Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It recounts the adventures of an expedition to an unexplored part of East Africa, where they find a beautiful and apparently immortal sorceress who claims the expedition's leader as the reincarnation of her long-dead lover. Her means of immortality was attained by immersing herself in a magic flame. Desiring to bring the same gift to her reincarnated love, she wants to have him immersed as well.
One of the tribes they meet on the way is called Amahagger, which, despite its similarity to the name of the author, nonetheless is a real tribe.
The title is short for "She Who Must Be Obeyed", the title bestowed upon the sorceress Ayesha by the tribe she has enslaved. (The phrase has passed into British popular culture as the name by which John Mortimer's character Horace Rumpole refers to his wife.)
In the original novel, Ayesha is selfish and amoral, caring nothing for the feelings or even the lives of others so long as she gets what she wants.
In a sequel, Ayesha (1905), and a prequel, Wisdom's Daughter, Haggard attempted to reform her character, apparently uncomfortable with having such an unsympathetic character at the centre of the series.
She has been adapted to film many times, including a 1965 Hammer Horror color version starring Ursula Andress as Ayesha and John Richardson as her reincarnated love, with Peter Cushing and Bernard Cribbins as other members of the expedition.
The 1935 black and white version, starring Helen Gahagan, lost a great deal of money and ended her career. This version, however, is artistically superior, having its ancient civilizaton in the Art Deco style, with music by Max Steiner, and has greater production value in its scenes of destruction. It is set in the Arctic, however, not Africa.
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