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Zamonien #1

The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear

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Captain Bluebear tells the story of his first 13-1/2 lives spent on the mysterious continent of Zamonia, where intelligence is an infectious disease, water flows uphill, and dangers lie in wait for him around every corner.

"A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest," says the narrator of Walter Moers’s epic adventure. "What about the Minipirates? What about the Hobgoblins, the Spiderwitch, the Babbling Billows, the Troglotroll, the Mountain Maggot… Mine is a tale of mortal danger and eternal love, of hair’s breadth, last-minute escapes." Welcome to the fantastic world of Zamonia, populated by all manner of extraordinary characters. It’s a land of imaginative lunacy and supreme adventure, wicked satire and epic fantasy, all mixed together, turned on its head, and lavishly illustrated by the author.

704 pages, Paperback

First published March 28, 1999

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About the author

Walter Moers

84 books2,059 followers
Walter Moers was born in 1957 and is a writer, cartoonist, painter and sculptor. He has refused to be photographed ever since his comic strips The Little Asshole and Adolf were published, the latter leading him to be declared persona non grata by the political right in Germany. Walter Moers lives in Hamburg.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,683 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
733 reviews3,399 followers
May 2, 2021
Unique, not just because of it´s extra comic style drawings by the author himself, but because of the density of the hero´s journey suitable for all age groups.

This thing is deep, there are many innuendos, connotations, and inside jokes aiming at adult readers that it´s just a joy to consume this weird, funny, and trope heavy first piece of an, except for the second and sixth part, amazing series.

There is a huge fantasy vacuum in my reading, so I don´t know where many pieces might come from, but at least I recognize some of the classical mythological inspirations in this fantasy science hybrid with fresh and new looks on well known plot vehicles.

It´s not as if cultural pessimism has already completely taken over my reading soul, just 95 percent or something, similar to the amount of UK and US authors I consume in contrast to all other regions, but it´s good to see at least one European author who is able to construct something that can be compared with the big ones. And, tada, finally comes the trigger, he is the only one I´ve read so far I would put in a line with Pratchett.
Silence
Really, a German author, funny, are you kidding me or…?

Nope, honestly, try it, it´s amazing, completely different, not caring about genre conventions, easy to read because the chapters are separated like short stories with not that many interconnections, maybe best consumed in small doses over a longer period of time to fully enjoy it. Except the translation goes bad or is impossible with many of the specially invented words, but let´s hope that´s not the case.

I am not mean, Europe pays its price for not investing in education and bachelors and masters degrees in creative writing, that´s why one autodidactic creative mastermind like Moers can own the whole, horrible, cultivated, pseudo sophisticated, boring Eurotrash fantastic realism desert.
What a nasty hater troll I have become, wait, correction, always was.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...
Profile Image for Tom.
5 reviews12 followers
September 14, 2007
I spent the first 300 or so pages of this book trying to figure out whether it was a children's book for very advanced children or an adult book for readers who hadn't lost their sense of play and wonder. It's whimsically illustrated, audaciously imaginative, and has a distinked [sic] fascination with body odor. But to get some of the jokes, you need to have a passing familiarity with quantum physics, string theory, and academic politics. Eventually I gave up trying to categorize it and just enjoyed the adventure.

As Captain Bluebear, the narrator, says in the opening chapters, this is the story of 13-1/2 of one bluebear's 27 lives. (The other 13-1/2? Well, a bluebear must have his secrets.) Captain Bluebear's adventures include: A childhood spent with the Mini Pirates, marauders who are always attacking ships, but, being so small, are never noticed. A partnership with Deux ex Machina, a pterodactyl who saves people from doom at the very last possible second. And schooling under the tutelage of a professor with seven brains.

I often found myself laughing aloud as I read, thinking first, "You can't do that!" Then feeling my imagination liberated because Moer had dared to do so.

A master storyteller and actor, Captain Bluebear is ever so slightly pompous, but in that adorable way of harmless, well-fed scholars whose generous hearts are more than large enough to contain their puffed up egos.

One of my favorite books in many years. I read it again before the year was out, even though I only rarely re-read books and this is a formidable 700+ pages. Highly recommended.
July 11, 2018
Oh, My! Here goes the Zamonian shoplist of curiosities.
Q:
A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest. (c)
Q:
A bear must have his secrets, after all; they make him seem attractive and mysterious. (c)
Q:
Winter is following autumn in its time-honoured way. The sun, cold as the moon, is sinking into the icy grey sea below my cliff, and the wind smells of snow. But there’s something else in the air as well: the scent of bonfires burning in the distance. It carries a hint of cinnamon, a whiff of adventure! I always used to follow that scent, but today I’ve something more important to do. My memoirs must be preserved for posterity. Frost-sprites are insinuating their clammy fingers between the floorboards of my cabin and groping for my feet. Invisible ice-witches are painting frost flowers on the windows. Hardly my favourite season of the year, but the ideal time to brew a pot of hot cocoa (with a wee dash of rum in it), fill thirteen-and-a-half pipes with tobacco, make thirteen-and-a-half slices of bread and jam, sharpen thirteen-and-a-half pencils, and begin to record my first thirteen-and-a-half lives. A bold and arduous undertaking of epic dimensions, I fear. For, as I already said, there was a lot more of everything in the old days – more adventures, too, of course. (c)
Q:
PEOPLE USUALLY START life by being born. Not me, though. (c)
Q:
When you’re little you tend to overestimate the size of things, but I now know that it really was the biggest sound in the world. (c)
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The Minipirates were the masters of the Zamonian Sea. Nobody knew this, however, because they were too small to be noticed. (c)
Q:
I have often witnessed such encounters and listened to the Minipirates’ grandiose rodomontades. I must, however, admit to having been influenced by their richly embroidered tales and extravagant flights of fancy. They taught me that a good white lie is often considerably more exciting than the truth. Telling one is like dressing up reality in its Sunday best. (c)
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I could even, in a dire emergency, tie a knot in a knot. (с)
Q:
Knowing your waves (c)
Q:
Watch waves for long enough, and you’ll realize that every one is different. (c)
Q:
It was, in fact, the first time I’d ever thought at all, because I’d never managed to form a clear idea about anything in the eternally noisy atmosphere of the Minipirates’ ship. (c)
Q:
People always covet what they themselves do not possess. (c)
Q:
At first they wanted to take me with them on their gourmet excursions, but they dropped the idea when they saw I couldn’t walk on water. (c)
Q:
I myself was completely unaware of how hard I was trying to become a Hobgoblin. It’s quite natural for a young person to want to be like other people. The worst of it was, I’d clearly reconciled myself to spending the rest of my days on the Hobgoblins’ island. (c)
Q:
Where would the wind and waves take me? I had dispensed with a rudder on the principle that fate must be given a chance. (c)
Q:
I was feeling wonderful. It seemed that the wind in my fur and the wild sea beneath me existed solely to transport me into a world of adventure. Could anything be more exciting than a journey into the unknown, a voyage of discovery across the great, wide ocean? (c)
Q:
Their spitefulness had long ceased to be perceptible, probably because they had never before been engaged in such a responsible and interesting activity. (c)
Q:
Anyone who had traversed the oceans for centuries, as they claimed to have done, was bound to have seen a few things in his time. (c)
Q:
You make friends quickly when you’re young, and you think things will remain the same for evermore. (c)
Q:
Assemble ten thousand sea cows at the bottom of a mine shaft, persuade them to utter a simultaneous sigh of love and add the wingbeats of a million bumblebees drunk on honey, and you might produce something akin to that penetrating, contented hum. (c)
Q:
To Mac, an iceberg drifting in the rays of the setting sun was a hazard to shipping, not a breathtaking spectacle; a forest waterfall a threat to inexperienced boatmen, not a welcome source of refreshment; a cloudcastle hovering over a Caribbean island the precursor of a tropical typhoon, not one of Nature’s paintings. Even empty desert could turn out, under Mac’s stern gaze, to be a death trap replete with dangers: venomous gila monsters, giant spiders, electric scorpions loitering under stones, mirages that led the credulous astray, heat capable of driving a person insane with sunstroke. (c)
Q:
Many customers wanted to entertain us, make a fuss of us, shower us with gifts, adopt us, marry us, and so on. (c)
Q:
He was flying fast, but in the wrong direction. (c)
Q:
There was method in these seemingly nonsensical statements: by the time we’d grasped their total idiocy, our thoughts had strayed in every conceivable direction. This was precisely what the professor wanted: to steer our thoughts in as many different directions as possible. (с)
Q:
In normal lighting they have an IQ of 4000, but when darkness falls it attains astronomical heights. (c)
Q:
Professor Nightingale made it a rule only to accept life forms of which it could be proved that only one example existed on earth, so the Nocturnal Academy was very much an elite establishment. (c)
Q:
If somebody loves you, you always love them a little in return, even when they’re an Alpine Imp. (c)
Q:
Using sophisticated underwater microphones, he recorded the song of the sea horse, mixed it with the rhythm of thunderclaps, the baying of Baskerville hounds, the inaudible squeaks of bats, the groans of graveyard worms, and a few highly original noises of his own. He then played the whole thing backwards at twice the original speed. Qwerty confirmed that this bore quite a resemblance to the music of his homeland. The rest of us always left the room when he had his musical meals. (c)
Q:
With the aid of a few grimaces or contortions, nothing more, he turned before our marvelling eyes into a zebra or a bluebell, a piece of rock crystal or a microbe, an atom or a Pythagorean theorem. …
We were taught no lessons, no single subject, in the traditional manner. Instead, every day was devoted to a long, nonstop lecture by Nightingale in which he jumped from subject to subject, seemingly at random, holding forth sometimes on wind power, sometimes on poodle-breeding or vegetable drugs, and pausing occasionally to scrawl a formula, foreign word or diagram on the blackboard. (c)
Q:
I did, in fact, spend years at the Nocturnal Academy, but they passed so quickly and eventfully that I never got around to counting them. (c)
Q:
I began to grasp how everything was connected, from the cellular structure of a dandelion seed to an exploding star in the Horsehead Nebula. (c)
Q:
I learned about their background, their boyhood, their eating habits, and the exalted or scatterbrained ideas that had prompted them to favour a particular form of government or driven them insane. (c)
Q:
We all suddenly felt like dinosaur food. (c)
Q:
Having jointly solved astronomical problems of the greatest magnitude, we would surely locate the exit together. (c)
Q:
I tried to find the right words – words that were simultaneously motivating, sympathetic, heartening, comforting, and irresistibly persuasive.
‘Go on, jump!’ I said. (c)
Q:
‘a clear conscience. It really perks you up.’ (c)
Q:
First right and second left – hurray,
it’s easy to remember.
If only I can find the way
I’ll get out by December. (c)
Q:
There are times in life when you become convinced that the entire universe has assembled in some gloomy back room and resolved to conspire against you. This was one of those times. But there are also times that restore your faith in Lady Luck. The two or three seconds it took for my tears, having shot past their target, to rebound off the petals of an orange lily on to the branch of a birch tree, which bent and released a captive fern frond, which sprang erect and projected my tears at a canopy of chestnut leaves laden with raindrops from the recent Gloomberg Tempest, which in turn sent them pattering down on me like a cold morning shower – those seconds were one such fortunate moment in time. It was the moment when fate released my hands from the spider’s web and signalled the start of my marathon run through the Great Forest. (с)
Q:
Multidimensional Space. It is really quite easy to picture a square yard of multidimensional space – provided you have seven brains.Simply picture a train travelling through a black hole with a candle on its roof while you yourself, with a candle on your head, are standing on Mars and winding a clock precisely one yard in diameter, and while an owl, which also has a candle on its head and is travelling in the opposite direction to the train at the speed of light, is flying through a tunnel in the process of being swallowed by another black hole which likewise has a candle on its head [if you can imagine a black hole with a candle on its head, though for that you will require at least four brains]. Join up the four points at which the candles are burning, using a coloured pencil, and you’ll have one square yard of multidimensional space. You will also, coincidentally, be able to tell the time on Mars by the clock, even in the dark, because – of course – you’ve got a candle on your head. (c)
Q:
And, just to make matters even more puzzling, you’re in every other unknown universe as well! So anyone falling down a dimensional hiatus really goes places – everywhere, to be exact. (c)
Q:
Land in a two-dimensional dimension and you’re squashed as flat as a pancake. A one-dimensional dimension will stretch you like an endless rubber band, a five-dimensional one will transform you into a radio wave with a headache. As for an eight-dimensional dimension, its appearance cannot be conveyed in our language. Only one thing is certain: those who enter another dimension must change their way of life, possibly in the most drastic manner. (c)
Q:
It seemed that I had been blocking their view of the throne, which they considered very important for some reason. (c)
Q:
My past lay behind me, my future ahead, and I had no commitments either way, so it didn’t really matter what the date was. (c)
Q:
… always sought the most acceptable solution. Even when they disagreed on which way to go, as they sometimes did, they didn’t take a vote on the matter because a vote would have betokened a conflict; they compromised by adopting a zigzag course. (c)
Q:
And so, on the strength of a crackbrained message-in-a-bottle, the Muggs had devoted themselves to the task of finding, trapping, and occupying a city named Anagrom Ataf. (c)
Q:
In view of the fact that natural phenomena such as catastrophic tempests, the Northern Lights, volcanic eruptions, meteor storms, et cetera, never occur simultaneously, it may be assumed that they observe something akin to a set of rules – a sort of highway code respected and complied with by all large-scale natural phenomena. No hurricane would intrude on a devastating earthquake, just as no tornado would spoil the effect of a mirage. (c)
Q:
The subject need only be computed, catalogued, tabulated, made the subject of numerous doctoral dissertations, and formally included in the university syllabus. (c)
Q:
Until now they had never devoted much thought to how to spend their time; they had simply roamed because roaming was their way of life. Now that they had reached their destination, they didn’t know what to do with themselves. (c)
Q:
I found a steaming dish of mashed potatoes on the kitchen table the first time I entered my house. That was why I’d chosen the place, on the principle that there couldn’t be much wrong with a house whose kitchen table bore a steaming dish of mashed potatoes. (c)
Q:
If there was a way into the tornado there must also be a way out. (c)
Q:
Incoming mail falls into the top of the tornado. You only have to gather it up.’
‘You mean you do receive incoming mail?’
‘Not so far, but it should be here any minute.’
‘Er … How long have you been waiting for it?’
... ‘Er … Two hundred years? Three hundred? What’s the date today?’ (c)
Q:
Have you ever sat on a palm leaf and tobogganed down a frozen waterfall a mile high?’
I was forced to admit that I’d not yet had that pleasure. (c)
Q:
I collected stories. It was my intention to become the chronicler of Tornado City and record the biographies of all its inhabitants. (c)
Q:
Many of the inhabitants had developed the mentality of long-term prison inmates. They were afraid of freedom, of the world outside, of an unregulated mode of existence. (c)
Q:
‘I’m an idea.’
‘Delighted to meet you,’ I replied. ‘My name is Bluebear, and I’m a bluebear.’ (c)
Q:
‘Well, I’m an idea, but a bad one. Everyone began by making a tremendous fuss of me, but they eventually discovered that I wasn’t a good idea. When that happens, people simply drop you. There are masses of us roaming the passages in this brain. We’re the dregs of the cerebral community. Could you find a use for a bad idea?’ (c)
Q:
‘Then why did this one remove his head, if he was so intelligent?’ 1600H glowed red for a moment. He hummed and hawed, then:
‘Well … That was one of his bad ideas …’
‘Why are you blushing?’ I asked.
1600H groaned. ‘To be quite honest, the bad idea was me.’ …
He was the best bad idea I ever had. (c)
Q:
To justify their existence they spent their days roaming the lanes and trying to marry themselves off in the vain hope that two bad ideas might produce a good one. (c)
Q:
There are times when the truth is the worst possible thing you can come out with. (c)
Q:
‘This is the beginning of a new age!’ he cried. ‘We shall seize control of the brain. Away with the old order! Long live anarchy! We shall fill every corner of the brain with chaos. And this creature – this henchman of the old cerebral establishment – will be our first victim. On the count of three, throw him into the Lake of Oblivion!’ (c)
Q:
It’s hard to say what made them, in particular, such good politicians; perhaps it was their ultrasensitive hearing. According to one Atlantean proverb, a Norselander could hear the wind change before the wind itself became aware of it. …
Everyone respected the Gryphons, not only because of their physical superiority but, above all, for their Solomonic integrity and sportsmanlike fairness. Like symbols of justice carved in granite, they perched almost motionless on the tops of the city’s skyscrapers, minarets, and pyramids, their keen eyes scanning the busy streets below. You had to have witnessed the arrival of a Gryphon to know how authority should be personified. (c)
Q:
The city displayed every conceivable form of architecture plus a few more besides. (c)
Q:
The people of Atlantis really governed themselves, a system that worked well at times, less well at others, and sometimes not at all. Total chaos broke out about once a month. (с)
Q:
you can’t be courageous unless you know what fear is and overcome it. (c)
Q:
‘Walk very slowly!’ I hissed between my teeth. ‘Then they’ll mistake us for water.’ ...
‘Gah? They’ll think we’re water? What gives you that idea?’
‘I’ve got an encyclopedia in my head. It sometimes tells me things like that,’ (с)
Q:
I couldn’t even tell whether it was male, female, or demonic. It sounded like a trumpet endowed with the power of speech. (с)
Q:
To obtain a teaching post you had to have spent years working your way up through Atlantis’s intricate educational system, and nearly every learned profession required hard-to-get permits from mysterious government departments. … All the professions were controlled by obscure committees. In short, organized chaos prevailed here as elsewhere. (с)
Q:
The South Zamonian Mountain Dwarfs celebrated at least one wedding a week because they were always swapping spouses, and every wedding was the occasion of a riotous party at which all their relations were present by invitation and a brass band played Mountain Dwarf music. Mountain Dwarf Music was played on phnagguffs, instruments resembling alphorns with cymbals mounted on them. The phnagguffists bashed the latter with an iron drumstick while blowing into the mouthpiece. Phnagguffs were so long that they projected out of the windows, which made the noise pollution even worse, but this counted for little because there wasn’t a door or window pane in the entire building. The rest of the wedding guests did their utmost to drown the phnagguff music with curses, that being the traditional way in which South Zamonian Mountain Dwarfs congratulate a bride and groom. (с) Oh, is this really a good topic for kids?
Q:
When a Bluddum goes to the lavatory you mustn’t expect him to emerge for three hours. You will also have to wait another hour before you can enter it without losing consciousness, and the noises he produces inside are even more horrific than those he makes when coughing into a tin bucket. (c)
Q:
Getting home could be a perilous adventure in itself, particularly in winter, when the outside stairway was slippery with ice and a blizzard was blowing, or during violent summer thunderstorms, when the shafts of lightning made you feel like a target in a shooting gallery. (c)
Q:
Wednesdays were the best thing about Atlantis. The middle of the week was a traditional holiday there. Everyone stopped work and celebrated the fact that half the week was over. © Can I go there?
Q:
The Museum of Ineffabilities, which displayed objects people didn’t care to talk about … (c)
Q:
Stripped to the waist and accompanying himself on a diamond-encrusted harp, he sang all his songs, which told of eternal love and the purchase of exorbitantly expensive engagement rings, with tears streaming down his cheeks. © Which is basically what De Bierce did.
Q:
To keep his name on everyone’s lips, the reigning King of Lies has it stamped on every loaf of bread baked in Atlantis. (с)
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The only absentees were the Invisibles, not that one knew this for certain because they couldn’t be seen in any case. (с)
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I had no idea what politics had to do with the weather, but a few derogatory remarks about Norselanders and their intellectual capacity always went down well with the public. The reporters scribbled away busily. (c) This is all too well reminding of the mass modern media style.
Q:
Being accustomed to voices in the head, I was only moderately impressed. (c)
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They didn’t believe me – the story of my lives. (c)
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I don’t know what’s harder: to think the opposite of what you’re doing or do the opposite of what you’re thinking. It’s particularly hard when the opposite of what you’re doing is nothing, or when what you’re doing is the opposite of what you ought to be doing. (c)
Q:
‘Life is too precious to be left to chance, my boy.’ (c)
Q:
Life is short, they say.
A matter of opinion, say I. Some lives are short, others long, and many are middling.
Besides, I still had another thirteen-and-a-half to go. (c)
Q:
I hugged Avriel tight to shield her from the cold and drew in great gulps of sea air. Borne on the sea breeze was a familiar scent reminiscent of distant bonfire smoke mingled with a hint of cinnamon. That, as I have already mentioned, is the smell of adventure.
‘We could always try our luck elsewhere,’ I said.
‘But not now,’ Avriel replied.
And we walked back into the sheltering forest. (c)
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
651 reviews826 followers
June 6, 2022
“A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen-and-a-half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest. A bear must have his secrets, after all; they make him seem attractive and mysterious.”

Bullyland 41360 'Capt`n Bluebear' Figure Walter Moers 1997 | sandspielfiguren.de

Such a fun read! Walter Moers' The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear in turn felt reminiscent of Gulliver's Travels, Don Quixote and even Patrick Rothfuss's Name of the Wind. Captain Bluebear's explorations of Zamonia allow Moers to build a world which is quirky, original and expansive. The fact that the protagonist is a blue bear which interacts with all manner of creatures (including humans) is just one aspect of this strange world. The duel of lies, a cultural phenomenon of this world, dominates much of the latter portion of the novel. It is Bluebear's dedication to this calling and the emphasis on storytelling which reminds me of Name of the Wind. I doubt anyone else has these specific associations, but such is the richness of the world that I think you'll find ways in which it resonates for you. I'm sure I will read this again at some point. 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Paul.
Author 660 books366 followers
May 24, 2008
Ehhh. If I would have been the editor on this book I would have cut out about, oh, 400 pages. And I would have asked if maybe, just maybe, we could work some STORY into the novel.

Really, the book is no more than a catalog of happenstance. I did THIS, and then THIS happened, and after that I went to THIS weird place where I did THIS weird thing. Multiply that by some 700 pages and you have a snorefest. Was it wildly inventive? Yes it was. Were there interesting characters? Certainly. What about magically intriguing settings and worlds? Oh yes, they abounded within.

But was there any point at all? No, there wasn't. It was no more than a collection of ramblings from which a book could be developed, if the writer had thought to be a author rather than a note-taker.

I suppose the most concise review I can give for this book is this---On my copy of the book, pages 561-576 were all bound together, not having been properly cut apart when the book was printed. It made it impossible to read the pages without separating them. The book's previous owner didn't bother to do so.

I didn't either.
Profile Image for Alexandra .
841 reviews259 followers
June 14, 2015
Wow! Dieses Märchen von Walter Moers wage ich bereits jetzt im Februar als eines meiner Lieblingsbücher 2015 zu bezeichnen. Das einzige, das mich irgendwie stört ist, dass es in meiner Kindheit noch nicht existierte.

Ich bin nun seit 1 Jahr regelmäßig auf jeder längeren Autofahrt in diese wundervolle Welt durch das Hörbuch eingetaucht. Dirk Bachs Stimme mag manche Leute vielleicht nerven, für mich passt das Fabulieren in diesem hellen quirligen Ton perfekt zum Käptn Blaubär. Mangels Kenntnis der Figur aus der Sendung mit der Maus (durch mein Alter) stelle ich mir sogar die Statur vom Bläubär und Dirk Bach ähnlich vor :D.

Doch nun zum Moers'schen Universum Zamonien: Das intelligente anspruchsvolle moderne Märchen ist vollgestopft mit fantastischen Ideen und genialen Figuren, die immer sehr liebevoll und auch biologisch-logisch korrekt konzipiert sind: Rettungssaurier, Zwergpriaten, Klatschwellen, Finsterwaldspinne, Olfaktillen, die sich von Mundgeruch ernähren, Stollentroll, Wolpertinger... sind nur einige, die ich erwähnen möchte.

Weiters gibt es einige geniale Reminiszenzen an literarische Vorlagen und Filme wie Wüstenplanet, Chackie Chan, Krieg der Welten...

...und dann auch noch total ausgefallene schräge Berufe: Trollhaarpfriemler, Spucknapfausleerer, Lügengladiator....

Ihr seht also, das Universum von Zamonien ist bevölkert von kuriosen genialen Ideen, sprachlich so anspruchsvoll, dass es eine Freude ist.

So nun will ich nicht mehr weiter spoilern - taucht ein in diese Welt!

Fazit: Unbedingt hören oder lesen. Käptn Blaubär macht Kinder froh und Erwachsne ebenso :-)
Profile Image for Ajeje Brazov.
664 reviews
February 16, 2019
"Le tredici vite e mezzo del capitano Orso Blu" è il libro più esilarante che abbia mai letto, mi ha ricordato, per certi versi, "La guida galattica per autostoppisti", per l'humor estremo e surreale delle vicende narrate. Senza dubbio questo libro, di Moers, è un fantasy per ragazzi, quindi difficilmente rapportabile col libro di Adams, ma tant'è...

Il romanzo parte con Orso blu piccino picciò che all'interno di un guscio di noce, viene sballottato di qua e di là, dalle onde, poi...

Un romanzo magnifico, per la scrittura formidabile, ma soprattutto per la vena fantasiosa ed immaginifica di Moers. Un libro molto eclettico, dal romanzo di formazione al fantasy per ragazzi, dal romanzo umoristico fantascientifico al classico di avventure, romanzo di viaggio interiore!
Ci sono un caleidoscopio di personaggi, ben caratterizzati e le illustrazioni dell'autore arricchiscono la storia, creando quel più che rende l'opera indimenticabile, insomma, per me è un capolavoro, da leggere: per bambini, ragazzi, adulti, per tutti!
Profile Image for Nat K.
400 reviews142 followers
April 22, 2018
”We’ve got something for you,” said the other wave. “A name!”
“Yes,” said the first wave, “ We're calling you Bluebear.”

The Babbling Billows obviously didn’t have much in the way of imagination, but still, I’d never had a name before.


We first meet Bluebear as a cub, where he is so tiny he fits in a walnut shell. Hurtling through a wild sea, he is saved from an early demise by a crew of Minipirates. And so begin the lives and adventures of Bluebear.

🌟🌟🌟FANTASTIC-al, magical and utterly clever. I love this book.🌟🌟🌟

Weighing in at 700 pages, this is quite the tome. But so worth it. It’s a fabulous example of an Author letting his imagination run riot, with the result being us being taken along with Bluebear to amazing worlds (yes, even Atlantis makes an appearance), with all manner of weird and wonderful creatures. The many illustrations throughout add to the fabulousness of the story.

I can only imagine how wonderful this book would be to discover as a young reader. I’m sure it would leave a lasting impression. Whatever your age, this cast of characters will keep you intrigued. It’s a book of wonder and escapism. And we all need a bit of both.

”Life if short, they say.
A matter of opinion, say I. Some lives are short, others long, and many are middling.
Besides, I still had another thirteen-and-a-half to go.”

🐾🐾

Thanks to GR friend Furrawn for the nudge to get this one off the bookshelf!
Profile Image for Trish.
1,850 reviews3,363 followers
September 22, 2022
I was hoping this would be good but I think I wasn't prepared for the actual reading experience.

Bluebear is just that, a blue bear. Where he was born and who his family is, he doesn't know. His consciousness starts in a nutshell in the middle of the sea. As is typical for his kind, he has 27 lives, half of which he recounts here.

Thus, we get 14 chapters:
1.) My Life as a Minipirate
2.) My Life with the Hobgoblins
3.) My Life on the Run
4.) My Life on Gourmet Island
5.) My Life as a Navigator
6.) My Life in the Mountains of Darkness
7.) My Life in the Great Forest
8.) My Life in the Dimensional Hiatus
9.) My Life in the Demara(?) Desert (the German title translates to Sweet Desert)
10.) My Life in Tornado City
11.) My Life in the Big (Megabollog) Head
12.) My Life in Atlantis
13.) My Life on the Moloch
14.) My Half-Life in Peace

In each chapter, Bluebear meets new people (races of Zamonia, this world). He has adventures on land and at sea, cries for his life (literally), eats until it almost kills him, gets rescued by a pterodactyl, studies at a very elite academy, wrangels a Fata Morgana into submission, tries to escape the lexicon in his head, helps ghosts, becomes a Gladiator of Lies and learns about his origins.

And no, we can't take anything this old sea bear tells us at face value. But that is kinda the point of this book. One tale is taller than the one before if that's possible. Regardless, the book thus shows us every corner of Zamonia and introduces us to all forms of life (and death).

There aren't too many German books I want to read but the name Walter Moers is VERY prolific here and now I know why. His style reminds me of Terry Pratchett (snark) and Douglas Adams (silly fun).
At the same time, just like the two afore-mentioned authors did as well, Walter Moers must be incredibly erudite considering all the elements he's including in just this one book and how he examines all kinds of motifs.

We philosophize about life (and death), take a critical look at isolationism as well as gluttony and being stuck in old ways (due to fear or for other reasons), muse about loneliness and time farts, examine the function of a brain and the difference between that and the mind, scrutinize the (true) reasons why some want to help others and laugh. A lot.

Humour (or, rather, silliness) is a great way to convey the rather sincere and serious aspects of life but it takes truly great authors to pull it off the right way. While I was a bit critical of the "ramblings" at first and asked myself if this was the author's style or just what he had chosen for this particular character, I soon learned how he was hiding true gems of messages exactly at the center of such "ramblings" and always managed to get to the point, hitting the nail on the head.

My paperback edition is the new edition that has full-colour illustrations:










But I also enjoyed this truly bonkers tale as an audiobook - the narrator, Dirk Bach, is a household name in German comedy and I thought he did an excellent job here.

Another hallmark of truly good stories is if they can be told in different mediums. Considering that my first brush with Bluebear was on German television when I was a little kid (his stories were part of Die Sendung mit der Maus), that I've enjoyed this full book in two different versions and that there are stage plays as well, Walter Moers' story certainly qualifies.

I will definitely go back to Zamonia in the not too distant future.
Profile Image for Amanda NEVER MANDY.
444 reviews95 followers
May 17, 2016
Bluebear is everything he should be and so much more than I thought he would be. Between the cover and the title, hell even the synopsis, I was up the proverbial shit creek without a paddle when trying to explain to people what my current read was. “Is that a children’s book?” “Are you high?” After stumbling and mumbling my way through a couple of barely coherent sentences I would make the second mistake, offer them the book. One quick flip, maybe a pause at a picture or two before gently placing it back into my hands and walking away with a face I’m all too familiar with. The “that girl is not right” look.

How does one explain a story such as this? I can honestly say I would have never of thought to pick it up. Even with the comparisons to other books I love, there was just too much out front stacked against it. Thankfully a book friend clued me in to its existence and swore to its value, because without that I would have definitely missed out on one of the greatest stories I have read in a while. (I know you are reading this Kavita…THANK YOU!!!)

So back to my pathetic attempt at explaining. Bluebear is a blue bear that happens into existence one day in the middle of the sea. His life is instantly thrown into turmoil as he realizes he is on a collision course with a whirlpool. Well I say turmoil because you and I would feel that way but not Bluebear. Everything is just another life he gets to live, one filled with whatever is thrown his way to be thoroughly enjoyed and taken in stride.

Why I loved this read? Simply everything! The writing style is phenomenal, the pictures are fun, and the layout is different and not too distracting. A definite solid five star read.
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,095 reviews3,841 followers
April 28, 2015
Indescribable, mad book, but fun.

A blue bear tells of his bizarre adventures (half of his 27 lives) in a fantasy world of extraordinary creatures. Rescued and raised by mini pirates, taught to talk by Babbling Willows, navigator for a pterodactyl superhero etc etc. Interspersed with snippets from an encyclopaedia about the relevant creatures (shades of Hitchiker's), and plenty of pen and ink illustrations.

The overall effect is like a more adult version of Stewart and Ridell's Edge Chronicles, with touches of Python, fairy tales, Munchausen, Gulliver's Travels, Edward Lear and goodness knows what else.

Lovely use of language, quite apart from the extraordinary imagination behind it. "A dimension could, for instance, consist of congealed boredom or musical frigidity... there are said to be dimensions in which sorrow is the staple food of creatures that vegetate in little pools of grief", "Qwerty oozed majestically" and a clever description of "equitemporal tunnelling of dimensions" whereby time "can vanish while remaining omnipresent"; riding a horse is like moving in time to classical music but riding a camedary is more like a drunk drummer's rhythm.

Also a big book (over 700 large pages) but such fun it's only heavy in the sense of pound and ounces (or Kilos, if you prefer).

Compare this with his wonderful bibliophile's delight, The City of Dreaming Books.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,529 reviews469 followers
July 31, 2010
Humor is a very personal matter. What some people find funny, others find stupid. I've always tended to enjoy British humor more than American, outside of Mel Brooks. I prefer Blackadder over Mr. Bean. I love Little Britain, but don't really find Webb and Mitchell (or is it Mitchell and Webb?) to be as fulfilling. They seem to try too hard.

I enjoyed this book. I do see, however, how it will not be to everyone's tastes.

There is much in Bluebear that is amusing and wonderful. The story is very episodic, but there is a sense of wonder and whimsy.

Bluebear goes on a journey of discovery, and each life (or half life) is a chapter. In many ways, each chapter is a self contained story.

Bluebear is set adrift as a cub and picked up by the Minipirates. After that his adventure include a deadly flower, working for a literary plot device, a being with seven brains, and young lady who rather resembles a hair ball.

It is easy to see a reflection of current events in the book. The Mogg chapter is the Middle East comment, for instance, and it is well done. There is a nod to political debates as well as to academics and physics. There is most likely many other German political references that I did not get as well as string theory which went over my head (but I'm short). These reference are numerous and very well down. Moers even touches on current pet trends.

Sometimes, it must be admitted, Moers over does things. Some sequence would work better if they were a little shorter. They're funny, but it is like that skit that goes on for just a tad too long.

While there is not a over arching plot (such as a the rescue of a princess or the destruction of a ring), Bluebear's adventures mirror life. His sojurn in the tunnels, his coming out of the dark are like the much talked about quarter life or mid life crisis. His time with ides is how we are feel about ourselves when we think. Bluebear's experiences may be whimiscal and strange, but they are reflective of what all must go though as we live.
Profile Image for Mia Anti.
106 reviews14 followers
June 22, 2022
This is the only book I’ve reread serval times in my life. And it just keeps getting better for every reread. It’s such an underrated book, it deserves so much more love and attention.
Profile Image for Adam Floridia.
582 reviews30 followers
January 31, 2013
This may sound tautological, but I'm disappointed that I didn't like this book. Obviously, one would be disappointed after reading a 700 page book he didn't enjoy, but there's something more here. It's like this poem.

I had been to Zamonia first in City of Dreaming Books and then again in Rumo. I enjoyed its quirky characters and the playful adventures they endured. And no one has more adventures than Bluebear--13, in fact, with many, many sub-adventures. Every single one places Bluebear in the most dire, utterly impossible, surely-doomed, imminent death scenario. Every time he--surprise, surprise--escapes. And it's always through some deus ex machina intervention, one of which is even referred to as Deus X. Machina. Despite these countless hair-raising scenarios, the book isn't exciting. There's no narrative thread connecting one event to the next, Bluebear never wants anything, is never in search of anything. Thus, despite his many near death experiences, there's never really anything at stake.




Profile Image for Maria Elmvang.
Author 2 books100 followers
March 28, 2022
A 3.5 star rating. Rounded up.

Walter Moers creates a vivid and imaginative universe and stays absolutely true to it to the very end. I've read a number of his books by now, and this is definitely the best.

I love his way of using the book media to tell his story, and though I generally don't care much for illustrations one way or another, here they definitely enhance the story. The characters are original and well described, and the 13.5 lives different enough to make for a very interesting story. I simply couldn't put the book down but devoured it in 2 days.

In atmosphere Zamonia reminded me quite a bit of Dystopia, although the two books otherwise have nothing in common.

Reread 2022: Unfortunately I have to downgrade the rating from 5 stars to 4. I still like it, but man it is WAY too long! Would definitely have benefitted from a better editor. Some of the 'lives' were fine, but Atlantis especially was waaaaaay too longwinded, and I found myself skimming a lot of the descriptions of architecture and creatures living there, as well as many of the 99 rounds Bluebear went in his final duel.
Profile Image for Anna Lyse.
124 reviews9 followers
July 11, 2022
Es gibt wenig Schriftsteller, die dermassen überquellen von Ideenreichtum. Jedes der dreizehneinhalb Kapiteln könnte gut und gern zu einem eigenen Roman ausgeweitet werden, so vielfältig und weitverzweigt sind die sprudelnden Gedankengänge des Walter Moers.

Das war mir einen Extrastern wert. Denn eigentlich ist "Käpt'n Blaubär" eine Research-Studie für die kommenden Zamonienromane. Ein vorlaufendes Nachschlagewerk, ein Prolog in die Welt von Rumo oder Hildegunst von Mythenmetz. Es ist mitunter schon anstrengend, jede Idee in all seinen Höhen und Tiefen erklärt zu bekommen oder mit zehn, ja zwanzig oder dreissig Adjektiven beschrieben zu erhalten.

Den Extrastern verdient hat sich Moers aber garantiert mit der Art, wie er mit Sprache und Bild spielt. Wortwörtlich. Da werden seine eigenen Cartoons eingeflochten, die Schriftart, -grösse und -stil geändert, so dass es eine Freude ist, sich die geschriebenen Bilder mitunter sehr plastisch vorstellen zu können.

Insgesamt ist dies hier aber weniger eine Geschichte, als ein unterhaltsames Lexikon der Abnormalitäten von Zamonien, das vor allem in der zweiten Hälfte, oder auch erst nur ab Atlantis so richtig zu punkten vermag. Und wie gesagt, was Moers erfindet, ist fantastisch in seinem Detailreichtum. Macht schon sehr viel Spass, diesen wild wuchernden Gedanken zu folgen!
Profile Image for Sarahs Orange World.
59 reviews2 followers
June 19, 2022
"Die 13 1/2 Leben des Käpt'n Blaubär" hat mir die Welt von Zamonien geöffnet und ist für mich das beste Zamonien-Buch bisher und auch ein All-time-favorite. Jedes einzelne der 13 1/2 erzählten Leben des Blaubärs strotzt nur so vor Ideen und ich habe alles daran geliebt: Die Geschichte selbst, Käpt'n Blaubär, die Illustrationen von Moers, die skurrilen Einfälle und Bewohner Zamoniens, "Das Lexikon der erklärungsbedürftigen Wunder, Daseinsformen und Phänomene Zamoniens und Umgebung", die kreativen Wortfindungen, einfach die ganze fantastische Welt.

Zwei Anmerkungen für alle, die zögern:
1. Lasst euch nicht vom Buch abhalten, wenn ihr mit dem bekannteren Blaubär aus "Sendung mit der Maus" nichts anfangen könnt. Ich habe diesen auch gar nicht gemocht, aber er ist mit dem aus diesem Buch m.E. gar nicht vergleichbar.
2. Alle, die sich mit den ersten Kapiteln doch schwertun sollten: Bitte auf jeden Fall bis zum Leben in der Nachtschule lesen - in diesem und allen weiteren Kapiteln nimmt das Buch so richtig Fahrt auf!
Profile Image for FrllnFuchs.
19 reviews4 followers
February 9, 2018
Ein Klassiker, den jeder lesen sollte.
Walter Moers Einführung in Zamonien durch die Augen des Blaubärs.
Moers schafft es, in diesem Buch ein Universum zu errichten, was die Köpfe seiner Leser nicht mehr verlassen wird. Lebendig wird dies durch all die unterschiedlichen Charaktere, von der Berghutze bis zum Stollentroll. Es war mein zweites Mal, dass ich dieses Buch gelesen habe und ich bin mir sehr sicher, das ein Drittes folgen wird.
Profile Image for Grüffeline.
1,026 reviews100 followers
April 9, 2018
Sag nie dem Wahnsinn ins Gesicht, dass er sie nicht mehr alle hat.

4,5 Sterne!
Ich liebe die Zamonienromane von Walter Moers einfach, sie sind so sprachgewaltig farbenfroh und unterhaltsam, dass man sie einfach lieben muss. Und auch dieses Buch macht da keine Ausnahme. Alleine, wie viele Bezeichnungen für Schlüssel in einer einzigen Szene verwendet werden... Dazu liest Dirk Bach das Buch auch wirklich gut. Ich kann es kaum erwarten, wieder nach Zamonien zu reisen. Am besten höre ich gleich nochmal die Lieder zum dazugehörigen Musical(, die, wie mir dieses Mal sehr aufgefallen ist, zum Teil Wort für Wort aus dem Buch übernommen wurden).
"Das Leben ist zu kostbar, um es dem Schicksal zu überlassen."
Profile Image for DivaDiane.
919 reviews82 followers
October 6, 2022
I can't believe I forgot to mark this as finished!

This is the first book in the loosely connected series (same world, different characters - mostly). I read (listened to) Die Stadt der Träumenden Bücher (The City of Dreaming Books), which is no. 4, last year. It doesn't matter at all that I've read/listened to them out of order, but I will say this up front: Dreaming Books has more of an actual plot, where this one is a series of vignettes of Blue Bear's life/lives.

Walter Moers really gets into it with his diarrhea of language. He gives list after list and lists of lists, and uses every idiom available, which is hilarious in German. I've heard the English translation is well done. It's so creative and funny, that if you like that sort of thing it will delight you. If you're like me (I can take it or leave it, but like it more than not), you might find yourself drifting off and coming back to the narrative as things move on and you won't have missed much of anything.

The production of the audio book is excellent complete with music and sound effects. Dirk Bach is an excellent narrator and does a great job with voices. (Less so in Dreaming Books, but maybe he's getting a little weary? He can be a bit shouty).
Profile Image for Savasandir .
194 reviews
January 23, 2020
Ah Orso Blu, già mi manchi!

Questo è uno di quei romanzi che per me rientrano nella categoria "E adesso?", categoria che prende il nome dalla domanda che il lettore si pone, una volta che ha finito di scorrere l'ultima parola dell'ultima riga dell'ultima pagina del libro.
"E adesso?"

Leggerlo è stato come fare un'escursione per un sentiero di montagna, no, tranquilli, non per la fatica, ma per la meraviglia che si rinnova ad ogni svolta: quando pensi di essere arrivato al più indimenticabile dei paesaggi del creato, prosegui per il sentiero, superi un declivio e WUSH! Ti ritrovi davanti un panorama ancor più mozzafiato. E più vai avanti e più ti stupisci.
Qui è uguale: non appena pensi di aver letto la più grande trovata del libro, giri qualche pagina e SBAM! Vieni travolto da un’invenzione ancora più fantasticamente bislacca. E più vai avanti e più ti diverti.

Per certi versi, soprattutto per ironia e follia, questo Orso Blu può essere definito un moderno barone di Münchausen, ma per fortuna senza la sbruffonaggine e la spavalderia del personaggio di Raspe, che a lungo andare stufavano un po’.
Profile Image for Furrawn.
531 reviews43 followers
January 19, 2018
Quirky. Whimsical. Creative. Adorable. Fabulous illustrations.

The book is written and illustrated by Walter Moers. He is German, but the book was translated. I’m utterly enchanted.

I laughed out loud over and over. I annoyed my husband with repeated WAIT. JUST LISTEN. He didn’t find any of the things I read out loud as funny as I did. Dark humor.

I was reminded of Terry Pratchett. Of The Princess Bride. Of Paddington Bear. Of some of my favorite fairy tales that are multi-layered and filled with adventure.

I’ll be reading all the rest of the series as soon as I can get my hands on them.

One word. Delightful.
1 review2 followers
May 16, 2007
I picked it up because the cover art caught my attention and the title was so novel as to get me to skim through a few pages. It's a tome of a book, but really a fast read. Broken down into each of Bluebear's "lives" it's more of a collection of 13 1/2 stories than one contiguous story (though they do all tie in together, of course). It is reminiscent of a children's story book but with complex ideas so as to be interesting to the adult. But that kind of feel. A blue bear that rides on the back of a pterydactyl that is one of a certain species that saves people's lives just in the nick of time (known as Reptilian Rescuers). There are several parts that are laugh-out-loud funny and many more that are amusing enough to make you smile while riding on public transportation (always amusing to your seat neighbor).

Highly recommend this book. wish it weren't so big to lug around because the stories make travel go by fast!
Profile Image for Sofia.
295 reviews5,943 followers
September 22, 2020
The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear is the quirkiest, most random book I have ever read, and not always in a bad way. It's so laughable that it manages to be interesting... even when it's really not.

However, sometimes it was just too much quirkiness. Moers spends 17 entire pages talking about random species in Atlantis, a majority of which he will never mention again. A lot of this wasn't needed and really took away from the rest of the whimsical story.

Ah, the story. There isn't one. This is one of the only books I've read that doesn't have a plot. And... again, this is good and bad. It's great because it allows you to immerse yourself in the strange world of Zamonia and its bizarre customs. On the other hand, a book with no plot has no drive, which, in the more slow-moving parts, makes it a bit of a chore to read.

Overall, it was so random, endearing, and nonconforming that I actually liked it.
Profile Image for Rachel.
1,396 reviews145 followers
December 4, 2019
DNF @ page 448


2 stars.

After far far too long on my 'Currently Reading' shelf, (almost 2 years!!) I'm putting this aside. I really wanted to love it but unfortunately this ended up dragging. Still it was OK, and for that I give it two stars. But it is now time to move on and start the next year fresh.
25 reviews
June 26, 2007
Wow. This book was basically The Hitchhiker's Guide meets Where the Sidewalk Ends. It's exceptionally different and is a great book to escape reality in. There are many different stories full of memorable scenes and characters (Minipirates?).

Definitely recommended.
Profile Image for Twig.
329 reviews8 followers
May 29, 2015
okay this was one of the best reads I ever had!
Walter Moers is a true genius of writting I love his style and I really wish that more people
would read his books. I read the german (original) version and I think its more as powerfull as the english translation..
Profile Image for Gedankenlabor.
732 reviews99 followers
August 9, 2020
>>Das Leben ist zu kostbar, um es dem Schicksal zu überlassen. (Deus X. Machina)<<
„13 ½ Leben des Käpt'n Blaubär“ von Walter Moers – zuerst einmal muss ich auf diese unglaublich wundervolle Ausgabe aus dem Penguin verlag hinweisen, die farbig illustrierte Ausgabe ist einfach unglaublich toll und unterstreicht das Lesegefühl um ein Vielfaches, wie ich finde! Aber auch die Abenteuer des Käpt'n Blaubär sind einfach ganz nach Walter Moers Art grandios erzählt und gezeichnet! Ich habe mit Blaubär mitgelitten, mit ihm Herzklopfen gehabt, gelernt und gelacht! Begleitet wird unser Käpt'n Blaubär hier von dem Lexikon der erklärungsbedürftigen Wunder, Daseinsformen und Phänomenen Zamoniens und Umgebung von Prof. Dr. Abdul Nachtigaller – sein und ein Lehrer par excellence. Walter Moers konnte mich hier nach den ersten Ausflügen nach Zamonien wieder dorthin zurück führen und abermals in vollen Zügen begeistern!
Wer skurile Bücher mit Charme, Witz und Abenteuern mag, der sollte sich ganz dringend mit den Werken von Walter Moers beschäftigen, sie sind wie ich finde wahre Lese-Schätze 📚💖
Profile Image for Sylvester (Taking a break in 2023).
2,041 reviews72 followers
December 30, 2010
This is not a normal book. If you want a normal book, this one is not for you. Moers is the King of Craziness. I imagine it (the ideas for his books) happening like this - Papa Moers has a child with insomnia, and the only way he can get this kid to fall asleep is to make up stories - long stories, stories that dredge every inch of his imagination (the most prodigious imagination ever)...

If you want to know who lives inside the eye of a tornado, or what its like to live in a mirage city, or meet insane creatures like the Japanese Bonsai Mites (my favorite), and you don't mind a plot that serves mainly to showcase Walter Moers' incredible incredible imagination - read this book, but don't worry about skipping a few passages when your exhausted brain says "Enough already!". The 703 pages go by quick, but 13 1/2 lives is a marathon, no matter how dazzled you are.
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