Welcome, my readers, to another book review. This time I went for a more exotic pick, delving into Asian mythos. I figured this would help me write Tempest of the Dragon since both stories are based in East Asia.
—Bridge of Birds—
The story of Bridge of Birds is set in ancient China. The themes presented in the book include adventure, humor, and fantasy. Many of the Chinese mythoi are fascinating, and the author did a superb job weaving them into the plot.
The main character, Number Ten Ox, leaves his village to discover a cure for a disease afflicting his village. During his journey, he encounters a host of bizarre and unusual enemies throughout ancient China. Surviving assassins, ghosts, sultry concubines, and immortal dukes, Ox and his partner unearth the legacy of a fallen goddess and how to save her from damnation.
The book is around 280 pages and chapters are straightforward and short; although I would have appreciated a table of contents to guide me through it. Oh well.
The characters in the story are amusing and oftentimes comical. Number Ten Ox is a youth built for strength and not so much for wits.
His adventuring partner, Master Li, is the opposite: an experienced old man with a “slight flaw in his character”. He comes off as a wizened individual who is both wise yet daring.
The side characters make brief appearances throughout the story, adding amusement in creative ways. There are a few gruesome scenes and deaths among the characters, but the overall story remains jovial.
Bridge of Birds makes full use of Chinese mythology with its inclusion of ghosts, alchemy, ancient medicine, and other Taoist concepts like immortality. The magic system may appeal more to historical fiction buffs than fantasy fans.
The romance in the story is undeveloped and shallow, as the protagonist often jumps from one partner to the next. However, the author often incorporates elements of comedy into these engagements and I never took each romance scene too seriously.
The tension in the story is present but lacking, offset by myraid comedy relief that lightens the story. At first, many of the obstacles faced by the protagonist seem dire, but a creative or amusing solution always result a page or two later.
Bridge of Birds has excellent comedy relief with a sense of whimsical adventure that grabs the reader. Its good balance of themes makes each chapter a fulfilling read. The characters are engaging and fit their roles well.
The prose construction was sloppy in several areas, leading to verbose paragraphs and a dearth of descriptions in others. The protagonist’s emotions were not well internalized, as the story was told from a third-person distant narrative.
A few scenes had graphic detail, which was surprising for a book that wavers between jovial themes and gruesome concepts so readily.
—My rating for Bridge of Birds: 4/5 stars: a decent read—
Bridge of Birds is a pleasant book, with its lighthearted spin on a fantasy adventure. It is very entertaining with its cast of characters, themes, decent pacing, and East Asian mythology.
Parts of the story were weak from a dearth of descriptions, emotions, or character development, but the ending was very satisfying and worthwhile.
A reader looking for an amusing fantasy novel that isn’t too serious should enjoy this story.
Thank you again for reading and remember to hit that “follow” button below. Enjoy the fall weather! 🙂