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Allan Quartermain - H. Rider Haggard

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Author: H. Rider Hagard / Genre: Fiction

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      23.09.2012 17:51
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      A 19th century book that has dated well

      The first thing I should say is that the title of the Dooyoo page has been misspelt - it is in fact "Quatermain", without the "r".

      This is the second book written in Haggard's Quatermain series, coming two years after we are first introduced to the grizzled adventurer in 1885's "King Solomon's Mines", and the last chronologically. Fans of Haggards earlier book will be pleased, with the sequel offering more in the same vein.

      The book, like it's predecessor, purports to be the recollections of Quatermain and his adventures in Africa. At the start of the novel we find Quatermain living comfortably in England on the money made from selling the diamonds found in King Solomon's mine. He is distraught at the death of his only son and undertakes to return to Africa with his friends Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good of the Royal Navy. His objective this time is to investigate rumours of a fabled white skinned tribe dwelling in a remote part of the continent.

      Needless to say there follows a series of scrapes and adventures as Quatermain's party journeys to the land of the white tribe (The Zu-Vendi, apparently survivors of a group from the Babylonian Empire). This book contains the same fast-paced style as the first and actually steps up the action with more large-scale battles and adventure. There is even some romance along the way and is something of an emotional rollercoaster as every triumph seems to presage another disaster for our friends.

      Haggard understandably writes in the mindset of a Victorian and whilst European culture is almost always viewed as superior, he ensures he gives you an impression of the depth of African culture he knows from first hand experience and gives a well written leading part to a Zulu chieftain. One part of the book that slightly vexed me was the use of "Olde English" phrasing (thee, thy etc.) to represent the dialect of the Zu-Vendi as it renders some passages harder to read, though I did enjoy the in depth background that Haggard gave to this tribe.

      This book will keep you enthralled from the start and the ending is sure to bring a tear to your eye (particularly if you have read others in the Quatermain series). It is a classic of the 19th century that can be read as easily (disregarding the Zu-Vendi dialect!) by a modern audience as by the Victorian boy dreaming of adventure in far off lands.

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        06.12.2000 21:32
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        I'm doing an undergraduate dissertation on this book, along with "King Solomon's Mines" and "She" because I think they are fantastic adventure-romances with loads to offer the modern reader. Allan Quatermain, a grizzled old hunter, journeys to the heart of Africa with his two companions Curtis, an English Squire, and Good, a naval officer. They discover a hidden kingdom led by twin queens, Sorais and Nyleptha. The land of Zu-Vendis falls into civil war, precipitated by the white adventurers. The plot of the book is cracking; there are suprises round every corner and the ending is genuinely sad and brought a lump to my throat. It is a truly gripping read. The book is even more interesting for the light it sheds on Victorian worries and obsessions. The twin queens exemplify fears about the New Woman; Sorais is dark, pro-active and dangerous while Nyleptha is angelic, blonde and passive. Haggard is also remarkably modern in his attitude to race - while he cannot rid himself of the basic assumption that African natives are inferior, he goes much farther than many of his contemporaries in recognising the potential richness of African culture. This book is interesting on so many levels that is impossible to detail them all here; I urge you to read it as it's a fantastic adventure story that will have you hooked right to the conclusion.

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      • Product Details

        Adventure story set in Africa.