I shall clap my hands together and bow to the corners of the world.
–Barry Hughart - Bridge of birds - c.1984 - pg.3
In an Ancient China, that never was, Yu Lu (not to be confused with the eminent author of The Classic of Tea) sets out on a quest to save the children of his village. Everyone between the ages of 8 and 13 has been struck down by a mysterious plague. He is sent to the Peking in order to bring back a wise man who can help them solve the mystery of this plague that can count. Soon Yu Lu (also known as Number Ten Ox due to his great strength) and the wise man Li Kao are racing across China in an attempt to locate the Root of Power that just may save the afflicted children.
I am fairly sure that I came across this book through a book-blogger’s recommendation, however, I cannot recall who it was that mentioned the book. My bad. If it was you, let me know and I’ll give you major props :)
At the moment I’m a bit undecided about my final opinion of this novel. On the one hand it was entertaining and humorous, plus it had a likeable narrator. But on the other hand it never really grabbed hold of me and *made* me read it. Plus, while Number Ten Ox was likeable and Master Li was entertaining, I never felt like they were wholly real characters. Of course that was part of the style of the telling so can I really criticise the book for that…
So I liked it, a lot, but am also ambivalent about it.
Lets concentrate on what I enjoyed. The style of writing was easy to read and easy to understand. The story itself was engaging, if never absorbing, and the use of fairy tales and folk tales was wonderful. But I do really like that sort of thing, so I was predisposed to enjoying that aspect of it.
Overall, it is one I would recommend, and while I don’t know if I’ll be rushing to buy the others in the series, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at them if I stumbled across them.