She by H. Rider Haggard
H. Rider Haggard published She in 1887. 130 years later, She is a memorable, if strange, read. It is a romantic action-adventure seen in a fun-house mirror; almost offensive at times to modern sensibilities, but still intriguing.
The two main characters are Leo Vincey and our narrator, his adoptive father L. Horace Holly. Holly describes himself as ugly — ape-like, with bandy legs, over-long arms and thick black hair that grows low on his forehead. He is a committed misanthrope and misogynist. Leo is a golden Apollo with a cap of blond curls. With Leo came a strange iron-bound chest, to be opened when Leo turns 25.
On Leo’s twenty-fifth birthday, they open the chest, to find a pot-shard inscribed in Greek and several translated documents. The shard and documents tell the story of an Egyptian princess, Amenartas, who fell in love... Read More
H. Rider Haggard(1865-1925)
Sir Henry Rider Haggard wrote the Allan Quatermain (King Solomon’s Mines) adventure stories.
Ayesha (She) — (1886-1923) Publisher: Drawing on his knowledge of Africa and of ancient legends, adventure writer H. Rider Haggard weaves this disturbing tale of Ayesha, the mysterious and immortal white queen of a Central African tribe. She, or “She-who-must-be-obeyed,” is the embodiment of the mythological female figure who is both monstrous and desirable, and deadlier than the male. She is a pioneering work in the “Lost World” genre.
She by H. Rider Haggard
Ayesha, the Return of She by H. Rider Haggard
H. Rider Haggard returns to his story of star-crossed lovers Ayesha and Leo Vincey in Ayesha, the Return of She. The sequel was published in 1905, nearly twenty years after the publication of She. The world has changed, and Haggard’s storytelling has changed to match.
Haggard remains best known for King Solomon’s Mines, and She is the book of most interest to literary scholars. Ayesha, the Return of She is a decent sequel that does very little to open a window on the thoughts, values and fears of the late Victorian/early Edwardian era. Ayesha has more adventure and action, but characterization is diluted, especially that of Ayesha herself.
When this adventure begins, H. Horace Holly and his adopte... Read More
The Ghost Kings by H. Rider Haggard
The Ghost Kings was H. Rider Haggard's 32nd novel, out of an eventual 58. Written during the years 1906 and 1907, it first saw book publication in September 1908. This novel was penned immediately before Haggard set to work on another African adventure tale, The Yellow God, but of the two, The Ghost Kings is the superior creation. It is more exciting and more detailed, with a greater emphasis on fantasy elements and the supernatural. Indeed, with the exception of its South African setting and the inclusion of such real-life characters as the Zulu chief Dingaan (brother of Chaka) and councilor Mopo (both of whom also featured prominently in Haggard's 1892 masterpiece Nada the Lily), the tale could almost be a novel of hard fantasy.
The book cleaves fairly well into two parts. In the first, we meet Rachel Dove, a British missionary's daughter who has bee... Read More
Montezuma's Daughter by H. Rider Haggard
Written between June 5 and September 3, 1891, H. Rider Haggard's 16th novel out of an eventual 58, Montezuma's Daughter, was ultimately published in October 1893. The previous winter, Haggard and his wife Louisa had been in Mexico hunting for treasure and, on February 8th, the author had learned of the death of his 9-year-old son "Jock" back in England. The grieving father wrote Montezuma's Daughter as what his biographer D.S. Higgins calls a "therapeutic act" and, following and preceding two of the author's greatest works — 1892's "Nada the Lily" and 1894's "The People of the Mist" —demonstrates that the author, despite his bereavement, was then at the very top of his game.
Montezuma's Daughter takes the form of a memoir written by a half Englishman (his mother was Spanish) named Thomas Wingfield. Sitting dow... Read More
The Wizard by H. Rider Haggard
The Wizard, H. Rider Haggard's 21st novel out of an eventual 58, was initially released as a serial in a publication called The African Review and then in its complete form in the October 29, 1896 Arrowsmith's Christmas Annual for Boys. It was the third of four African novels that Haggard wrote from 1895-97, the others being Black Heart and White Heart, Swallow and Elissa, all of which I can highly recommend, by the way, especially Swallow.
The Wizard tells the story of Thomas Owen, a British missionary who ventures into the wilds of south central Africa to bring the Good Word to a tribe called the Amasuka, or the Children of Fire. A previous missionary had been killed by the tribe for his failure to work Christ-... Read More
Heart of the World by H. Rider Haggard
Although I had previously read and hugely enjoyed no fewer than 40 novels by H. Rider Haggard, I yet felt a trifle nervous before beginning the author's Heart of the World. I had recently finished Haggard's truly excellent novel of 1893, Montezuma's Daughter — a novel that deals with the downfall of the Aztec empire in the early 16th century — and was concerned that Heart of the World, which I knew to be still another story dealing with the Aztecs, would necessarily be repetitive. As it turns out, however, I needn't have worried. Despite the Aztec backdrop, the two novels are as dissimilar as can be; whereas the first deals with an Englishman witnessing the Indian conflicts with Cortes from 1519 - 1521 and the fall of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, Heart of the World takes place a good three centuri... Read More
Elissa & Black Heart and White Heart by H. Rider Haggard
Editor's note: Because they are in the public domain, both Elissa and Black Heart and White Heart are available for free on Kindle. To find them, click on the Kindle covers in this review.
The H. Rider Haggard novels Elissa and Black Heart and White Heart are usually to be found (when they can be found at all) together in a single volume, and for good reason. They are both shorter works by this great author (indeed, at a mere 105 pages, Black Heart and White Heart must be considered more of a novella or longish short story), and both are tales of adventure in the African milieu that Haggard knew so well, although the tales take place in ti... Read More
The Yellow God: An Idol of Africa by H. Rider Haggard
H. Rider Haggard's 33rd work of fiction out of an eventual 58, The Yellow God was first published in the U.S. in November 1908, and in Britain several months later. In this one, Haggard deals with one of his favorite subjects -- African adventure -- but puts a fresh spin on things. Thus, instead of Natal, Zululand, the Transvaal and Egypt, where the bulk of his African tales take place, The Yellow God transpires, for the most part, in what I gather is now northern Nigeria. And instead of big-game hunter Allan Quatermain (the protagonist of no less than 14 Haggard novels), here we are given Alan Vernon, an ex-Army colonel who, with his steadfast servant Jeekie, goes on a quest to find the legendary gold hordes of the undiscovered Asiki people. And, after braving a ha... Read More
The Mahatma and the Hare by H. Rider Haggard
The Mahatma and the Hare was first published in book form in 1911, and is one of H. Rider Haggard's rarer titles. The idea for this short novel came to Haggard, he states in the book's preface, after he had read a newspaper account of a hare that had swum out to sea to avoid being captured by pursuing hounds. In Haggard's story, the self-called mahatma — a spiritual man who is able, when asleep, to view "The Great White Road" on which the souls of those recently departed enter heaven — encounters the hare of the title after that animal's death. The hare tells the mahatma of the hardships and cruelties of his recent life: of how his entire family had been hunted to extinction; of his narrow escapes from hunters, greyhounds, and other hunting dogs; and, finally, of how he met his end. The hare also gets to debate the issue of animal rights with his chief hunter/enemy, near the book's end. T... Read More
Red Eve by H. Rider Haggard
For his 37th work of fiction, H. Rider Haggard, the so-called "father of the lost-race novel" and an expert at writing historical adventure tales as well, decided to go back to the Dark Ages. Red Eve, which Haggard wrote in a six-month period from 1908-1909, was ultimately published in 1911, and turns out to be yet another winner from this wonderful storyteller.
In it, we meet Hugh de Cressi, a merchant's son who is in love with “Red Eve” Clavering, a high-born cousin of his, in the year 1346. Eve is in love with him, too, but is being wooed by the traitorous knight Sir Edmund Acour. When Acour realizes that he can't win the affections of his intended in the traditional manner, he slips her a love philtre and weds her while she is doped up. It will now take an act of papal intervention to annul this marriage, and before that can happen, Hugh and his squire, the death-faced Gray Dick, get called by... Read More
Love Eternal by H. Rider Haggard
Although English author H. Rider Haggard is popularly known today as “the father of the lost race novel,” such adventure tales of vanished civilizations were scarcely his sole concern. As any reader who has pursued this writer further than his “big 3” (1885’s King Solomon’s Mines, 1887’s Allan Quatermain and 1887’s She) would tell you, Haggard was also very much concerned with the matter of reincarnation and with what I suppose we might call “ love that survives beyond the grave.” These two themes comprise the very heart of She and its three sequels (1905’s Ayesha, 1921’s She and Allan and 1923’s Wisdom’s Daughter) and crop up in such disparate works of the author as his very first, Dawn (1884), and Stella Fregelius (1904). But perhaps the author’s most conc... Read More
When the World Shook by H. Rider Haggard
In 1916, as World War I raged, Henry Rider Haggard, then 60 years old, started to compose his 48th novel, out of an eventual 58. Originally called The Glittering Lady, the novel was ultimately released in 1919 under the title we know today, When the World Shook, and turned out to be still another wonderful book from this celebrated author, in which many of his old favorite themes (lost civilizations, reincarnation, love that survives beyond the grave) are revisited, but with a new spin.
As in his first success, King Solomon's Mines (1885), we meet three intrepid Englishmen — Arbuthnot, Bastin and Bickley — and follow them on their amazing adventure. The three are quite a mixed trio, to put it mildly, Bastin being an upright, priggish, highly religious pastor; Bickley being a hardheaded materialist, a doctor and man of science (hi... Read More
Mary of Marion Isle by H. Rider Haggard
The great H. Rider Haggard wrote a total of 58 novels before his death in May 1925, and of that number, four were released posthumously. Mary of Marion Isle was his penultimate creation, one which he wrote in 1924, although, as revealed in D.S. Higgins' biography of Haggard, the idea for the story first came to him in 1916, while sailing to Australia and watching the albatrosses circling his ship. The novel was ultimately released in April 1929, and, as stated by Higgins, was limited to a run of only 3,500 copies by the publisher Hutchinson & Co. Somehow, many years ago, I got my hands on one, and in fair shape, too. I'm glad I did, because it turns out to be another wonderful Haggard adventure, although many reviewers (Higgins included) tend to denigrate these later Haggard titles as being mere rehashes of older works. Well, I suppose that some of the themes and set pieces in... Read More