Les Mines du roi Salomon

by Haggard

Paperback, 1994





J'ai lu (1994)


Allan Quatermain relates the events of his safari into the interior of South Africa in search of the legendary lost treasure mines of King Solomon.

User reviews

LibraryThing member cbl_tn
A man looking for his missing brother recruits elephant hunter Allan Quatermain to lead a search that will take them through an uninhabitable desert. The brother was headed for a region said to be the location of the biblical King Solomon's mines. The odds are that the search party will not survive their mission, but the possibility of riches is enough to tip the scales in favor of the quest. Quatermain, the brother of the missing man, a retired naval officer, and two African guides set out on what soon becomes a page-turning adventure across the desert, over the mountains, and into an unknown kingdom.

I was pleasantly surprised by the humor in the book. The story is laced with laugh-out-loud passages like this one:

As those who read this history will probably long ago have gathered, I am, to be honest, a bit of a coward, and certainly in no way given to fighting, though somehow it has often been my lot to get into unpleasant positions, and to be obliged to shed man's blood. But I have always hated it, and kept my own blood as undiminished in quantity as possible, sometimes by a judicious use of my heels.

Haggard's style reminds me of Mark Twain, and the plot bears some similarities to parts of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Haggard's book came first, and it would seem that it had some influence on Twain.

This is a book I've wanted to read ever since reading Elizabeth Peters' The Last Camel Died at Noon a couple of years ago. Now I know why Peters was a fan. The book will also appeal to readers who love adventure movies like the Indiana Jones series and the National Treasure films.
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LibraryThing member Mary_Overton
In 1884, Haggard bet 5 shillings 'that he could write a more successful novel than Robert Louis Stevenson's TREASURE ISLAND.' (bio, pg vii) I wonder who paid off the bet, Haggard or his brother, because KING SOLOMON'S MINES, written in 6 weeks, sold well over half a million copies in his lifetime. Today Stevenson is in the Canon of dead white guys, and Haggard is nearly forgotten. Perhaps that rapid draft, little revised, has something to do with it, along with the hearty colonialism, racism, & misogyny. Still, if you can handle the fact that he was a man of his times, he has written a rip-roaring, high-charged romance of a quest for the grail stone.

It includes all the stock elements of a Jungian search for the Self -- [this might be a spoiler if you don't know the tropes of the adventure novel] the secret treasure and its map, the lost brother, the trek through the pitiless desert, the isolated & savage kingdom, the twin Kings -- one noble & betrayed & the other 'cruel and sensual' (103), the exiled heir to the throne, the sacrificed maiden, the crone/witch, the treasure chamber deep in the earth & secured by a locking mechanism.

Again from the bio: E.M. Forster once made an observation about 'the novelist sending down a bucket into the unconscious.' V.S. Pritchert elaborated on this notion, claiming that Haggard 'installed a suction pump. He drained the whole reservoir of the people's secret desires.' (pg x)

When describing an African landscape, Haggard's elephant-hunter hero happily states his biases: ' ... here and there a white house, smiling out at the placid sea, puts a finish and gives an air of homeliness to the scene. For to my mind, however beautiful a view may be, it requires the presence of man to make it complete, but perhaps that is because I have lived so much in the wilderness, and therefore know the value of civilisation, though to be sure it drives away the game. The Garden of Eden, no doubt, was fair before man was, but I always think it must have been fairer when Eve was walking about it.' (26)
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LibraryThing member elliepotten
In a nutshell, this is a proper old-fashioned adventure yarn. It is narrated by the now-iconic Allan Quatermain, an English hunter making his living shooting game in South Africa. He is on a boat returning to his home in Durban when he meets Sir Henry Curtis and his friend, naval officer Captain John Good. Sir Henry is attempting to find his brother, last seen heading out on a suicidal mission across the desert in search of King Solomon's legendary diamond mines. He enlists Quatermain's (rather reluctant) help and the three set out for the mountains, aided by a crudely-drawn map left to Quatermain by the last fool to attempt the journey.

What follows is a real Indiana Jones story that had me completely absorbed from start to finish. First the desert must be navigated, then there are mountains to cross, only for the exhausted trio to find themselves embroiled in a bitter tribal war on the other side. It could have been so dull, but Quatermain's plentiful dry humour and beautiful flights of description proved irresistable. The excitement and suspense is genuinely riveting - there are a couple of deliciously gruesome moments that sent me mentally diving behind my sofa cushion - and when I reached the last page I felt utterly bereft. Having been so completely immersed in the trio's African exploits, I wasn't quite sure what I could read next that could POSSIBLY compare (always the sign of a great book!).

The characters are exquisite creations, each and every one of them. Sir Henry, the great fair Viking with his deep integrity and ferocious strength as a warrior. Captain Good, with his eye glass, impressive swearing abilities (never rendered here, by the way!) and determination to dress like a gentleman despite the harsh conditions. Even foul old Gagool, the ancient and evil Kukuana witch doctress, was so brilliantly drawn that I felt a wave of revulsion every time she graced the page with her presence. The biggest thing I'll take away from the book, the element that will stick with me the most, is the incredible set-piece imagery, some of which wouldn't seem out of place in a Lord of the Rings film. I think certain 'snapshots' from the book are forever imprinted on my memory, they're so unforgettable. The great twin mountain peaks at sunrise. A wounded bull elephant charging through the trees. Key moments from the tribal war. The moment when the trio first enter the Kukuana Place of Death (that was perhaps the most memorable scene of all for me). I mean... wow. I'm actually glad that no decent film adaptation of the book has ever been made, because now I'm not tempted to watch it. It'd take a damn fine movie to match up to the pictures in my mind! Perhaps I should write to Peter Jackson...
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LibraryThing member cmbohn
Themes: Exploration and conquest, hunting, long lost heirs, missing brothers, starcrossed lovers, witchcraft, race
Setting: South Africa about 1890 maybe?

Yes, this has some graphic descriptions of an elephant hunt. In fact, the main character, Allan Quartermain is a hunter. That's how he makes his living, killing animals, especially elephants, for their hides and their ivory. Yes, there is a lot of racism in the book. Some racial epithets, but even more a feeling of white man's superiority that permeates the whole book. By the end of the book, I think that the white folks are more tolerant of the black, but there is still a gap. So if that is going to keep you from enjoying the book, I'm warning you now not to pick it up.

But I loved it. I'm not sure what it says about me that I could overlook that, if that means there are some deep hidden character flaws or if it means that I am more shallow than the rest or what, but I stinking loved this book. It was a kick butt adventure yarn. Elephant stampedes, Sheba's Breasts (that made me giggle), treasure maps, missing brothers, diamond mines, evil witch doctor ladies, it totally has it all. And I got it for free for my Kindle. You absolutely can't beat that. Now I'm going to find more by this author and save them for when I'm having a really rotten day and need something absorbing and fun to make me feel better. 5 stars.
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LibraryThing member dreamlikecheese
This a classic rip-roaring adventure yarn about a group of men heading into deepest darkest Africa on the hunt for a lost brother and treasure. This book is most definitely a product of its times, with all the racism and chauvinism which that entails, but despite that it actually manages in some ways to be a more sympathetic treatment of "the natives" than many other books of a similar era. Just don't go in expecting enlightened attitudes!

The story is engaging, and the voice of the "narrator" of the piece shows a writer at the full peak of his talent. He manages to maintain the line between Quatermain's natural voice and the voice of someone attempting to write a proper narrative for others to read, which maintains the fiction of Quatermain writing about his experiences very well.

The humour is often unexpected, the story is well-paced, and the action is well-written. It's not a deep read, but it's a thoroughly engaging one.
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LibraryThing member edgeworth
King Solomon's Mines was reputedly written on a wager, with H. Rider Haggard betting a friend that he could write a better adventure novel than Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. It's a classic adventure novel, with three stiff upper lip Englishmen venturing into the South African veldt in search of a lost brother and the fabled treasures of King Solomon's mines.

I haven't read Treasure Island, but if it's anything like Stevenson's Kidnapped, which I read and enjoyed a few weeks ago, I would personally say that Haggard failed his bet. King Solomon's Mines contains all the elements of a proper adventure novel - kitting up for an expedition, nearly dying in the wilderness, uncovering a Lost World kingdom, huge battles, restoring a rightful king, beiing trapped in a treasure chamber etc. - it's almost as though he's following a recipe.

I found myself quite bored throughout, particularly during the wooden and lifeless battle scenes. This is fairly typical of 19th century novels, as far as I'm concerned, and it was more that Kidnapped pleasantly surprised me than that King Solomon's Mines let me down. But Stevenson is certainly the better writer; he has a wit and a charm about him that is wholly lacking in Haggard, which is unsurprising, given that the latter wrote a formulaic novel just to win five pounds.
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LibraryThing member tronella
I listened to an audiobook version of this from Librivox. Being a story about a bunch of white guys wandering around Africa in the 19th century, it's unsurprisingly quite amazingly racist in parts, but the whole epic-quest aspect was fun. I liked the bit when they were trapped in a cave full of diamonds, and sat around going "lol irony! you can't eat diamonds! woe."… (more)
LibraryThing member collingsruth
THE Victorian boy's adventure novel. Interesting plot that will remind readers of Indiana Jones. Actually, pretty much any male hero adventurer with a slightly supernatural bent. Unlike so many of these, though, Alan Quartermain is short, unattractive, a coward, and ultimately pragmatic above all else. Maybe one of my new favourite characters. Though the entire story takes place in Africa, this actually isn't as completely racist as it could be. That seems like faint praise, but Haggard definitely treats the various African tribes much better than, say, John Smith does Native Americans. They are still definitely considered less civilized than the Europeans, but never mocked or called devils. Their skills in various areas are often praised. At the end of the day Quartermain becomes BFFs with a few men of a fictional tribe as equals, even if there are quite a few not so nice mentions of the fact that relationships between blacks and whites were not a good idea. There is a definite slight tang of Orientalism (yes I know Africa isn't the Orient you know what I mean).All in all a very enjoyable read and very few cringe-worthy moments. An interesting side-note, it is mentioned that the tsetse fly kills cattle and livestock, but not humans. I wonder if that was because the sleeping sickness hadn't arrived in humans yet or if the association just hadn't been made.… (more)
LibraryThing member morryb
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 Solomon's Mines publications in the late 19th century. Just read it and have fun.… (more)
LibraryThing member john257hopper
A rattling adventure story that, if anything, I found rather too fast to read. It lacked some of the depth of the author's other classic, She. Quite a dramatic final section.
LibraryThing member Clurb
A classic adventure story that still has the power to grab you. Chocked full of humour, Alan and his friends battle across the desert hunting elephants, dying of hunger, duping the natives and getting themselves in scrapes. Complete with happy ending. Marvellous.
LibraryThing member atimco
Such a fun book this is! Combine a long and arduous journey, rumors of a fabulous treasure, deadly danger, fabled history, ferocious battles, political intrigue, and an exotic locale and you'll get Henry Rider Haggard's classic adventure story, King Solomon's Mines. And when it's all told by a perceptive, honest, and humorous narrator like Allen Quartermain, it only increases the enjoyment. First published in 1885, this novel has earned a place as one of the more entertaining of the adventure story genre.

Allen Quartermain is a tough old hunter in the African bush who is hired by a rich Englishman, Sir Henry Curtis, to cross the desert to a mysterious land where he believes his estranged brother has gone in quest of treasure. The legendary diamonds of King Solomon's mines have never quite left the memory and imagination of the area, and many a man had gone to seek them, never to return. But Quartermain has some secret information of his own, and on this slender hope the men set out. Accompanying them is Captain John Goode, of the false teeth and eyeglass that play such a memorable part once they arrive at their destination.

When they do finally reach the land beyond the desert, they find an isolated African culture that has survived untouched by the outside world for many hundreds of years. Before they can begin their search for Sir Henry's brother (and those fabled diamonds, along the way), they are swept into a civil war in which a faction seeks to depose the wicked king in favor of the rightful heir. These intrigues and battles make up the bulk of the story, and when they finally get to the treasure hunt it seems a bit of an anticlimax. Still, the story carries on and the suspense picks up again with the ancient mines dug for King Solomon and the unimaginable treasure—and danger—they hold for the travelers.

Early on Quartermain tells us that there are "no women" in the tale, but this isn't strictly true. There's a lovely native woman named Foulata who has a part to play. But she is overshadowed by another female character—this one a femme fatale in Gagool, the ancient witch who helped set the current king on the throne. Gagool's grotesque appearance and behavior almost de-sex her as an anomalous monster, not a woman at all. And to further emphasize my point that the story is not devoid of aspects of the feminine, the two mountains at the entry of the country are called by the racy name of "Sheba's Breasts." I must say I found this a bit shocking, especially in light of the story's original date of publication.

We can't really talk about this book without mentioning race relations. Initially I was impressed by Quarterman's deliberate decision to use the word "native" rather than "nigger," but he does show a careless, casual disrespect toward the Africans (calling a native man "quite clever for a native" and addressing him as "boy"). But anything else would be entirely unnatural for the period. Also, Quartermain provides a home/job for one of his native hunters who was wounded too badly to hunt again. As the story develops, you can seethe increasing respect he has for Umbopa, their native guide and an impressive man in his own right. At several points Quartermain compares Umbopa to Sir Henry, observing how each is a perfect specimen of his race and a fine sight seen with the other.

Modern readers may also be put off by the casual and occasionally detailed descriptions of hunting elephants for their ivory. I understand this is quite accurate to the period, and I don't have a problem with hunting non-endangered animals. But I was still glad when the story moved on.

I listened to this on audiobook, read by Simon Prebble, and it really was a pleasure. Perhaps it is not as highbrow as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness which I also recently finished, but infinitely more enjoyable. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
This is the first of the Alan Quartermain novels, that adventure series from the late 1800s. As a ground breaking adventure novel, I suppose I should have liked it better. The problem is, I've read so many "lost world" tales in my day that King Solomon's Mines seemed a bit cliched. I do have to admit, though, that despite the racism and other 19th Century attitudes, the story has weathered pretty well. The novel is nowhere near as thick as some of its contemporaries that I've read.
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LibraryThing member shadowofthewind
Great adventure story, one of the first of its genre. Lost diamonds, biblical legendary, forgotten peoples, war, and the restoration of a king. A search for lost diamonds turns into an amazing adventure. My modern day sensibilities had trouble with what was acceptable over 100 years ago (elephant hunters and they even eat Giraffe steaks!) Even from this adventure novel there are great life lessons:"What is life? Tell me, O white men, who awise, who know the secrets of the world, and the world of the stars, and the world that lies above and around the stars; who flash your words from afar without a voice: tell me, white men, the secret of our life--whither it goes and whence it comes!You cannot answer me: you know not, Listen, I will answer. Out of the dark we came, into the dark we go. Like a storm-driven bird at night we fly out of Nowhere; for a moment our wings are sen in the light of the fire, and lo we are gone again into the Nowhere. Life is nothing. Life is all. It is the Hand with which we hold off Death. It is the glow-worm that shines in the night-time and is black in the morning. It is the white breath of the oxen in winter; it is the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself at sunset." p 65… (more)
LibraryThing member johnthefireman
A classic adventure yarn, set in 19th-century southern Africa, and written in 1885. Although it takes liberties, and reflects the limited knowledge of the interior of Africa at that time, it is at least written by someone who lived in Africa and had some idea what he was talking about. His view of the "natives" reflects contemporary views, but he comes over as relatively progressive for his times. Very British, very manly and patriarchal, but well worth reading… (more)
LibraryThing member jcelrod
Classic adventure story. Without Haggard's Alan Quartermain, we would not have Indiana Jones!
LibraryThing member Stevil2001
Given its shortness, it's amazing that this book still wears out its welcome. What starts out as a rollicking adventure story, promising a fantastic journey, becomes bogged down about halfway through in the politics of a problematically-depicted group of Africans. But even if they weren't problematic, they'd still be boring. Thankfully, things still come to a roaring and satisfying conclusion, despite the highly convenient death of the black love interest of one of the white heroes. Quite fun otherwise, though, especially thanks to the matter-of-fact but slightly dim narrative voice Haggard given Allan Quatermain.

The notes in my Penguin Classics edition are a little basic, but that's probably because there's not much to note, and Robert Hampson feels compelled to say something.
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LibraryThing member jasongibbs
This was one of my favorite childhood adventure stories. Don't be influenced by the bad movie versions.
LibraryThing member bookworm12
Before reading A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen I’d never heard of Allan Quatermain. So I went into this with low expectations and was more than pleasantly surprised at what I found. This adventure story is more about friendship than treasure.

Sir Henry Curtis (Incubu) is searching for his last brother who was last scene on his way to find the illusive King Solomon’s Mines, which are allegedly filled with diamonds. Curtis hires Quatermain (Macumazahn) to travel with him with the stipulation that if Quatermain dies, which he fully expects to, Curtis will provide for his son. Curtis’ friend Captain John Good (Bougwan) will also embark on the quest.

As the three men begin their journey they have no idea what’s in store for them; harsh desserts, elephant hunting, a war between tribes and so much more. Though parts of the story were predictable, they were still entertaining and the plot never lags. The adventure story had real heart, which made it stand apart from more generic versions.

I loved Quatermain’s honesty. There are moments when he says he doesn’t want to fight because it’s senseless, courage be damned. He’s honorable and sincere, a true friend to the end. I absolutely thing he deserves a spot in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
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LibraryThing member doxtator
Written in slightly old-fashioned prose, it is the story of a search for a lost brother. It will take them through the desert, through cold mountain reaches, to meet the evil King on the other side of the mountain, and to involve themselves in a war. It is one desperate adventure after another. Shockingly for the modern day reader, the ideas of the time period are highlighted, and the reader will probably recoil from the hunting of elephants, and the deaths of so many characters during the course of the story. It has parts that are bloody, gruesome, and unsavory.

If nothing else, however, it's a good, classic story to have under the belt for all those references to it in other stories, shows, and movies.
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LibraryThing member NarelleJ
This was a great read and I would reconment it to any teen that enjoys quest and adventure stories. Just because it is old (classic) does not mean its not great!
LibraryThing member Mromano
An exciting fast paced book; but the reader should beware that the book was published in 1885 and does reflect the racist attitudes of the time. Lovers of animals might also be offended by the wholesale slaughter of elephants etc within. That said however, the work is well written,with a good plot and plenty of interesting dialogue.… (more)
LibraryThing member mrtall
This is the first Rider Haggard novel I've read, and it was a hoot. Ripping adventure in the fictional wilds of Africa, leavened by some surprisingly lyrical descriptive and even contemplative passages. Recommended.
LibraryThing member Katie_H
I love classic adventure stories, and this one did not disappoint! It wasn't an epic, like Count of Monte Cristo, but it offered the reader plenty of continuous excitement and action on par with an Indiana Jones movie. The novel tells of Allan Quartermain, a 19th century elephant hunter in Southern Africa, who is convinced by two English men (Curtis & Good) to help search for Curtis's brother and hopefully find overflowing riches at the elusive mines of King Solomon on the way. The group is joined by Umbopa, an African porter who, as it turns out, has a surprising secret. Many challenges hinder their road to fortune ... witches, tribal warfare, desert dehydration, angry elephants... the thrills just don't stop. Can they find the elusive diamonds and still have their lives to show for it?… (more)
LibraryThing member Pondlife
This book is a light and easy read. It's fairly fast-paced, although it does get a bit bogged down in the middle with the struggle between the rival Kukuana kings. It's got a bit of a potboiler feel to it, with plenty of things thrown into the mix.

Overall, it's a good read as long as you don't take it seriously and you're not looking for great literature.… (more)


Original publication date


Physical description

6.5 inches


2277236071 / 9782277236078
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