Friday, August 29, 2008

Forgotten Books: BRIDGE OF BIRDS -- Barry Hughart

Bridge of Birds is likely to have been overlooked by mystery readers because it's a fantasy novel set in "an Ancient China that never was." But it's a lot more than that. It's also an adventure, a quest, and a mystery. Its narrator, Number 10 Ox, is the Watson to Master Li's Holmes. Li is a master of deduction, albeit with "a slight flaw in his character."

Love, death, myth, monsters, mayhem (lots), and wonderful writing all combine to make this book, for me, unforgettable. I was reminded of it recently because I received an e-mail from Subterranean Press, which is about to release an omnibus volume that will include all three novels about Master Li and Number 10 Ox (
Bridge of Birds, The Story of the Stone, and Eight Skilled Gentlemen). While the latter two aren't quite as wonderful as the first, they're still well worth your time.

9 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Bill. Lovely cover.

David Cranmer said...

Adventure, mystery, etc. in "an ancient China that never was" is as inviting of a reason to read a book as I've ever heard.

Bill Crider said...

You really can't go wrong with this one. Trust me.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you know it. Harris County Public Library has the two sequels, but not "Bridge of Birds".
--Thomas Miller

Bill Crider said...

Definitely a forgotten book, then.

Brian said...

Hey! I read that! I remember nothing whatsoever about it, but I remember the cover and the name Hughart.

Clare2e said...

I've been trying to think of any book I'd forgotten that anyone else might enjoy remembering for this feature, so I went to Patti's spot for more inspiration. Turns out I've just read this one and you've already gone and stole it! It's hopeless. My forgotten book's gonna be an autopsy textbook or story of whaling. The Hughart is so good and lyrical.

Bill Crider said...

Sorry I beat you to it. I absolutely agree about how good and lyrical it is.

Anonymous said...

Not so forgotten. The book was just reprinted as a lovely (signed)omnibus edition from Subterranean Press. Sold out on publication, but I think there are still a few copies on Amazon.