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The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart
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The Story of the Stone

by Barry Hughart

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox (2)

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7861717,670 (4.06)51
Recently added byPhrim, vittithing, miri12, DavidClemens, private library, Terrencee, vbboz, vandaaway, wisemetis
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» See also 51 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Oh dear.

I read Bridge of Birds in college on the recommendation of a friend. I immediately fell in love with it. The book was hysterically funny, tightly plotted, and was gloriously whimsy. So when I heard that Hughart had written a sequel (two, in fact), I expected the second book to be just as good as the first.

It's... not.

I reread Bridge of Birds last week, and it's just as good as I remembered. A major part of that excellence is how damn well the whole thing is put together. That's why it feels more like a fairytale than a fantasy--the preciseness of the story elements, how each plot beat mirrors each other, the classic sets of threes, culminating in the big reveal that you never saw coming but makes absolute total sense, and upon reread is actually very expected.

The Story of the Stone is just a mess. There's none of the careful plot precision of the first book, none of the fairytale qualities that elevated Bridge of Birds from enjoyable fantasy to something memorable. The plot runs literally all over the place, and the ending is so unexpected it feels rude. There's no way anyone could have seen the ending coming because that ending makes no sense.

Some of the old elements are back. The main characters of Master Li and Number Ten Ox have returned, as has the humor and occasional reliance on Divine intervention (the Chinese pantheon variety). But there's more to a great novel than it's basic parts, and The Story of the Stone utterly fails to become something more.

I'm very disappointed. I've read a lot of crap recently, frankly, and a decent chunk of that crap were books that I really thought I was going to like. This hasn't been a great year for reading new fiction. ( )
  miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
If you are looking to get away from the ubiquitous European style of fantasy story, I highly recommend Hughart's books. This series is set in a rather fantastical ancient China, full of crazy characters, alcohol, demons, gods, and amazing stories. This second book is similar to the first, with a complicated mystery and a lot of running around. I love how imaginative the scenarios are, bordering on absurd but hilarious. And touching. Enjoy! ( )
  ladypembroke | May 17, 2019 |
Highly imaginative fantasy set in old China, with terrific characters and a lot of research that doesn't bog the story down. It's great to read a fantasy that isn't a Tolkein retread. This book isn't all that easy to find, but is worth some hunting. ( )
1 vote JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
As wonderful as the first book was, this was a bit of a let down. I certainly enjoyed the read, it just didn't pack quite the same punch as [b:Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was|15177|Bridge of Birds A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was|Barry Hughart|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327940289s/15177.jpg|958087].

Li and Ox have to deal with a long dead sadist prince. In the process they find some kind of lost" souls, go through the 10 layers of chinese hell, do their typical wenching and eating thing, and finish things up nice and neat." ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barry Hughartprimary authorall editionscalculated
Harrison, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This one is for the Sacred and Solemn Order of Sinologists
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Jen Wu is a day Master Li sets aside for my literary endeavors, and I was pleased that it was cold and rainy and fit for little else than splashing ink around.
       ~ Prologue
One-Eyed Wong and his beloved wife, Fat Fu, have worked very hard to earn the reputation of running the worst wineshop in all China.
Quotations
* The meaning is unclear, although the implication is alarming. It should be remembered that volumes two through five of the complete Memoirs of Number Ten Ox were seized and burned by the Imperial Censors, and while copies are rumored to exist, none have been found.
In darkness languishes the precious stone, When will its excellence enchant the world?
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Book description
Set in a mythical, medieval China where folklore and history are indistinguishable, a dead monk, an ancient and now missing manuscript, and a ghostly murderer entice the venerable Master Li and his faithful companion Number Ten Ox into the Valley of Sorrows for a deadly and uproarious confrontation with the long-dead Laughing Prince.
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An adventure which takes place in an alternative China.

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