Kim, aka Kimball O'Hara, is the orphan son of a British soldier and a half-caste opium addict in India. While running free through the streets of Lahore as a child he befriends a British secret service agent. Later, attaching himself to a Tibetan Lama on a quest to be freed from the Wheel of Life, Kim becomes the Lama's disciple, but is also used by the British to carry messages to the British commander in Umballa. Kim's trip with the Lama along the Grand Trunk Road is only the first great adventure in the novel...
e those words were written below his signature thereon, and another his 'clearance-certificate'. The third was Kim's birth-certificate. Those things, he was used to say, in his glorious opium-hours, would yet make little Kimball a man. On no account was Kim to part with them, for they belonged to a great piece of magic - such magic as men practised over yonder behind the Museum, in the big blue-and-white Jadoo-Gher - the Magic House, as we name the Masonic Lodge. It would, he said, all come right some day, and Kim's horn would be exalted between pillars - monstrous pillars - of beauty and strength. The Colonel himself, riding on a horse, at the head of the finest Regiment in the world, would attend to Kim - little Kim that should have been better off than his father. Nine hundred first-class devils, whose God was a Red Bull on a green field, would attend to Kim, if they had not forgotten O'Hara - poor O'Hara that was gang- foreman on the Ferozepore line. Then he would weep bitterly in the broken rush c
I was raised on this book, and I have always loved it! It comes close to being the perfect novel. It is a wonderful spy book, and each time I read it, I notice new details that make it even better.
I've heard this book described as "an embarrassing novel" because of how it blatantly presents the British occupation of India as an unabashedly positive thing. As you read it, though, you can just imagine the Indian countryside in all its splendor. It's a little "trodgy" for my modern, unsophisticated eyes, but I found my way through and discovered an interesting story about a young boy finding a father figure in an old, Chinese Buddhist monk. It is interesting to note, too, that Kipling's presentation of Buddhism and Islam mainly only highlighted the similarities of both religions to more conventional Christianity. Of course, I could have been reading a subtext into it that wasn't there.
I really enjoyed this one -- the character Kim is charming, and the notion of being able to smoothly move from one culture to another is appealing.
Kipling's style is a little formal, but very pleasing to read for long stretches. There's very little _not_ to recommend in this book!