I’ve never read any H. Rider Haggard… which is a pretty serious oversight for a guy in my position. He wrote a handful of acknowledged classics, including She and some 14 novels featuring Allan Quatermain, the most famous of which is King Solomon’s Mines. But if I were stuck on a desert island (a fate that’s starting to look more and more appealing as the years go by) and could grab only one Haggard novel before the ship went down, I think my first choice would be his 1894 classic The People of the Mist. It was reprinted in paperback for the first time in English in 1973 as part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy library, with a thoughtful 6-page introduction by Lin Carter. The wonderful wraparound Dean Ellis cover (above) has always fired my imagination, as has the description on the inside cover.
The internationally famous author of She and King Solomon’s Mines writes a glittering adventure set in ancient Africa — a marvelous tale of peoples hidden in a valley cut off from the rest of the world, their primitive and savage culture harking back before the mists of time.
Haggard possesses the gift not only of making his tales seem totally authentic, but of stretching out suspense to its outside limits — and surely no adventure has had as breathtaking a climax as the hurtling ride over a trembling icepath that occurs in People of the Mist!
The People of the Mist was published in December 1973 as part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy line. It was edited by Lin Carter, with a wraparound cover by Dean Ellis. It is 365 pages, priced at $1.50. Remarkably, it is still in print today in over a dozen different editions, including eight different digital editions, starting at 99 cents.