53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2010
The story is about a young man, Leo, who supposedly can trace his ancestry to the Egyptian gods, and the older man who adopted him when Leo's own father died. Leo wants to find out his origins, so they leave England and travel to Africa, where they meet Ayesha, She, who supposedly is thousands of years old, and is of unequalled beauty. She thinks Leo is the incarnation of her ancient lover and so Ayesha holds both men under her spell, and tries to take them under the earth to a so called fountain of life, where she tries to persuade Leo to step into the fountain of life, and so become immortal. This story is good enough, but the Kindle formatting is terrible. In the early part of the book, there are several pages of nothing but questions marks, and then several pages where some of the words are again full of question marks. It is evident that no one edited this book, and that is really a shame. I would guess that Amazon is not going to take any extra pains to correct a book that is free, but that is really the shame. I feel that Amazon should not offer books, even if they are free, it they don't take the time to properly format them.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2010
It's a shame this excellent story was butchered by whomever was supposed to edit it and the proof-reader if there was one should be tarred and feathered. No one can read the Kindle version of "She" and think it could be one of the best and most popular novels ever written. Allan Quatermain would shoot the person with his eight bore rifle who offered this great book to Kindle readers in it's current, slaughtered form.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2010
GREAT story, WORST formatting EVER. I could hardly get through the book with all the question marks. The story was great, one of Haggard's greats, but I just got so frustrated. Instead, download your free kindle book from here: […] The Gutenberg project formats everything precisely and cleanly and your read will be hassle free!
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2001
When the young psychologist Sigmund Freud picked up this book, it presented him with the idea of the Anima or eternal feminine, which as a concept was picked and enlarged by his peers, metaphysicians and astrologers (e.g. Liz Greene's work on relationship astrology). That such a catchy idea came from what was effectively an off the shelf best seller with no literary pretentions indicates just what a fun and fascinating read it presents, especially for a young man who wishes a read encapsulating the perfect specimen of womankind.
This particular edition is good for it contains an excellent introduction by Professor D. Karlin with extensive and helpful notes. Karlin makes it clear that the book is a sort of fantasy within a fantasy and the joke is usually on us. It's contents are so "out there" that the author is at pains to state "every word is true" through his chosen first person mouthpiece, and he adds several details that makes the book's events plausible while you are in it.
The book is a masterpiece of archetypes including the Anima, acient civilization and archaeology, exploration, hunting and Africa as she used to be. It further represents the last mysterious possibilities that could be squeezed out of a world whose potential to amaze was fast disappearing due to the advent of transport and exploration. It is an old fashioned Indiana Jones type epic with explorers making a big discovery that could shake the British Empire to its very core.
The elements come from Haggard's own association and love of Africa (he includes the extinct Quagga one of the descriptions)
and his contact with an angelic woman with whom his fascination was was not satiated as he was married already. There is a great deal of swashbuckling adventure hived off from Livingstone, Egyptology, linguistics, classics and history as well of prevailing views and outlooks - but all this is eventually fused in a saga that is anything but boring in the same dynamic and suspensive style of bestsellers of the time (serialised in popular magazines) as S. Holmes and Jules Verne.
Needless to say, the book is over the top even for that time and is a literary equivalent of Jurassic Park, taken up by everyone but academia and the gatekeepers of high culture.
The subtext has disturbing and provocative elements which could by identified as mysoginy, soft porn and the frustrated psyche of the average young male at the time. She is destroyed in the end and provides the perfect excuse for both the principal male protagonists to give up women.
Haggard himself has recently been discovered to have had a secret relationship which bore him an illegitimate child and we also realise he was not really an imperialist and supported free tendencies for Africans in the shadow of imperialism. He predicted the inevitable independence of African states and the imperial overtones in the book should not be misread as jingoistic.
For people too rushed to pour over Trollope or Dickens, this is Victoriana at its greatest with many interesting contemporary themes including the theory of evolution which reads extremely fast. It is a window into history and an ultimate fantasy exploring the sources of life and immortality itself and represents something made in a hurry in the "white heat" of the author's anvil. A performance he probably never repeated.
Absorbing, mysterious and shocking - some people will find it unravels a great deal of their innermost tendencies and sexuality into the limelight of coherence and myth.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2000
This fantasy adventure story takes place in England and later transports the reader to the bowels of Central Africa. The story starts when Horace Holly makes a deal with his dying friend. His friend, knowing the end is near, has a young son, Leo, who he leaves an iron trunk to. Horace is instructed not to open the chest until the boy's 25th birthday. In addition, Horace must take care of Leo and raise him.
On Leo's 25th birthday, Horace and Leo open the chest and in it they discover that Leo is part of a historic lineage which goes back to the ancient Egyptians. They also discover that everlasting life can be found off the coast of Africa by bathing in a magical fire. They soon venture to the hidden area to discover an ancient race of cannibalistic people who are lead by Ayesha, otherwise known as She. She is a very beautiful temptress and has the secret to everlasting life. Also, she was in love with Leo's family centuries ago. When Leo arrives, She is much smitten with him.
This book was well written and the adventure well thought out. The level of detail that Haggard uses to describe the Amahagger's (the tribe Leo and Holly discover) were extraordinary. She is easily understood to be a sophisticated woman who has strong powers of life and death over her subjects. However, I found the book a little hard to read. The lengthy paragraphs that detailed the Amahagger society were not needed and slowed the pace of the book. Still not a bad adventure book but the pace kept being diverted by lengthy descriptions.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2003
Oh, thou-who-hast-not-read-this-book, you know not what you're missing! H. Rider Haggard's "She" is one of the best adventure novels of all, and it is one that inspired some of the best adventure stories of all, like, say, the Indiana Jones series.
A mysterious iron box that cannot be opened for twenty years... a 2,000-year-old quest for revenge... a lost civilization in the depths of Africa... and a mysterious queen called "She."
The story covers a vast landscape that will delight your imagination, and the main characters are distinct and likeable, sturdy partners in this most thrilling of adventures.
The story is so exciting and full of action, it's tempting to write it off as pure pulp fiction, hacked out with little intellgence or deeper meaning. You can read the book this way and still come away having a good time. But, if you're looking for that rare adventure novel with a meaningful subtext, "She" delivers on this level, too. I won't give too much away, but I think it's one of the greatest books ever written that demonstrates the total control desires have over man. Arthur Schopenhauer would approve.
Sigmund Freud called it a book "full of hidden meaning." C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien read it and loved it. Give this one a try, and you, too, might become forever fascinated with "She."
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2005
_She: A History of Adventure_ by Victorian novelist H. Rider Haggard is a tale of adventure and suspense set in the dark continent of Africa which reveals the archetypal nature of the female. H. Rider Haggard was obviously influenced by spiritualism in his younger days, and his belief in reincarnation is revealed in this novel. The novel shows an obsession with death as well as with the feminine principle revealed in the queen, Ayesha (referred to as "She-who-must-be-obeyed" or simply "She" or "Hiya" by the natives). The novel has been called imperialist because it shows the travels of several British adventurers in the dark continent of Africa.
This novel begins when L. Horace Holly receives a visitor in his home in Cambridge. Mr. Holly is told that his visitor Mr. Vincey is to die and that he must take care of his son Leo Vincey and protect the family secrets. Mr. Vincey provides Mr. Holly with a manuscript and a chest containing a sherd with words written on it from the long dead Amenartas. Once Leo has reached twenty-five years of age, the box is opened and it reveals the sherd. This contains writing that leads Mr. Holly, Leo, and his caretaker Job to travel to the dark continent.
While sailing towards Africa the group encounters a squall which wrecks their ship and they are forced to sail onwards on a smaller boat with only one Arab, Mahomed, to guide them. Once they have landed they encounter a rock in the shape of a human head. There they meet the Amahaggar, the dark cannibalistic tribe, who live in the city of Kor. The Amahaggar inform the group that She-who-must-be-obeyed awaits them. They also meet Billali, who becomes a second "father" to Mr. Holly, and Ustane, the African girl who falls in love with Leo.
This begins their adventure as they travel to meet She-who-must-be-obeyed. It turns out that She is a queen who has lived for thousands of years. She sees in Leo the reincarnation of her lost lover Kallikrates. She sees in Ustane the reincarnation of the Egyptian who she believes stole her love, Amenartas. Along the way, they encounter many dark secrets and discover the many corpses which litter the caverns in which She resides. As part of a special festival these mummies are set afire. The story plays out the long forgotten tale of Ayesha and her lover along with Amenartas who is to capture her lover's heart.
H. Rider Haggard was obviously influenced by spiritualism and the dead play an important role in this novel. His belief in reincarnation is seen in many places throughout. This story was popular with many including Freud and Jung, who saw in it the archetype of the feminine, as well as Tolkien and C. S. Lewis who incorporated elements of it into their own stories.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2001
This is one of the few books that J. R. R. Tolkien admitted had influenced him. C. S. Lewis wrote appreciatively about Haggard (see the book ON STORIES by Lewis). There's a fond essay on Haggard by Graham Greene, too.
I love the way Haggard fits out his story with all sorts of "authentic" details -- lengthy inscriptions in Greek, Latin, and Renaissance English, found on an old piece of pottery passed down for many generations in the Vincey family. Really gets you in the mood. Then our heroes head for mysterious Africa -- a continent about which Haggard knew more than many of his contemporaries, having lived there.
The story gets more and more fantastic, delightfully indulging in what Edmund Burke called the SUBLIME. (Hint: if you're writing a paper on SHE, that is a good topic idea.) I've been reading this book since I was a kid & am reading it again, with much enjoyment, right now.
Haggard's metaphysical ideas, though, haven't worn well. Haggard wrote a sequel about his enchantress, Ayesha, called Wisdom's Daughter. As C. S. Lewis quipped, If Ayesha really was Wisdom's Daughter, she certainly didn't take after her parent.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2013
i first read "She" probably 40 years ago and decided to revisit it, as I've always enjoyed great action yarns. It's still a very enjoyable tale to read, although the language by our standards is a bit stilted and old-fashioned (well, it was the Victorian era!) Ayesha, The main character emerges as quite a fascinating woman, a complex, conflicted and incredibly layered personality that makes most modern-day heroines look two-dimensional by comparison. I especially liked Holly, the "author" of the tale, whose physical ugliness (as he describes it) is in contrast to his goodness, kindness and compassion. The Leo character, Ayesha's long-lost love, is less well-drawn and rather weak at times, but becomes more likable later on. The one drawback in the book is the overtly racist language (mostly Job's descriptions of the natives); of course, the slurs reflect the time period in which they were written which was equally racist.
Just for the record, I had recently viewed the movie "She" starring Ursula Andress (which prompted me to re-read the original book). Ursula the Film Sex Goddess (talk about two-dimensional!) couldn't hold a candle to the remarkable woman portrayed in H. Rider Haggard's book. It's a darn good tale that still holds up after all these years.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2008
A classic of early fantasy, She was written in 1887, proving to be so popular that in 1908 it was made into a silent film, not once but nine times.
Set in Africa the plot revolves around the immortal She or in Arabic, Ayesha meaning "She Who Must Be Obeyed which is an honorific title and another variant, "She Who Lives". Ayesha is powerful to the point that she's down right nasty. Ayesha encounters Professor Leo Vincey who just happens to be the reincarnation of her lover she's waited 2000 years for. Leo thinks she's pretty hot but in order to become her lover he must bath in the pillar of fire. I can't say anymore or I'll give the ending away.
I had never seen the movie with Ursula Andress but remember the posters. Actually the book surprised me by delving into death, reincarnation, sexuality, fate and power in an era I thought to be rather uptight and straight laced. All in all the book is well written, easy to lose yourself into the plot and characters. The theme of the book has stood the test of time and could go head to head with any other modern fantasy book.