Review: Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart


I heard Bridge of Birds while looking for some different kinds of Fantasy to read. I read a few reviews on goodreads and an excerpt and then I was sure I needed to buy it. I’ve always loved the few instances of Asian culture I could find in Fantasy (David Gemmell‘s Nadir and Chiatze, for example. Or David Zindell‘s use of long thin swords called kalama – as in katana? – in his Ea Cycle series), and I’ve always wanted to read more. (I have a certain affinity for Asian cultures; my novel focuses a lot on people from ‘the East’.)


In a fictional version of China, Number Ten Ox is thrown into an adventure when the children of his village suddenly catch a mysterious illness. Accompanied by scholar Li Kao – who has a slight flaw in his character – he sets out to find the only thing that can save the sick children: the Great Root of Power.


I had no idea I would love this book so much! And imagine my delight when I found out there are two more books starring both Number Ten Ox and Li Kao! Apparently the second book is hard to find, but I’ll definitely go looking for it. Hope I find it.

This book is great, it really is. I had no expectations when I started, but I was hooked from the moment I read the very first chapter. It’s written from Number Ten Ox’s point of view, and is very much an adventure story with magical elements mixed in, though sometimes it read like a fairy tale as well. I enjoyed the characters and the story very much and Li Kao is probably in my top 3 of fictional scholars.

I can’t really say much about the story without spoiling some very big twists, but what I can say is that all the characters that are introduced have their parts to play in the story. No matter how small their presence might be. Which is also a refreshing thing to see in a book, because I’m used to characters coming and going quickly at times, but these were all important to the plot somehow. Also ginseng! Lots of importance is placed on ginseng.

I guess the best endorsement I can truly give Bridge of Birds, is that it had me grinning from ear to ear at the end (and basically throughout the book), and that I can’t wait to read the other two books following it.




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