Saturday, 29 May 2010


Title: She

Author: H Rider Haggard

Number of pages: 384

Started: 22 May 2010

Finished: 29 May 2010

Opening words:

In giving to the world the record of what, looked at as an adventure only, is I suppose one of the most wonderful and mysterious experiences ever undergone by mortal men, I feel it incumbent on me to explain what my exact connection with it is. And so I may as well say at once that I am not the narrator but only the editor of this extraordinary history, and then go on to tell how it found its way into my hands.

Some years ago I, the editor, was stopping with a friend, "vir doctissimus et amicus neus," at a certain University, which for the purposes of this history we will call Cambridge, and was one day much struck with the appearance of two persons whom I saw going arm-in-arm down the street. One of these gentlemen was I think, without exception, the handsomest young fellow I have ever seen. He was very tall, very broad, and had a look of power and a grace of bearing that seemed as native to him as it is to a wild stag. In addition his face was almost without flaw--a good face as well as a beautiful one, and when he lifted his hat, which he did just then to a passing lady, I saw that his head was covered with little golden curls growing close to the scalp.

Read more here.

Plot summary:

On his twenty-fifth birthday, Leo Vincey opens the silver casket that his father has left to him. It contains a letter recounting the legend of a white sorceress who rules an African tribe and of his father’s quest to find this remote race. To find out for himself if the story is true, Leo and his companions set sail for Zanzibar. There, he is brought face to face with Ayesha, She-who-must-be-obeyed: dictator, femme fatale, tyrant and beauty. She has been waiting for centuries for the true descendant of Kallikrates, her murdered lover, to arrive, and arrive he does – in an unexpected form. Blending breathtaking adventure with a brooding sense of mystery and menace, She is a story of romance, exploration discovery and heroism that has lost none of its power to enthral.

What I thought:

I had high hopes of this book. I read, and loved, King Solomon’s Mines and was hopeful that this book would be in the same league. Sadly, it did not live up to expectations. The opening chapters of the book were really good and set the scene really well, drawing the reader in to the unfolding mystery. But the rest of the book was not of quite the same standard and was written in what was, to a modern reader, quite stilted language.

I was not overly enamoured with the book and didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as I might have hoped. It had a lot of promise, but I felt the delivery did not quite live up to it. Do read King Solomon’s Mines though, as that is a really great read.


Sarah said...

I have to agree, Random. I think I started this book and never finished it.

Fairly sure that I have a seen a fairly dubious filmatic version...

Random Reflections said...

Sarah - I think you made the right decision not to finish it. I thought it rather dull and lacking in a good story to draw you onwards.

I have not seen the film, and the book was no recommendation!