1 correction by anonymous - Show corrections
REVIEWS OF BOOKS.
'The Brethren,' by H. Rider Haggard; Casaell & Co., London, through Messrs. E. S. Wigg & Son, Adelaide.— Mr. Hasgard Ins now an imposing list of 20 hr.ol-s to hi-s
name. One is on Tsolitieul history (of South. .Africa, of course) and one is a work of travel, two deal with agriculture, and the rest are divided between novels and ro mances. These fast heve made his name famous, and the charm of the best of them remains imperishable. 'King Solomon's Mines,' 'She,' and 'Alan Quatermain' . are Worth a wilderness of the imitations ; that sprang up about and after 1800. The j Sagjpni of to-day is not the power that he ! was when he founded a 'school' of ro- j inance writers. He is not less artistic, and ; iiis imagination seems Ettle impaired; only (it is a large 'only') ' the darigers:are not quite so convincing, and the thrill- of old is ' not attained. Perhaps it was necessary for the writer to .remain youthful if this effect was not to be lost. In a dedication of the present story to his sister he shows inci dentally but clearly how age affects the mind. In rent life, lie suggests, the Hplen ? lid Brethren of -his tale might have quar relled over the lady, instead of remaining faithful to each other, as to her; and the i'alse Knight might have won in the duel! True enough, of course; but how fatal to the True Romance to approach, it in this spirit! It is only fair to add that nothing «f this materialistic tone appears in the btory, where virtue is rewarded and villainy is punished in the most approved manner. The heroine is daughter of a Saracen prin cess who had fled to England -with a Chris ,tian knight. The Snltaa Salah-ed-din ibetter known as Saladin) sent an expedi lion to recapture his sister, and succeeded in carrying off her child. So her twin cou sins, both in love with her, want for a trrosade on their own private account. As l:ilways happens with this author, the story brightens an!d grows more exciting when once the shores of England are left behind; and he is in almost his best torm when de Fcribine the rock fortress of the Old Man of the Mountain— the Christian: title for the --bief of that terrible tribe who made the name of Assassin synonyroooa. with mur ?tferer.. Between the outer city and the in ner citadel was a vast gulf, 200 yards wide, spanned by an unrailed oauseway of stone, three paces in breadth, and upon it one of the brothers had to fight the False Knight on horseback and by moonlight! On a ter race builb out into the gulf the chief held !his Court, and any officer who made the Earnest failure in duty was simply ordered to walk over the edge. This is how he re ceived an embassy from Saladin:— 'What diance has this lord of yours against a nation sworn to obey to the death? You smile? Then come hither, sou-ana vou.' And he summoned two of his council by name. Ttyy rose and bowed before him. }-ow, my worthy servants,' he arid, 'show these heretic dogs how you obey, that their master may learn the power of your mister. ,Tou are old and weary of life. B« Eme, and ayrait me in Paradise.'* ? The . oH men bowed, tremblinc a. little. Then, sliraieWenins them»»Ivcf, leapt into the abyss. 'Has Soleh-ed-din ser vants snch as these?' he asked, in the silence , that followed. One regrets to add that that abyss was . only 90 ft. deep. 'Sufficient, doubtless; but the Haggard of ten years back would have made it 900! The latter part of the book is. concerned with the capture of Jerusalem, by Saladin in 1188, after the Christians had held it for nearly a century. There is much bloodshed, and even the heroine and tne two heroes have death always at their heels; but the ending is comparatively happy. On the whole, this is the besft and most stirring work its author has done .for some time past.