Thank *GOD* I'm done with this book! I agree with all the other people who have given this one and two stars. I thought the story was unnecessarily long, huge chunks of it were so boring I was counting how many pages were left until I was done (always too many left), and the frequent changes in narrator were annoying and distracting.
I'd probably actually give this book one and a half stars if I could, because there were some redeeming qualities to it. First, I did like Betteredge. He was by far the most interesting character in the book and the best narrator--I wish he had remained narrator throughout the book--I'm sure I would have enjoyed the book more if that had been the case.
Secondly, I beleive some reviewers have commented that the story seems racist and misogynistic. I disagree with this. I really felt like the story was really an indictment on European powers' notion that they could shoot themselves into any country they wanted, deface holy sites or sites of significance, pillage those sites, and then take their treasures back home as curious trinkets. It was the people of color in this story who were the sympathetic characters, and they were the ones who were the heroes, reclaiming that which was rightfully theirs, or setting wrongs right. At no point did I think Wilkie Collins was guilty of writing in the racist sentiments that were so common in contemporaneous books, and everywhere a character expressed a racist sentiment, Collins smacked that notion down later in the story by showing the opposite to be true.
Additionally, Collins' main female characters were all portrayed as powerful, thinking people who were capable of managing their own affairs, and of holding to their ideals for the sake of the people they loved. Strength and self-sacrifice seemed to be the theme among his lady characters.
So, there were good ideas in this story, and I found myself being impressed numerous times about the progressive nature Collins' ideas, given the time in which he was writing. It's just too bad that the story was so darn long and so darn boring!