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The Gorilla Hunters

by R. M. Ballantyne
368 pages, General Fiction
Reviewed by Nienna

Good, clean read, though mildly violent.

Plot

Six years after their adventure on The Coral Island, naturalist Ralph, strong Jack, and lighthearted Peterkin join together again to set off for the depths of Africa. Their purpose? Hunting the legendary and mysterious gorilla - which happens to be the only creature not yet brought down by Peterkin's deadly gun. With Ralph's musings about life, Jack's mature leadership, and Peterkin's general humorousness, everything they go through is bound to be interesting.

Morality

Excellent and Biblically based. On the surface, it could appear that the three (Peterkin especially) think themselves better than the black men they continually deal with, but they really don't if you look deeper. Occasionally they do deceive people as to their intentions, but only for the best of reasons and they try to avoid any form of lying or discourtesy when possible.

Spiritual Content

The main characters are Christians and desire everyone they meet to become so also. Ralph, as the narrator, occasionally praises God for His creation, and they pray on a few different occasions. The Christianity doesn't have much place in the book, but where it is it is good.

Most of the Africans are very superstitious and one of their rituals plays a part in the story. Jack and Peterkin twice use the Africans' superstitions to help avoid bloodshed.

Violence

The main characters are in danger of their lives several times and get knocked up a bit. Many animals are killed. It is mentioned how human-like the monkeys and gorillas look, for which reason Ralph is uncomfortable killing them. Many Africans are killed, including some children. The most descriptive thing ever said is "hacked to pieces" and that a dead person's face was mutilated so as to be unrecognizable. The slave trade is mentioned several times and not condoned.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Many characters smoke pipes. The main characters use brandy for medicinal purposes. The Africans drink with less reserve.

Sexual Content

The hunters' guide is engaged and the situation with his fiancee plays a part in the plot, but nothing happens between them or is mentioned.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Peterkin likes to call people names, but all in good fun and nothing problematic. The word "ass" is used in reference to a donkey.

Conclusion

A thoroughly delightful story, The Gorilla Hunters can be read separately from its predecessor, The Coral Island, though one does lose a little of the humor that way. Ralph is a thoughtful and philosophical narrator, with a strong sense of right and wrong, and the story is punctuated by exciting adventures, narrow escapes, and humorous episodes. With much less time spent on flora and algae than in the previous book, The Gorilla Hunters has a nice, if slow, pace and is an enjoyable read with some thought provoking material.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 13+

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