It\'s hard to fully-articulate why you should absolutely make time in your life to read Bridge of Birds without, at least a little, negatively impacting your experience with it. Lord knows, I didn\'t quite go in blind, and while I still spent the whole book happily enjoying myself, it had a slight negative impact on my experience. But I\'m still going to try, because if even one person tries this book who\'d never heard of it before, that\'ll be a victory. First up, the setting. Bridge of Birds takes place in a place that defies the ordinary norms of the Fantasy genre: Tang Dynasty China at one of the peaks of its wealth, science, and power. It pops at the seams with energy as it draws the reader into what is likely a place that\'s just alien enough to be deeply intriguing, yet just familiar enough that they don\'t feel at all lost and confused, and explains just enough that you never feel like you\'re having to choke down boring exposition. That\'s really hard, and my hat\'s off to Mr. Hughart. Second, the structure. It\'s a beautiful, ticking timepiece of a book. When the trope page says everything that\'s not immediately important will eventually be important, they are not wrong, and to say anything else would be to damage the work for you. Third, the characters. Not just the main duo of Ox, the humble-but-wise peasant, and Li Kuo, the brilliant-but-flawed genius, but all of the side characters. They are all either entertainingly evil, hilariously flawed, heartbreakingly human, or some combination thereoff. Again, not to spoil, but the ending is one of the few things I\'ve actually cried at in my life, because of how it works for them. Finally, the plot. Again, to avoid spoilers, it starts with the duo trying to achieve a very humble, human problem, and all their other adventures across the length and breadth of the land feed into that. And any grand cosmic plots they land in in the meanwhile are still part of that. For all of these reasons, this is the best book I\'ve ever read, and I can\'t recommend it enough.
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