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on 5 March 2017
Master Li and Number Ten Ox are enlisted to investigate an incident where a monk was murdered for a worthless manuscript. The initial suspect is the Laughing Prince who infamously has a reputation for murder for his own gain. However, he has been dead for hundreds of years! Master Li and Number Ten Ox meet the Laughing Prince's descendent Prince Liu Pao, they explore the Laughing Prince's tomb, and take all kinds of eventful detours much like the first book.

The main characters aren't developed any further than they were in the first book. Years may have passed, but they seem to have remained unchanged. They are joined on their journey by two companions Moon Boy and Grief of Dawn. Moon Boy has some strange seductive powers, but is kept under control by Grief of Dawn.

The way the story develops is pretty similar to the first book in the series. A lot of events that happen seem like detours to lengthen the story, rather than being vital to the plot. I then found it hard to discern how certain events did link together, making any plot twists/revelations seem confusing. At the end of the book, Master Li reels off a long explanation of what he thought had happened but it feels like a disappointing way to conclude the book. Bridge of Birds' ending was much more exciting and emotional, but this book seems to fall flat.
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on 31 May 1999
Brilliant sequel to Bridge of Birds. Master Li and Number 10 Ox still on form. Another wonderful mix of gorgeous descriptive passages, witty dialogue and beautifully written characters. They leap off the page at you! Just wish I could visit, would love to meet them all - personally
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VINE VOICEon 20 June 2010
The Laughing Prince - long dead - has returned to life. As he was a homicidal maniac, this is not regarded as a good thing. Destruction starts infecting this remote village... what to do? Ah yes - send for Master Li!

Once again Master Li and Number Ten Ox have to lurch around ancient China to solve the mystery. Master Li and Number 10 Ox are wonderful creations: the Holmes and Watson of ancient China. Master Li is extremely old, brilliantly intelligent - and a real reprobate with a dislike for neo-Confucians, a deep love of the wine-pot and a penchant for slitting people's throats when they annoy him. Number 10 Ox is his strong, loyal but none-too-bright factotum with an eye for a pretty girl. Together they solve unsolveable mysteries, usually where myth and the supernatural appear to have intruded into mundane reality. Well, Master Li does - Number 10 Ox usually doesn't understand a thing that's going on...

Expect wit, wisdom, intrigue, general mayhem, a cast of crazy characters - and an absolutely brilliant read. If you're not familiar with Barry Hughart's books, buy them all right now.

Why are you still reading this? Which bit of 'right now' don't you understand? Top right, click 'Add to basket' - so simple that even Number 10 Ox could do it.
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on 13 April 2013
I love the first book - Bridge of Birds - this is just a bit too far fetched even for my imagination. I think the author was trying too hard to get close the the success of the original.
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on 14 April 1999
Number ten ox and Master Li Kao adventuring again,Horrible murders,nightmare legends,all good stuff. Tragic ending but beautiful too.
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on 21 April 2016
Unique and funny, with a wonderful (and full of wonder) twisting plot. A great continuation of Hughart's series.
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on 2 May 2016
Superb book - one of my favourites. Glad I've found it again!
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