First sentence: "Mr. Hungerton, her father, really was the most tactless person upon earth, - a fluffy, feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man, perfectly good-natured, but absolutely centered upon his own silly self."
P. 99: "Indeed, they are children both, - the one wizened and cantankerous, the other formidable and overbearing, yet each with a brain which has put him in the front rank of his scientific age."
Last sentence: "Lord Roxton said nothing, but a brown hand was stretched out to me across the table."
Plot Summary (Wikipedia):
Edward Malone, a reporter for the Daily Gazette, goes to his news editor, McArdle, to get a dangerous and adventurous mission to impress the woman he loves, Gladys Hungerton. He is sent to interview Professor George Edward Challenger, who has assaulted four or five other journalists, to determine if his claims about his trip to South America are true. After assaulting Malone, Challenger reveals his discovery of dinosaurs in South America. After having been ridiculed for years, he invites Malone on a trip to prove his story, along with Professor Summerlee, another scientist qualified to examine any evidence, and Lord John Roxton, an adventurer who knows the Amazon and several years prior to the events of the book helped end slavery by robber barons in South America. They reach the plateau with the aid of Indian guides, who are superstitiously scared of the area. One of these Indians, Gomez, is the brother of a man that Roxton killed the last time he was in South America. When the expedition manages to get onto the plateau, Gomez destroys their bridge, trapping them. Their "devoted negro" Zambo remains at the base, but is unable to prevent the rest of the Indians from leaving.
Deciding to investigate the lost world, they are attacked by pterodactyls at a swamp, and Roxton finds some blue clay in which he takes a great degree of interest. After exploring the terrain and having a few misadventures in which the expedition narrowly misses being killed by dinosaurs, Challenger, Summerlee, and Roxton are captured by a race of ape-men . While in their village, they find out there is also a tribe of humans (calling themselves Accala) inhabiting the other side of the plateau with whom the ape-men (called Doda by the Accala) are constantly at war. Roxton manages to escape and team up with Malone to mount to a rescue. They arrive just in time to prevent the executions of the Professors and several other humans, who take them to the human tribe. With their help, they defeat the ape-men, taking control of the whole plateau.
After witnessing the power of their guns, the human tribe does not want the expedition to leave, and tries to keep them there. However, the team finally discovers a tunnel that leads to the outside, where they meet up with Zambo and a large rescue party. Upon returning to England, they present their report which include pictures and a newspaper report by Edward, which many dismiss like they did Challenger's original story. Having planned ahead, Challenger shows them a live pterodactyl as proof, which then escapes and flies out into the ocean. When the four of them have dinner, Roxton shows them why he was so interested in the blue clay. It contains diamonds, about £200,000 worth, to be split between them. Challenger opens a private museum, Summerlee retires to categorize fossils, and Roxton plans to go back to the lost world. Malone returns to his love, Gladys, only to find out that she married a clerk while he was away. With nothing keeping him in London, he volunteers to be part of Roxton's second trip.
I had never read anything else by Conan Doyle except for his Sherlock Holmes books, so to stumble upon this series of his about a professor Challenger was a nice surprise. The Lost World is the first in this series. Although completely fantasized the story was somehow believable and I enjoyed it very much.