Li Kao may have a slight flaw in his character but the book has none. I recommend it unconditionally and I predict Barry Hughart has quite a. The first time I read Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds, I cried. I cried because the ending was that beautiful, because it was that sweet, and. When the children of his village were struck with a mysterious illness, Number Ten Ox found master Li Kao. Together they set out to find the Great Root of Power .

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It’s true that there’s an inordinate amount of coincidence in the book, so much so that it becomes almost trite. They begin by seeking it in the palace of the feared Ancestress.

Its a wonderfully complete book; it makes you guess, makes you laugh, makes you cheer, makes you sad. Upon his graduation from Columbia, Hughart joined the United States Air Force and served from to where he was involved in laying mines in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Amongst myself and those I have met in my life in the West, little to none ever received any Asian history lessons.

Simply and charmingly told, this is a wry tale, a sly tale, and a story of wisdom delightfully askew. He grew older, but it can scarcely be said that he grew up, because he was so frightened at the thought of death that he was willing to commit any crime, and even to lose his heart if it would keep him from the Great Wheel of Transmigrations.

Characters who first seem to be simply types are revealed to be far more than that. Where Pratchett’s humor often feels like literary slapstick, however, Hughart’s is a bit more subtle. I’d almost say you could skip the first chapter, but it explains a few things that are important later in the story. It’s not often that you read a book and it immediately jumps up into your “Best Books Ever” list.

The rest of the story is not so much about Ox and Li Kao determining the cause of the sickness or its cure, both of which are revealed early on, but the hijinks they get into while seeking the remedy. The dubious morality made any true character development impossible. I can absolutely see where someone without a slight flaw in their character would LOVE this book and want to read all of the sequels, want to take this book on dates, propose, get married and have little alternate history Chinese babies and live happily ever after.


Speculiction Review of Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

Li Kao rides on Ox’s back, and I feel like that has to be a nod to a common depiction of Laozi founder of Taoism In the hands of a less adept writer this could feel like blindsiding, but instead it kept me in anticipation of Li Kao’s unconventional solutions. My surname is Li and my personal name is Kao, and there is a slight flaw in my character. Okay, supposing that’s true Cat is suddenly flying through the air?

It’s set in medieval China, which is a setting I’ve never read before personally in fantasy – so that was a really nice change as well, but I can’t say how “historically accurate” it was because I have no idea.

As the evil Duke of Ch’in says, they’re on the right quest, but for all the wrong reasons, a cryptic statement that takes a while to make sense. lf

The Bridge of Birds

Hughart approaches every situation with tongue in cheek, dampening the blunt force of cruelty and murder with a sparkling wit. Number Ten Ox who isn’t actually an Ox, but was his parents’ 10th child, and is rather large is a peasant farmer in the titular China That Never Was.

Archived from the original on 6 January Scholarly research and esoteria the norm in which knowledge of China is propagated, the fictional side has received little treatment.

This book provides a good mix of adventure and humor with a bit of action and mystery thrown in for good measure. In brightly painted tents beautiful young girls banged drums with sticks as they chanted the Flower Drum Songs, and on every streetcorner I heard professional storytellers raise high-pitched voices:. I’m on board with her.


Much of the story has beautiful imagery, and that adds to a pleasant and quick read. And so the village of Ku-Fu became home to what was known as The Dragon’s Pillow, a place that would one day loom large in the history of not only the village, but all of China. Once read, its marvels and beauty will not easily fade from the mind.


Barry Hughart is a Western writer, of course, but he’s drawing on non-typical settings and sources — although, of course, a lot of the stories and lore in this book is made up for the purposes of the story, there are also things I recognise from the little I’ve read of Monkey Journey to the West. It’s near impossible to make violence toward women an effective punchline when gender-based violence is an all-too-real issue, and in that respect Hughart had all the delicacy of an elephant stampeding through a tea shop.

These three stand as Hughart’s only novels to date–which is simultaneously a damn shame brdge a relief. Number Ten Ox who isn’t actually an Ox, but was his parents’ 10th child, and is rather large is a peasant farmer in the titular China That Never W Writing a review of Bridge of Birds is a challenge that I admit og not being up to.

The translation naturally possessing none of the qualities of the native tongue-twister, Hughart nevertheless tosses it into the text as esoterica, uncaring whether the reader sinks or swims getting their head around it.

Preferably,” said the abbot, “to the moon. It’s a book that almost immediately earned my respect and admiration, and that’s pretty hard to do. Oct 03, Wanda rated it liked it Shelves: Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. But … you know, slight flawed character me.

Li Kao is given only the knowledge of what to look for and the hint that Cheng Hang will somehow provide Li Kao with a dragon that will help guide him on his quest. Number Ten Ox, the narrator, is dispatched to find a wise man who can cure the children. Yet I’m inclined to forgive Hughart; he takes a gamble, and it pays off.