King Solomon’s Mines. H. Rider Haggard.

King Solomon’s Mines.
by H. Rider Haggard.

Supposedly the first African adventure novel, this book contains interesting details of the white man’s experience of Africa circa 1885, but since so much is obviously made up, there are some places where you’re not sure how much Haggard is intentionally stretching the truth.

Two English men approach a white hunter to locate their brother whom the hunter (Alan Quatermain) knows has gone off to search for King Solomon’s Mines. They enlist some native help, and discover a lost valley. One of their helpers happens to be the rightful king. They invoke a civil war, win it, and are led to the diamond mines by an evil and ancient witch, who then betrays them, only to wind up dead thanks to the efforts of African maiden in love with John Good. They escape with a few diamonds and live happily ever after, etc.

The plot is too simple for its time and genre, but laced with enough humor to keep your interest. Quatermain stars in 16 more books and stories, although he dies in the sequel to this one.