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.
©1951 H. Rider Haggard (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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.
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.
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.
Lots of vivid war descriptions. Action / Adventure + Fiction & Suspense have improved over time. Choose Treasure Island if you are looking for better historical fiction.
I first learn of Allen Quartermain and his adventures in Africa via the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the comic, not the movie). This was every bit the adventure I'd been promised!
You really get a sense of just how exciting it was back in the Victorian era with all of the lost civilizations being discovered and adventures braving the thickest of jungles. The was never a dull moment and all with something new to discover, with that posh Victorian flare I've come to adore.
Obviously, Quartermain is the quintessential Great White Hunter, so their was a bit of big game hunting along the way; thankfully it was mostly brief and did serve to flavor the story. As for the African characters, they were present surprisingly tastefully written given time when the novel was written. Quartermain even comment that some Africans are more respectable than Europeans he has known, and never once uses derogator terms to describe them. The rest of Quartermain's party were also great characters as well. And it had a happy ending and it all worked (mostly) well for everyone.
All in all one of the best Victorian novels I've read in a while. Discover this gem for yourself!
I loved the story and the narrator was really great (other than butchering the pronunciation of the afrikaans words) but I really struggled with the volume of the recording. It was way too low, it became very cumbersome to constantly have to struggle to hear the narration. Other than the volume issue I can highly recommend it
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
"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.
Quartermain , He had real hopes aspirations and weakness
Sir Henry Curtis but all were excellent.
I will when I get time but it will be played often as I love this kind of adventure
This was so well done and well read ,Toby Stephens voice was just right and I can thoroughly
recommend the recording ,You could almost smell the pipe tobacco, hear the echo of the caves and see the massed ranks battling it out.
"OF ITS TIME"
Not very politically correct but is a 'ripping yarn'. More blood than a blood bank but still a good tale.
"Dated but still influential"
Toby Stephens' reading. I tried reading this book in my teens (in the 1980s) but ground to a halt through boredom. I tried again in 2013 but was suffering from depression and couldn't finish any book. I nearly gave up on the audio last week, but persisted, thanks to Stephens' enthusiasm, diversity of voices for the characters, and the fact that it does get interesting again about halfway through.
Haggard's respect for other cultures. Don't get me wrong, he is a product of his time, and there are some "let's laugh at the gullible [black people]" moments. By way of example, the hoary old chestnut of the convenient eclipse gets a look in here (forgivable as it has been used this way in real life). Let's hope a few black astronomers get to laugh at Haggard for thinking the darkness lasts a full hour, or for thinking that there will be moonlight on the night after a total solar eclipse. The book also repeats an unquestioned maxim that black and white couples cannot marry.
The exploration of the actual mines. Anyone who has played Tomb Raider is going to feel at home! But it's more the journey than particular scenes.
There are a number of scenes which were probably much better received in 1885 than in 2015, notably the half-shaven Good scene (which was apparently blatant plagiarism).
No. As I say, I had to force myself to continue. A fairly early scene, in which our heroes massacre a herd of elephants, is not great for character identification.
If you're interested in the Lost World genre, it's good to get this one under your belt, as it was the first.
"A bit bloodthirsty for kids"
I have read reviews of this which have said "I first read this when I was 8" and having now read it I am surprised! There are a number of graphic scenes of hunting elephants, elephants goring humans, humans killing other humans, all-out civil war, crushing etc etc. it is a blood-bath. Not for the faint hearted, but actually a very gripping romp. I couldn't wait to get back in the car to listen to the next bit! You can't say too much about the content of the book without giving away too much, as the story is actually very short and concise, my usual read is about 30 hours - this seemed too brief! Has made me want to read the rest of the Quartermain books he has written. I loved the characterisation of the 3 white male characters, very much of a different era, and typical masculine gung-ho types. Toby Stephens is a great narrator, has just the right accent for this type of book, but could do a believable African accent.
"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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