King Solomon’s Mines By H. Rider Haggard
Most people would have heard of this book, or story, it has been adapted and translated into different languages and media. Unfortunately, those who missed the opportunity to read any of the junior to adult versions would not experience the chiseled image of the episode portrayed by convenient literary devices. It is indeed an exciting, even gripping read, but most other iterations fall short in delivering the whole story down to the trivial details.
Readers of the first edition marveled at the ever present suspense the plot paced through the chapters with. I also got captivated by the author’s style of writing. The persona of the characters was so excellently showcased as they tackled the challenges the story put them through that rights were given to make movies and shorter written versions of the intellectual property.
Writing a work of fiction evolving around diamonds, Africa, ancient tribes and relatively uncomfortable or inhospitable environments, happens to be a working formula for creating a riveting novel. This is especially so if the book was written for people who may have never seen or lived in a place resembling that. From a servants death by elephant to finding an oasis while in great thirst, from climbing a mountainside called Sheba’s Breasts to being revered as gods in Kukuanaland, the wits, skill and alertness of the main characters were tested. The description of the cultural and social uniqueness of the inhabitants of Kukuanaland plunged readers in the United Kingdom into another world, far removed from their perception of reality.
Some readers shared the opinion that the title could have been changed to anything advertising Kukuanaland and its natives. I believe they saw the possibility of an alternate title because this section of the story largely contributed to the bulk of the book. Ultimately though, most people love the interpretation of the mines and the strong emotions expressed in this despair riddled conclusion.
What influenced this book becoming a bestseller was the ending where some of the main cast emerged from the ordeal with tremendous compensation. It is this feature that allowed the rights to publish the novel for different audiences. It’s a bit comical that this book came to be from a bet made by the author’s brother to see if he could make a novel comparable to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.