** spoiler alert ** Allan Quartermain is a frustrating reading experience. The first half of this book is possibly the best adventure fiction I've ever read. Incredible and eerie landscapes, vivid action, rich atmosphere, dry English humor, and terrific friendships are all conveyed via a smart, philosophical voice, and I thought that the book would actually eclipse its predecessor, King Solomon's Mines (...and I am a big fan of that classic lost race novel). The melancholic introduction of the aged protagonist, the battle against the Masai, the philosophical musings on landscapes, the amazing Zulu Umslopogaas (and his grim "Chieftainess"), and the harrowing and fantastical water journey are superbly realized and worthy of both accolades and study.
Unfortunately, the second half of Allan Quatermain derails and devolves into forced and trite (even for its time) romance and a dry, almost nonfictional approach to dumping fictional information rather than showing these strange creations through the eyes of the adventurers. The end result is a (qualitatively) top heavy book that does not compare to H. Rider Haggard's finest, King Solomon's Mines and The People of the Mist, nor the finest stories by Harold Lamb. Allan Quatermain is premium adventure fiction for it's first half that turns into an unfulfilled promise in its disappointing remainder.