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Barry Hugheart "Bridge of Birds"

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  • Barry Hugheart "Bridge of Birds"

    Not groundbreaking literature... but Bridge of Birds is one of my favorite fun fantasy novels... It's the story of a young man's quest to find the cause and cure for and ilness a that has hit the children of his village and how that quest ends up tied up in something much bigger... It's set in anchient China... and it will make you laught. It has one of the best escape sequences I have ever read...

  • #2
    A Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart

    I read this book about a year ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Master Li is outrageous-cunning as a fox. Just last week, I finally read the other two Master Li/Number Ten Ox novels that Mr. Hughart wrote: The Story of the Stone and Eight Skilled Gentlemen.

    The Story of the Stone got off to a shaky start. Master Li seemed very much out of character. But about halfway through the book, the action picked up and it became more reminiscent of the first book.

    Eight Skilled Gentlemen was almost as good as A Bridge of Birds. Master Li comes back in full form along with Number Ten Ox. Chock full of interesting characters and plenty of action.


    • #3
      Yes! Brilliant! I loved these!

      They are quite hard to find, so it's tough for me to recommend them to friends. "Hey, there are these three great fantasy books, which you should read, but you won't be able to find them, so never mind."

      I especially liked the "Chinese fantasy" aspect in all three books (you see some of this in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as well). Takes a bit more "willing suspension of disbelief" to read some of the action, but it's all part of the fun.

      Some well-travelled, well-read friends let me borrow an omnibus edition...and now I can't find it. :oops: I need to return it to them, of course, when I find it...and first I'd very much to read these again. :)


      • #4
        BoB has the absolute best escape sequence that I have ever read....

        On a side note, the book is even better if read aloud with a group. That's how I first heard the book.


        • #5
          This might help...

          A collected edition, called The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, came out in 1998. While the publisher has since gone out of business, copies may be available online.


          • #6
            I have that, the artwork is done by Kaja Foglio.


            • #7
              Indeed, and fabulously so.


              • #8
                Apparently, Barry Hughart deal with, hence the relative lack of publishing history for these great books. :(


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pellaz
                  Apparently, Barry Hughart deal with, hence the relative lack of publishing history for these great books. :(
                  My understanding is that Barry likes to be PAID for his work. This is the basis for his reputation as a difficult author. The fact that he could make more money at another job is the reason he's stopped writing.


                  • #10
                    I'm re-reading Bridge of Birds right now -- apparently it's been reissued as a single mass-market paperback -- and finding it as delightful as the first go-round. I'm actually dreading reaching the end, because I won't be able to least not right away.

                    That omnibus edition (The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox) was the book I lost, that belonged to my friends. To them, I owe the three obeisances and nine kowtows. *sigh*


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Pellaz View Post

                      That omnibus edition (The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox) was the book I lost, that belonged to my friends. To them, I owe the three obeisances and nine kowtows. *sigh*
                      Since I have seen the Omnibus edition sell on ebay for well over $100, yes you owe them the three obeisances and nine kowtows...

                      Subterranean Press made a limited run of the stories last fall, but when I found out about it, they had already sold out. Hopefully since they sold so quckly, they will make another go of it sometime in the future.


                      I have the first edition of Story of the Stone, plus two copies of the Omnibus edition(only one of which gets read). They don't get loaned out, and they stay in the enclosed, dust free area of my Bookshelf. Barry originally planned on a series of seven books, culminating in the Death of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, and their subsequent ascent to Heaven (to cause further mayhem for the Jade Emperor).

                      As for Barry being hard to work with... I think "tired of getting screwed" would be a better description. He is has also described himself as Bi-Polar. I am too, so I can somewhat understand how is mind works, and how that may have caused his "reputation" of being hard to deal with. He has apparently mellowed somewhat with years, because where he used to blame his Publisher for the reason he quit writing, he made a different statement as to why he quit writing the stories when Subterranean released their issue.

                      His latest statement on the subject...

                      "Will there be more? I doubt it, and it’s not because of bad sales and worse publishers. It’s simply that I’d taken it as far as I could. Oh, I could come up with more ingenious plots and interesting characters and so on, but the Ox/Master Li format had become just that, a format, and no matter how well I wrote I’d just be repeating myself. Many writers are content to settle down with an endless if predictable series, but I’d be miserable, and so it was like deciding to quit smoking: cold turkey or forget about it, and I chose cold turkey. Anyway, it was a lot of fun while it lasted, and I hope Ox and Li Kao can continue to give fun to readers, and I most particularly hope that on dark and stormy nights some of those readers will be able to crawl into my alternate world and pull it over them like a security blanket. Farewell."

                      A great loss for those of us who would have enjoyed the further adventures of a "China that never was", but its his decision and we will just have to be happy with the three books we got...
                      Last edited by seanpmc1; 04-01-2009, 06:29 AM. Reason: highliting