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She: A History of Adventure

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She is the story of Cambridge professor Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey, and their journey to a lost kingdom in the African interior. The journey is triggered by a mysterious package left to Leo by his father, to be opened on his 25th birthday; the package contains an ancient shard of pottery and several documents, suggesting an ancient mystery about the Vincey family She is the story of Cambridge professor Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey, and their journey to a lost kingdom in the African interior. The journey is triggered by a mysterious package left to Leo by his father, to be opened on his 25th birthday; the package contains an ancient shard of pottery and several documents, suggesting an ancient mystery about the Vincey family. Holly and Leo eventually arrive in eastern Africa where they encounter a primitive race of natives and a mysterious white queen, Ayesha, who reigns as the all-powerful "She" or "She-who-must-be-obeyed" and who has a mysterious connection to young Leo. The story expresses numerous racial and evolutionary conceptions of the late Victorians, especially notions of degeneration and racial decline prominent during the fin de siècle. In the figure of She, the novel notably explored themes of female authority and feminine behaviour. It has received praise and criticism alike for its representation of womanhood. (From Wikipedia)


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She is the story of Cambridge professor Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey, and their journey to a lost kingdom in the African interior. The journey is triggered by a mysterious package left to Leo by his father, to be opened on his 25th birthday; the package contains an ancient shard of pottery and several documents, suggesting an ancient mystery about the Vincey family She is the story of Cambridge professor Horace Holly and his ward Leo Vincey, and their journey to a lost kingdom in the African interior. The journey is triggered by a mysterious package left to Leo by his father, to be opened on his 25th birthday; the package contains an ancient shard of pottery and several documents, suggesting an ancient mystery about the Vincey family. Holly and Leo eventually arrive in eastern Africa where they encounter a primitive race of natives and a mysterious white queen, Ayesha, who reigns as the all-powerful "She" or "She-who-must-be-obeyed" and who has a mysterious connection to young Leo. The story expresses numerous racial and evolutionary conceptions of the late Victorians, especially notions of degeneration and racial decline prominent during the fin de siècle. In the figure of She, the novel notably explored themes of female authority and feminine behaviour. It has received praise and criticism alike for its representation of womanhood. (From Wikipedia)

30 review for She: A History of Adventure

  1. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    "She- who -must -be -obeyed," sounds like a fun gal and for sure, gets her kicks in, kind of lethal though. Ayesha is a 2,000 year old woman and still looks marvelous for her age , lives in the middle of Africa during the 1800's , rules a remote tribe of hungry cannibals, people have strange taste. When Englishmen arrive in her barbaric land, with hidden wealth , instead of being eaten, are saved by the impressive Queen. Leo is one of the tireless explorers and the fierce She, believes he is a r "She- who -must -be -obeyed," sounds like a fun gal and for sure, gets her kicks in, kind of lethal though. Ayesha is a 2,000 year old woman and still looks marvelous for her age , lives in the middle of Africa during the 1800's , rules a remote tribe of hungry cannibals, people have strange taste. When Englishmen arrive in her barbaric land, with hidden wealth , instead of being eaten, are saved by the impressive Queen. Leo is one of the tireless explorers and the fierce She, believes he is a reincarnation of a former great love. This wandering group , composed of four men quite different truth be told, would I lie? Maybe , but not here, trust me. Ludwig Horace Holly , his foster son Leo and their servant Job, last, an inscrutable sea captain misnamed Mahomed here, a man not expected originally in the entourage, a Arab sailor turned guide, are a little nervous you can imagine... there is a fine line between heroics and foolishness .They the intrepid travelers, very unwisely, even at the zenith of the British Imperial Age, come to this dangerous continent, an uncharted territory with unfriendly tribes, deadly diseases, hostile terrain, death all around, at the urging of Leo's late father, father doesn't know best always. Discovering the ruins of an ancient city, destroyed not by war , but a merciless plague that this magnificent, fascinating , lost civilization once powerful, now very dead has only old buildings left standing but how spectacular they are, breathtaking to the treasure seekers, then again sad is another word that comes to mind. The Arab a friend but quiet, disappears from the scene, a vicious war breaks out. In the conclusion, the Englishmen are brought deep down into the bowels of dark caves by the cruel Ayesha, to show an amazing event. Surprising to the Queen , it's her great exit or is it.? Will She, the dazzling beauty return? After all this legend is invincible, immortal, everyone says and knows ...The gifted writer and inventor of the Lost World books H. Rider Haggard, this She ( 100 million copies sold), and King Solomon's Mines are his most celebrated products, probably his best too...adventures in the netherworld you can call them....A fun 1965 film version of this novel starring Ursula Andress, should not be missed; her most celebrated role was in Dr. No...getting out of the sea on the beach as Sean Connery looks on.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Well, shit snacks…this was a disappointing pile of shattered expectations. While journeying through the early works of speculative fiction, I’ve encountered some amazing novels...this, I'm very bitter to say, IS NOT one of them. This was my first experience with H. Rider Haggard and I think I will take some time before seeking out any of his other works. My problem was not the not-even-thinly-veiled misogynistic attitudes, or the matter-of-fact racist and anti-semitic opinion or even the pervasi Well, shit snacks…this was a disappointing pile of shattered expectations. While journeying through the early works of speculative fiction, I’ve encountered some amazing novels...this, I'm very bitter to say, IS NOT one of them. This was my first experience with H. Rider Haggard and I think I will take some time before seeking out any of his other works. My problem was not the not-even-thinly-veiled misogynistic attitudes, or the matter-of-fact racist and anti-semitic opinion or even the pervasive imperialist ideologies permeating the narrative. Hell, that kind of stuff can be a real hoot in these classic stories and rarely distracts me from enjoying an otherwise well-told tale (as exemplified in my love of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard to name but two). However, you are not allowed to be BORING!! Apparently Mr. Haggard didn’t get the memo because he starts off dull, introduces some uninteresting tedium and follows through with a blank-shooting climax that barely had a pulse. In addition to be boring, the story lacks depth and the writing is far below the quality I’ve come to expect from books of the period. Okay…with that off my chest, I am starting to feel better. Before I unleash my next rant salvo, I should probably give you at least a thumbnail of the plot. PLOT SUMMARY: Ape-faced Englishman, Horace Holly and his stunningly handsome adonis of a ward, Leo Vincey, find themselves on a perilous trip to a hidden African colony rumored to be ruled by a 2000 year old white sorceress. After WAY too much time getting there and some run ins with some natives right out of central casting, they eventually meet Ayesha (aka She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed). There they learn that She has been waiting for the reincarnation of her true love who she slayed in a jealous rage 20 centuries before. Many long-winded dialogues and infodumps later the story wraps up. MY THOUGHTS (cont.): Most of my major criticism is above and centers on the story being dull and the writing being inferior to most of the other classic literature I have read in the speculative fiction genre. I would say the prose was on par with Edgar Rice Burroughs, who I do not think was a strong writer. However, at least ERB made up for some of his lack of technical skill with some amazingly inventive concepts, characters and stories. I didn’t find much of that here. Now, I am not slapping a 1 star on this because I recognize the debt owed to this book as a trailblazer in the “lost world” sub-genre. I also think the character of Ayesha was at times pretty interesting and I thought Haggard did an okay job showing her as acting consistent (for the most part) with someone who had lived for so long that normal social conventions ceased to have meaning for her. Also, I recognize the attempt at trying to portray this as a form of gothic love tale full of regret and longing across the space of millennia. This wasn’t nearly enough to save this book from being a huge disappointment, but the book wasn’t all bad. Before I wrap up, there is one very random passage from the book I want to share because it seemed so very, very creepy and odd and it kept coming back to me even though it has nothing really to do with the plot. Early on in the story, while Holly is at Oxford and Leo is a young boy, the narrator describes the following: In a very little while…the boy became the favourite of the whole College… in whose favour all rules were relaxed. The offerings made at his shrine were without number, and thereon I had a serious difference of opinion with one old resident Fellow… who was supposed to be the crustiest man in the University, and to abhor the sight of a child. And yet I discovered, when a frequently recurring fit of sickness had forced Job to keep a strict look-out, that the unprincipled old man was in the habit of enticing the boy to his rooms and there feeding him unlimited quantities of “brandy-balls” and of making him promise to say nothing about it. Woooooooooahh doggy. Let me get this straight. Old man luring small boy to his room and plying him with alcohol and sugar and making him promise not to tell the other grown ups. This had a very “to catch a predator” vibe to me and did a thorough test of my gag reflex. Sorry, but I needed to share that because it stuck in my head for the rest of the story. Overall, this was a completely forgettable story and a giant wad of Meh. 2.0 stars. Oh, and let me in closing that as well-trained, happily married man, the concept of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed is pretty old hat for me. Now a story about He-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed….that would be a truly imaginative tale full of fantastical elements, but it would take a seriously creative person to write it. Maybe I could…hold on, what’s that?...okay, coming dear…gotta go…SHE needs a foot rub.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    There’s just so much going on in here; it’s like one massive explosion of Victorian anxieties. Indeed, this novel speaks volumes about the time in which it was written; it’s a late Victorian novel, and is deeply rooted in the genre of the Imperial Gothic. So, that means it was written when the empire was in its golden age, the effects of the “golden glow” of mid Victorianism lingered on. The economy was booming, British Imperialism was at its apex, but the Empire’s security was a constant doubt There’s just so much going on in here; it’s like one massive explosion of Victorian anxieties. Indeed, this novel speaks volumes about the time in which it was written; it’s a late Victorian novel, and is deeply rooted in the genre of the Imperial Gothic. So, that means it was written when the empire was in its golden age, the effects of the “golden glow” of mid Victorianism lingered on. The economy was booming, British Imperialism was at its apex, but the Empire’s security was a constant doubt as fear began to permeate the high levels of success. Fear of a fall, fear that the colonised would fight back, fear of the new woman’s effect on the patriarchy and a fear that the Empire would degenerate and devolve. And this can be seen with the uncanny Gothic elements associated with the colonised other. For me, this quote brings everything together: “The terrible She had evidently made up her mind to go to England, and it made me absolutely shudder to think what would be the result of her arrival there. What her powers were I knew, and I could not doubt but that she would exercise them to the full. It might be possible to control her for a while, but her proud, ambitious spirit would be certain to break loose and avenge itself for the long centuries of its solitude. She would, if necessary, and if the power of her beauty did not unaided prove equal to the occasion, blast her way to any end she set before her, and, as she could not die, and for aught I knew could not even be killed, what was there to stop her? In the end she would, I had little doubt, assume absolute rule over the British dominions, and probably over the whole earth.” Oh my, this is such a massively underrated novel. Stick with me; I’ve got a lot to say about this book’s brilliance. There will be spoilers a head. Firstly, the quote confirms Victorian fears of the colonised fighting back. Ayesha (She) is in the heart of Africa in the midst of colonial rule. As with Stoker’s Dracula, the foreigner is associated with fear inducing Gothic elements. Ayesha is a supernatural being; Ayesha is immortal and has spent most of her existence in a dark and oppressive temple that lingers with the echoes of the dead; she exists almost exclusively in this gloomy sepulchre of decay and ruin. Indeed, it’s like she has been buried alive, hidden and forgotten by the world in her dark and ancient tomb; she has become an object of the uncanny and is suggestive of Freud’s idea of “the false semblance of the dead.” The civilisation Ayesha is representing is one that is the exact opposite to Western life. Holly narrates it at as a land of barbarism, sacrifice and cannibalism: it is a land of the dark savage opposed to the supposed land of the rational west. Haggard creates an image of Africa that has undertones of the gothic, of the unusual, of the monstrous; that much so that it give Holly nightmares caused by “the sepulchral nature” of his surroundings. Ayesha, herself, embodies the threat of Africa as she is the ruler of such a people. This underpins the Victorian anxiety, which is often represented in fin-de-siècle fiction, of the colonised becoming the coloniser and the fall of Imperial rule to such a land. However, the possible empowerment of the colonised in She is directly associated with gender. Ayesha is a woman. But, she is also a potential conquer, a leader and a Queen. Women are frequently compared to the colonised. Victorian womanhood is arguably a form of colonisation in which the women are forced to accept the culture of the men. The character Ayesha transgresses this; she is suggestive of the “New Woman” in the quote because she refutes the standards of a male dominated world; she even has the potential to supplant an entire patriarchal society with her dreams of Empire. Perhaps Haggard was reluctant to accept this idea (bad, bad Haggard!) as we’ll later see with the novels ending. “Smaller she grew, and smaller yet, till she was no larger than a baboon.” Her age is brought upon her in one instant; she collapses, and Holly remarks “ here, too, lay the hideous little monkey frame, covered with crinkled yellow parchment, that once had been the glorious She. Alas! it was no hideous dream-it was an awful and unparalleled fact! It is no coincidence that at the end of the novel Ayesha undergoes a physical metamorphosis. The novel is post Darwin, The Descent of Man was published in 1871, so the transformation is suggestive of a reversal of evolution. When attempting to renew her immortality, and to urge Holly and Leo to follow in her wake, Aysha reverses the magic: she devolves. When Ayesha, a woman who represents anxieties over a declining Empire, the empowerment of the new woman, and reverse colonisation collapses and devolves, her immortality spent, it brings all these anxieties together, and serves as a symbolic punishment for her transgressions. Perhaps Haggard was a misogynist, despite depicting an empowered woman, Ayesha is brought down at the end of the novel to a very base state. Regardless of that (not that isn’t an important issue, though Haggard’s notion of womanhood is conflicting) the importance of this work resides in its depiction of Victorian fears, and in its ability to present them so superbly. This is an excellent book for study. I had so much fun reading it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Praveen

    While I was still wondering, what to read next,suddenly like a great sword of flame, a beam from the setting sun pierced my book shelf, and smote upon the row, wherein was laid "She", illuminating Ayesha's lovely form, made on the front cover, with an unearthly splendor. I picked it up, kicked off dust from its cover and read the introduction, the theme appealed to me and I decided it to be my next read. :) It turned out to be a dreadful but enchanting experience when I finished it. Being one of t While I was still wondering, what to read next,suddenly like a great sword of flame, a beam from the setting sun pierced my book shelf, and smote upon the row, wherein was laid "She", illuminating Ayesha's lovely form, made on the front cover, with an unearthly splendor. I picked it up, kicked off dust from its cover and read the introduction, the theme appealed to me and I decided it to be my next read. :) It turned out to be a dreadful but enchanting experience when I finished it. Being one of the early works of fantasy literature, this has a sub-genre of adventure romance. Initially it looked like an adventurous travelogue and too much expository but the story became immensely attractive when "She",a two thousand years old sorceress, entered in the story. I am sure her extraordinary portrayal by the author might have mesmerized its readers when it was first published.  I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and I can easily perceive why this novel is counted among the highest selling novels of the history. I appreciate astonishing imagination of Haggard and his capacity to make very impossible looking like adventures appear real. The seductive Ayesha replicates the long lasting fidelity to her husband and  she is embodiment of personal independence and her supreme authority over men. See what the narrator felt of "She", when he saw her for the first time emerging from behind the curtain.... “The curtain agitated itself a little, then suddenly between its folds there appeared a most beautiful white hand (white as snow), and with long tapering fingers, ending in the pinkest nails. The hand grasped the curtain, and drew it aside, and as it did so I heard a voice, I think the softest and yet most silvery voice I ever heard. It reminded me of the murmur of a brook.” “say a figure, for not only the body, but also the face was wrapped up in soft white, gauzy material in such a way as at first sight to remind me most forcibly of a corpse in its grave-clothes. And yet I do not know why it should have given me that idea, seeing that the wrappings were so thin that one could distinctly see the gleam of the pink flesh beneath them." “of a tall and lovely woman, instinct with beauty in every part, and also with a certain snake-like grace which I had never seen anything to equal before. When she moved a hand or foot her entire frame seemed to undulate, and the neck did not bend, but curved." A wonderful read for them who have taste of adventure,supernatural portrayals and a propensity towards a mystic story line.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    “Often I sit alone at night, staring with the eyes of the mind into the blackness of unborn time, and wondering in what shape and form the great drama will be finally developed, and where the scene of its next act will be laid.” I first heard about this book when it was discussed in Margaret Atwood’s science fiction anthology, In Other Worlds. She goes into the history of demonic women in literature, and H. Rider Haggard’s adventure She gets mentioned frequently. When I saw a copy in the bookstor “Often I sit alone at night, staring with the eyes of the mind into the blackness of unborn time, and wondering in what shape and form the great drama will be finally developed, and where the scene of its next act will be laid.” I first heard about this book when it was discussed in Margaret Atwood’s science fiction anthology, In Other Worlds. She goes into the history of demonic women in literature, and H. Rider Haggard’s adventure She gets mentioned frequently. When I saw a copy in the bookstore, I was curious enough to buy it. Let’s get one thing out of the way first: yes, this book is very much a product of its time. It concerns a group of British men exploring Africa, so you can imagine that the racial politics are…not ideal. Also the central “She” of the book, the goddess/demon ruler of a lost civilization, is described as impossibly beautiful, which means she has to also be white, logic be damned. In short, this is an adventure story written by old white dudes, for old white dudes, so buyer beware. (I will also add that Haggard seems hilariously unaware of the subtext of some of his scenes. Our group of adventurers includes a young man named Leo, and Haggard’s narrator spends a very hefty amount of page space describing how goddamn beautiful this guy is, in loving and fawning detail, and we’re supposed to just interpret this as one totally straight guy admiring the supreme bangability of another totally straight guy. Anyway, this is mostly because there aren’t any women in this book until like page 100, so Haggard had to make do with the characters available.) But god damn, this book was fun. It’s an old school adventure yarn in all the best ways, with swashbuckling and daring escapes and terrifying rituals (and, okay, scary natives). The set pieces are stunningly described, and you can imagine yourself as a kid in the 19th century, sitting by the fire and listening in rapt horror as someone reads this book out loud to you: “…from every point we saw dark forms rushing up, each bearing with him what we at first took to be an enormous flaming torch. Whatever they were they were burning furiously, for the flames stood out a yard or more behind each bearer. On they came, fifty or more of them, carrying their flaming burdens and looking like so many devils from hell. Leo was the first to discover what these burdens were. ‘Great heaven!’ he said, ‘they are corpses on fire!’ I stared and stared again – he was perfectly right – the torches that were to light our entertainment were human mummies from the caves! On rushed the bearers of the flaming corpses, and, meeting at a spot about twenty paces in front of us, built their ghastly burdens crossways into a huge bonfire. Heavens! How they roared and flared! No tar barrel could have burnt as those mummies did. Nor was this all. Suddenly I saw one great fellow seize a flaming human arm that had fallen from its parent frame, and rush off into the darkness. Presently he stopped, and a tall streak of fire shot up into the air, illuminating the gloom, and also the lamp from which it sprang. The lamp was the mummy of a woman tied to a stout stake let into the rock, and he had fired her hair. On he went a few paces and touched a second, then a third, and a fourth, till at last we were surrounded on all three sides by a great ring of bodies flaring furiously, the material with which they were preserved having rendered them so inflammable that the flames would literally spout of of the ears and mouth in tongues of fire a foot or more in length.” I’m like 99% sure that’s not how mummies work, but I don’t even care because holy shit flaming mummies! This book has everything!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tom Lazenby

    "She" is a great book--bottom line. Initially, I was going to say that I was surprised to see that this book did not get more five star ratings. But then I can understand some people's "frustration" with it. Granted, it is slow/verbose at some parts (primarily the beginning in my opinion). But we must remember that this book was published in 1887, the age of no television, radio, Internet, etc. As such, certain description that may be deemed unnecessary in today's world (though there are still s "She" is a great book--bottom line. Initially, I was going to say that I was surprised to see that this book did not get more five star ratings. But then I can understand some people's "frustration" with it. Granted, it is slow/verbose at some parts (primarily the beginning in my opinion). But we must remember that this book was published in 1887, the age of no television, radio, Internet, etc. As such, certain description that may be deemed unnecessary in today's world (though there are still so many 300+ page novels today that are loaded with filler) was required back then to transport the reader to some faraway, uncharted territory. Life was slower paced and people read for entertainment. And I believe "She" has to be judged by those standards, as a book of its time, and yet, remarkably, it has succeeded in standing the test of time. That fact alone can attest to its greatness. In a way, I actually feel sorry for people who don't recognize this book as the extraordinary work of literature that it is. Not only is Haggard's grasp of vocabulary and coupling of words commendable in itself, but the philosophy that underlies and pervades the entire novel is reason enough to read it. And no, it is not misogynistic in the least. If anything, women are elevated to the level of deification. That being said, "She" is not an "easy" read. Unlike novels today,(where readers have to be "hooked" within the first 10-15 pages, lest they get bored and go surf the Internet) "She" requires one to be a little more patient. Like any courtship worth undertaking, you may have to wait before you reach the "pleasure zone." But when you get there, it's worth it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    - Well, having created my older-men-younger-women shelf... - ... people thought you needed one called older-women-younger-men? - Exactly. So of course I'm adding She. - You mean Her? - Look, which one of us is the grammarian?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    Eh this novel is a bit too... Victorian for its own good. It's basically a couple of white English guys go to Africa and say the most racist things they possibly can. Apart from the blatant and offensive racism, the story is enjoyable. This isn't a novel that takes itself seriously. It's a light, fun read, nothing more. Since this is one of the most influential and best-selling novels of all time (it's sold 100 million copies, the same as The Hobbit and double the amount of copies Deathly Hallow Eh this novel is a bit too... Victorian for its own good. It's basically a couple of white English guys go to Africa and say the most racist things they possibly can. Apart from the blatant and offensive racism, the story is enjoyable. This isn't a novel that takes itself seriously. It's a light, fun read, nothing more. Since this is one of the most influential and best-selling novels of all time (it's sold 100 million copies, the same as The Hobbit and double the amount of copies Deathly Hallows has sold) it is kinda disappointing that it is overall so-so. Oh well.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    The Good: It felt like a genuine trip back in time. Even the Africa depicted here no longer exists, if it ever did (the author spent time in Africa as an employee of the British Empire). The story is interesting, with cool fantasy ideas infusing the contemporary (for its time) setting. The Bad: It’s very old fashioned. Some of the passages in here would make your fascist grandfather cringe: “Job, like myself, is a bit of a misogynist” muses the narrator. Every character in the book is at least some The Good: It felt like a genuine trip back in time. Even the Africa depicted here no longer exists, if it ever did (the author spent time in Africa as an employee of the British Empire). The story is interesting, with cool fantasy ideas infusing the contemporary (for its time) setting. The Bad: It’s very old fashioned. Some of the passages in here would make your fascist grandfather cringe: “Job, like myself, is a bit of a misogynist” muses the narrator. Every character in the book is at least somewhat cartoonish. 'Friends' character the protagonist is most like: Holly is pretty much a badass version of Ross.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dan Porter

    This was a very tedious read. The writing was so-so, it was verbose, and the story - although somewhat unusual - was not all that interesting. Lots of descriptions of dark caves. Lots of statements that he can't describe something followed by a page and a half of its description. Inconsistent philosophizing/moralizing with no resolution. Spent the last third of the book wondering if it would ever end.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Traveller

    Thanks, Manny for reminding me that I'd read this as a child/teenager (I think about 3 times)? And absolutely adored it! (way back when, no idea how I'd find it now). Pygmalion, you can go eat dust in SHE's er... HER wake. She rules! ..and I really want some of what She had...

  12. 4 out of 5

    rachel

    First of all: the summary of this book is inaccurate. Ayesha does not have the "violent appetite of a lamia," which, if you are me, is a disappointing mislead because I was expecting something awesome. She doesn't thirst for blood so much as kill either when her orders are disobeyed (like when the tribe of people ordered to bring our main characters to her unharmed tries to cannibalize them, which would piss anyone off I think) or when the only man she passionately loves is possessed by another First of all: the summary of this book is inaccurate. Ayesha does not have the "violent appetite of a lamia," which, if you are me, is a disappointing mislead because I was expecting something awesome. She doesn't thirst for blood so much as kill either when her orders are disobeyed (like when the tribe of people ordered to bring our main characters to her unharmed tries to cannibalize them, which would piss anyone off I think) or when the only man she passionately loves is possessed by another woman. She is a thoroughly Victorian female villain, in that it's her beauty, sex appeal, and passion that give her power, as much or more than her cunning does. Her beauty entraps men -- even our main character, who happily proclaims himself a misogynist because no woman back home will have him thanks to his ugliness. Clearly you don't read pulp fiction -- especially pre-1900s pulp fiction -- expecting enlightened gender politics, but I was annoyed that this "evil" woman just acts the way she does because she's so in love with some guy. Be moar evil, Ayesha? :( Alas, I am a sucker for adventure stories/potboilers/penny dreadfuls with your quintessential gentlemen in three piece suits nearly tumbling off cliff ledges and cartoonishly gracing "savages" with their White Nobility and admiring the beauty of the African landscape before whipping out a rifle and totally owning some majestic big game, and maybe encountering dinosaurs.* And that's what this book is. Love it or leave it. * = There are no dinosaurs in this book, but there are mummified human corpses set on fire and used as torches. Cool.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Book Wyrm

    A trio of intrepid English men, drawn by the call of an ancient family destiny, visit the 'dark interior' of the African continent in search of the eponymous, mysterious and not entirely of this world 'She'. This book is so helplessly bloated it's impossible to know where to start. Should I address the surprising amount of explicit sensuality? The confusing mess of religion, cannibalism and occult practices? The racist colonialism of the white (wo)man's burden of lording over the natives lest the A trio of intrepid English men, drawn by the call of an ancient family destiny, visit the 'dark interior' of the African continent in search of the eponymous, mysterious and not entirely of this world 'She'. This book is so helplessly bloated it's impossible to know where to start. Should I address the surprising amount of explicit sensuality? The confusing mess of religion, cannibalism and occult practices? The racist colonialism of the white (wo)man's burden of lording over the natives lest they just war and literally eat each other, or perhaps the slightly anti-colonial message of the 'white better' proving to be nothing but tyrant, and the fairly positive representation of a bi-racial relationship? Or maybe I could talk about this being a very Symbolist work, with ideal beauty and 'the better ancient past' marred by the disgustingly EVIL heart of woman, but sod it, I am not intelligent enough to break apart Orientalism, racism and sexism this convoluted and swollen. So, I'm going to be petty and say what I think Haggard was really commenting on in this otherwise action packed and imaginative tale: Beauty is overrated. The titular She, or Ayesha, is so goddamned beautiful she has to wear concealing clothes akin to funeral garb lest her prettiness destroy people's minds, with even our self-proclaimed stoic misogynist of a narrator, Holly, losing his head over her. And yet she is a narcissistic, murderous, lonely nutter, unable to find love due to her psychotic standards and preference for married men, her beauty only useful as a hypnotic effect and incapable of earning her true affection. Our narrator is very ugly, as he is the first to tell us and consistently bangs on about it, while his ward, Leo, is apparently the most gorgeous man on earth but is as dumb as a bucket of bricks. Leo is the least likeable character in this to be honest, with the personality of a well-read Bertie Wooster. 'I say, old chap, isn't this a lark?' he laughs, sliding down a pitch black cliff face to almost certain death. 'I must say that's jolly nice of you' he grins to a terrifying robed figure with an inhuman witch voice bending over his bed, who informs him his sweetheart has 'gone away', but she'll nurse him now instead. Looks is literally all Leo has, if you ignore the semi-reincarnation aspect of She's obbsession with him. The more interesting relationship is between She and the aesthetically unpleasing Holly, who is not only able to argue with her rationally, but hold intelligent conversations on numerous occassions, and you get the feeling the inevitable tragedy would have been avoided if She had just banged him instead, but no, She just had to go for the man who's handsome 'in an obvious way', because women are shallow and heartless and mean and don't recognise what a nice guy I am, bah! I ended up searching for pictures of Haggard, beginning to wonder if he looked like a bag of boiled meat and if there was any projection in this book, but he's a perfectly normal looking bloke (though a very 'Of Human Bondage' episode in his life might explain some themes in this book, especially his rather approving words on the tribe's simple divource proceedings). I can't say I loved She, but it has its fun parts, with good action scenes and suspense, the horrid imagery is great and She is a ridiculous, vicious and insane femme fatale, who's hard not to like for her malevolent and melodramatic absurdity.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shovelmonkey1

    *Sigh* - that was a bit of a mission. I think I was more excited about this book before I read it! The story was good but the overly wordy verbose madness of some of the characters made my thinky thing a bit hurty. Haggard may have written it in a six week whirl wind but the dense text and convoluted poetic speeches make it feel less khamsin-like and more leaden than the worlds heaviest box of pencils. I have to admit to skim reading some of the speeches in order to preserve my sanity (and my th *Sigh* - that was a bit of a mission. I think I was more excited about this book before I read it! The story was good but the overly wordy verbose madness of some of the characters made my thinky thing a bit hurty. Haggard may have written it in a six week whirl wind but the dense text and convoluted poetic speeches make it feel less khamsin-like and more leaden than the worlds heaviest box of pencils. I have to admit to skim reading some of the speeches in order to preserve my sanity (and my thinky thing!). On the whole though, I would not mind discovering a lost city (it's better than writing about the osteology anf stratigraphy of 196 skeletons which is what i'm doing this week) but I don't like the idea of being "hot-potted" so maybe I'll just stay home instead!

  15. 5 out of 5

    M.J. Johnson

    ‘She’ is reckoned to be one of the most widely read books ever written, and fifty years ago was estimated to have sold over eighty million copies. It has been translated into numerous languages and made into several film versions. I recall getting a little hot under the collar myself when as a lad I saw Ursula Andress in the titular role. Like King Solomon’s Mines it is difficult for the modern reader to encounter views that are now considered to be quite unequivocally racist. The European world ‘She’ is reckoned to be one of the most widely read books ever written, and fifty years ago was estimated to have sold over eighty million copies. It has been translated into numerous languages and made into several film versions. I recall getting a little hot under the collar myself when as a lad I saw Ursula Andress in the titular role. Like King Solomon’s Mines it is difficult for the modern reader to encounter views that are now considered to be quite unequivocally racist. The European world powers at the end of the nineteenth century were obsessed by the fearful idea of racial degeneration; Rider Haggard may have been influenced by this concept after witnessing the ruins of ‘Great Zimbabwe’ which were explored and excavated in the 1870s; they may have been, at least in part, responsible for the ancient lost city in 'She' and his imagined native Armahagger people who live amongst the ruins and have, it must be said, very little to recommend themselves (incidentally, the white ruled Rhodesian Government for many years put political pressure on archaeologists to deny that such a city as ‘Great Zimbabwe’ could have been built by any black races). The book also touched on the rapidly changing role of women in the industrialised world. It was a hugely influential book in its day; its female protagonist Ayesha - the She of the title - has been cited as a female prototype in the works of Freud and Jung; the White Queen, Jadis, in C.S Lewis’s Narnia books owes a debt to her; as too does the character of Shelob in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Like King Solomon’s Mines it is without any shadow of doubt a very good example of the lost world literary genre, however its often racist and Imperialist ideals are sometimes quite unpalateable - and any modern reader has to bear this fact in mind before proceeding.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    This might possibly be my lowest rated book on all of Goodreads. I read this book for my university course and hated everything about it. The whole thing just felt...pointless! I waded through it but this would probably have become my first ever DNFed book (I feel a strange obligation to the author to finish all books) if it was not part of my required reading. Ordinarily, if I dislike a book, for whatever reason, I hold off on slating the book completely in favour of rereading it a few years la This might possibly be my lowest rated book on all of Goodreads. I read this book for my university course and hated everything about it. The whole thing just felt...pointless! I waded through it but this would probably have become my first ever DNFed book (I feel a strange obligation to the author to finish all books) if it was not part of my required reading. Ordinarily, if I dislike a book, for whatever reason, I hold off on slating the book completely in favour of rereading it a few years later with a (perhaps) more mature approach and less critical eye. This book, however, will remain in my hate-forever pile. Sorry, not sorry.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا

    This is the first novel I have read as a young girl, I've read it over and over again a lot of times, I bought a new edition because mine was worn out, I love it!! I always wonder why didn't they make it into a movie (A new adaption I mean)?!? It's the best fantasy novel ever!!!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Wreade1872

    Hated 'King Solomons Mines' when i read it years ago so thought i'd give Haggard a second chance with this. Pretty decent, one of the characters bears a strong resemblance to Beast from the X-Men :lol. Ayesha is pretty interesting and there are some nice weird touches. Only problems, ending not that great and no relatable characters, both main heroes are almost super-human.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gogol

    I read this book a long, long, long time ago, when there was no internet. And i loved it very much. It captured my imagination like no other story could.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    If Ayesha were telling this story, the book wouldn't be half this boring. The writing was okay, but the themes of race, female authority and sexuality were so Victorian. The ending also felt forced. (view spoiler)[ What self-respecting, two millennium old witch doesn't know how the sourse of her immortality, the Pillar of Fire, works?! (hide spoiler)]

  21. 5 out of 5

    William

    It had been many years since I read this - sometime back in the early '70s at a guess, and my memories of it have also been colored by the Hammer movie that I've watched several times in the interim. The movie is still watchable, but I fear the book hasn't aged well at all. Where it still stands up is in the imaginative sequences - the lost cities, the immense caverns, the pillar of fire and she-who-must-be-obeyed herself, all of which show Haggard to be capable of stirring the blood, which he a It had been many years since I read this - sometime back in the early '70s at a guess, and my memories of it have also been colored by the Hammer movie that I've watched several times in the interim. The movie is still watchable, but I fear the book hasn't aged well at all. Where it still stands up is in the imaginative sequences - the lost cities, the immense caverns, the pillar of fire and she-who-must-be-obeyed herself, all of which show Haggard to be capable of stirring the blood, which he also does admirably during the early shipwreck scene. But it falls down badly on some dreadfully casual racism, the inherently worthy but dull protagonists and some shocking plodding exposition, especially early on. Allan Quartermain lifted several of Haggard's other works above all of this, but in the case of She the old warrior is sorely missed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The Ursula Andress film maimed my childhood. I was indoctrinated with a craving for beauty. The book is infinately eerier. Your lover's corpse is a creepy keepsake. Ayesha is basically Miss Havisham but with looks, immortality, sorcery, brilliance, an underground desert kingdom, enslaved minions... *aspires* *especially to the enslaved minions*

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I was first introduced to H. Rider Haggard in my class on British Imperialism in college where we studied history though novels of the time. We studied his "King Solomon's Mines" with the intent of viewing the British Empire as 19th century contemporaries might have - and what better place to do this than through propagandist adventure novels targeted at young boys?! I'd like to say that "She" - one of Haggard's more grown up novels - is a step up, but I can't say that with thorough conviction. I was first introduced to H. Rider Haggard in my class on British Imperialism in college where we studied history though novels of the time. We studied his "King Solomon's Mines" with the intent of viewing the British Empire as 19th century contemporaries might have - and what better place to do this than through propagandist adventure novels targeted at young boys?! I'd like to say that "She" - one of Haggard's more grown up novels - is a step up, but I can't say that with thorough conviction. True, "She" is definitely more gruesome and complex in how it questions the human condition and society at large, but overall the story, the themes, and, most importantly, the perspective is very much the same. Haggard, I only learned through the third party introduction to this book, was a politically active Tory (conservative) who was stationed as an administrator in South Africa for a time and wished to remain there for the rest of his days. The Boer Wars prevented this ambition from happening, but we can see all of these predispositions in his writing nonetheless. During this time period - "She" was written in 1887 - we can assume that Haggard would be anticipating the fall of the Empire he loved so dearly as its influence is already wavering. He sees the women's emancipation movement taking form, he sees huge changes in industry and how society is relating to these changes, etc. and each of these observations concerns him. As a proud British conservative, he believes in the glory of the Empire and believes in upholding the age old traditions defining what it means to be British. Therefore, keeping all of this in mind, we can interpret "She" to be a bit of a warning to contemporaries of the consequences these changes could have for Britain and her empire while also exploring the complexities of the human condition which make upholding traditions of the past so important. First off, I'll provide a brief synopsis: Our heroes are two men, one age 25 and beautiful the other in his 40's and hideous (these adjectives are very important, I promise). The elder has been the guardian of the younger for 20 years after the boy's father died in strange circumstances. Upon the boy turning 25, our elder hero delivers a secret package to the younger, as instructed, which contains a letter and certain artifacts pertaining to a quest that has been the object of the family since antiquity and up until that point every generation had failed. This quest, in short, is to travel to an obscure point in Africa and kill a white woman who appears to be a sorceress. Like all good quests, "King Solomon's Mines" included, our heroes undergo various trials and tribulations before achieving their goal and righting all the wrong in the world. Predictably, the first theme we draw from the book is that of white vs black and the racial justifications for Britain's empire. Haggard and his heroes demonstrate through wit, manner, intelligence, and custom that white = civilized and that civilized = proper and that proper = sacred - therefore, Britain's empire is a necessary crusade to bring civilization to the black man who is, by nature, a savage beast needing to be tamed. In "She", this is made blatantly clear from the start as our heroes find themselves in an African community of cannibals ruled by women (we will get to the fabulous theme of women shortly). This tribe wears loin clothes, speaks a bastard dialect of Arabic, and acts on any sexual desire they so choose without regard to morals ("morals", of course, as interpreted and held by our white, civilized heroes). The only hope that these savages of being saved at all is that they worship and are ruled by a white queen, She. She is a nickname for She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed which is an interesting title for the White Queen because it fully describes her relationship to her people as it is impersonal and disconnected and also feared. This relationship corresponds to how the British related to those whom they colonized as well - the fear of She stems from the fact that she appears to be an immortal sorceress with power over the natural order, whereas in the case of the British the fear stemmed from advanced technology and a strangeness of character and custom that was exceptionally difficult to relate to. She is especially impersonal because she wears a pure white veil from head to foot giving her the visage of a mummy, promulgating the fear of the unknown in her people. It turns out, however, that She does in fact have a name, Ayesha, and is in fact mortal, simply 2,000 years old. She also does have power over some elements of Nature through wisdom she acquired by arguably unnatural ways. As our heroes develop a deep and personal connection with the white woman of antiquity, we are left with the understanding that Ayesha is intended to represent the ideal woman in character as well as figure. Our educated men are able to speak with Ayesha about the classics, as it's her own history, in each of the ancient languages she is fluent in with an air of aristocratic discourse that so starkly differs from the people over whom she rules. She is a modest ruler who doesn't even want to be the queen of such a retched people and is uncontrollably worshiped by the masses - she simply uses the people as tools to do her bidding, being consistently tyrannical and merciless nature as she kills anyone who disobeys her. Despite this, her humble and modest character is held intact through the eyes of our heroes because a woman of such stature truly has no other way to protect herself against such savages, violence being the only thing they are able to understand. Under her veil this white woman also has the shape and manner of everything the ideal woman should have. In fact, the veil itself is to protect men and women alike from falling victim to the power of her immense Beauty which is so phenomenal as to be considered a danger to all who look upon it. And it's true - both of our heroes fall immediately in love with Ayesha once they see her face, grovelling at her feet and uttering nonsense despite their vast intellects and civilized natures. With such power over Nature and Men alike, why would She remain in such a position, you might ask? Well, the answer is simple - she has spent the last 2,000 years waiting for her dead lover to enter this world again and to come find her where they last met all those years ago. This devotion and loyalty to a single man only makes her more attractive to our heroes while placing the final touches on the mold of our ideal woman to the typical 19th century reader. More importantly, this theme of reincarnation is something Haggard explored thoroughly in this book but never quite developed. It's clear that his understanding of reincarnation was limited, but it is interesting to see it placed as the backdrop for our quest because our heroes seem to accept it despite their civilized, presumably Anglican beliefs. Their relationship to Providence is as one would imagine a generic non-devout but believing Christian's would be, but our heroes have no sense of doubt when the subject of being reborn is addressed. Discussion of the Creator and Nature seem to go hand in hand, implying that an active God and the concept of reincarnation are compatible to either Haggard or at least to his characters. The religious components which are more fully developed are those of Truth, Beauty, and Time. Ayesha is, of course, the symbol of the former two in that Truth is veiled from Man and Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty. Beauty is a component of righteousness in that our younger hero, the more gorgeous and god-like of the two, turns out to be the very reincarnation of Ayesha's lost lover that she has been waiting these 2,000 years for. Therefore, whether through the agency of Providence or of Fate, he is destined to be Ayesha's partner as only the most beautiful could be the proper match for her. Our elder hero is not necessarily evil despite his hideousness but, rather, he is simply not the one who is meant to be paired with someone of Ayesha's stature. Time, of course, is addressed through reincarnation but also by taking the reader through the history of the world's great civilizations through conversations with Ayesha. As we discuss what happened to these lost civilizations, Ayesha is also learning what has happened since them in a line of events presented in an auspicious light. Furthermore, Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the imagined people of Kor - this book's own lost civilization - are all placed next to the British, implying to the contemporary reader that their own Empire has met if not exceeded the greatness of these peoples of antiquity. As such, it is critical to preserve its greatness which Haggard fears is slipping. Overall, it was a very good and enjoyable read though I was disappointed in the outcome of the plot. I am also disappointed to learn that, presumably while in a financial pinch, Haggard wrote a sequel to this book which based on the plot could only be possible through the further misuse of the concept of reincarnation. Haggard believed that "She" would be the book that he became the most well known for, and while it was a best seller during his lifetime and surely appreciated as a piece of literature I simply don't see how it can stand the tests of the ages beyond what it already has.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا

    The 19th Century best-seller set in a mysterious African kingdom explores the complex themes of imperial arrogance, sexual obsession, power and isolation that lie behind the high adventure. Ludwig Holly and his ward Leo's quest for the truth behind the legend of Leo's ancestry takes them to Africa, where they find Ayesha, 2000 years old but beautiful beyond all description, despotically ruling her secret kingdom. Ayesha, the queen whose beauty enthralls and terrifies all who see her, believes Leo The 19th Century best-seller set in a mysterious African kingdom explores the complex themes of imperial arrogance, sexual obsession, power and isolation that lie behind the high adventure. Ludwig Holly and his ward Leo's quest for the truth behind the legend of Leo's ancestry takes them to Africa, where they find Ayesha, 2000 years old but beautiful beyond all description, despotically ruling her secret kingdom. Ayesha, the queen whose beauty enthralls and terrifies all who see her, believes Leo to be the lover for whom she has waited 2,000 years.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    Truly bizarre Gothic adventure novel about eternal youth, savage Africans, and all those other cultural imperialisms so favored in the Victorian era! Cheerio! Watch out for the hotpots!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    11/26/16 Well, this was disappointing on multiple levels. 2.5 stars rounded up to three. Let me get the unforgivable out of the way before I get started. She's real name is Ayesha. According to the editor it's pronounced Assha (and how the hell you say that, I have nary a clue. ASS-hah? uh-SHAW?) Regardless of this helpful tidbit, my brain kept saying Iesha which always brought to mind this awful thing. It's been in my head on and off for three weeks now. Go ahead. Click on the link. Give it a lis 11/26/16 Well, this was disappointing on multiple levels. 2.5 stars rounded up to three. Let me get the unforgivable out of the way before I get started. She's real name is Ayesha. According to the editor it's pronounced Assha (and how the hell you say that, I have nary a clue. ASS-hah? uh-SHAW?) Regardless of this helpful tidbit, my brain kept saying Iesha which always brought to mind this awful thing. It's been in my head on and off for three weeks now. Go ahead. Click on the link. Give it a listen. Why should I be the only one in pain? ***WARNING: Hillary Clinton takes a couple of light jabs in this review, so if you're a democrat smarting over the results of 2016 US Presidential election you might want to pass this review by for now; my page ain't a safe space, and most people hate me, so proceed with caution. I'll do the old e-mail chain letter scroll-down thing to give you a moment to depart if you wish to leave. * ** *** **** ***** ****** ******* ******** ********* ********** *********** ************ ************* ************** *************** ************** ************* ************ *********** ********** ********* ******** ******* ****** ***** **** *** ** * * ** *** **** ***** ****** ******* ******** ********* ********** *********** ************ ************* ************** *************** ************** ************* ************ *********** ********** ********* ******** ******* ****** ***** **** *** ** * * ** *** **** ***** ****** ******* ******** ********* ********** *********** ************ ************* ************** *************** ************** ************* ************ *********** ********** ********* ******** ******* ****** ***** **** *** ** * Whee, that was fun! Back in June, 2016, I predicted Trump would win in a landslide. (I was wrong about the landslide.) I stood by this pronouncement but I did have a couple moments of weakness. One of these occurred a week before the election, and while contemplating the idea of our new presidentress I was stricken with a desire to read a story about an evil bitch who got her comeuppance. This was the only thing that I thought might fit the bill, so I took a chance and pulled it off the shelf. I'm afraid it didn't satisfy that particular expectation, for while She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed (shortened to She) is certainly evil, and there is comeuppance of a sort, I ended up having a bit of pity for her by the end, and I don't think that's ever happened for Mrs. Clinton. But being evil and in a position of power are the only similarities She and Hillary share. She is gorgeous, and while not hideous, Hillary will never win any beauty contests (though she did once enter the Miss California Pageant as Miss Death Valley). Nobody wears the 70's well, but I think if a quail flew past her here she'd turn and point. At least she was spared the travesty that was her daughter's visage. The good book tells us God will be "visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations," so whatever Billary was up to, we have to assume there was no good in it for them to end up with this: Hillary, your daughter... WOOF! Oh, get over it. I was beat with the ugly stick myself; we can take the criticism. And though Chelsea and I likely disagree on just about every issue out there, we can come together in our homeliness. FUGLIES UNITE! Anyway, She was supposed to be so beautiful that, if this had been written at a later time when publishers weren't quite so prudish, men would jizz their jeans as soon as she lowered her veil and let them gaze upon her face. Instead they just fell to their knees, drooled, and said things like homina homina homina. (Actually they were a little more eloquent than that.) Though I'm gay, I can still tell the difference between a hot girl and a buck-toothed, knock-kneed, horse-faced, space dog, and I liked to picture She as Mandy Winger from DALLAS (played by Deborah Shelton) whom I've always found attractive even if I never yearned to do the horizontal bop with her. I don't know. I just think this is very pretty. The 1935 film version has her looking like this: This is a mien which, I was disappointed to learn, Disney totally stole to use for the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And I thought their shenanigans started in the later years. For shame, Walt, for shame! She's love interest, Leo Vincey, was a 25 year old curly haired blond who was supposed to be the hottest hottie in the history of hotness. Since DALLAS was already on my mind, I pictured him as Christopher Atkins whose character on the show, ironically enough, had a thing for older women. (She was over 2,000 years old, but didn't show it (view spoiler)[until the very end when this happened (hide spoiler)] .) Homina homina homina! (I'm afraid I spent a lot more time trying to find this picture than I did looking for Ms. Shelton's, and I tried to find a picture of him decently clothed, but he doesn't seem to like wearing them. Truth be told, I'm totally OK with that.) Also, She's voice was that of an angel. Hillary's would never do for this (I believe she's descended from banshees), so I used Karen Carpenter's. So, with eye candy and honeyed tones like that awaiting my imagination, you'd think I'd be more eager to dive into this, but it didn't work out that way. It took me three weeks to read 238 pages. Part of that was just due to life happening all the time, but another part was that this just wasn't that great. First off there were too many words, and the story could easily have been told in 125 pages without losing anything. Some of you who are familiar with my reviews might be confused because I love some really wordy books, but the words need to be great. Dickens can pull this off. So can Hugo, but Haggard needs to stick to story telling. His prose is fine, but not excellent. Descriptions of ruins went on for days as did dialogue. There was good stuff interspersed in it, but mostly it was tedious. The story is also good, but it's no King Solomon's Mines which is an admittedly tough act to follow. There were some great witticisms and humorous elements peppered throughout, mostly told through the servant Job, but it was overshadowed by the wordiness. A lot of the dialogue used old-style English incorporating thee's, thou's, and putting "est" and "eth" at the ends of all kinds of verbs, and this worked well, but it was still just too long-winded. Have I sufficiently indicated that it was all just too much? There was one section in the middle where Holly (the narrator, and a white man who was so ugly that the savages hung the moniker "Baboon" on him) and She are discussing good and evil. It illustrates She's sociopathological brand of evil, the good (but not excellent) writing style, and its effusiveness. She is talking about killing the girl who is wedded to Leo (also named Kallikrates) which she could do easily, and explaining why it must be done. Holly is arguing with her about it. "Nay, nay," I cried, "it would be a wicked crime; and from a crime naught comes but what is evil. For thine own sake, do not this deed." "Is it, then, a crime, oh foolish man, to put away that which stands between us and our ends? Then is our life one long crime, my Holly, since day by day we destroy that we may live, since in this world none save the strongest can endure. Those who are weak must perish; the earth is to the strong, and the fruits thereof. For every tree that grows a score shall wither, that the strong one may take their share. We run to place and power over the dead bodies of those who fail and fall; ay, we win the food we eat from out of the mouths of starving babes. It is the scheme of things. Thou sayest, too, that a crime breeds evil, but therein thou dost lack experience; for out of crimes come many good things, and out of good grows much evil. The cruel rage of the tyrant may prove a blessing to the thousands who come after him, and the sweetheartedness of a holy man may make a nation slaves. Man doeth this, and doeth that from the good or evil of his heart; but he knoweth not to what end his moral sense doth prompt him; for when he striketh he is blind to where the blow shall fall, nor can he count the airy threads that weave the web of circumstance. Good and evil, love and hate, night and day, sweet and bitter, man and woman, heaven above and the earth beneath—all these things are necessary, one to the other, and who knows the end of each? I tell thee that there is a hand of fate that twines them up to bear the burden of its purpose, and all things are gathered in that great rope to which all things are needful. Therefore doth it not become us to say this thing is evil and this good, or the dark is hateful and the light lovely; for to other eyes than ours the evil may be the good and the darkness more beautiful than the day, or all alike be fair. Hearest thou, my Holly?" I felt it was hopeless to argue against casuistry of this nature, which, if it were carried to its logical conclusion, would absolutely destroy all morality, as we understand it. But her talk gave me a fresh thrill of fear; for what may not be possible to a being who, unconstrained by human law, is also absolutely unshackled by a moral sense of right and wrong, which, however partial and conventional it may be, is yet based, as our conscience tells us, upon the great wall of individual responsibility that marks off mankind from the beasts? But I was deeply anxious to save Ustane, whom I liked and respected, from the dire fate that overshadowed her at the hands of her mighty rival. So I made one more appeal. "Ayesha," I said, "thou art too subtle for me; but thou thyself hast told me that each man should be a law unto himself, and follow the teaching of his heart. Hath thy heart no mercy towards her whose place thou wouldst take? Bethink thee—as thou sayest—though to me the thing is incredible—he whom thou desirest has returned to thee after many ages, and but now thou hast, as thou sayest also, wrung him from the jaws of death. Wilt thou celebrate his coming by the murder of one who loved him, and whom perchance he loved—one, at the least, who saved his life for thee when the spears of thy slaves would have made an end thereof? Thou sayest also that in past days thou didst grievously wrong this man, that with thine own hand thou didst slay him because of the Egyptian Amenartas whom he loved." "How knowest thou that, oh stranger? How knowest thou that name? I spoke it not to thee," she broke in with a cry, catching at my arm. "Perchance I dreamed it," I answered; "strange dreams do hover about these caves of Kôr. It seems that the dream was, indeed, a shadow of the truth. What came to thee of thy mad crime?—two thousand years of waiting, was it not? And now wouldst thou repeat the history? Say what thou wilt, I tell thee that evil will come of it; for to him who doeth, at the least, good breeds good and evil evil, even though in after days out of evil cometh good. Offences must needs come; but woe to him by whom the offence cometh. So said that Messiah of whom I spoke to thee, and it was truly said. If thou slayest this innocent woman, I say unto thee that thou shalt be accursed, and pluck no fruit from thine ancient tree of love." This philosophical kind of stuff is great, but not enough to make this an enjoyable read for me. Like I said: too wordy (says the man who's used 10,000 more characters than he intended when he started this review.) Time to shut it down. Check it out if you've a mind to. ***Pre-Reviews*** Side story unrelated to the tale itself, 1-9-16 What a pisser. I got suckered good this time by Amazon. I ordered this to go with another item, and it's pretty much $7 down the drain. The font is so small and dim you can barely see it. I'm not Hagrid with giant hands, the print really is that small. With my bad eyes and a propensity for migraines, I'm not even going to attempt to read it. The date this was printed is after I placed the order, and there's no information as to who did this other than "San Bernardino, CA." Online all I can find is "Amazon" as the seller. Whoever did this is hidden well enough, and while I could probably find where to send a complaint, I'm not going to waste any time trying to fight it. I'll just take the loss, donate this to Goodwill or the library, get a real version of this if I can find it, and hope karma's as much a bitch to the people who did this as it usually is to me. Basically someone took this from the public domain online, copy-pasted it in the smallest font possible, then printed it into book form. Footnotes show up in the middle of the page and look like they're just part of the regular text. What a mess. I need to scrutinize decent deals (which this one really wasn't at $7, but it was cheaper than the others) a little closer in the future. I'm actually laughing about it in spite of my bitching above. Update, 11/2/16: Okay, got this in a real book (this one here), so we're going to try again. Also, Amazon took the bad one above back with no fuss at all. Who knew it could be so easy?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Russell

    This is my third Haggard novel I've read, and it's a top notch, ripping yarn. Although similar to other Haggard's creations, (such as lost civilizations, strange beings with strange powers, at least one friendly native among hostile tribes, hidden untold treasures) it is an enthralling tale, layered and well seasoned with Haggard's ability to weave in different world views and philosophies into the tale. His book is engaging, without being preachy, unapologetically Imperial British, and Haggard' This is my third Haggard novel I've read, and it's a top notch, ripping yarn. Although similar to other Haggard's creations, (such as lost civilizations, strange beings with strange powers, at least one friendly native among hostile tribes, hidden untold treasures) it is an enthralling tale, layered and well seasoned with Haggard's ability to weave in different world views and philosophies into the tale. His book is engaging, without being preachy, unapologetically Imperial British, and Haggard's mastery of language was expressed through lyrical moments in unlooked for places. Haggard also had a keen understanding of psychology and interpersonal relations. His observations of human behavior and desires are timeless. Take this passage, for example: "For man can be bought with woman's beauty, if it be but beautiful enough; and woman's beauty can be ever bought with gold, if only there be gold enough. So was it in my day, and so it will be to the end of time. The world is a great mart, my Holly, where all things are for sale to whom who bids the highest in the currency of our desires." Bingo. He sprinkled such insights along the way, pitted a materialistic philosophy against one that insisted there was more than mere material, and let it all stew together. And this happened between long descriptive passages, edge-of-my-seat moments, shocking reveals, dark hints of profane power, mingled with adventure and exploration. And every now and then he wrote some zingers, like this one: "True, in uniting himself to this dread woman, he would place his life under the influence of a mysterious creature of evil tendencies, but then that would be likely enough to happen to him in any ordinary marriage." Bwahaha! Haggard did a decent job discussing what is evil and what is good, especially to one like She. It's mostly rhetorical, and She had honed her solipsism to a razor's edge, but Holly and She had a grand time discussing their viewpoints. "She-who-must-be-obeyed" influenced other writers, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, for example. I had read that Lady Galadriel's inspiration was attributed to the dread She, but I was unable to confirm that. Easily 4 stars. Just as good as "King Solomon's Mines", if not a bit better. Not recommend for those that see a parade of -ists from writers of that era. It's going to stick in your craw. Don't say you weren't warned.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    OK, standard disclaimer: This book was written in 1885 or 1886. It contains racial and gender attitudes that are Really Not Cool. I think it's better than many of its contemporaries in that regard (for one thing, Haggard had actually lived in Africa for a while, so to some extent he kind of knew what he was talking about), but if as a result you don't want to read it, I'll completely understand. (And, to be fair, when I first read this book, I was a lot younger, meaning that I myself wasn't as s OK, standard disclaimer: This book was written in 1885 or 1886. It contains racial and gender attitudes that are Really Not Cool. I think it's better than many of its contemporaries in that regard (for one thing, Haggard had actually lived in Africa for a while, so to some extent he kind of knew what he was talking about), but if as a result you don't want to read it, I'll completely understand. (And, to be fair, when I first read this book, I was a lot younger, meaning that I myself wasn't as sensitive to such issues.) Having said that, this is pretty much a genre-defining masterpiece, all the more amazing when you consider that it was only Haggard's fourth(?) novel. L. Horace Holly, the narrator, ugly and something of a misanthrope as a result, but generally good-hearted, is tasked with raising Leo Vincey, the son of Holly's one close friend, after that friend's sudden demise. When Leo turns 25, he & Holly open the strongbox left by Leo's father and discover the Vincey family's extraordinary history; a history that will take Leo & Holly (and their servant Job) to uncharted Africa where they will meet Ayesha, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, surely one of the most memorable characters in literature. Remember Galadriel's speech when Frodo offers her the One Ring? "[...]I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!" Well, that's Ayesha in a nutshell; fortunately, she's spent the last 2,000 years brooding in the ruins of Kôr (a couple hundred miles inland from the east coast of Africa) waiting for the return of her lover Kallikrates (whom she slew in a jealous rage); Leo Vincey may or may not be Kallikrates reborn ... Stunning adventure and memorable characters; and if you read through this thinking, "Wow, what a bunch of clichés ...", well, remember that they weren't clichés when the book was written; they became clichés because the book was so phenomenally successful (published initially in 1886 and never out of print to this day).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marvin

    H. Rider Haggard is one of those "classic" adventure writers I missed as a child while I was devouring Verne, H. G. Wells, and Edgar R. Burroughs. Then there were the Lost Worlds tales of that guy who dabbled in fantasy-adventure when he wasn't writing about a detective-doctor duo. Now that I have read my first Haggard novel, She, I am glad I put him off for so long because he is REALLY BORING! Tedious descriptions, stiff dialogue and simply mediocre writing is the order of the day in the land of H. Rider Haggard is one of those "classic" adventure writers I missed as a child while I was devouring Verne, H. G. Wells, and Edgar R. Burroughs. Then there were the Lost Worlds tales of that guy who dabbled in fantasy-adventure when he wasn't writing about a detective-doctor duo. Now that I have read my first Haggard novel, She, I am glad I put him off for so long because he is REALLY BORING! Tedious descriptions, stiff dialogue and simply mediocre writing is the order of the day in the land of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. And it takes forever to reach that land. This would be bad enough but there is also the problem of antisemitism and racism throughout the book that is excessive even for its time. I suspect the tale's continuing allure may have more to do with its many film versions than this 19th century hack job. Personally I have many fond memories of the 1965 Hammer film and Ursula Andress will always be She in my dreams.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Liv

    Considering it was written in 1886-1887, this was a fun, adventuous read. It also really brings light to issues of the Victorian era such as gender and race. My favourite: the fact that it was written in installments. This meant that every chapter is left off on a cliffhanger, keeping you wanting to read more.

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