Allan Quatermain and Sherlock Holmes
This book is a combined edition of two earlier short novels by the author. I have both and spent a bit of time comparing the earlier editions with this new publication. The new edition contains several additions along with revised versions of the tales. In general, it provides a more complex and compelling view of the events included than do the earlier, fragmentary publications.
The narratives presented are difficult to understand. The action includes events far separated in both time and space. The single tale of ?The Rose of Fire? includes at least four separate narratives, each at different times involving different protagonists. On the other hand, the separate narratives provide explanatory details for one another and serve to ?knit? the greater narrative together. Please remember that Doctor Watson, at the time of the first narrative, had not yet met Sherlock Holmes. This may avoid some Canonical confusion. ?Sherlock Holmes on the Roof of the World? presents similar features. By itself, it is an interesting narrative, presenting an account of some of Sigerson?s adventures in Tibet during ?The Great Hiatus.? When combined with ?The Rose of Fire,? it explains certain aspects of the earlier narrative and leaves the door open to events expected in the final part of the saga, ?The Adventure of the Star of Wonder.?
There is a major problem for many Sherlockians in this volume. It is based, largely, on the tales published by H. Ryder Haggard and Rudyard Kipling, in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries about the adventures of Leo Vincey, Allan Quatermain and other characters along with their respective companions. I read some of these books many years ago, but all are now dim in my memory so that I cannot recall the details of any of them. Fortunately, the current volume includes generous explanations of earlier publications, but the process of absorbing and integrating all of the material is difficult. Readers should pay detailed attention to the footnotes and take a break from the action to study each one.
Fortunately, Mr. Miller has the services of an excellent editor (or two!), so there are few spelling, usage and continuity errors other than those breaks occasioned by digressions in the action to explain earlier events. Given all this ?jumping around,? the narrative does not flow gently but rather proceeds in irregular fashion from scene to scene. This can be disconcerting, but it also holds a certain charm of novelty. We are not presented with a polished narrative, but instead, we face a confusing world that occurs in fits and starts with little rhyme or reason. Rather a bit like life, don?t you know?
Finally, the two narratives and enclosures will contradict numerous Historical and Religious views. There is a meld of Science, Fantasy, Spiritualism and Orthodox Religions involved that is difficult to summarize. In fact, the author carefully avoids committing to a single viewpoint in any of the narratives. Instead, he offers alternative explanations and possibilities. It is clear that certain events and persons are ?key? to the story but it is not clear where the tale is leading the reader. I expect whatever explanations may be available will only appear in the third tale in the series, ?The Adventure of the Star of Wonder.? Probably questions will remain even then, maybe even more than remain now.
All in all, this is an interesting and complex book. It ties up a few loose ends for devotees of Haggard, but it leaves even more to be resolved. It?s fun.
Reviewed by: Philip K. Jones, August 2011