Essay Preview: King
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Allan Quatermain, an English adventurer and hunter based in Durban, South Africa, is approached by an English aristocrat, Sir Henry, and his friend Captain Good, seeking his help finding Sir Henrys brother, who was last seen traveling north into the unexplored interior, on a quest for the fabled King Solomons Mines. Quatermain obtained a map purporting to lead to the mines years ago but had never taken it seriously, but agrees to lead an expedition in return for part of the treasure, or a stipend for his son if he is killed along the way. He has little hope they will return alive. They also bring along a mysterious native, Umbopa, who seems more regal, handsome and well spoken than most porters of his class, but who is very anxious to join the party.
Traveling by oxen and cart, they reach the edge of a desert. Quatermains map shows an oasis 60 miles or halfway across, and they continue on foot, almost dying of thirst before reaching the oasis. They cross the desert without incident and reach a mountain chain. They climb to the top and enter a cave where they find the dried and frozen corpse of JosÐ¹ Silvestre, the 16th century Portuguese explorer who had drawn Quatermains map. They cross the mountains into a raised valley, lush and green, known as Kukuanaland, whose inhabitants have a well organized army and society and speak an ancient dialect of IsiZulu. Kukuanalands biggest city and its capital is Loo. It is dominated by a Royal Kraal in the center of the city, and a magnificent road from ancient times.
They are taken to see King Twala, who rules over his people with ruthless violence. He came to power years ago when he murdered his brother, the previous king, and drove his brothers wife and infant son out into the desert to die. Twala is king in name only; an old, scheming, evil, withered hag named Gagool is really in charge.
When Umbopa reveals that he is actually the son