Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review - Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

Grade: A
Excerpt:  Taken from a page when the author is describing the importance of the drummer while two swordsman compete in Sword Dancing:
It is said that a truly great drummer is the equivalent of a third sword. Sample gymnasium conversation:
"I hear that Fan Yun has challenged you.Who's your drummer?"
"Blind Meng."
"Blind Meng! Great Buddha, I must sell my wife and wager the proceeds! Orderly, be so kind as to order flowers for Fan Yun's widow."
 This is really a standout book for the year.  A debut novel that sets its story in Ancient China, 13 and a half centuries ago? Clearly, this is fiction that is so strange to our world today that it becomes fantasy. Add in a pinch of heroic adventure, a soupcon of religion and mystical beliefs, ghosts and myths, hilariously funny lines and you will see why I loved this book.
I'm not going to make this a full-length review with the usual plus, minus etc - This is a book that I recommend for most readers, as it is genre-defying.

I would add that of the three books featuring Master Li and Number Ten Ox, the heroes of this book, are not up to the high standards of the first book.
You might remember that I took one teaser from this book a while ago -
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  1. I would certainly rate it among the top 25 SFF books that I have read. It is, as you said, a genre-defying tome. Even people who are not into SFF can genuinely enjoy this novel.

    Another one I remember reading LONG ago and which you might enjoy is Jason Cosmo.

  2. Thanks for dropping by my Mood Swings blog. I really enjoyed this book -- such unexpectedly delicious humor in it and the descriptions and language are lovely. Not sure if I'm going to do a formal review but if I do I'll link here.

    I have a suggestion for you (well, two, actually, because one is a sequel. The Stumpwork Robe and The Last Stitch by Prue Batten. Fantasy set in the created world of Eirie. A young woman, held captive to create an magical robe, writes her saga on tiny books which she then hides beneath the raised (stumpwork) embroidery. I did a review of it at and highly recommend it.


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