Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was

Friday, February 2, 2018

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was (1984) Barry Hughart

Set in the Middle Kingdom of China, Year of the Tiger 3337 (AD 639)

All the children in the village between the ages of eight and thirteen have fall victim to an unknown illness, and all the silkworms have died, so Number Ten Ox is sent to the city to find a wise man who can cure the children.

Number Ten Ox comes back with Master Li.

“My surname is Li and my personal name is Kao, and there is a slight flaw in my character.”

This is one of those books where the story itself is secondary to the storytelling. The bits idly dropped here and there throughout the tale.

(T)he abbot of our monastery always said that fable has strong shoulders that carry far more truth than fact can.

“In my humble village,” Master Li said sweetly, “we grow men so big that their upper lips lick the stars, while their lower lips nuzzle the earth.”

The thug thought about it. “And where are their bodies?”

“They are like you,” said Master Li. “All mouth.”

“Error can point the way to truth, while empty-headedness can only lead to more empty-headedness or to a career in politics.

(S)he jumps into whatever clothes are lying around and leaps out the door— or window, it doesn’t matter— to see what wonders the new day will bring, and since she views the world with the delighted eyes of a child, the day is bound to be marvelous.”

I think that last bit is probably the best reminder–if you look for delight your day is more likely to be marvelous.
Rating: 8.5/10

Publisher: Subterranean Press

Categories: 8.5/10, Alternate History, Asian, Fantasy, Historical, Reread


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