A History of Adventure
317 pages. Available as a free download as of 2006 from Project Gutenberg, in multiple formats.
Epic tale in which a young man, upon inheriting the ancient Sherd of Amenartas, takes up the challenge of voyaging to Africa (in company with his adoptive father and a family servant). After a shipwreck, the three adventurers - plus a surviving Arab sailor - journey inland toward a distinctive landmark, only to encounter an unknown African civilization.
This story was originally published in serial format in 1887, then later reworked into novel format. I'm not entirely sure which version this is, although it includes "the hotpotting scene" which was in the original serial but removed for novel publication (as too violent for its day).
By modern standards, the novel is slow and plodding, the narrator and major characters tend to make speeches rather than dialogue, and the plot sometimes creaks from "amazing" discovery to "amazing" encounter. Leo, the young man who may or may not be the reincarnation of the ancient Kallikrates, is not particularly interesting. At times, the novel is "over the top" and "unbelievable" by modern standards.
Having said all that, this novel is forever kept fresh and alive by its depiction of the ruler of this Lost World - Ayesha, "She Who Must Be Obeyed," who captivates men's souls with her incredible beauty, cruel in her ways yet somehow redeemed by her undying love for the lost Kallikrates. This is a fine adventure and an epic love story.
Highly recommended. Should be on your Bucket List if you enjoy VSF to any degree.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .