The next of my Rudyard Kipling books finished and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I did enjoy the story, it’s just that it didn’t end how I thought it would and it didn’t answer the questions that I had. Part of the problem may have been that I didn’t realise what the story was actually about so my questions may not have been the questions that the book was answering.
Anyway, like I say I did enjoy it while I was reading it. Kim was first published in 1901 and it’s a story, set in India, about a boy named Kim (oddly enough). Kim is the son of an Irish soldier who dies leaving Kim in the care of an Indian woman. And I guess the whole story is set around Kim’s identity. There are a number of characters in the book, including Kim himself, who have a view about who Kim should be.
Early on in the book Kim finds himself a part of the Great Game, which is a British intelligence gathering operation. Even though he is just a child he proves that would make a good spy. The book covers him growing up, how he meets a Lama and becomes his disciple, how he ends up at school where they try to make him a Sahib and finally how he joins the Great Game.
Kim is a very likable character and the adventures that he has are exciting. Even though he wants to play the Great Game he also cares about his Lama and does a great deal to take care of him. Which I think is what sets him apart from the other players in the Great Game. Kim may be clever and cunning but he is also kind and I think he has a way of making people like him.
Poor Kim has a hard time working out who he is, Bazaar boy, Sahib or disciple of the Tibetan Lama. And I think most of the other characters, the Lama excluded, all have a similar quandary. They are all watching to see who Kim will become and I think they learn that they cannot control that.
Anyway it is a good story, lots of adventure and humour too. Would definitely recommend. It’s a good length, my Penguin copy is 383 pages long and it had no problem holding my interest to the end. Kipling writes India beautifully, and just for the descriptions, where you can see and smell everything, it is worth the read. It is very colourful and the humour and action make it a difficult one to put down. Another book that is disturbing my sleep pattern!
For my next Kipling read I’m going back to some of his short stories, Plain Tales from the Hills.