I almost gave up on this book and questioned reading it. But I soldiered on and found that it got really good through the last third of the book!
So a quick run-down what King Solomon’s Mines is about: Allan Quatermain lives in South Africa and is fairly well known as a outdoors-man/big game hunter. He is approached by Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good to help Sir Henry find his lost brother, who went in search of King Solomon’s Mines. They hunt, they barely manage to cross a desert and survive a trek over a mountain and they help a long lost prince claim his throne; all while trying to discover the legendary, King Solomon’s Mines.
I've read historical fiction that feature naval battles, civil war battles, castles under siege but this was the first time I read about an army fighting with knives and spears; with no armor or guns or swords! It was quite an experience and all very nail biting and brutal! Even a final one-on-one battle between a false King and Sir Henry was so intense I wouldn’t let anyone talk to me until I finished reading how it ended! Then of course I spoiled a part for myself by reading a Wikipedia entry but, surprisingly, it didn’t diminish the impact of the tragedy that followed.
I have to say H. Rider Haggard did his job. There were some very lovely lines written throughout and some very inspirational speeches given and vows of friendship. The action scenes were told in a very straight forward style and I didn’t get lost or confused. I knew exactly what was happening.
While I’m not a huge fan of Allan Quatermain as a character, I do appreciate how honest he was of his shortcomings, namely being frightened out of his wits and that he would rather be running away from an attacking army than towards one. I am, however, a fan of his friends Sir Henry, Captain Good and Ignosi, all very loyal and kind-hearted, who stuck by each other through the hardships of their journey.
I'll file this under "To Be Read". It's free at Project Gutenberg so why not.