King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard

King Solomon’s Mines is a novel written by Sir Henry Rider Haggard, more than a century ago. Despite this time gap, this novel is still very popular.

Sir Haggard wrote this novel as a result of a five-shilling bet with his brother, saying he could write a novel better than Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. So, naturally, King Solomon’s Mines is also an adventure story, with three men going in search of someone and something. Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good approach an old elephant hunter who lives in Durban, Allan Quatermain. Curtis’ brother, George, had been missing and was requesting Quatermain to join their quest. Quatermain did have some information on Curtis’ brother, that he had gone in search of Solomon’s Diamond Mines. Quatermain has an old map, for which, an Portuguese explorer, Jose Silvestra is the cartographer. Silvestra lived around three-hundred years ago and Quatermain had acquired the map from his descendant. Curtis and Good, initially found it hard to believe but the former decided to have faith in Quatermain’s story as by doing so, he has some chance of finding his brother. Quatermain agreed to help the two after Curtis had agreed to honour all of Quatermain’s conditions. They hire a native servant, Umbopa and set out on this journey. Quatermain is the narrator and writes about his adventure as a story for his son to read.

It was fast paced and the events were very well described. I loved the author’s language. Although this is a very serious novel, the author brought in some occasional humour with the character of John Good. While one could say that Good was quite unnecessary, his presence in the novel added more dimensions to the story as there was also a minor, romantic sub-plot between Good and a native woman. Another aspect of the book for which the author has to be appreciated for is for the fact that the book hardly digressed from the main purpose and Quatermain himself, cuts out several unnecessary events.

On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I have realised why this book is still famous and I’m sure that this book will continue to remain famous for several generations to come.

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