Email this review


Smith's weakest recent work--after a couple of quasi-best-sellers--is a vulgar, swollen mix of King Solomon's Mines, paperback lust, and an anti-slavery novel. In 1860 Robyn Ballantyne, the first woman ever to win a certificate from the Royal College of Surgeons (she attended disguised as a male), heads by boat for Africa with her cynical soldier-brother Zouga to locate her lost father, Dr. Fuller Ballantyne--the famous explorer, medical missionary, and best-selling crusader against the slave trade. Imagine Robyn's shock, then, when she realizes that the ship on which she's traveling is a slaver! When she goes into Captain Mungo St. John's cabin to shoot him, however, she surrenders her virginity instead. Meanwhile, Zouga learns of the secret gold mines of Ophir (Monomatapa) and that his missing father probably set out for them. And Robyn, on her travels, has titillating medical encounters with other suitors: Capt. Clinton Codrington (who proposes after surgery); and Portuguese spy Camacho Pereira, who demands that she examine his sex organs for a pretended illness (she uses a needle probe to deflate his interest). At last Robyn Finds her father's bastard native son in the jungle--and then Robyn and Zouga locate Dad at last: a shriveled, malarial, God-obsessed lunatic in terminal syphilitic collapse, suckling on an old black. But his notebooks lead the way to the lost city--where Zouga goes alone, finding the naked, beautiful native priestess whose giant mamba likes to tongue her swollen genital cleft. And so on--up to a final shootout at sea between Codrington and Mungo (on his slaver). Abysmal hackwork--seemingly pulled out from Smith's reject trunk in order to capitalize on his recent successes.

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 1981
Publisher: Doubleday