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The Ancestor

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A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he's certain they do not exist in modern times-but from his life in the late 1800s. After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow's life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he'd been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis's wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can't be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century.

A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future. The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice….

348 pages, Paperback

First published August 21, 2020

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About the author

Lee Matthew Goldberg

24 books1,484 followers

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of twelve novels including THE ANCESTOR and THE MENTOR along with his five-book DESIRE CARD series. His YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is currently in script development with actress Raegan Revord from TVs Young Sheldon off his original written pilot. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared as a contributor in Pipeline Artists, LitHub, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Mystery Tribune, The Big Idea, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, Hypertext, If My Book, Past Ten, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Maudlin House and others. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at LeeMatthewGoldberg.com

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 297 reviews
Profile Image for Debra .
2,421 reviews35.2k followers
August 14, 2020
Wyatt Barlow wakes up in present day Alaskan wilderness initially with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. He sees two men hunting nearby and one of them looks just like him. After following the man home and seeing him with his wife and son, memories of his own wife and son come back to him. Then he remembers who he is and believes that he has been frozen in time, and that Travis, his doppelganger, is his great-great grandson. Will blood be thicker than water (or shall I say ice)? Wyatt still believes that gold exists in the Alaskan landscape and as he gets closer to Callie, Travis’s wife, his interest turns to obsession.

Two men, two different times...The premise of this book is interesting and involves some need to suspend disbelief. A man frozen in time to awake and go about adjusting to a new time, new way of talking, of living, technological advances, etc. The descriptions of the Alaskan landscape and cold are vivid and sharp. The story ebbed and flowed for me, parts slow, other parts that moved faster. This is another book where I can say that I liked but did not love it.

Interesting premise.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Apoorva.
190 reviews175 followers
October 1, 2020
Have you ever wondered what it must seem like to reincarnate? Or, for the matter, survive for a really prolonged period, perhaps longer than a centenary!? How will that feel?

When I selected this novel by reading just the title, I assumed it must be something representing the protagonist's lineage and how that influences their world. I took a gamble and really ran in blind, without actually knowing the book's blurb. And I am happy that I decided to do that as the book was a wonder in all manners. I could never believe that a narrative could scheme in such a refined yet effective way.

Two characters are isolated because of different circumstances, yet connected together in such a way that can't be readily agreeable. Some sections of the tale, I think, run very quick while it pulls down a bit in some others. I wish the consistency could hold better. Nevertheless, the writer has made a notable investigation on the topics of Alaskan History, the Gold Rush Expeditions, the indigenous Indian tribes, and the likes.

Overall, I wouldn't complain about going back to this page-turner book once again and re-live the offbeat experiences of the heroes. The premise is very unique and leaves a beautiful remark.

I would like to thank the Publisher, All Due Respect, the Author Lee Matthew Goldberg, and NetGalley for the book's ARC. In exchange, I am giving an honest evaluation; all the views and conclusions are of my own.
Profile Image for "Avonna.
1,202 reviews363 followers
August 24, 2020
Check out all of my reviews at: https://www.avonnalovesgenres.com

THE ANCESTOR by Lee Matthew Goldberg is a unique suspense/thriller that merges two timelines, the past and present in one family in small town Laner, Alaska. Mr. Goldberg has written a family saga about greed, jealousy, love, sacrifice, acceptance, friendship and being a part of a family.

A man wakes up emerging from the ice in Alaska. He has no memories, but he does have a journal which the year 1898 and a mirror. He hears shots and follows the sound to find two hunters and he is shocked to find that one appears to be his identical twin. He hides in their truck and peers through Travis Barlow, the hunter’s window of his home to see a woman and child. They begin to bring back memories of his own life and he remembers his name is Wyatt Barlow.

Wyatt realizes he has been frozen since his journey to Alaska during the gold rush. He is sure he found gold, but he does not remember where. Wyatt ingratiates himself with Travis, who he realizes is his great-great grandson. Wyatt wants the gold to help his current family, but he also has a dangerous obsession which will affect of the current generations of Barlows.

I enjoyed this book on so many levels. The writing is gritty and stark as the frozen landscape of Alaska. I was always waiting for the next twist in the plot as Wyatt learned more about present time and revealed more of his true self. The characters in this book are all fully fleshed and realistically portrayed. This suspense/thriller is an original story with plenty of drama and adventure.

I highly recommend this suspense/thriller by an author who never fails to give me a unique story.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,820 reviews12.8k followers
July 6, 2020
I’ll give this a 3.5 star rating, but Goodreads has yet to initiate this needed middle of the road option.

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Lee Matthew Goldberg for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Looking for a thriller with a different tilt, my eye caught this novel by Lee Matthew Goldberg. In a tale that pulls two men from different eras together, bound by their bloodline, Goldberg uses the backdrop of Alaska and the worries of family to tie them together. In a barren field outside Laner, Alaska, a man finds himself in the cold. Unsure how he got here and with only vague memories of his past, Wyatt Barlow sees two men in the distance. As he approaches, he recognises one, though has no idea why. After sneaking aboard their truck, Wyatt makes his way into town and spies on one of the men, a Travis Barlow. When Wyatt realises that it is 2020, he begins to piece it all together. Born in 1860 in Washington State, Wyatt remembers leaving his wife and child behind when he travelled up to Alaska for the gold rush. Other than that, he has no idea about his past. While Wyatt slinks around Laner and tries to learn more about Travis—a man he determines to be his great-great-grandson—some of the locals begin to see the resemblance between the two. Travis is struggling himself, trying to make ends meet for his family and finding himself in over his head. When he meets Wyatt one day, he tries to offer some charity to the man, not knowing their deeper connection. Wyatt befriends Travis and tries to get to know the family that came after him, all while he seeks to piece together his own life. Wyatt remembers being frozen in the ice after finding a large cache of gold and determines how the modern-day Barlows fit into the mix. Many others are leery of Wyatt, who not only appears to be a vagrant, but is also a little too chummy with Travis. Trouble ensues and fights are held, but Wyatt remains determined that he will do all he can for his family. Battling some demons of his own, Wyatt opens his mind and remembers something from his past that could change everything for Travis and those around him. However, it will take a monumental leap of faith to tell Travis the truth, in hopes that he will believe him. A decent book whose story holds strong throughout, proving Goldberg has some skill some readers will want to explore a little more.

The premise of the book seemed quite intriguing, though I was not sure how the Wyatt/Travis connection would reveal itself. I tend to steer away from anything too fantastical, though I tried to keep an open mind here. Goldberg focuses his attention on two protagonists, Wyatt and Travis, building their backstories and development in tandem. Wyatt comes from many years ago and must acclimate to life in the 21st century, as well as how he will reveal his news to progeny who have never given him much thought. Pulling in Native American and narcotics angles, Goldberg shines a light on some of the issues taking place in modern Alaska, as well as how it fits into the larger narrative. Travis, too, is forced to come to terms with some heavy baggage, including a marriage that is anything but stellar. Both men work their way throughout the book with ease, coming together when it is needed most and making the most of the experience. The handful of secondary characters help add depths and flavour to the book, though none stop out for me as being exceptional. Each served their purpose and added something to the story, but I was not blown away. The overall experience reading this book was a decent one, but I felt something was lacking. I could not put my finger on it, but I wanted more action and disturbance and less of the heartfelt emotional connection between a broken family and a man who serves as a missing link. Goldberg has great writing style and was able to hold my attention, but I think I wanted something grittier or more mysterious about the ‘time travel’ angle of the piece. Goldberg utilises a great understanding of Alaskan culture, terrain, and local lore, which helped me feel as though I were right there. With a mix of quick and longer chapters, this helped me push forward, even through the parts of the novel that held less interest for me. I enjoyed the book, but did not love it, which can be a slightly opaque comment, but one that I am sure many readers have experienced, even when words elude them to elaborate.

Kudos, Mr. Goldberg, for a decent read. I will take some time to think on it, but I would likely try another of your novels down the road.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,191 reviews340 followers
September 3, 2020
What a fascinating premise which I loved! The writing was suspenseful and thrilling, always kept you wanting more and more. Goldberg’s writing was immersive with characters that draws you in to the story - lots of drama and intense scenes - a truly atmospheric read I enjoyed. This was a truly creative plot that will hook you right from the start. I loved it!
Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,339 reviews31 followers
September 23, 2020
In present day Laner, Alaska Travis Barstow and his best friend are out hunting caribou.  At the same moment, a man wakes up out of an icy tomb not far away from where Travis shoots.  The man does not remember much, but a mirror in his pocket and a journal dated 1898 will help him fill in the gaps.  The man's first instinct is survival.  Interestingly, Travis Barstow looks like the frozen man's mirror image.  The man watches Travis from a distance and as the memories come back, he knows they are connected.  The man remembers who he is-Wyatt Barstow, and what he was here for- gold.  Wyatt engrains himself in Travis' life and makes his obsession Travis' own.  Together, they hunt for the gold that Wyatt was so close to over 100 years ago.  However, every day that Wyatt remembers more about his past, he envies Travis' present and feels the need to fulfill the life he left behind.
The Ancestor is a unique thriller blending past and present, family drama and psychological suspense.  I was hooked from the very beginning as Wyatt thawed from the ice with no knowledge of who he was.  The characters are completely created and each adds a separate element to the story.  I was engrossed in Wyatt's unfolding memories and how it changed him as a person as well as my perception of his character.  I definitely enjoyed Wyatt's journal entries from 1898 as well as the chapters written from his point of view while exploring Alaska in that time period with the descriptions of a beautiful and wild unsettled Alaska, small villages and Native settlements.   I was amazed at how adaptable Wyatt was reentering a strange world more than 100 years after he froze as well as how careful he was with the truth of who he was.  The mystery of Wyatt's condition and why he awoke when he did carried the suspense throughout the story as well as his intentions with Travis and his family.  The plot slowly but thoughtfully layers as more details are revealed about Travis' life, Wyatt's history and the daily life of the residents of Laner.  While I knew where the story was headed, I was still surprised by the ending and would love if the story continued.  

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
Profile Image for Scott Cumming.
Author 8 books54 followers
August 19, 2020
All Due Respect continue to push the boundaries of crime fiction and with that comes their most ambitious novel yet. While The Ancestor seems to lie under a multitude of genre tags, it is at heart a wonderful character lead crime novel. It’s a book to really savour as we learn more about the Barlow family and seep ourselves into the Alaskan setting.

Wyatt Barlow has been frozen in time since 1898 and thaws to discover two men hunting, one of whom looks nearly identical to Wyatt. This would be Travis Barlow, who resides in Laner with his wife and child and Wyatt begins to do whatever he can to ingratiate himself into their lives whilst looking to unravel his own past and what he has lost whilst suspended in time.

Goldberg writes some absolutely sumptuous passages in this book, which does start out slowly as he looks to introduce his cast and setting. The beginning of chapter 11 where he describes the state of Travis and his wife, Callie’s, relationship is where the novel really took off for me and from there he starts to proffer information into the extended Barlow clan and parse out the details of Wyatt’s life. This book is a heady blend of noir, adventure and historical fiction that sets Goldberg apart as a novelist I will continue to be on the look out for.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough and it deserves to get into as many hands as possible.

Thanks to ADR for the ARC!
Profile Image for Shahira8826.
450 reviews21 followers
August 2, 2020
Thank you to the publisher and BookSirens for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. It is set to be published in August 2020.

"The Ancestor" by Lee Matthew Goldberg is a gripping thriller that draws elements from the adventure and the historical genres.
Two parallel stories unfurl, one in the present, one in the late 19th century, and the awesome protagonist manages to come across as both the hero and the villain at the same time.
I loved the writing style, shapeshifting from contemporary prose to nineteenth-century diary entries and back, according to the narration and to which character's point of view is adopted.
I loved the concise, sober way in which such painful subjects as racism, addictions and gender-based violence are included, but never lingered upon. You will find no self-pitying in these pages, no whining and no preaching.
Most of all, I loved the characters: Wyatt and Travis to begin with, and pretty much everyone else. They felt like real people to me, each and every one of them with their very own disposition, their very own voice, quirks and desires.
The plot is enthralling enough to make you accept even the far-fetched premise that kick-starts the story, and the ending does not disappoint.
I can easily imagine this novel being made into a Hollywood blockbuster, and I'd definitely go watch it.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Profile Image for D.K. Hundt.
583 reviews22 followers
August 24, 2020
PICTURE IT…SICILY, 1922. Just kidding, but seriously…PICTURE IT, Alaska, 2020…

Two of the main characters are out in the Alaskan wilderness rifle hunting for Caribou when they shoot and kill three Caribou for food…

They lift two Caribou into the truck and plan on leaving the third there because there’s not enough room–THIS is the moment I throw a flag on the play, my coffee goes flying, and blurt out (scaring the crap out of my cat by the way). ‘Why didn’t you do a field dressing?!?’ ‘You could have fit all three in the back of the truck!’ ;)

Don’t worry, no coffee went flying and no hackles were raised at any time when reading THE ANCESTOR 😉

My Dad used to be a Hunters Safety instructor, so I’m guessing it was his voice in my head at the moment I read the opening scene.

Seriously though, I really enjoyed reading THE ANCESTOR, which I just finished about three this morning. There are some cringeworthy, absolutely heartbreaking, and surprising moments in this book, and I’m not going to spoil any of them for you.

I will say, as the reader, at times, it’s easy to empathize with Wyatt throughout the book, that is–up to a point.

THE ANCESTOR – Recommend!

‘[A]s I’ve learned from life, happiness sometimes only greets us in fits and starts. For tragedy often follows merriment. Without strife, we would not know the true meaning of gaiety. That’s what I like to tell myself to ease the pain.’
Profile Image for Linda Zagon.
1,397 reviews119 followers
August 25, 2020
Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews “The Ancestor” by Lee Matthew Goldberg, All Due Respect, August 2020 for Suzy Approved Book Tours

Lee Mathew Goldberg, author of “The Ancestor” has written a chilling thriller that is intense, captivating, intriguing, riveting and enthralling. The genres for this story are thriller, psychological thriller, mystery and suspense, adventure, and fiction. There is a dash of possible fantasy in this story as well. The timeline for this story spans a century and then continues with the story. The story goes to the past and future when it pertains to the characters or events in the story. The author describes the characters as complex and complicated. There are betrayals, deep reaching secrets, lies, danger and murder. There is some historical background of gold prospecting.

Wyatt Barlow, wakes up after being frozen in Alaska. As he breaks through the ice that he was captured in, his memory starts to awake. He remembers his wife and child, and the time that he is now in is not at all the one he woke up from. How is it possible that Wyatt was able to survive 100 years? Wyatt notices a fellow hunter, that looks identical to him. This doppelgänger is Travis Barlow, who lives with his wife and son.

Wyatt starts to obsess and follow Travis, and becomes aware of the lifestyle that is 100 years later than he is familiar with. Wyatt is convinced that he is a relative from long ago, and tries to see the family history. As Wyatt’s memory gets sharper, he remembers his days a gold prospector. He may actually remember where there is gold hidden.

In this edgy, well-written story, I was surprised at the ending, and how it possibly could make a difference. I do hope the author writes a sequel. I highly recommend this amazing story.
Profile Image for Kidliomag .
1,222 reviews50 followers
October 3, 2020
The Ancestor is an absolute page turner which grips you in the dark past of Wyatt Emmett Barlow , the main protagonist of this story. This book is not a crime thriller which seems from its cover but the plot of story is so unique, a bit of fantasy drips with suspense and mystery makes this book an amazing and entertaining book.
Story starts with a man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror.    He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife Adalaide and son Joseph. Then he got to know that he is present in 2020 which is really a surprise for him that around 100 year he was trapped in the wilderness in Alaska but why? and why is he alive?I just love the way the author narrates this story which keeps me edge on the seat and keeps my interest intact till the end. Narration part is too strong and just perfect to blow your mind.Wyatt's Emotions and longing for his family that portrayed very well how he wanted to help Travis ,his great grandson and  family . I just love the letter which he wrote for his wife when he was in search of Gold. It pained him a lot that his wife and son thought that he chose gold over them.This book is an entertaining thriller which is a mix of history and fantasy and takes you on a journey of gold rush expeditions and  in the  dark woods where Wolves are not so wild as a human.
Recommended to everyone
My Rating 4.5
Profile Image for Amber.
1,054 reviews37 followers
July 31, 2020
I liked this book more than I thought that I would have. I really kind of went in blind to what I was reading and I’m I did.
So, this book has a different aspect that I haven’t really looked at before. I really enjoyed it. So, the story covers two men Wyatt and Travis. These men are from two different time periods one from 202 and the other from around 1860. Wyatt was frozen in the snow since the 1860s looking for gold to provide for his family. I like how Wyatts memories slowly resurface and then how he communes with his spirit animal, that is a really neat aspect of the book and his character! Travis is like your average guy with average problems like he is struggling and finding himself over his head for the most part trying to provide for his family. I liked the whole time travel aspect, I think the plot was well thought out and I enjoyed it. At times it was slower than I would have liked but I am glad I stuck with it because the ending was amazing. This is one of those books that you will keep thinking about it days after you finish it! I recommend this book for books about family and sci-fi lovers too! This is the first that I’ve read by this author and I would definitely check out anything else by the author.
Profile Image for Kristyn.
188 reviews16 followers
September 10, 2020
This was my first Lee Matthew Goldberg book and it was WiLd 😱. I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending, I’m still processing and left with a ton of questions 😅.
It was a solid 4 ⭐️ read. The story line was original-I’ve never read anything like it. The characters were fun to get to know: Travis, Wyatt, Callie, Eli, Grayson...However, I wish We could have gotten a little more insight to Eli and his intuition on Wyatt. My feelings of Wyatt changed on every page, never knowing how things were going to play out. This book was a page-turner for sure.
⚠️Trigger warning: drug and alcohol abuse⚠️
I’m not a fan of reading about so much drug use which is probably why I gave it 4 stars instead of more.

47 reviews4 followers
August 7, 2020
The Ancestor: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Imagine a double of yourself that you never knew existed. Somewhere out there is a carbon copy or duplicate of you with features like your parents some good and others bad. The story takes us back in time to 1898 where will enter the modest home of our main character before he gets transported to the future. Married with a sickly son in need of medical care, he explains his rationale to his angered wife and sad son that his quest for gold and riches is his priority and will hopefully bring them wealth with lots of gold nuggets as the gold rush and the hope of striking it rich lured so many away and left others behind. Leaving his family, he never expects where he winds up years into the future for him as the novel is now set in our present the year 2020. Frozen in time and covered in ice he begins to thaw out but has no recollection of his past, where he is and his identity. Finally able to move about he tries to get his bearings and wanders the town where he sees something and someone setting him on a course that will bring his past into the present, memories of his wife and son flood into his mind with dreams so vivid he feels like he’s reliving these moments as flashes of his wife and son plus their final moments come flooding through. Wyatt Barlow is our frozen man; the setting is Alaska and the shock of seeing someone that could be his doppelgänger in the present sends him on a quest to learn more.

Wyatt has to adjust to our timeline and there are people along the way that he shares his time with but will they understand that he is talking about another time, another century or will they think he is mentally unstable. Meets several women and then gets taken in by a woman working in a brothel but will he understand what she really does as he is searching within his mind to remember his son and his wife. The author takes us back to where it all begins in 1898 when Wyatt books passage on a boat to Alaska and we meet those he travels with, the incidents that would stay with him long after and the murder he committed at the will of another.

The author switches back and forth between timelines and centuries as we travel with Wyatt on the ship to Klondike and then learning about the First Nations residents. Linking the past and the present we learn the gravity and importance that the Tlingit nation plays and why they are important to the central plot. Wyatt’s mind is stuck int eh past during the gold rush in Klondike and the expedition is shared through his drug induced remembrances in the past.

Wyatt is a strong character and he and Travis come face to face and the connection is electrifying. Realizing that they both seem to have to same face and expressions draws them together and forms an unlikely connection for both. Friendships are difficult for Wyatt in this new world and explaining himself and the fact that he hoping to find gold makes him a target for others to try and put him down, his appearance does not endear him to many and yet Travis, Callie and Eli seem to want him around.

The author along with Wyatt takes readers back to 1898 where it all begins being not before Wyatt takes some heroin to go back in a drug induced stupor.

Each character has something that they cannot reconcile with as Stu, reflects on how much he misses his son Bobby and the author shares with readers the differences between Bobby and Travis. Parents often compare their children but sometimes one is favored for some reason over the other and Stu is aiming to deal with the drug dealer that took his son’s life. Retribution and revenge. Wyatt has a need to be the most important one in Travis’s life and anyone that stands in his way must be eliminated no matter who or what. Callie needs to get away from Travis but her time in California makes her realize where she belongs. Can they find their way back to each other? Lives are on thin ice; families are broken apart and Wyatt handles things ways he justifies even if they are wrong.
Travis and Wyatt have the gold, but will wealth and the fishing business bring them together? What about Callie and Eli will Wyatt be a part of their lives and what happens when he tells Travis who he is and how he came from another era 122 years earlier? What would you do if someone told you that they were preserved for 122 years and unfroze? Would you believe that person? How would you react? Aylen who had a relationship with Wyatt realizes that change is needed to have a better life. This story is about hope, acceptance, forgiveness, understanding, family, searching for what was in the past and hoping to find it in the present as author Lee Matthew Goldberg creates an ending filled with mystery, as one man opens his eye, one frozen shut and then realizes that something is happening to him as he passes through time, not sure who he is, where he came from as the story draws to a close with and ending that makes you wonder if there is an beginning for someone but who? The Ancestor is one that makes you questions how far you would go to defend and get what you want and how much one man named Wyatt would go through in order to have what someone else does? A story told though many voices filled with heartbreak, sadness, defeat, betrayal, greed, power and most of all the hope of love and family. Author Lee Matthew Goldberg forces both Travis and Callie, Stu and Cora to look deep within themselves to see where they belong, how they can move on past the anger and defeat and find their way back to each other as Wyatt wants to be a part of them all, Papa and Wyatt shared a special lasting bond, and the story will make others want to research their pasts to find out if there is someone like Wyatt a part of their present.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews
Profile Image for Grady.
Author 51 books1,887 followers
September 16, 2020
‘Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

New York author Lee Matthew Goldberg earned his Masters in Fine Arts from the New School in Manhattan and has created a reputation as an award-winning author (ten novels) whose works are published in multiple languages. He is equally successful in writing screenplays and pilots, and is the editor in chief and co-founder of Fringe (publishing fiction that is outside the box), and co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series.

Encountering Lee Mathew Goldberg marks a powerful acquaintance with a master storyteller. His concept for THE ANCESTOR is unique and fosters musings about our own inheritance of mind and character and history. The prose is visceral and pungent, descriptive to the point of transporting us into the two worlds upon which he reflects. An introduction or prologue is unnecessary as he leaps into the mystery of his book: ‘One eye open, the other frozen shut. He knows what an eye is, but that other “I” remains a mystery. Mind scooped out and left in ice. Words slowly return. Blue sky, that’s what he sees. The sun twinkling like a diamond. Tundra, there’s another recalled word. Packed snow on all sides as if the world succumbed to white. The air a powerful whistle. A breeze blows, not a friend but a penance. It passes right through and chills to the core, this enemy wind. Limbs atrophied, no idea when they last moved. Boil of a sun thaws and prickles. Tiny spiders swinging from long hairs, biting into flesh. He cries out but there is no sound. For it feels like he hasn’t spoken in centuries…’ Magical prose, this, the work of an artist who explains amnesia and time lapse as well as any writer!

The story is epic, and the author distills it for us: ‘A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike except for his own beard. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he's certain they do not exist in modern times--but from his life in the late 1800s. After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow's life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he'd been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis's wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can't be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century. A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future. The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice...’

THE ANCESTOR is a great novel, and as the author has remarked, ’It grapples with the question of who we are and whether we are just a summation of our memories and pasts.’ Lee Matthew Goldberg is an artist of substance who makes a powerful impact on the reader. Very highly recommended.
Profile Image for noorthebookworm .
721 reviews16 followers
August 21, 2020
WYATT wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is except an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man, TRAVIS BARLOW hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike except for his own beard.

After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he’s certain they do not exist now, in 2019—but from his life in the late 1800s.

Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that HE’D BEEN FROZEN AFTER COMING TO ALASKA DURING THE GOLD RUSH AND THAT TRAVIS IS HIS GREAT-GREAT GRANDSON.

Wyatt is CERTAIN GOLD STILL EXISTS in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis’s wife Callie, once WYATT FALLS IN LOVE.

This TURNS INTO A DANGEROUS OBSESSION affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since WYATT CAN’T BE TAMED Until he also DISCOVERS THE MEANING OF WHY HE WAS ABLE TO BE PRESERVED ON ICE FOR OVER A CENTURY (cryogenically).

This is my first interface with the author's work & I am definitely a FAN now, of his AMAZING WRITING STYLE which is rich in DESCRIPTION & has a kind-of RHYTHM to it!
I would like to point out 2 things;
1️⃣ I always always keep my logical brain in control, whenever I am reading fiction, to allow space for the author's creativity & imagination.
2️⃣ If you are surprised with the beginning/ the storyline, then you would surely be shocked with the ending‼️
The story, also a SCI-FI, has an ADVENTURE & TIME TRAVEL element to it.
It has it's own dose of LOVE & LUST peppered throughout!
A THRILLER which keeps you TURNING PAGES till the very end!

4.5/5 because the ending broke my heart!💔
🎉Happy Pub Day‼️
Available for INR 304/- @amazonkindle & for $18.95/- @amazondotcom
46 reviews1 follower
September 5, 2020
I didn't know much about the premise of this book before I started reading, and that may have been a good thing because I greatly enjoyed it and I don't know if I would have read it if I knew more about it beforehand.

Goldberg did a wonderful job introducing us to Wyatt and Travis and allowing the reader to really get to know their individual histories and personalities. The parallels between their lives and their desires for their futures really made the story interesting, and I appreciated the subtle way the author devised it so that it wasn't overtly pointed out.

I also loved that their were differences between the two - they were very much individuals, which made the conflicts in the plot that much more interesting. '

If you want an enjoyable read I can highly recommend "The Ancestor".
Profile Image for Jackie.
787 reviews56 followers
August 30, 2020
Wow wow wow!! What a fantastic book this was even more so than I expected! As soon as I saw this cover I knew this was a must read! A magically woven dual timeline filled with suspense and mystery this book really kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat! I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves historical, mystery and thrillers as this book is totally on fire!
Profile Image for Allison.
760 reviews21 followers
August 17, 2020
Reading The Ancestor was like reading a variety of different stories, some of which really grabbed me, others, not so much. You might say, there is something for everyone. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Coincidentally I had recently watched the newly released Seth Rogen movie, An American Pickle, in which a man is awakened from being preserved in pickle brine for 100 years. Not too far removed from this story in which Wyatt, a gold prospector who has been frozen in Alaska for 100 years, wakes to a very different world. This concept could have gone in many directions. Seth Rogen’s movie chose to present it as a critique of contemporary society. Lee Matthew Goldberg takes the perspective of one man on his personal journey. We have a narrative in which Wyatt traces his journey, driven by a need to support his wife and child and an obsession with the hunt for gold. What begins as the recounting of a naive traveler soon takes a dark twist as he justifies the murder of a fellow prospector.

The story shifts to the life of Wyatt’s great, great grandson Travis, living a life parallel in many ways to his ancestor. The inevitable meeting of these two provides a number of entertaining situations as they are drawn to each other and Wyatt tries to keep his history a secret.

Part of this narrative is an adventure story of the Old West, another strand is the profile of the strains that play in a modern marriage, another aspect is a mystery surrounding the death of Travis’s brother several years ago and finally there is the supernatural tale of Wyatt’s spirit animal that guides him on his search for gold. All combine to draw us into the spiraling world of Wyatt‘s obsession as he tries to merge his life from one hundred years ago with today’s world.

With so many stories being presented simultaneously, it was inevitable that the reader would find some parts more appealing than others. All threads collide eventually in a final scene which is made more powerful by leaving unanswered the question: Is the story over?
Profile Image for T..
116 reviews6 followers
September 2, 2020
No spoilers. This is perhaps one of the strangest books I have ever read, or have read in a very long time. It will be very difficult to talk about what i think without giving anything away, so this will probably be a crappy review. So, this is one of the Goodreads Giveaways but I couldn't wait to see if I would win it so I ordered it immediately. It is about a man named Wyatt who goes to Alaska for gold in the 1800s, leaving his wife Adelaide and their little son Joe behind. Without giving much away, Wyatt becomes frozen and then thaws out over a 100 years later. The story takes place in a tiny town in Alaska where Wyatt's descendants live. There is simply no way to categorize this story. It is a little bit of everything. The characters are rich and nicely defined. My favorite character was Grayson. There are a few areas where it becomes a little messy but the author brings everything together. While it is mainly about male characters, the female characters are just as rich. I don't think it is a perfect book. I have read a few other books recently that I liked more. Just on liking it, I would have given it a 4 out of 5 stars. I did enjoy it very much so that at times I could not put it down. What gave it that extra star to make it 5 out of 5 was how imaginative and different it was. I can't explain why or I'll ruin the story for others. It is complicated and simple at the same time. It is layered. I don't even want to describe it more because I hate when someone ruins a book for me. I recommend this book to anyone who wants something a little different, adventurous, somewhat magical, and a lot strange.
Profile Image for Robin.
11 reviews2 followers
September 25, 2020
This is a really great suspense thriller. The plot is really unique and not something I've ever come across before. The overall story is quite dark and there is a lot of negative emotions being played out. The twists and constant buildup of suspense made the book really exciting and it's really well written to reinforce the dark and confused feelings of the characters. One of the most interesting books I've read for quite some time.
Profile Image for thereadingowlvina (Elvina Ulrich).
912 reviews41 followers
August 22, 2020
“Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What It’s About: Set in present day in the small town Laner, Alaska, it tells the strange story of Wyatt who believes that he is frozen in time during the Gold Rush in Alaska 1898. He later befriends Travis Barlow who looks exactly like him and who he also believes to be his great-great grandson. Wyatt is convinced that the gold still exists and intends to help Travis with his financial woes by searching for the gold together. However, this good intention soon turns into a malicious one as his desire for Travis’ wife, Callie grows stronger.

“But as I’ve learned from life, happiness sometimes only greets us in fits and starts. For tragedy often follows merriment. Without strife, we would not know the ture meaning of gaiety.”

My thoughts: Oh boy, what a page-turner! I enjoyed the blend of supernatural, thriller and mystery in this story. It is a slow-burn thriller but the solid plot keeps you wondering what will happen next.

I’ve never been to Alaska but the atmospheric writing absolutely transported me there. This story is told between present day and 1898 during the Gold Rush, and I enjoyed reading Wyatt’s story during the 1800s.

Wyatt is a strong and endearing character and will grow on you. I do not know why but I kept picturing Henry Cavill as Wyatt! There are quite a few characters in this story with their own stories, and Goldberg skillfully weaves them into the main plot which works perfectly.

The Ancestor is a story of lost love and redemption with a dash of supernatural element which spices up this thriller. It is engaging and unique, and I am looking forward to reading more of this author’s work!

*** Thank you Blackthorn Book Tours for having me in The Ancestor Book Tour, and for this gifted review copy in exchange for an honest review. ***
Profile Image for Brittany.
205 reviews9 followers
August 25, 2020
First I want to thank @netgalley and All Due Respect for the advanced readers copy.
This book is about Wyatt, who awakens in snow after being frozen since the 1890s while searching for gold in Alaska. His memories return very slowly as he thaws and returns to his body. He finds a family he can relate to and believes he is related to them, desperately wishing to be included in every aspect of their lives. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book when I started reading it. For me, the beginning seemed to drag on and didn't capture my interest right away. At times, I struggled to pick it back up and continue reading. However, halfway through, the story did pick up and I felt like I flew through the last 1/3 of the book. For me, it was hard to get on board with the mystical, science fiction part of the book. I did enjoy the parts containing Wyatt's journal, as well as the present day chacters. I could tell how the book was going to end with a few chapters left and although I wished it ended differently, I can understand why the author did what he did. Overall, this book was good, especially if you like the sci-fi aspect of it. I enjoyed the historical fiction part a lot more. Again, thank you to @netgalley for the ARC of this book!
Profile Image for Andrea Hicks.
Author 11 books29 followers
September 8, 2020
A very unusual book, set in two time zones with related protagonists. At first I wasn't sure but I persevered and I loved it. Unique, a little overwhelmed with the premise at times which is good because it challenges, and a great read.
Profile Image for Jade.
199 reviews14 followers
August 9, 2020
The Ancestor is one of those books that's perfect for hot weather, as we are currently experiencing (at least we're experiencing it a lot in France !). Set in Alaska, telling the story of a man frozen in a cave for over a century, this book is bound to refresh you !

The aspect I loved the most about the story, is the way the author wrote about Alaska, its nature, its culture, its people. I completely traveled there, could totally see everything the author was writing about, even though I never even set foot in the US. That talent for descriptions and realistic people and environments is the biggest asset of the book.

The action takes place in Laner, small Alaska town, barely a stop on the way to a bigger city. Travis lives there with his wife and kid, more or less happily, dealing with unemployment and confidence issues. Enters Wyatt, his ancestor, newly defrosted after a 100~ years sleep in the wilderness after he got into trouble while looking for gold in 1898.
Soon, Wyatt realizes Travis is almost his clone, and gets curious about him. In him, he sees himself, and in his family, he sees his lost wife and son, now long dead.

I really liked Wyatt's character. He starts off as quite likeable, because he's entirely lost in this world he doesn't know, and then, slowly, we see his evolution as he finds out about Travis, and finds some bits of his lost memories. Little by little, his mind twists, and we as reader discover Wyatt is far from being an innocent man, and an insidious mood installs itself, replacing the rather friendly one from the beginning. He gets unpredictable and starts making his way into Travis' life, to the heart of his family, wanting to BECOME Travis, and have it all for himself.

However, if Wyatt and Travis are the main characters, we get some side characters, that I didn't necessarily liked a lot. Stu, Travis' dad, and local sheriff, as well as Grayson, drunkard cop desperately in love with a woman whose trust he lost, completely annoyed me, and I got a little bored during the moments when they were the main focus of the narration. I just couldn't care for them at all.

To that, I'll add that I didn't care much for how Wyatt's past is given to us. Flashback chapters are sprinkled weirdly in the book. Sometimes you will have 10 chapters of present narration, 2 of Wyatt's past, 1 of today, and 6 from Wyatt's, and then the rest of the book is present day, etc. (the numbers are not checked haha. I just meant that sometimes you get big chunks of past narration, out of nowhere). I would have liked a more regular placement of the flashback chapters, because too much of them just annoyed me a little, because I didn't want to read about Wyatt's past too much. Sure, I wanted to know a bit about his past life, but not all at once. I wanted to focus more about Wyatt's adaptation to the modern world and his interactions with Travis.

Overall, The Ancestor is a great book that will take you in the heart of Alaska to discover some great characters revolving around a rather original story. It's definitely a great read for people who like adventure and bits of historical fiction !
Profile Image for Moonkiszt.
2,161 reviews210 followers
October 8, 2020
The Ancestor
By Lee Matthew Goldberg

I’ll be honest – it was the title that got me! An ancestor coming back to life. . .my dream come true.

Brace yourself. This novel is that-ish. . . but down a different road. There’s murder, theft, Alaska, snow, blood, family, lust – bridled and unbridled, shapeshifting, indigenous people, culture and shamanism and gold. This was not the warm, fuzzy genealogical tale I bargained for! The ending was completely unexpected.

A Sincere Thanks to Lee Matthew Goldberg, All Due Respect and NetGalley for an ARC to read and review.
Profile Image for ReadingGirlReviews (Gina).
359 reviews25 followers
September 24, 2020
This has been one of may most anticipated reads of the fall and I am so glad to have been asked to review it.

Wyatt wakes up in the Alaskan wilderness confused and not sure who he is, but upon meeting a man named Travis hunting nearby who looks exactly like him, he has a flash of memories return. What he realizes is that he is from the 1800’s and that he has been frozen since the Gold Rush era, and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Certain that gold is still in existence in the area, Wyatt sees finding it with Travis as a way to win good graces into the family, most notably with Travis’s wife. Wyatt’s obsession with finding the gold, discovering why he was able to be preserved for over a century, and his infatuation with Travis’s wife makes for an intriguing read.

This truly was a page turner for me. I was driven by the idea of a person traveling through time as a result of being frozen (I mean if Megatron can do it in Transformers, why can’t we, right?).

With the blend of thriller, some supernatural aspects, a ton of mystery, and a mix of other genres that are thrown in there to give some more flavor, this book was like nothing I have ever read before. You will be captivated by the Alaskan history and the Gold Rush era, as well as completely taken by both Wyatt and Travis’s lives and personalities. All the different side stories throughout the book are brilliant and they eventually all come together in the end to a paramount ending.

This was a very unique and thought provoking book that will stick with you long after you read it. My anticipation was merited! Give this one a read and stick with it. I know you will feel the same.  Oh and by the way..... this is listed under "movie tie in" category on Amazon, so, um,....... HINT HINT.
Profile Image for Hannah.
115 reviews8 followers
August 24, 2020
***Please note: I received a free Kindle copy of this book in return for an honest review***

Goldberg's writing is a breath of fresh air. I chose to read this as I loved Slow Down a lot, and with such an intriguing plot I just had to know how it was delivered. Like with Slow Down, The Ancestor is gripping, curious, and filled with vivid and unique description. Wyatt is such an interesting character to follow for two reasons - firstly, he's in a world where he doesn't belong, and secondly, his development of personality and motives over the course of the book are done so well. I enjoyed the other characters too - I loved Callie and her back-story, and Travis I found a bit dull at first, if I'm honest, yet towards the end I was really rooting for him.

The pacing was varied - generally well-done, although some parts felt a bit strange due to the way the historical elements were blended with the present day. I would have preferred more of a drip-feed approach, rather than the majority of Wyatt's backstory being told in one go, however I did find this part of the plot interesting and enjoyed reading about it. My favourite thing about the book was just how different it was - not purely a thriller, but with elements of historical, adventure, noir, and even sci-fi. I really enjoy books that don't conform and take risks, and this is certainly a good example of that.

You can read my full review here:
Profile Image for Kammy.
159 reviews9 followers
January 29, 2021
Thank you to the publisher for a copy of this book via netgalley!

This book brings you on a journey where the past and present of a man are intertwined. You are taken on a roller coaster adventure as Wyatt explores the life of Travis while trying to figure out where did he come from. will he be able to unravel his identity or forever be living in confusion...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Marlene.
2,947 reviews205 followers
December 22, 2020
Originally published at Reading Reality

After living in Alaska for several years, I can never resist an Alaska story when it catches my reading eye. The Ancestor is definitely a fever dream of an Alaska story. Ironic when you think about it, as Alaska is not exactly a place that brings fever dreams to mind. More like the opposite; frozen dreams.

But this is that too, one man’s frozen dream of a past that only he remembers, and his fever dream in the present to recapture the life he once had – not by going back to the past, but by recreating a new version of his old life in the present, no matter how many sins he has to commit along the way.

The Ancestor is kind of a Rip Van Winkle story, if ol’ Rip, instead of being meek, mild, easygoing and henpecked, was instead an amoral sociopath of a serial killer.

Not quite, but closer than any other description I can come up with, considering that old saw about the past being another country where they do things differently.

Because that’s where Wyatt Barlow is from. The past. He went into the ice not terribly far from Nome, Alaska, in 1898, and woke up in 2020. The world has changed – even in Alaska. (Although it’s not mentioned specifically, he probably defrosted because the permafrost in Alaska is melting due to climate change. I digress. I have a feeling I’m going to do that a lot in this review.)

When Wyatt wanders into town, looking pretty much like death warmed over – as that’s none too far from the truth – he discovers that his descendants are still in the area, living in the tiny town of Laner. That he has a doppelganger descendant he hears called “Trav” who turns out to have a beautiful wife and a baby boy who resemble Wyatt’s own lost wife and baby boy.

A baby boy who turns out to have been Trav – actually Travis’ – great grandfather. Making Wyatt his great-great-grandfather. Not that either of them have the relationship figured out exactly at the time.

But Wyatt Barlow is a man used to getting what he wants, no matter who or what might stand in his way. So he hatches a plot to involve himself in his great-great-grandson’s life, with an eye to taking over that life.

After all, that uncanny resemblance between them must be good for something. There must be a purpose to it. A purpose that Wyatt can exploit, just as he has exploited so many other things and people in his life, in order to achieve what he wants. Just like he found the gold that brought him to Alaska in the first place. Just like he killed his partner to get that gold.

And now he’s found a way to get back what he lost. A wife and a son. Who won’t even know that he’s taken Travis’ place. All he has to do is become Travis – and put him under that ice. After all, in the here and now, there can be only one Travis Barlow. And Wyatt intends to be that Travis, no matter what it takes.

Escape Rating B: I’ll admit to being all over the place on this one. It certainly kept me turning pages. It’s also not exactly what the blurb says it is, either. I’d certainly debate whether Wyatt falls in love with Travis’ wife. What he’s feeling, and what he’s planning, aren’t nearly so romantic. Or anything even close to that.

There are two stories here. One is the obvious, about Wayne and Travis and the way that Wayne inveigles himself into Travis’ life, his family and eventually his place in the world. But the story that follows Travis’ life and that of his family reminds me a lot of the stories about life in the tiny towns sprinkled through the state. That Nome is the nearest “big” place to Laner, and that Nome only has a population of 4,000 people, gives a hint of the size and remoteness of the place. Callie’s part of this story, Travis’ California-born wife, also feels familiar. Anchorage, with a population of nearly 300,000, feels remote and small relative to anything in the Lower 48, or as it’s called in Alaska, “Outside”. So Callie’s feelings of near-claustrophobia, complete isolation and frequent boredom are all too real. She loves Travis, she loves Laner, but it is a damn hard life and it seriously gets to her.

The other story is Wayne’s story about life during the Klondike Gold Rush. Not that plenty of stories about the Gold Rush haven’t been told before. And perhaps that’s where some of the issues lie.

Wayne has a difficult time remembering everything that happened to him in the past. Saying his brain is a bit frozen isn’t exactly a stretch. That he survived in the ice is a bit of handwavium, as all time travel stories generally are. That’s the part the reader has to take on faith, and it works that way.

But the way he gets back his memory is to take heroin. Again, not that there isn’t plenty of it available, along with meth and booze, in those tiny remote villages. It’s the same as everywhere else, perhaps even more so considering the long, dark, cold winters. Any escape is chased, even if its just an escape inside one’s own head.

I think where my willing suspension of disbelief went a bit haywire was not just in the way that Wyatt recovered his memories, but what he remembered. And that the consequences of what is clearly already an addiction aren’t dealt with at all.

On the one hand, Wayne’s heroin coma lets him relive his experiences in their seeming entirety. And they are unflinching when it comes to his abandonment of his family back in Washington state, the murder he committed on his way to Sitka, and the murders he commits along his way from Juneau to Dawson City to “The Unknown”, which turns out to be Anvil Creek near Laner. But one of those killings is of a bunch of conmen led by one of Alaska’s more colorful legends, “Soapy” Smith. The problem is that the events in Wyatt’s story occur after Smith was gunned down, extremely publicly, in Skagway. His body was even autopsied. There is no doubt that Smith was dead before he met Wyatt. Which threw off my perception of the accuracy of Wyatt’s memories.

Except those memories really did lead him to the gold. So the question of just how much Wyatt dreamed vs. how much he actually remembered is still bothering me. A lot.

And that I’m thinking about this so much after I closed the book is just an example of what made this book so compelling – even as it drove me crazy.

There is a lot of darkness in this book. While this story begins as winter sort of turns to spring, the fact is that daylight hours in Nome in winter average around 4 hours per day in December and January. It’s a dark place in the winter, and a cold place most of the year. The temps are only in the 30s in April when this story begins and don’t get to 60 even in July. The cold and the dark are part of the “ambiance”.

At the same time, Travis’ family is going through some rough times. The economy is down, the big employers have all closed, his grandfather is dying, his brother was murdered and Travis is generally depressed. Wyatt’s sudden advent into Laner may not be a good thing, but it is a different thing in a place that craves novelty.

Wyatt’s own story is itself dark. It’s brutal in regards to his abandonment of his own family, and equally so about the obsession that consumes his own thoughts. He wants what he wants and no one is allowed to stand in his way. I ended the story feeling sorry for Callie because she’s now married to a monster who will do anything to have her and to keep her, whether she wants to be kept or not.

So there are no happy endings here. Instead, The Ancestor is dark and chilling every step of its enthralling way. A terrific chilling read for this long, hot summer.
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