After More than 100 years, Quatermain Is Still a Legendary Hero

posted Jan 14, 2014, 1:10 PM by Martin Roy Hill   [ updated Aug 4, 2015, 4:12 PM ]

Allan QuatermainWith publication of his first book, King Solomon’s Mines, in 1885, H. Rider Haggard became known as the father of the Lost World literary genre. Its best known cinematic offspring was the Indiana Jones series of movies.

Allan Quatermain is Haggard’s sequel to King Solomon’s Mines, and brings back big game hunter Quatermain and his associates, Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good, RN. Bored by Victorian English life and the wealth they accumulated by finding Solomon's mines, the three shuck it all and return to southern Africa to seek a legendary tribe of white Africans said to be living the unexplored heart of the Dark Continent. The trio is joined on their trek by a cowardly French chef and a brave Zulu chief. Together they battle their way through jungles, a hellish underground river, and an assault by warlike Maasai tribesmen.

But they do find the legendary tribe of white Africans and their country of Zu-Vendi. There Sir Curtis falls in love with one of two queen sisters. Jealousy between the siblings ruptures into civil war and the three Englishmen must chose sides.

Having lived in southern Africa for a number of years, Haggard writes with great respect for the Africa natives – an unusual trait for a Victorian English writer. His Zulu characters are wise and courageous, and often are the true heroes of the stories. Sarcastic remarks about English society made by Quatermain, the narrator, give evidence of Haggard's own thoughts about Victorian England.

Though this was the second of nearly 20 books and short stories, it is actually Quatermain's last great adventure. The rest of the Quatermain stories take place before the King Solomon's Mines adventure. If you enjoy action adventure stories, Allan Quatermain should be on your reading list.

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