoola, the wizened, wicked, possibly immortal, stick-like crone, whose raspy high-pitched merry malevolence was appealingly creepy to hear. An entertaining listen indeed.
This rollicking tale invented the lost world / jungle opera genre and spawned a host of imitators and hangers-on who variously copied the book’s vibe and ethos or just its specific devices (like the “white witchcraft” of the hunter’s guns or the terrifying of an ignorant native race by pretending to bring on an eclipse which luckily happened to occur just when it was needed. It’s old, colonialist, and racist (though very mildly so in comparison with most of literature of the day), but it’s a humdinger of a thrill ride. Special mention goes to the incredible narrator Toby Stephens, whose accents make it all worthwhile.
The accents! My goodness, the man's accents are AMAZING. I wish I could read books to my kids like that. His reading of Gagool actually made shivers run up and down my spine.
It was an ok book. Hard to keep up with the way the story flowed. Was disappointed, the expectation of the adventure didn't come through.
Narrator was pretty good.
Near the top but mainly because of the nostalgia of hearing a book I first read in about 1964.
Alan because his character was expanded on more than others.
His voice caught the essence of the era.
I ranked this book highly because of the time in which it was written. This is a great story variations of which have been written, made into movies and made into video games decades after this original. The language is charming and even made me chuckle a few times when humor was not intended. The reader has to take the era in which it was written into account and recognise that the term
"OF ITS TIME"
Not very politically correct but is a 'ripping yarn'. More blood than a blood bank but still a good tale.
"An African adventure"
Chose this audiobook as I had never read the original story. A simple adventure that is a little dated now but still worth listening to. Nicely narrated by Toby Stephens.
"King Solomon's Mines"
Excellent listening. Brought back memories of reading the book many years ago. Gripping story that kept my interest throughout.
"Non PC but ......"
I read this as a child and had never thought of the audiobook. However, I was at a loose end and bingo. I had forgotten that not only is this a "ripping adventure" but its actually very amusing, I really enjoyed the picture of Good half shaven, false teeth and no trousers, and well written. OK, non-PC in some of the words and attitudes, but if you accept it as of its time then you can sit back and enjoy. Toby Stephens does it full credit, although at one point one of the African characters does sound a little Asian to my ears, but he gets it back on track pretty quickly. All in all, if you can suspend your disbelief then you will have a good time.
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