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Customer Reviews

17
4.8 out of 5 stars
Bridge of Birds
Format: Mass Market PaperbackChange
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2004
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 and unexpected book. I laughed non-stop, but was also tense and curious, because the plot is so brilliant and the twists and turns so logical yet you just don't see them coming. Hughart really blends humour and fantasy with a clever thriller like no one else.
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on 30 November 1998
I have now read all three in this series and would love a fourth. Number 10 Ox is an innocent guided through nightmare senarios by the crafty sage(with a slight flaw in his character) Li Kao. Bridge of Birds throws every horror at the pair as they try to save the children of the village. As good as Indiana Jones, and with more history.
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on 29 April 2011
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. Sadly, although the author originally intended 7 in the series the other 4 were never written due to publishing problems.
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on 31 August 2014
If you're looking for a crazy whirlwind of an adventure story, your search is over. I love this book so much! I don't want to give too much away- just read it. It will make you happy.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2000
One of my favourite ever stories. A fabulous (in all senses) story, stuffed with exotic period detail, uniquely notable characters and a pacy plot. All this wrapped in a classic cyclical story style. Sharp humour, quirky, original and if you are about to read it for the first time, I envy you...
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2001
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! Quirky and surreal in places, other-worldly as well, but charming and a real gem of a story.
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5 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2004
Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart is a modestly entertaining novel, by turns amusing and dull as a textbook. With the author's tendency to grossly underplay certain story elements, it is simultaneously simplistic and confounding. I suppose an optimist could look at these traits and say to himself, "This is a book that works on manylevels." Being a pessimist, I'm afraid I fall under the, "This is a book that can't decide what it wants to be."
Ostensibly this is a book about Lu Yu, nicknamed Number Ten Ox, who travels from his rural town to the big city to engage a wise man to return with him and cure the village's children of a deadly sleeping sickness (fortunately the sickness is not so deadly that the heros cannot fart around for a year or so before actually helping the sick children). The only wise man willing to work for the paltry sum offered by Number 10 Ox is Li Kao, a twinkly-eyed old drunk who has the perplexing ability to con anyone out of vast sums of money (putting into question his insistence on sleeping on the floor in a dirty old tenement in the first place). The cure takes the two on a romp through a mythical old China peopled with the kind of moronic rubes found in all fairy tales - those greedy and stupid enough to hand over their money just because someone tells them they'll be receiving some magic beans and a donkey that poops gold coins.
Hughart stretches this hoary old chestnut within an inch of its elasticity as Master Li and Ox wander from city to city collecting bits of the Great Root of Power in order to effect the cure. But at times it appears that the only real purpose in doing all this traveling is to get Number 10 Ox laid, for he winds up in bed with a woman in every town. I expect this was meant to be amusing, but eventually became merely tedious.
I am not generally prudish, but I found myself startled by the astounding amount of violence in this book. Couched in amusing anecdotes and twinkly narrative are hundreds upon hundreds of murders enacted by or caused by the two "heros". I could see in many cases that the doomed characters deserved their fate, but not all.
Bridge of Birds has its moments, but I didn't find it to be the gem of which so many reviewers wrote. Still, I liked it enough that if I come across the sequels, I will surely read them, but I won't be traipsing hundreds of leagues, murdering everyone who gets in my way, to find them. I may not even cross the street.
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