Review: Eight Skilled Gentlemen by Barry Hughart


Eight Skilled Gentlemen is the third and last instalment of the Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox written by Barry Hughart.


When people in high places start dying inexplicably, Master Li and Number Ten Ox are on the case. But what kind of case involves mysterious cages, a puppeteer, a serial killer, the Celestial Master, demons and eight skilled gentlemen?

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Review: The Initiate Brother Duology by Sean Russell


I don’t remember how I heard about these two books (The Initiate Brother and The Gatherer of Clouds) by Sean Russell, but I’m glad I did. Seldom do I find Fantasy novels based on ancient Japan, and seldom do I find myself so captivated.


The Yankura family has ascended the Empire’s throne after the plague wiped out most of the previous dynasty, and the Emperor is a hard man to figure out. He trusts no one, and schemes and undermines, afraid that the older Houses will turn against him.

Lord Shonto is a lord of such an ancient House, and though he sees the Emperor fears him and his influence, and knows the Emperor wants him and his House gone, he still performs his duties for the Empire. He is to travel to the province of Seh, where the barbarian hordes are amassing, and he is to protect the Empire from their greed. He is helped by members of his House, his allies, his daughter Lady Nishima and his Spiritual advisor; a young Initiate Brother called Shuyun, who seems to be destined for great things

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Review: The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart


The Story of the Stone is the second book in the Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox written by Barry Hughart.


After a monk is murdered for something that turns out to be a fake, Master Li and Number Ten Ox are contacted and asked to investigate. When they arrive in the valley of Sorrows, things soon turn out to be about something completely different. And a terrible question buries itself into their hearts: has the terrible tyrant called the Laughing Prince returned?

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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. Continue reading