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Bridge of Birds [Mass Market Paperback]

B. Hughart
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 May 1985
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, the only possible cure, and together they discover adventure and legend, and the power of belief....

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books Inc.; First THUS edition (31 May 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345321383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345321381
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I shall clasp my hands together and bow to the corners of the world. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Bridge of birds" is a fantasy fiction that is told in the style of a chinese fable. The magic and monsters have a sinister quality like those of greek myths; designed to entertain children and unsettle adults. The plot is itself like a chinese puzzle; the twists and turns are simple and yet effectively surprising. Also thrown into the mix is a gentle wit, that all-in-all goes to make this truly one of the best little stories I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This book should be deemed to be a modern classic, it is easily equal to the likes of "Gulliver's travels". Its a real gem.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is my favorite book of all time 18 April 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Not for those who like a simple and obvious plot, the story is billiantly convoluted with wonderful characterisation and a mix of innocent and knowing humour.
The story starts with the children in the little village all falling deathly ill, and a desparate search to find the cause and cure. With wonderful scams and fantastic escapes our odd heros, wily old Likao (who has a slight flaw in his character) and his giant, but innocent stooge, Number 10 Ox, journey across the land and into dreadful perils to find the cure.
Can they save the sleeping children? Of course; but not without danger, hilarity,and fantastic challenges. For the intellectual who is in touch with their inner child.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Enchanting 14 Dec 2008
One of the most enchanting books I have ever read...and subsequently re-read many, many times.
In fact it's probably my favourite work of fantasy fiction ever and I've read a great many books of the genre, to the point where it seems that they all become a bit of a muchness or all very similar. Such an accusation could never be levelled at this little gem. In fact it's one of those books that seems too short, you want the tale to continue. Barry Hughart did another couple of books after this about Number Ten Ox and Li Kao which are both worth tracking down, before becoming disillusioned with the world of publishing and retired from writing, but at least he left us his three books the jewel being the Bridge of Birds itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Warm Delight in a Cold World 4 Sep 2008
I won't take you through the plot, others before me have done a much better job than I could do. What I want to do is give you feeling of this book.

If you're looking to use this story as a reference to Chinese mythos, you may well be wasting your time; there are elements of the mythology here but they've been used as a basis rather than adhered to stringently. They give the story its reason to be though.

This is ostensibly a love story, written with a huge sense of humour and tongue in cheek at the amount of violence the characters use to achieve their ends. Its a fantasy story and needs to be taken as such; read it without a sense of humour and you will be disappointed. There's a quiet joy involved in reading this book. It's total escapism from cover to cover, and one of those stories that you'll come back to when you're feeling low or want to run away from reality for a while.

I've yet to read the sequels as I didn't know they existed till I came here to replaced my much-loved but lost copy of this book. I'm over-joyed that there are two more Master Li books for me to find, and gutted to know that the author felt he'd taken the characters as far as he could with this trilogy. I'm sure he ended on a high though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Due adventures from the plague * 28 Dec 2004
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Fantasy with a touch of humour is uncommon. There are two excellent writers who have carved a significant niche in the fantasy field. Terry Pratchett is one, and Barry Hughart the other. Both have inventive minds, produce wonderfully exotic places and introduce us to characters no "mainstream" author would dare venture. Where Pratchett creates new places, Hughart devises a time that "never was" in a real place - China. This story of an imaginary China has every exemplary feature in fantasy - mystery, adventure, romance. It adds to these formulaic items a cast even Hollywood would be pressed to match. And, in twenty years since this book was published, has notably failed to do so. Perhaps it's just as well, because Hughart's excellence in story and character would be hard to portray in Hollywood terms.

Hughart's tale of a quest to find a cure surpasses anything in the fantasy genre. A group of village children, limited in age range, has been struck down by a plague. "How can a plague count?" asks the local abbot. The children aren't dead, but in a coma. Perhaps a knowledgeable man would know of a cure. Lu Yu, "Number Ten Ox", the strong tenth son of a peasant, is sent to find such a sage. He turns up Li Kao, a venerable sage "with a slight flaw in his character". We think the "slight flaw" is his thirst for wine, but that proves too simple.

Number Ten Ox carries Li Kao to various places in China seeking the Great Root of Power - a ginseng root endowed with great curative traits. Along the way, the duo encounter the Ancestress, an immense woman of immense powers of her own. They deal with the mind-reading Duke of Ch'in, whose name was adopted by the West to describe all of China.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Not 'Confucius Say...' 14 Oct 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a fairy tale built for the Orient - or more precisely, a fairy tale with an Oriental flavor written for the enjoyment of poor, deprived Occidentals who have never had the benefit of hearing some of these Chinese legends. Starting with Number Ten Ox (whose name is appropriately descriptive) and his village of Ku-fu, we are dropped into a China of ancient history. The village children, stricken with a strange malady that leaves them comatose and rigid, force Number Ten Ox to seek a scholar to unravel the mystery of their affliction. What he ends up contracting for is ancient Master Li Kao, who has a 'slight flaw in his character', which is all Ox can afford. Master Li determines that the only thing to save the children is the Great Root of Power, and Li and Ox proceed directly to attempt to obtain this Great Root. Thus begins an extraordinary set of tales that leads from the Imperial Palace to brothels to an enchanted destroyed city.
Along the way we meet quite a cast of characters: Ma the Grub, Henpecked Ho, the gross (in multiple ways) Ancestress, the greedy Duke of Ch'in, Doctor Death, and the jade-loving Lotus Cloud. Each is unique, though often specifically drawn as semi-caricatures; each adds their bit to this tapestry that includes the secret of immortality, the link between Heaven and Earth, invisible monsters, maze-filled dungeons that guard incredible treasure, where one's heart should be carefully hidden away.
Some of the tales herein are real Chinese legends, some are products of Hughart's own fertile imagination, but all are told with a large dollop of humor sketched in broad strokes and a not-so-obvious underlying morality that is quite relevant to every reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Chinese Princess Bride
It took me a while to get this book but it’s short and it’s an easy read. It felt episodic at first. Read more
Published 16 months ago by latepaul
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Chinese Whodunnit-Fantasy
I really enjoyed this story, as I did the other book in this series that I have read. I look forward to buying and reading the third. Read more
Published on 29 April 2011 by Jo
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for reading and rereading a dozen times!
I tried several times without success to get past the first page. Once I eventually did I couldn't put it down and spent my week's holiday at the seaside reading this incredible... Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2004 by Yoness inc.
3.0 out of 5 stars Bridge of Bored
Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart is a modestly entertaining novel, by turns amusing and dull as a textbook. Read more
Published on 18 Jun 2004 by Patrick Burnett
5.0 out of 5 stars Novel of scope and beauty
I read this ten years ago, loved it, but lost the book soon afterwards...got it recently from Amazon and have re-read it several times since! Read more
Published on 25 May 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Indiana Jones" paced kind of story set in ancient China
One of my favourite ever stories. A fabulous (in all senses) story, stuffed with exotic period detail, uniquely notable characters and a pacy plot. Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2000 by "itsabitavaswizz"
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient China mystery/fantasy with transcendent denouement.
The 'slight flaw' in 100-year-old Master Li's character is as large as the ancient China in which this fantastical magical mythical mystery story is played out. Read more
Published on 10 Dec 1998
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