King Solomon's Mines

By H. Rider Haggard, Frank Delaney

44,187 ratings - 3.8* vote

H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines has entertained generations of readers since its first publication in 1885. Following a mysterious map of dubious reliability, a small group of men trek into southern Africa in search of a lost friend-and a lost treasure, the fabled mines of King Solomon. Led by the English adventurer and fortune hunter Allan Quartermain, they discov H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines has entertained generations of readers since its first publication in

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Book details

Hardcover, 247 pages
1995 by Foilio Society

(first published September 1885)

Original Title
King Solomon's Mines
0812966295 (ISBN13: 9780812966299)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Sean Barrs

This book was written for men like Haggard, stupid Victorian men with small minds and no heart. They are the brutes. They are the uncivilised savage. And this is what children were given to read at the time? This is what they saw as an “adventure?” How could Achebe attack Conrad when drivel like this is the cannon? This is a disgusting product of history, one the world is better off forgetting.

Sure, you may argue that Haggard displays the Africans as civilised. And to an extent he does. They have their own martial culture. But through the eyes of his characters this still translates as primitive. Through a lens of Imperialism it is a patronising relationship. The African is ready to be guided and taught the errors of his culture’s ways. To the white man they are debased and primitive. But, for me, this wasn’t the most repulsive thing about the writing. What do the white men do when they go to Africa? This other world?

They try to claim it. They go about shooting everything for no apparent reason. Is this how man shows his supposed superiority? Is this how a civilisation exerts its supremacy? Shooting a random giraffe through the neck is considered fair game, bagging a few lions is good sportsmanship and slaughtering an elephant is the best of the best: it is a real accomplishment: a real achievement for a Victorian adventurer. So not only do we have disgusting attitudes toward imperialism, but we have a blatant display of a terrible aspect of the Victorian mind set. We see deplorable men who think they are more than the natural world. The Romantic generation would vomit if they read such unsentimental literature. I want to vomit.


“Listen! What is life? It is a feather, it is the seed of the grass, blown hither and thither, sometimes multiplying itself and dying in the act, sometimes carried away into the heavens. But if that seed be good and heavy it may perchance travel a little way on the road it wills. It is well to try and journey one's road and to fight with the air. Man must die. At the worst he can but die a little sooner.”

According to the blurb this is the first novel written in English taking place in Africa. Another and a better-known fact is that this is the first Lost World novel and H. Rider Haggard was the father of the trope. The book is told in first person - by Allan Quatermain. In the beginning of the story he is getting old, but still doing his dangerous business of elephant hunting in South Africa.

One day two English gentlemen approached him. Their names were Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good. The former's brother was lost while trying to find legendary diamond mines of King Solomon (yes, THAT Solomon - from the Old Testament). They wanted to ask Allan to join them in their search considering his experience and survival skills. It turned out Allan knew something about this business, so after lots of hesitations and pondering he decided to accept the offer. A dangerous adventure followed culminating in our party ending up in a "lost world". No dinosaurs this time though, sorry.

Now that I finished the book and had some time to think about it I realized it has great descriptions of South African landscapes. There were plenty of them, but they were short enough not to become boring. I have never been even close to that place, but I am now convinced it is gorgeous.
South Africa

In case I have not made this clear before, the book is old-fashioned adventure. This means people that love the genre will love it and people trying to look at it from the modern point of view will hate it. I belong to the first category, so my vote is Yea!

I found it curious that in the books written at around this time any warm-blooded male upon seeing an elephant (or better yet - the whole herd) would immediately grab a high-caliber gun and start shooting. It seems we became more kind toward other animals since then.
I also admit that there are some Imperialistic undertones present, and no wonder considering the time the story was written was the height of the power of British Empire.

What I did not find was blatant racism that reviewers are quick to point out. Right in the beginning of the tale Allan said that there are black people that are real gentlemen and there are while people that are not. In other words, he was an equal opportunity guy. If you are still not convinced read the chapter The Last Stand of Grays and try to find anything racist in the noble stand of the black army.

In any way, my rating is 4 stars and I stand by it.

Henry Avila

Sir H. (Henry) Rider Haggard the British inventor of the lost civilization adventures stories has here one of his most famous and best, King Solomon's Mines a wonderful if improbable trek through the thick jungles, high mountains, scorching deserts of this fascinating land. For any person interested in this fun type of genre and those discovering it ,
a new captivating city quite old in reality, hidden from our knowledge for thousands of years is found, obviously I shouldn't need to say for the young at heart. Allan Quatermain Englishman , an African explorer in the "dark continent" of the nineteenth century well known for his bravery is hired by wealthy Sir Henry Curtis to find his younger brother George. Mr. Quatermain a hunter among other things, he could use the money and agrees to guide the dangerous expedition yet not feeling too good about its prospects. Along with Sir Henry is Captain John Good former British naval officer and a close friend of Curtis. Both believe the irrational George has traveled to the interior of Africa seeking his own fortune. Having quarreled with Sir Henry the angry, penniless but proud man left England not wanting to depend on his rich older brother for a living. George was looking for the legendary King Solomon's Mines a myth most think, still to a desperate person has nothing to lose. Meeting Umbopa a mysterious African , who seems to know a great deal about the unknown territory, ( can he be trusted? ) they need to explore and finding their way a task quite unappealing and very dangerous to them too. So Umbopa consents to go with the Englishmen there, something is not right here but they have no other option... Journeying through a water less desert they barely survive the monumental ordeal, the burning Sun always above next comes a warlike tribe in Kukuanaland, the strange country ruled by Twala their unfriendly king. Also an evil ageless witch Gagool, who helps Twala terrorize the people and the whole tribe fears greatly with good reason. Diamonds , numerous as grains of sand are unearthed yet where is George ? And how to get out of Kukuanaland alive ... Umbopa reveals he's Ignosi the rightful king he says, however his cousin has another opinion. When many tribesmen join him in his quest to overthrow Twala , civil war breaks out. Blood flows freely until the conflict is ended, however can they escape through the treacherous mountains and get back to England? An enjoyable adventure novel from the zenith days of the British Empire.

Sanjay Gautam

I always fascinated treasure hunt books and this book did really surpassed my expectations. A real adventure it was! Its a story of: survival, revenge, making of a king, greatest treasure hunt, and friendship.

I was hooked from the start and the story just got more riveting with every page. This book reminded me of many adventure movies, both from Hollywood and Bollywood (it is the nickname for the Hindi language film industry, based in Mumbai, India). And now I can guess from where those movies have got their inspiration. Unlike movies, which always have some love story interwoven in the script, there is but a very minor love story which ends quite differently and abruptly, and I kinda liked it. Even though many subplots were quite predictable, I was never left disappointed, rather it was a very interesting story filled with thrill and suspense (and I was always eager and excited to find what's going to happen next), which culminates with a happy ending.

Highly recommended!


Alan Quartermain is an African explorer and hunter.He is asked to accompany Sir Henry Curtis,a Dane whose brother,George Neville,has gone missing while looking for King Solomon's diamond mines Also with them is Captain Good.

The journey is not an easy one.They follow an ancient map and nearly die of thirst,as they go deep into the desert.

Surviving that ordeal,they arrive in the land of the cruel king Tawala and his advisor,Gagool.After a civil war and a series of adventures,Gagool leads them to King Solomon's diamond mines.Those diamonds can make them very rich.

It is a pretty good adventure,with the flavour of Africa and its sometimes cruel tribal customs.I first read it as an Urdu translation when I was a kid,and it left quite an impact at the time.

Revisiting it a long time later,I enjoyed it.However,the Alan Quartermain movies,generally disappointed me.


***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

King Solomon’s Mines is very much a product of its Victorian, colonial times. Don’t go into this book expecting anything else. Allan Quartermain is an unlikely protagonist, an elephant hunter, something that would get him publically shamed on the internet nowadays. This is very much an adventure tale, set in deepest, darkest Africa. White men have no doubt that they are at the very tippy-top of the social hierarchy and have no compunctions about expressing that belief. They believe Africans to be primitive, superstitious, and prefer them subservient. An African may be king in his own lost-kingdom, but must still admit his unworthiness to equality with a ne’er-do-well hunter like Quartermain.

Not recommended for the overly politically correct, but providing many insights into the colonial mindset that still plagues us today. A fantastical adventure in the Victorian style.

Sam Quixote

Every so often I get the feeling that a good old timey adventure book would be a good thing to read. This is (hopefully) the last time I think this as the results are always dire. Conan Doyle's "The Lost World" was one hell of a struggle. Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday" was dreadful. However, Rider Haggard's "King Solomon's Mines" takes the prize for most unreadable load of old toss ever.

3 Englishmen ponce into Africa on a treasure hunt. They cross romantic terrain, shoot majestic animals, patronise and insult black people, before leaving with a few pocketfuls of giant diamonds back to Blighty. What ho!

Sounds a bit of a lark, what? It's not. First off, Haggard has his hero Quatermain say in the first chapter that they went to Africa, did this, did that, and made it back home with the treasure. Oh great, now I'm really on the edge of my seat. Now when Quatermain and chums are in danger and the chapter ends on a "cliffhanger" (by Victorian standards) I'll know that they make it out because this was explained in the first chapter!

Also, Haggard has the annoying habit of describing every single meaningless detail in a scene. So when they cross the desert, you have endless descriptions of wind, and how thirsty everyone is, and how if they don't make it they'll die and the characters start whinging and don't stop and will they make it..? Look an oasis, we're saved! No tension whatsoever anyway, we all know they make it BECAUSE THEY SAY SO AT THE START! All this needless exposition and attempts at drama are useless if we know the characters make it.

The most offending attempt at literature in this amazingly labelled "classic" is the way Haggard deals with Africans. They're all "noble savages" who for some reason speak like medieval dukes. "Thou hast", "ye", "sayest not", "hark", etc all make regular appearances in their speech but does he honestly think Africans speak like that?! The Englishmen patronise the Africans like pets and Haggard has the Africans run about like gormless children, either behaving "nobly" ie. standing around bored saying nothing, or like coked up teens with a hormone imbalance, ie. screaming, tearing hair, killing people randomly. No attempt at characterisation is made and none of the characters seem at all real. In fact they all sound remarkably the same, like a middle class educated Englishman.

This is the most tedious novel I've ever read, it actually made me angry while I was reading. Haggard can't seem to accept the reader has the capacity to fill in the gaps. For example, rather than say "they went to the ridge and sat down", he has to say "they gathered up their things (items are listed and digressed), and after several parting words (list numerous mundane words), hastened up the path (description of path and weather), while we wondered about (list everything thats happened thus far) and upon reaching the ridge (list various mundane observations the characters have made while walking) we sat down and gazed at the view (list needless description of mountain range)." It's EXHAUSTING. I hurled the book away from me every time I sat it down (about every 3 chapters) and am amazed at my tolerance for poor writing.

How is this a classic? It's not at all on the level of "Great Expectations" or "The Picture of Dorian Gray" or numerous other examples. There's no profundity, no great story, no great writing. Haggard is a very minor writer and his contribution to literature is very small, if at all recognisable. I am amazed this is listed as a classic when it is the 1880s version of a Lee Child novel. Give this a wide book berth, it's appalling.

LeAnne: GeezerMom

When reading and then reviewing a novel written in the 1880s, one has to sort of teleport back a century or so to be fair. Reading an artifact vs a contemporary work of historical fiction requires an entirely different barometer.

In many instances, the reader has to put aside the shock of sexism and xenophobia in order to jump into the tale. Occasionally, the old styled language and pace is painful. I remember once being iced in at the tiny Tupelo, Mississippi airport for seven hours. There was no coffee shop or sundry store - just vending machines, and the only thing I had to read with him me was "Far From the Madding Crowd." Omg. I actually prayed for death a time or two.

But not so with this! Sure, it is dated, but this is the still-muscle-bound great, great grandpa to Indiana Jones. Like "In Cold Blood" being the firstborn of the true crime genre, "Mines" is the initial spark of every action-adventure-quest story written. Sure, they eat the hearts of elephants in here. But there is a bunch of polygamy in the Bible, and its readers overlook that, right?

I had a blast reading this old tale. Give it a go!