King Solomon's Mines (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

King Solomon's Mines (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.8 209
by H. Rider Haggard

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King Solomon's Mines, by H. Rider Haggard, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes &…  See more details below


King Solomon's Mines, by H. Rider Haggard, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.


One of the best-selling novels of the nineteenth century, King Solomon’s Mines has inspired dozens of adventure stories, including Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the Indiana Jones movies. Vivid and enormously action-packed, H. Rider Haggard’s tale of danger and discovery continues to shock and thrill, as it has since it was first presented to the public and heralded as “the most amazing book ever written.”

The story begins when renowned safari hunter Allan Quartermain agrees to help Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good search for King Solomon’s legendary cache of diamonds. Eager to find out what is true, what is myth, and what is really buried in the darkness of the mines, the tireless adventurers delve into the Sahara’s treacherous Veil of Sand, where they stumble upon a mysterious lost tribe of African warriors. Finding themselves in deadly peril from that country’s cruel king and the evil sorceress who conspires behind his throne, the explorers escape, but what they seek could be the most savage trap of all—the forbidden, impenetrable, and spectacular King Solomon’s Mines.

Benjamin Ivry is the author of biographies of Arthur Rimbaud, Francis Poulenc, and Maurice Ravel. His poetry collection Paradise for the Portuguese Queen appeared in 1998.

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From Benjamin Ivry’s Introduction to King Solomon’s Mines

Haggard admitted he wrote King Solomon’s Mines in six weeks, a quickness that surprised his writer friends like Andrew Lang and Robert Louis Stevenson. The latter sent Haggard a letter cautioning him about excessive haste. Yet the famed Belgian-born detective storywriter Georges Simenon (1903–1989) often wrote entire books even faster. The French novelist Stendhal (Marie Henri Beyle, 1783–1842) typically completed novels in a matter of weeks. Speed in writing per se is not necessarily a threat to quality; adventure writers in particular can be like the journalists of whom the noted critic Karl Kraus (1874–1936) wrote, “They write worse when they have time.” Pacing was essential for Haggard, who claimed that writing a text fast helped to energize it, making it irresistibly readable. He described his approach with typical dash in his autobiography, The Days of My Life (1926; see “For Further Reading”): “Such work should be written rapidly and, if possible, not rewritten, since wine of this character loses its bouquet when it is poured from glass to glass.”

The speed of writing translates to speed of reading, with as few impediments as possible to the reader’s momentum. Although there are a number of exotic words in King Solomon’s Mines that require annotation, their frequency decreases as the book advances, and Haggard often provides his own, perfectly serviceable translation of local terms. As a result, the reader does not need to pause to understand the reference, but can plunge ahead to find out what happens next, which is essential for the enjoyment of a real page-turner like King Solomon’s Mines.

Despite Haggard’s speed and occasional carelessness about details, King Solomon’s Mines shows some real control of structural and stylistic elements, which is part of its lasting power. To cite one stylistic aspect used coherently throughout the book, Haggard used italics almost always to convey the horror of death, such as when an elephant picked up a servant “and tore him in two” (p. 62). In a cave discovered along his trip, Quatermain finds that a servant who was alive the night before is now “stone dead” (p. 96). These italics denoting urgent shock in relation to death recur throughout the story, like underlining in a letter excitedly dashed off to a friend.

One of Haggard’s goals, as expressed in “About Fiction” (Contemporary Review, February 1887), was to create an interesting book, as he felt the Anglo-American novel had declined into a series of dull domestic dramas. Haggard alluded to William Dean Howells (1837–1920), who wrote novels like A Woman’s Reason (1883), A Modern Instance (1882), and The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), as an example. By focusing on the imaginative and fantastic domains, Haggard aimed at exciting the reader in the way that he felt naturalistic nineteenth-century fiction had ceased to do. In this goal he succeeded brilliantly, as generations of readers have conceded.

In King Solomon’s Mines, with a dour feeling of fatalism, the elephant hunter Allan Quatermain agrees to join a dangerous treasure hunt. Quatermain is presented as an amateur author, whose first statement at the beginning of the book is one of modesty, of being aware of his book’s “shortcomings.” As narrator, Quatermain dithers over lore and legends that he might have included in King Solomon’s Mines had he “given way to [his] own impulses” (p. 5). Authorship as a form of discipline and control is also expressed at the end of the story, when Quatermain announces, “And here, at this point, I think that I shall end this history” (p. 317). The reader is reminded that the story does not end by itself; the writer ends it. Control and consciousness were keywords for Quatermain as an author—and quite possibly for Haggard as well.

Haggard’s protagonist Quatermain describes himself as a 55-year-old man who has survived the job of elephant hunter much longer than most of his colleagues. Quatermain explains at the start of his tale, “I am a timid man, and don’t like violence,” (p. 7) and near the end, after many heroics, he reiterates, “I never had any great pretensions to be brave” (p. 286). Such self-definitions are repeated throughout the book until the narrative itself begins to seem like a means of self-definition. The effort to write, as well as the events narrated, define the narrator.

There may not be much progression of character in King Solomon’s Mines, but Quatermain rings true precisely because of his lack of grandiose pretensions. Quatermain’s self-deflating tone may include something of Haggard’s own ironic self-regard. When Haggard traveled to Africa in 1914 and his photo was plastered on the local newspaper Natal Witness, Haggard noted in his diary that his image looked “exactly like that of the mummy of Rameses the Second,” a recently disinterred Pharaoh. This lack of vanity or vaingloriousness is unusual in a generation of writers on Africa that included such egomaniacs as Sir Richard Burton, translator of The Arabian Nights.

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King Solomon's Mines (Illustrated + FREE audiobook link + Active TOC) 3.8 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 209 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My only regret is that I waited thirty-seven years to read this amazing adventure. Unlike most contemporary fiction, the author made me feel as though I were experiencing the story instead of just reading it. Treat yourself to some true story telling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Before i read this book, i avoided classics like the plague. This was my first classic that i read amd i loved it. I reread it about four times and loved better each time.
Mariamosis More than 1 year ago
The main character Allan Quatermain unexpectedly falls into the exploration of a unknown civilization in Africa on a quest to find a missing adventurer and possibly King Soloman's treasure. The explorers soon find themselves amidst African kings, tribal warriors, and an elderly sinister seer. The book is filled with adventure and is regarded as one of the best books ever written.
GordonF More than 1 year ago
The start of the Lost World style of fiction, a precursor to the pulp novels to come later - it's a good adventure. A significant portion is taken up with a rather detailed account of military maneuvers in a civil war the heroes find themselves in the middle of, not quite the two-fisted daring that Allan Quartermain holds in the public mind's eye. Historically, from a literary point of view, it's very interesting to see the early elements of adventure pulp novels planting their seeds. From a strict story point of view, the narrative occasionally bogs itself down recounting bland details, but still the adventure keeps itself apace and concludes grandly.
Seghetto More than 1 year ago
This book is undoubtedly a classic that started the whole Lost World craze. I got kind of bored reading it. The writing was pretty good, and the plot was really entertaining. Some of the travel parts just dragged on. For much of the book I found myself wondering what was so exciting. There are a few humorous parts, like Good walking around with his pants off and being worshiped as a God. The end notes helped with the context of the story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sometimes a classic is a classic just because it provides so much entertainment to readers over the years. This is just a good fun read. Don't look for any deep social comment, Just take it as a fun entertaining story in which every guy can think 'I am Allan Quartermain.' This has obviously been the inspiration for so many of the adventure stories that have been written since KIng Solomons Mines publication in the the late 19th century. Just read it, and have fun.
Guest More than 1 year ago
King Solomon's Mines is a very thrilling book, and contains a number of scenes and ideas that have clearly inspired many other authors and creators. Indeed, the archetype of the cynical, hard-bitten adventurer was created by Haggard, and even modern day heroes such as Indiana Jones owe a great deal of inspiration to Haggard's Alan Quartermain. Unfortunately, like most books from the era that deal with Africa, there is a fair amount of racist/imperialist stereotypes and ideas. However, readers who can overlook these regrettable concepts will find an exciting, rousing and inventive read.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
IS THIS GOOD???????????
Manirul More than 1 year ago
Nice,,,, Great...!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HeyRon More than 1 year ago
Was not disappointed. Puts you in Africa in the 19th century in imaginative world and adventure of a life time. This story led the way for all types of adventure books and movies we now enjoy today.
obeythekitty More than 1 year ago
I love the B&N classics, though it seemed the author intended some humor that the person who wrote the introduction just didn't get.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gardenseed More than 1 year ago
I read this many years ago, at age 14, one summer when I had nothing else to read, and loved it! It was hard to put down. Now of course, we see that it is racist, but it must be read as a period piece, not as a recent publication. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is a great novel about the original lost people goup andventure book! The one to inspire later stories of War of the Worlds, Indiana Jones, and others. It is an awesome classic to appe to any audience, full of action, fun, and a little bit of romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RD29 More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this book. I believe that everyone should read this book because is one one the original action novels, and arguably, the best. It is the best action novel because it uses vivid description, explaining to you the scenery and everything else, so that you develop a good idea of the setting, as well as the characters. At many points in the book, the author sometimes goes into pages of just describing the scenery, such as on page 182. “We hurried to where he was standing in a nook, something like a small bow window. Against the wall of this recess were placed three stone chests, each about two feet square. Two were fitted with stone lids, the lid of the third rested against the side of the chest, which was open.” (Haggard 182). This shows how he goes into deep description over the smallest things, to give you a picture of what he is describing in his mind. doing this makes the book very enjoyable and puts a good picture in your mind.  The author also describes people very well; throughout the book I felt like I was watching a movie as I read. This book is also excellent due to the reader engagement. Allan Quatermain (Narrator), frequently says “my reader” to make it feel as if you were there in a room with him, listening to his story. In addition, King Solomon’s Mines was an outstanding book because of the development of the plot and characterization. The book starts out slowly, and much of it is developing the background, the goal, and protagonists. The antagonists are not just one group of people; as they travel through the mountains there are multiple antagonists, from the weather to ancient native tribes that live there. The main characters are also introduced slowly and elaborately, so you get to feel almost as if you know them personally. For example, in the beginning of this book, Quartermain talks about the interest in going on this trip to find the Mines. He even talks about his son in medical school at home, and how he has to provide for him. You get to know his story, and what he is like personally from a first-hand account.   My favorite character is Allan Quatermain. He is my favorite character because of his bravery and concern for those around him. Even when they were in the Treasure Room of Solomon’s Mines, he didn’t treat his companions any differently than he did when they were outside.Haggard also makes his character very normal and human,facing problems that he must overcome in the story like other humans. He shows bravery and loyalty. When their servant Umbopa tells them that he is actually the rightful king, He says that he will loyally fight with him for Umbopa’s position as king. Quartermain shows his bravery when they are in the dark cavern with the dead kings, and keeps going to the treasure room.  My favorite quote is from page 188 when they all realize that all the billions of dollars in treasure couldn’t do anything for them, and Allan Quatermain realizes that no matter how rich you are, you can’t bring anything with you when you die. “Truly wealth, which men spend all their lives in acquiring, is a valueless thing at last.” (Haggard 188). This is perhaps one of the best things I have ever read. it says that when you die, you can’t keep any of it. You own nothing, it is all temporary. Allan realizes this as he sits in the Treasure Room, waiting to die in the dark, the richest man in the world. Perhaps Haggard was trying to informhis readers about this when he included that quote. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never ever would have thought about reading this. Excellent story, great twist, action, adventure, death, mayhem, who knew?
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Hag­gard is a novel first pub­lished 1885. This novel is the first to fea­ture adven­turer Alan Quater­main. The adven­turer and white Hunter Alan Quater­main is approached by Sir Henry Cur­tis and his friend Cap­tain Good to lead an expe­di­tion into the heart of Africa to find Cur­tis' brother. The brother was in search of the fabled King Solomon's Mines. Quater­main, who is in a pos­ses­sion of a map to the mines which he never taken seri­ously, agrees to go but don't think they'll return alive. The adven­tur­ers brave heat, cold, dessert and jun­gle on their arduous journey. King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Hag­gard is an easy to read, fast paced and light read. The impor­tant thing to remem­ber when read­ing books such as this is not to take them too seriously. This is a sim­ple tale, filled with swash­buck­ling adven­tures and explo­rations galore. Some of the book sim­ply drags, other parts are offen­sive in today’s terms (which I don’t hold it against the book) and some parts are sim­ply funny. I espe­cially found the pompous atti­tude of some of the char­ac­ters (mostly Quater­main) hilarious. ""How is it, O strangers," asked the old man solemnly, "that this fat man (point­ing to Good, who was clad in noth­ing but boots and a flan­nel shirt, and has only half fin­ished his shav­ing), whose body is clothed, and whose legs are bare, who grows hair on one side of his sickly face and not on the other, and who wears one shin­ing and trans­par­ent eye– how is it, I ask, that he has teeth which move of them­selves, com­ing away from the jaws and return­ing of their own will?" Haggard’s tale is cer­tainly writ­ten to tar­get the Britain of the times, colo­nial is big, Africans are belit­tled and the white hunter is all but god among men. Many other adven­ture sto­ries, sans the racism, have used this for­mula where the hero can over­come any odds and still keep a good atti­tude and calm disposition. Hag­gard goes into great details about which sup­plies Quater­main and his crew took on their adven­tures, includ­ing the type of wag­ons and even immu­niz­ing cat­tle. I couldn’t decided if these were sim­ply tedious details to ensure some sem­blance of authen­tic or just sheer brag­ging of the author. This is not a book for polit­i­cally cor­rect minded peo­ple, the protagonist’s descrip­tion of Africans and ani­mals usu­ally has a neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tion to them. Quater­main con­tin­u­ally dis­misses the native pop­u­la­tion as beneath him and/or other Euro­peans. As this is not unex­pected, it is still some­what amus­ing to read how peo­ple thought a few decades ago. The book’s premise is that Quater­main is telling this story to his son – some sort of a fire­side story. While it’s a nice intro­duc­tion, it does of course ruins the mys­tery of whether or not he will survive. The char­ac­ter­i­za­tion in the novel is not much t
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is incredible. You feel that you are actulally in the story. Its full of adventure and it keeps you hooked. H. Rider Haggard is an amazing writer and you really should check out his other books, or you could just buy mobilerefernce complete collection.