King Solomon's Mines

King Solomon's Mines

by H. Rider Haggard, Alexandra Fuller
3.8 210

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King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard

"There at the end of the long stone table, holding in his skeleton fingers a great white spear, sat Death himself..." Such is the image that our guide and narrator Allan Quatermain encounters as he and his companion approach the mysterious and deadly entrance to King Solomon's Mines.

On an ocean liner bound for Natal, Quatermain is engaged as guide. Supplied with arms and determination, the explorers set out through Africa's beautiful but often inhospitable terrain. The trek culminates in the discovery of these lost and lethal mines.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307431349
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/18/2007
Series: Modern Library Classics
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,119,651
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

H. Rider Haggard is the author of KING SOLOMON'S MINES.

Read an Excerpt


I Meet Sir Henry Curtis

It is a curious thing that at my age-fifty-five last birthday- I should find myself taking up a pen to try to write a history. I wonder what sort of a history it will be when I have finished it, if ever I come to the end of the trip! I have done a good many things in my life, which seems a long one to me, owing to my having begun work so young, perhaps. At an age when other boys are at school I was earning my living as a trader in the old Colony. I have been trading, hunting, fighting, or mining ever since. And yet it is only eight months ago that I made my pile. It is a big pile now that I have got it-I don't yet know how big-but I do not think I would go through the last fifteen or sixteen months again for it; no, not if I knew that I should come out safe at the end, pile and all. But then I am a timid man, and dislike violence, and, moreover, I am fairly sick of adventure. I wonder why I am going to write this book: it is not in my line. I am not a literary man, though very devoted to the Old Testament and also to the "Ingoldsby Legends." Let me try to set down my reasons, just to see if I have any.

First reason: Because Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good asked me to.

Second reason: Because I am laid up here at Durban with the pain in my left leg. Ever since that confounded lion got hold of me I have been liable to this trouble, and its being rather bad just now makes me limp more than ever. There must be some poison in a lion's teeth, otherwise how is it that when your wounds are healed they break out again, generally, mark you, at the same time of year that you got your mauling? It is a hard thing when one has shot sixty-five lions and more, as I have in the course of my life, that the sixty-sixth should chew your leg like a quid of tobacco. It breaks the routine of the thing, and putting other considerations aside, I am an orderly man and don't like that. This is by the way.

Third reason: Because I want my boy Harry, who is over there at the hospital in London studying to become a doctor, to have something to amuse him and keep him out of mischief for a week or so. Hospital work must sometimes pall and grow rather dull, for even of cutting up dead bodies there may come satiety, and as this history will not be dull, whatever else it may be, it will put a little life into things for a day or two while Harry is reading it.

Fourth reason and last: Because I am going to tell the strangest story that I know of. It may seem a queer thing to say, especially considering that there is no woman in it-except Foulata. Stop, though! there is Gagaoola, if she was a woman and not a fiend. But she was a hundred at least, and therefore not marriageable, so I don't count her. At any rate, I can safely say that there is not a petticoat in the whole history. Well, I had better come to the yoke. It is a stiff place, and I feel as though I were bogged up to the axle. But "sutjes, sutjes," as the Boers say-I am sure I don't know how they spell it-softly does it. A strong team will come through at last, that is, if they are not too poor. You can never do anything with poor oxen. Now to begin.

I, Allan Quatermain, of Durban, Natal, Gentleman, make oath and say-That's how I began my deposition before the magistrate about poor Khiva's and Ventvögel's sad deaths; but somehow it doesn't seem quite the right way to begin a book. And, besides, am I a gentleman? What is a gentleman? I don't quite know, and yet I have had to do with niggers-no, I will scratch out that word "niggers," for I do not like it. I've known natives who are, and so you will say, Harry, my boy, before you have done with this tale, and I have known mean whites with lots of money and fresh out from home, too, who are not. Well, at any rate, I was born a gentleman, though I have been nothing but a poor travelling trader and hunter all my life. Whether I have remained so I know not, you must judge of that. Heaven knows I've tried. I have killed many men in my time, yet I have never slain wantonly or stained my hand in innocent blood, but only in self-defence. The Almighty gave us our lives, and I suppose He meant us to defend them, at least I have always acted on that, and I hope it will not be brought up against me when my clock strikes. There, there, it is a cruel and a wicked world, and for a timid man I have been mixed up in a deal of slaughter. I cannot tell the rights of it, but at any rate I have never stolen, though once I cheated a Kafir out of a herd of cattle. But then he had done me a dirty turn, and it has troubled me ever since into the bargain.

Well, it is eighteen months or so ago since first I met Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good, and it was in this way. I had been up elephant hunting beyond Bamangwato, and had met with bad luck. Everything went wrong that trip, and to top up with I got the fever badly. So soon as I was well enough I trekked down to the Diamond Fields, sold such ivory as I had, together with my wagon and oxen, discharged my hunters, and took the post-cart to the Cape. After spending a week in Cape Town, finding that they overcharged me at the hotel, and having seen everything there was to see, including the botanical gardens, which seem to me likely to confer a great benefit on the country, and the new Houses of Parliament, which I expect will do nothing of the sort, I determined to go back to Natal by the Dunkeld, then lying at the docks waiting for the Edinburgh Castle due in from England. I took my berth and went aboard, and that afternoon the Natal passengers from the Edinburgh Castle transhipped, and we weighed and put out to sea.

Among the passengers who came on board there were two who excited my curiosity. One, a gentleman of about thirty, was per- haps the biggest-chested and longest-armed man I ever saw. He had yellow hair, a thick yellow beard, clear-cut features, and large grey eyes set deep into his head. I never saw a finer-looking man, and somehow he reminded me of an ancient Dane. Not that I know much of ancient Danes, though I knew a modern Dane who did me out of ten pounds; but I remember once seeing a picture of some of those gentry, who, I take it, were a kind of white Zulus. They were drinking out of big horns, and their long hair hung down their backs, and as I looked at my friend standing there by the companion-ladder, I thought that if he only let his hair grow a little, put one of those chain shirts on to his great shoulders, and took hold of a battle-axe and a horn mug, he might have sat as a model for that picture. And by the way it is a curious thing, and just shows how the blood will out, I discovered afterwards that Sir Henry Curtis, for that was the big man's name, is of Danish blood.* He also reminded me strongly of somebody else, but at the time I could not remember who it was.

The other man who stood talking to Sir Henry was short, stout, and dark, and of quite a different cut. I suspected at once that he was a naval officer; I don't know why, but it is difficult to mistake a navy man. I have gone on shooting trips with several of them in the course of my life, and they have always proved themselves the best and bravest and nicest fellows I ever met, though given to the use of profane language.

I asked a page or two back, what is a gentleman? I'll answer it now: a Royal Naval officer is, in a general sort of a way, though of course there may be a black sheep among them here and there. I fancy it is just the wide seas and the breath of God's winds that wash their hearts and blow the bitterness out of their minds and make them what men ought to be. Well, to return, I was right again; I ascertained that he was a naval officer, a lieutenant of thirty-one, who, after seventeen years' service, had been turned out of her Majesty's employ with the barren honour of a commander's rank, because it was impossible that he should be promoted. This is what people who serve the Queen have to expect: to be shot out into the

* Mr. Quatermain's ideas about ancient Danes seem to be rather confused; we have always understood that they were dark-haired people. Probably he was thinking of Saxons. -Editor.

cold world to find a living just when they are beginning to really understand their work, and to reach the prime of life. Well, I suppose they don't mind it, but for my part I had rather earn my bread as a hunter. One's halfpence are as scarce perhaps, but you do not get so many kicks. His name I found out-by referring to the passengers' list-was Good-Captain John Good. He was broad, of medium height, dark, stout, and rather a curious man to look at. He was so very neat and so very clean shaved, and he always wore an eye-glass in his right eye. It seemed to grow there, for it had no string, and he never took it out except to wipe it. At first I thought he used to sleep in it, but I afterwards found that this was a mistake. He put it in his trousers pocket when he went to bed, together with his false teeth, of which he had two beautiful sets that, my own being none of the best, have often caused me to break the tenth commandment. But I am anticipating.

Soon after we had got under weigh evening closed in, and brought with it very dirty weather. A keen breeze sprang up off land, and a kind of aggravated Scotch mist soon drove everybody from the deck. As for the Dunkeld, she is a flat-bottomed punt, and going up light as she was, she rolled very heavily. It almost seemed as though she would go right over, but she never did. It was quite impossible to walk about, so I stood near the engines where it was warm, and amused myself with watching the pendulum, which was fixed opposite to me, swinging slowly backwards and forwards as the vessel rolled, and marking the angle she touched at each lurch.

"That pendulum's wrong; it is not properly weighted," suddenly said a voice at my shoulder somewhat testily. Looking round I saw the naval officer whom I had noticed when the passengers came aboard.

"Indeed, now what makes you think so?" I asked.

"Think so. I don't think at all. Why there"-as she righted herself after a roll-"if the ship had really rolled to the degree that thing pointed to then she would never have rolled again, that's all. But it is just like these merchant skippers, they always are so confoundedly careless."

Just then the dinner-bell rang, and I was not sorry, for it is a dreadful thing to have to listen to an officer of the Royal Navy when he gets on to that subject. I only know one worse thing, and it is to hear a merchant skipper express his candid opinion of officers of the Royal Navy.

Captain Good and I went down to dinner together, and there we found Sir Henry Curtis already seated. He and Captain Good were placed together, and I sat opposite to them. The captain and I soon fell into talk about shooting and what not; he asking me many questions, and I answering them as well as I could. Presently he got on to elephants.

"Ah, sir," called out somebody who was sitting near me, "you've reached the right man for that; Hunter Quatermain should be able to tell you about elephants if anybody can."

Sir Henry, who had been sitting quite quiet listening to our talk, started visibly.

"Excuse me, sir," he said, leaning forward across the table, and speaking in a low deep voice, a very suitable voice, it seemed to me, to come out of those great lungs. "Excuse me, sir, but is your name Allan Quatermain?"

I said that it was.

The big man made no further remark, but I heard him mutter "fortunate" into his beard.

Presently dinner came to an end, and as we were leaving the saloon Sir Henry strolled up and asked me if I would come into his cabin to smoke a pipe. I accepted, and he led the way to the Dunkeld deck cabin, and a very good cabin it is. It had been two cabins, but when Sir Garnet or one of those big swells went down the coast in the Dunkeld, they knocked away the partition and have never put it up again. There was a sofa in the cabin, and a little table in front of it. Sir Henry sent the steward for a bottle of whisky, and the three of us sat down and lit our pipes.

"Mr. Quatermain," said Sir Henry Curtis, when the steward had brought the whisky and lit the lamp, "the year before last about this time you were, I believe, at a place called Bamangwato, to the north of the Transvaal."

"I was," I answered, rather surprised that this gentleman should be so well acquainted with my movements, which were not, so far as I was aware, considered of general interest.

"You were trading there, were you not?" put in Captain Good, in his quick way.

"I was. I took up a wagon-load of goods, made a camp outside the settlement, and stopped till I had sold them."

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide

Touted by its 1885 publisher as “the most amazing story ever written,” King Solomon’s Mines was one of the bestselling novels of the nineteenth century. H. Rider Haggard’s thrilling saga of elephant hunter Allan Quatermain and his search for fabled treasure is more than just an adventure story, though: As Alexandra Fuller explains in her Introduction, in its vivid portrayal of the alliances and battles of white colonials and African tribesmen, King Solomon’s Mines “brings us the world of extremes, of the absurdly tall tales and of the illogical loyalty between disparate people that still informs this part of the world.”

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King Solomon's Mines (Illustrated + FREE audiobook link + Active TOC) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 210 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.
SarahJo4110 27 days ago
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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.
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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