Books : reviews

Barry Hughart.
Bridge of Birds.
Corgi. 1984

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 19 December 2000

The children in Number Ten Ox's village Ku-fu have been accidentally poisoned by unscrupulous con men. Ox is sent to find someone to help save them, and he picks Li Kao, a wily old scholar with a slight flaw in his character. Together they embark on a quest to find the Great Heart of Power -- a very special ginseng root -- to cure the children. But it seems their quest is linked to an older legend, of Jade Pearl and the Bridge of Birds.

This is a charming, witty, and interesting story. The oriental-esque style is used well to add colour and bizarre detail, without ever becoming overly-precious, and there are some imaginative twists and turns. Many well-hidden clues are given (although the identity of one of the ostensibly mystery characters is blindingly obvious), and there are many ingenious escapes and rescues. A pleasure to read.