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King Solomon's Mines

Narrated by: Toby Stephens
Series: Allan Quatermain, Book 12
Length: 8 hrs and 27 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (251 ratings)

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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.

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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 people found this 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.

4 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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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 people found this 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 people found this 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 people found this 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 person found this 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 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Not what I was expecting, and that's no bad thing

Was interested to read the apparent first African adventure story and given film characterisations of Quartermain, I assumed a one dimensional tough talking, hero who does whatever it takes to get the gold and the girl. I'm pleased he reminds me more of the old drunken Barrister from 'The Fast Show', wondering how the devil he reluctantly ended up with frightful adventures, exotic beasts and darned foreigners. Another narrator may have gone for the harder edge, but lost the British humour and absurdity. Felt the story itself sagged in the middle but glad I have read it.

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Good story, very well told

Thoroughly enjoyable old school British adventure, really enjoyed the narrator's style. Surprisingly there wasn't much of it about the mines! Thought would be a bit more Indian Jones-y :) but still good.

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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.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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 people found this helpful

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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.

4 people found this helpful

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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 people found this helpful

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  • Leticia
  • 21-06-19

Narrator couldn't be better

I tried to read this book about ten years ago, and I literally fell asleep every single time I grabbed the book. I could not go beyond the first eight or ten pages. However, I wanted to give it a try, because so many people had recommended it. It is a classic. In my personal case, Toby Stephens' performance made all the difference. It was like watching a movie in my head, or even better. It is an amazing performance; because of his own wonderful voice, as well as, the different accents and voices he is able to produce. I just loved the pace, rhythm, volume, and intensity of his reading. He made it an interesting and exciting story. I felt kind of sad when "The End" arrived. It is a fun adventure story, but it's old style definitely requires a good narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-04-19

very well preformed classic!

without a doubt one of the best preformed audiobooks I've purchased yet. As for the story: at this point in history this story is very dated and culturally insensitive. However, like any antique, if you can appreciate it for what it is instead of degrading it for what it isnt I think you will find a very good literary example of its era.

1 person found this helpful

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  • 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 person found this helpful

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  • matthew
  • 29-04-20

not for politically correct

the book is dated in style, tropes, and social tradition, it contains much that would upset the 21st century westerner, but I dont think that should detract from the light hearted fun it provides

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  • Ron
  • 01-02-20

A Good Read

It was't all I expected it to be, but evey I think adventure novel enthusiast should read it anyway. Perhaps having heard of it all of my life, and some of the reviews had me expecting too much.
But it was worth the reading. And I saw charicters and situations smilar to thise, which I believe many other adventure novelists have likely created, because of the influence of this story.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-09-19

interesting from an historical viewpoint only

This book is a product of its time. As such there is some kind of racist comment every few pages. I found that to be distracting from the story which was mediocre by modern standards. That being said, I'm sure it was a breakthrough in adventure stories in its day.