Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Late one night in his room at Cambridge, Ludwig Holly receives an urgent visit from Vincey, a fellow student. Vincey is dying of a lung condition, and because he has no living relatives, he asks Holly to undertake the guardianship of his young son, Leo Vincey, after his death. Vincey explains that the boy would be the last representative of one of the oldest families in the world. He can trace his ancestry to the ancient Egyptians, to a priest of Isis named Kallikrates, who had broken his vows and fled the country with an Egyptian princess. Kallikrates had been murdered by the queen of a savage tribe, but his wife had escaped and given birth to a son, from whom Leo is descended.
Holly agrees to rear the boy. It is understood that he is to be tutored at home, where he will be taught Greek, mathematics, and Arabic. On his twenty-fifth birthday, he is to receive an iron box that Vincey will leave with Holly; at that time, he can decide whether he wants to act upon its contents. The following morning, Vincey is found dead in his room. Shortly afterward, five-year-old Leo begins living with his guardian.
Twenty years pass happily for Leo and for the man whom he calls his uncle. On the morning of the youth’s twenty-fifth birthday, the iron chest is opened. Inside is an ebony box that, in turn, contains a silver chest. Within that chest is a potsherd inscribed by the wife of the ill-fated Kallikrates. A message to her son, it declares that the...
(The entire section is 1768 words.)
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She is one of the most spellbinding adventure stories ever written. From the moment the reader begins Horace Holly's bizarre account of his adventures, the action never stops. King Solomon's Mines revealed Haggard's genius as an adventure writer, but in many ways She far surpasses its predecessor.
Although the plot is highly improbable, Haggard presents the events realistically. The many fantastic episodes are enthralling and, since its first publication, readers have found She a difficult book to put down. The plot is so compressed that the reader is immediately caught up in the exciting adventure of an expedition into the Land of Kor, which is ruled by the mysterious Ayesha (She).
. . . she stood, the wild center of as weird a scene as I ever witnessed. . .
A quest conferred upon Leo Vincey by his father opens the novel on a suspenseful note. Following that, a violent shipwreck, which nearly destroys Leo, his guardian Horace Holly, and their servant Job, is only the first of a long series of increasingly fantastic adventures. Once they arrive in Africa, the plot moves swiftly, and the suspense rapidly increases. Instances of terror and violence abound: attacks by cannibals, eerie native rituals, and the breathtaking journey into the depths of the Caves of Kor to discover the Secret of Life.
However, She's tremendous popularity rests on reasons beyond exciting storytelling. The principal characters,...
(The entire section is 386 words.)