Bridge of Birds

By Barry Hughart

Bridge of BirdsThis was a surprising find. I’m not huge into the traditional Asian/Chinese style of storytelling, so the subtitle ‘A Novel of an Ancient China that Never Was’ made me hesitate just a tad. I’m glad I ended up picking it up. This is a rollicking good tale. It’s got the flavor of a Chinese folktale, but told in a kind of tounge-in-cheek style that makes it fun to read, and rolls you right along with the adventure. I mean, you know it’s going to be a funny read when one of the main character constantly introduces himself thus: “My name is Kao Li, and I have a slight flaw in my character.” The other main character has the evocative nickname of Number Ten Ox. The story overall is like that: absurd, but it ends up making sense. In short, Bridge of Birds has everything a good adventure story should have: a seemingly impossible quest, romance, danger, charlatans, trickey, escapes, magic and myth.. and most importantly, a very satisfying ending. There’s a reason it won the World Fantasy Award back in 1985. Now I just need to find the sequels…

I give it 4.5/5 stars.


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Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was