Tuesday, 1 September 2009
King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard
This is another one of those books I read a while ago and forgot to blog about. After having seen The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, I wanted to know who exactly Alan Quartermain was and why he was included in that particular cast, so I looked him up and voilà, King Solomon's Mines.
After having read it, I still can't quite understand why they included him in The League, because frankly the man was a coward (he even admits to being one in the book). Basically, Quartermain is a hunter in Africa and Sir Henry Curtis asks him to go along with him to look for his brother who disappeared looking for King Solomon's Mines. After making sure his son would be provided for in the event of his death, off they go into the heart of Africa looking for said mines.
It's an adventure story and I love a good adventure story, but this particular one was a bit too old fashioned for my taste. Boys of past ages would have loved it because it's full of hunting big game, dangerous situations and hearty men beating the odds in the desert, etc. etc. The reason I say past age and old fashioned is because of the manner these things were done in. I haven't got a problem with hunting, but this was the kind where they went out and were thrilled to kill a whole herd of elephants just for their tusks. In today's society that's unacceptable and frankly I felt a little sick just reading about it, especially knowing that that's really just what happened. I think if I had a boy, I would let him read the book, but not without listening to my opinions on the subject (my unborn children thank me daily for their unborn state). Anyway, it was all very, very old-fashioned as to views and manners and treatment of the natives etc. Not the thing for me, but my brother would have loved it as a kid.
I'm not going to rate this one because it's just too difficult. Judging it by this age, it should be condemned, but you really can't do that. It would be unfair. After all, most of the action would have been considered commendable at the end of the 19th century. Suffice it to say that it's an adventure story of the old English guard and must be read as such.