Nada the Lily by Henry Rider Haggard (1892)

13 August 2012 Nada the Lily is Rider Haggard’s sixth novel. Haggard distinguished between his “Romances” – which included the She and Allan Quatermain series, both featuring a large element of fantasy and the supernatural – and his “Novels”, which are more naturalistic, where the emphasis is more on human relationships than the fantastic. Blacks The most […]

She: A History of Adventure by Henry Rider Haggard (1887)

5 August 2012 She is generally agreed to be one if the classics of imaginative literature and, with over 83 million copies sold in 44 different languages, one of the best-selling books of all time. Extraordinarily popular upon its release, She has never been out of print. (Wikipedia have an interesting list of bestselling books […]

Allan’s Wife and Other Tales by Henry Rider Haggard (1889)

29 July 2012 Allan’s Wife and Other Tales is a collection of stories by Henry Rider Haggard about his African hunter hero, Allan Quatermain. The title story is by far the longest, describing Allan’s childhood, upbringing in Africa, and meeting with his wife, and is accompanied by three genuinely short stories, Hunter Quartermain’s Story, A Tale of […]

Maiwa’s revenge, or The War of The Little Hand by Henry Rider Haggard (1888)

28 July 2012 Maiwa’s Revenge is the third Allan Quatermain novel (in order of writing), and an innovation in the series in that is a) short b) set within a frame narrative – Quatermain is on a shoot at his Yorkshire home with friends and, after bagging three woodcock in flight is persuaded to tell the […]

Allan Quatermain by Henry Rider Haggard (1887)

24 July 2012 Clutching the book, perched on the edge of my seat, I read on, enthralled by the heroic description of the brave Zulu Umslopogaas defending the entrance to the Palace of the Sun as the priests of the lost civilisation of Zu-Vendi try to storm it in order to kill the sacriligeous Queen […]

King Solomon’s Mines by Henry Rider Haggard (1885)

20 July 2012 Henry Rider Haggard, age 29, was on a train journey with his brother. He was back in England after a five years’ sojourn in South Africa and the two were discussing the merits of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, still wildly popular after its publication in 1883. Henry says, “Oh there’s nothing […]

Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925)

17 July 2012 Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925) virtually invented the late-Victorian ripping yarn. His most famous books are King Solomon’s Mines (KSM) and She but he wrote over 70 novels, 14 or so featuring the action hero, Allan Quatermain. Haggard was one of 10 children born to a Jewish barrister living in Norfolk. Considered a duffer […]

Super-Cannes by J.G. Ballard (2000)

‘Madness – that’s all they have, after working sixteen hours a day, seven days a week. Going mad is their only way of staying sane.’ (Frank Halder to Paul Sinclair) You can tell late-period Ballard novels by their sheer size – Super-Cannes is a whopping 392 pages long, in the shiny Flamingo paperback edition I […]

Crash by J.G. Ballard

WARNING: This review contains written text of an extremely brutal and explicit sexual nature. Crash is Ballard’s most ‘controversial’ book because of its combination of psychotic behaviour (the characters’ obsession with car crashes) with extraordinarily powerful pornographic writing. It depicts the sexual fetishisation of car crashes with tremendous intensity: In these crude photographs, Vaughan had […]

Inverted World by Christopher Priest (1974)

Coming to Christopher Priest after reading Alfred Bester is like leaving an all-singing, all-dancing, high volume production of Guys and Dolls and walking into a vicar’s tea party. Priest’s prose is flat and bland and colourless. Things are described at a steady even pace. There are hardly any metaphors or similes. There are no colours. People […]