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Summary

Exclusively from Audible

On board a ship bound for Natal, adventurer Allan Quatermain meets Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good. His new friends have set out to find Sir Henry's younger brother, who vanished while seeking King Solomon's legendary diamond mines in the African interior. By strange chance, Quatermain has a map to the mines, drawn in blood, and agrees to join the others on their perilous journey.

The travellers face many dangers on their quest - the baking desert heat, the hostile lost tribe they discover and the evil 'wise woman' who holds the secret of the diamond mines. King Solomon's Mines is an exciting adventure that has gripped generations.

It is the first English story set in Africa and is considered to be the origin of the Lost World literary genre that inspired others such as Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King and HP Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.

Haggard wrote the novel as a result of a five-shilling wager with his brother to see whether he could write a novel half as good as Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883). The novel ended up becoming the best seller of 1885.

Narrator Biography

Toby Stephens is an award winning actor who has an extensive array of credits over stage, film, television and audiobooks. He narrated Ian Fleming's Bond, From Russia with Love, along with Jeffery Deaver's Carte Blanche: A James Bond Novel. Throughout his stage appearances he has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company appearing in a number of their productions; Theatre Royal Haymarket, The Almeida, The Donmar Warehouse and The Old Vic.

Toby Stephens film credits include the James Bond film, Die Another Day where he plays the villain Gustav Graves, All Things To All Men, Believe, The Journey and the Oscar-nominated film 13 Hours. He is well known for his role of Captain Flint in the Starz series Black Sails, other notable television credits include, And Then There Were None, the role of Edward Fairfax Rochester in a BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre, Walking The Dead, Robin Hood and Wired. In 2018 he will appear as John Robinson in the Netflix remake of the 1965 TV Series, Lost In Space.

©1951 H. Rider Haggard (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Dated but still influential

What made the experience of listening to King Solomon's Mines the most enjoyable?

Toby Stephens' reading. I tried reading this book in my teens (in the 1980s) but ground to a halt through boredom. I tried again in 2013 but was suffering from depression and couldn't finish any book. I nearly gave up on the audio last week, but persisted, thanks to Stephens' enthusiasm, diversity of voices for the characters, and the fact that it does get interesting again about halfway through.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Haggard's respect for other cultures. Don't get me wrong, he is a product of his time, and there are some "let's laugh at the gullible [black people]" moments. By way of example, the hoary old chestnut of the convenient eclipse gets a look in here (forgivable as it has been used this way in real life). Let's hope a few black astronomers get to laugh at Haggard for thinking the darkness lasts a full hour, or for thinking that there will be moonlight on the night after a total solar eclipse. The book also repeats an unquestioned maxim that black and white couples cannot marry.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The exploration of the actual mines. Anyone who has played Tomb Raider is going to feel at home! But it's more the journey than particular scenes.
There are a number of scenes which were probably much better received in 1885 than in 2015, notably the half-shaven Good scene (which was apparently blatant plagiarism).

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. As I say, I had to force myself to continue. A fairly early scene, in which our heroes massacre a herd of elephants, is not great for character identification.

Any additional comments?

If you're interested in the Lost World genre, it's good to get this one under your belt, as it was the first.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

An African adventure

Chose this audiobook as I had never read the original story. A simple adventure that is a little dated now but still worth listening to. Nicely narrated by Toby Stephens.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

King Solomon's Mines

Excellent listening. Brought back memories of reading the book many years ago. Gripping story that kept my interest throughout.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great African Adventure Story Of Its Time.....

What did you like most about King Solomon's Mines?

Apparently Africa was largely undiscovered at the time of this books publication, so this novel captured the imagination of the public. It is a fantastic African adventure story, perhaps written for buys. There is much travel and adventure, hunting of large game and war with warriors. Mystical tribes, black magic and Indiana Jones style exploration of ancient mines.

Not for the faint hearted, scenes of hunting and war are graphically explained.

By today's standards it also has more than its fair share of racism and sexism.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I quite liked the real Villian of the story, the mother of all witch doctors, Gagool. She adds a certain interest to the story by her total cruelty.

What about Toby Stephens’s performance did you like?

Toby Stephens performs this brilliantly. The middle of the book got a bit tedious at times and he kept me engaged.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Well I drove home listening to the last two hours and got so engrossed I missed my junction turn off on the motorway! The start and ending is brilliant, the middle is not so great but stick with it, the end is well worth the wait.

Any additional comments?

Read and enjoy keeping its historical context and time in mind.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Treasure indeed

Where does King Solomon's Mines rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

About 3rd

Who was your favorite character and why?

Quartermain , He had real hopes aspirations and weakness

Which character – as performed by Toby Stephens – was your favourite?

Sir Henry Curtis but all were excellent.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I will when I get time but it will be played often as I love this kind of adventure

Any additional comments?

This was so well done and well read ,Toby Stephens voice was just right and I can thoroughly
recommend the recording ,You could almost smell the pipe tobacco, hear the echo of the caves and see the massed ranks battling it out.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

OF ITS TIME

Not very politically correct but is a 'ripping yarn'. More blood than a blood bank but still a good tale.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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So,so and dated...

Bought for my husband who usually enjoys a good ripping yarn but sadly this failed to hold his attention. Partly because we forgot when it was written and the descriptive paragraphs of the elephant hunt. He has enjoyed other novels written by this author and he would listen to other books narrated by Toby Stephens.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Non PC but ......

I read this as a child and had never thought of the audiobook. However, I was at a loose end and bingo. I had forgotten that not only is this a "ripping adventure" but its actually very amusing, I really enjoyed the picture of Good half shaven, false teeth and no trousers, and well written. OK, non-PC in some of the words and attitudes, but if you accept it as of its time then you can sit back and enjoy. Toby Stephens does it full credit, although at one point one of the African characters does sound a little Asian to my ears, but he gets it back on track pretty quickly. All in all, if you can suspend your disbelief then you will have a good time.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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brilliantly read

love the story and it has be read superbly by Toby.
will listen to again and again

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    5 out of 5 stars

Prototype treasure hunt adventure

The narration is really excellent and Toby Stephens’ character voices really work - especially Gagool.
The story is still entertaining after all these years despite the diluting effect of the many books and films that copy it. The casual everyday racism is eye-opening as are the forces that are already awakening against it.

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  • Jefferson
  • 03-09-10

John Carter and Conan's African Daddy

H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines (1885) is worth listening to if for no other reason than because of its seminal influence on the adventure genre, especially of the "lost world" or "planetary romance" variety wherein an intrepid hero explores an exotic hidden civilization in an inaccessible place and thereby acts as a catalyst for Big Change, ala Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard.

Allan Quartermain, who leads the expedition to King Solomon's mines hidden among the mountains of Africa and finds much more than he expected, is an interesting narrator-protagonist: honest, middle-aged, experienced, physically unimposing, and none too brave. The story he tells is variously suspenseful, violent, humorous, horrifying, moving, and sublime. Its views of animals ("beasts" to be hunted for food or sport), of women (baby-bearers, damsels in distress, or witches ideally to be avoided), of indigenous people ("natives" not to be mated with or lived among permanently) are unpleasant to me today. But Quartermain also impressively (given his Victorian era) admires exceptional "natives" and recognizes them as being at least the equal of their white counterparts, pointedly refuses to use the n-word, poignantly depicts an inter-racial romance, and even expresses the destructive side of the involvement of white "civilization" with native cultures. And the story has neat themes about the dangerous pursuit of wealth, the transitory nature of life, the wonders of nature, and the mysteries of the past.

The reader, Toby Stephens, does an excellent job breathing wit and life into the characters; I particularly enjoyed his Gagaoola, the wizened, wicked, possibly immortal, stick-like crone, whose raspy high-pitched merry malevolence was appealingly creepy to hear. An entertaining listen indeed.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • James C
  • 06-11-09

Allen Quatermain=Sean Connery

I discovered this book after watching League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and learning that Sean Connery's character in the movie, Allen Quatermain, is taken from HR Haggard's books.

This story is unlikely to disappointment fans of Indiana Jones-type adventure; the plot is well-written and only occasionally requires suspension of disbelief to get through. The narration as well is very good. Overall, a remarkable novel from a different time.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Willem
  • 14-01-14

Great story, great narration but barely audible

I loved the story and the narrator was really great (other than butchering the pronunciation of the afrikaans words) but I really struggled with the volume of the recording. It was way too low, it became very cumbersome to constantly have to struggle to hear the narration. Other than the volume issue I can highly recommend it

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 04-02-13

Toby Stephens is an AMAZING narrator

What did you love best about King Solomon's Mines?

This rollicking tale invented the lost world / jungle opera genre and spawned a host of imitators and hangers-on who variously copied the book’s vibe and ethos or just its specific devices (like the “white witchcraft” of the hunter’s guns or the terrifying of an ignorant native race by pretending to bring on an eclipse which luckily happened to occur just when it was needed. It’s old, colonialist, and racist (though very mildly so in comparison with most of literature of the day), but it’s a humdinger of a thrill ride. Special mention goes to the incredible narrator Toby Stephens, whose accents make it all worthwhile.

What does Toby Stephens bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The accents! My goodness, the man's accents are AMAZING. I wish I could read books to my kids like that. His reading of Gagool actually made shivers run up and down my spine.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • sam
  • 07-02-14

A Rip-Roaring Victorian Adventure!

I first learn of Allen Quartermain and his adventures in Africa via the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the comic, not the movie). This was every bit the adventure I'd been promised!

You really get a sense of just how exciting it was back in the Victorian era with all of the lost civilizations being discovered and adventures braving the thickest of jungles. The was never a dull moment and all with something new to discover, with that posh Victorian flare I've come to adore.

Obviously, Quartermain is the quintessential Great White Hunter, so their was a bit of big game hunting along the way; thankfully it was mostly brief and did serve to flavor the story. As for the African characters, they were present surprisingly tastefully written given time when the novel was written. Quartermain even comment that some Africans are more respectable than Europeans he has known, and never once uses derogator terms to describe them. The rest of Quartermain's party were also great characters as well. And it had a happy ending and it all worked (mostly) well for everyone.

All in all one of the best Victorian novels I've read in a while. Discover this gem for yourself!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bill MacLean
  • 24-05-18

Great performance of a great story

Summary
If you like adventures, get this book, you'll be happy you did.

Detail
Terrific story and the narration was fantastic. I especially liked how Stephens was able to use clearly differentiated voices for the main characters. This story had a great romantic and big-adventure feel. I've read that the Quatermaine character was a key inspiration for Indiana Jones, and I believe it. If you like big sweeping adventures, you'll enjoy this story.

The writing held my attention, drew me into a lost world, and helped me feel as I were actually experiencing the events described. Scenes in the story that were meant to be chilling really were chilling, and scenes that were meant to be amusing really were amusing. The narration added to the experience.

With all that was good, were there any negatives? Yes, the story was written 1885, from the English colonial perspective, and there is no denying that there are very clear and unfortunate underlying elements of colonial racism. It's not so much "elements" as the colonial world view that "the English will civilize the world". I wish people of that time didn't think that way, but they did, so it's not surprising that it comes out in their stories. In some sense, that underlying flawed worldview lends a sense of veracity to the story. Despite the fantastic and incredible elements of the story, it seems real, and it feels as if were written by a real English hunter.

On the whole, the good far outweighs the bad, and this is 8.5 hours of solid entertainment that is way better than most movies.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Russell
  • 13-08-16

The Legend of Quartermain, Curtis and Good begins

Would you consider the audio edition of King Solomon's Mines to be better than the print version?

I actually do! This is one of two books that the audio is as good or better than reading

Who was your favorite character and why?

Quartermain of course!

Have you listened to any of Toby Stephens’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I haven't heard him in anything else yet, but his voices are EXACTLY what I imagine the characters would sound like

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The accounts of Curtis who was a majestic warrior and stalwart companion. I could feel Quartermain's admiration of him

Any additional comments?

This book is enjoyable in every way and I re-listen to it regularly

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ron
  • 08-06-16

outstanding classic

Where does King Solomon's Mines rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

in my top ten classics

What did you like best about this story?

all of it

What about Toby Stephens’s performance did you like?

yes

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

great book

Any additional comments?

outstanding listen for any age. well written well read

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • B Reader
  • 16-05-16

Settle down for a good listen...

Any additional comments?

Toby Stephens is a wonderful narrator. I was glad to finally listen to this novel after seeing a few movie versions of the tale, which do not compare. Naturally, Haggard's view of whites versus anyone of color is of his time, but he's not as bad as Burroughs in his belief in the superiority of the white race.

The battle scenes went on a bit long for me, but overall the tale was enjoyable to listen to and I wish Toby Stephens had narrated 'The People of the Mist.'

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  • Rezsicknezz
  • 13-08-15

great story

such a wonderful tail of adventures one of my favorite books every which is really saying something as I have read a many