- Bridge of Birds
name = Bridge of Birds
image_caption = First edition, hard cover dust jacket
country = USA
language = English
series = Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox
subject = China -- Fiction
genre = Historical Fiction, Fantastic Fiction
publisher = St. Martin's Press
pub_date = 1984
media_type = Book
pages = 248
isbn = ISBN 0312095511
oclc = 10147148
followed_by = The Story of the StoneAlso published in omnibus edition: "
The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox".
"Bridge of Birds" is a
fantasy novelby Barry Hughart, first published in 1984. It is set in a fantastical version of ancient China (Hughart subtitled it "A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was"). It draws on the traditional tale of Cowherd and Weaver Girl and other myths, poems and incidents from Chinese history. [waybackdate|site=http://www.massmedia.com/~mikeb/hughart/interview.htm|date=20061114064707|title=Interview with Barry Hughart (2000)]
It was followed by two sequels, "The Story of the Stone" and "
Eight Skilled Gentlemen".
"Bridge of Birds" won the 1985
World Fantasy Awardfor best novel and the 1986 Mythopoeic Awardfor best fantasy.
The book begins on the fifteenth day of the eighth moon in the Year of the Dragon 3,337 (A.D.
639) with the children of the 7th-century Chinese village of Ku-fu falling prey to a strange plague (one that has apparently learned how to count). One of the villagers, Lu Yu (usually called Number Ten Ox, is sent to Peking to seek a sage who can discover the nature of the plague and its cure. He finds Li Kao, an ancient scholar with a "slight flaw in his character", and when Master Li returns with Number Ten Ox to the village he swiftly discerns that the problem is not plague. It is poison.
The children of Ku-Fu will slowly decline toward certain death unless a cure is found. The only hope lies in the healing strength of a legendary
ginsengplant called the Great Root of Power. In all of China only one such plant is known to exist, and thus Master Li and Number Ten Ox begin a journey that will require all of the young man's strength and the old man's wiles (not to mention character flaws). Unbeknownst to them their quest is being interwoven with another one, and wherever they turn they will face murderous mazes, marvels, and monsters, and before they can find the Great Root of Power they must find something that had been stolen more than a thousand years ago, stolen from Heaven itself.
Foreign language editions
* גשר ציפורים / "Gesher tsiporim" (Hebrew, 2002; OCLC OCLC search link|57289055)
* "La magnificence des oiseaux : une aventure de maître Li et boeuf numéro dix" (French, 2000; OCLC OCLC search link|49181060)
* "Die brücke der vögel : roman aus einem alten China, das es nie gegeben hat" (German, 1986; OCLC OCLC search link|52140127)
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