Book Review: She by H. Rider Haggard 

This is the second book by Haggard I’ve read, having quite enjoyed King Solomon’s Mines and intrigued by the premise of this book, which sees a journey to find a mysterious, mythical queen known as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. I’d seen a bit of the Ursula Andress movie and it seemed a fun adventure story.

Which it is. In places.

The central premise is a neat idea, as is the way it’s set up with an ages long story passed through a family for centuries, but it’s in the telling of this story that Haggard starts dropping the ball.

He talks about the story of a woman who escaped She and the son she bore, and her hope they would return to the kingdom, and describes it as being done in several languages. This is fair enough, but he shows the different languages and drags this section out far too long. Less is more, dude.

The other problem I had is there’s something of an anti-Semitic vibe to comments that She and others make, and as, with Solomon’s Mines, the ideas about different races are very outdated. 

And while there are a few thrills early on, far too much of it is a slog and while our narrator talks about how fascinating She is I couldn’t help finding her infuriating.

It’s a decent premise but feels like a wasted opportunity. and the climax is unsatisfying and flat. And the narrator is poorly chosen, with a self pitying streak which makes him appear whiny and rather pompous too.

Quite disappointing really.

Verdict: There are some nice ideas here but it never delivers on a good idea and there’s not enough action to keep it going. The finale falls flat and it’s a slog in places. 3/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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