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Eight Skilled Gentlemen

Monday, November 14, 2011

Eight Skilled Gentlemen (1991) Barry Hughart

This is the third and final book in the Master Li and Number Ten Ox trilogy. I’m a little sad to see it end, but it was quite enjoyable.

Oddly, the passages that caught my attention in this book weren’t the funny ones, but the ones that related to other recent discussions.

“Both the I-ching and the Huai-nan-tzu assert that natural disasters are not caused by heaven, but allowed by Heaven. If men wllfully disrupt the natural order of things,the gods will refuse to intervene while nature purges itself of the toxin, usually violently, and if the innocent suffer along with the guilty–well the only way men learn anything is to have it smashed into their heads with an ax.”

Feels more like something from Martin Luther than from China.

And then there is this:

Old P’i-pao-ku, “Leatherbag Bone,” was Mrs. Wu’s grandmother, and she was waiting at the confectioner’s to get hard sugar decorations of the five poisonous insects (centipede, scorpion, lizard, toad, snake) to spread over top of her wu tu po po cake, which she would purposely make as inedible as possible without being actually deadly. Every family member eats a slice on the fifth day of the fifth moon, and sickness demons stare at people capable of eating stuff like that and go elsewhere.

Well. That explains some things.

Was this as good as The Bridge of Birds? Maybe not. But it was still good, and quite fun, and I highly recommend the series.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Subterranean Press

Categories: 8/10, Asian, Fantasy, Mystery     Comments (0)    



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