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Set in the heart of Central America, the adventure novel accounts an enthralling tale marked by zealous adventure, discovery of a lost civilization, and unconditional love. Published in 1895, Heart of the World presents a fusion of suspense, foreshadowing, legend, unforeseen twists, and endearing characters to create a piece highly valuable in the world of fiction. Narrated by an elderly Ignatio on his deathbed, the novel recounts his great escapade alongside Englishman James Strickland as they venture off in search of a lost civilization.
The novel opens with the introduction of Don Ignatio, a lineal descendant of the last Aztec emperor, who has been driven throughout his life by the single desire to overthrow the Spanish rule and unite his fellow people. However, his hopeful plans to witness the reestablishment and fortification of the once great empire do not go quite as expected, as he is left bereft of his carefully acquired treasure. Subsequently, he is acquainted with James Strickland, an adventurous English miner. Although their motives may differ, both men share a passion for adventure, which is additionally spurred when they hear of a secret city that is believed to be home to a great treasure. Believing the city holds the key to achieving his life-long goal of reviving his empire, Ignatio and James begin a journey marked by exciting events. Later, they are also joined by Zibalbay, a man who claims to be the head priest and ruler of the secret city, and his beautiful daughter Maya. As the group embarks on the treacherous journey in search of the lost city, they come face to face with numerous dangers, which threaten not just the completion of Ignatio's objective, but also jeopardize their wellbeing and ultimately their happiness.
Haggard effectively combines imagery and descriptive language to present a vivid portrayal of the mystical lost city and its astounding treasure, while also depicting the details of life including religion, customs, and legends. Needless to say, Heart of the World presents a tale that will most certainly encourage readers to take a look at Haggard's other novels, as his masterful depiction of a lost and secret civilization is truly compelling.
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