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The trials: seventeen ways to die unless the luck of the vampire is with you. Darren Shan must pass five fearsome Trials to prove himself to the vampires clan - or face the stakes of the Hall of Death. But Vampire Mountain holds hidden threats. Sinister, potent forces are gathering in the darkness. In this nightmarish world of bloodshed and betrayal, death may be a blessing...

202 pages, Mass Market Paperback

Published January 1, 2005

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About the author

Darren Shan

244 books7,596 followers
Librarian's note: Also writes books for adults under the name Darren Dash. And in the past he has released books for adults under the names D.B. Shan and Darren O'Shaughnessy.

Darren Shan (born July 2, 1972 in London, England) is the pen name of the Irish author Darren O'Shaughnessy, as well as the name of the protagonist of his book series The Saga of Darren Shan, also known as The Cirque Du Freak Series in the United States. He is the author of the series The Demonata, The Saga of Larten Crepsley, and Zom-B. He has also released the stand-alone novel, The Thin Executioner, and the stand-alone short novels, Koyasan, and Hagurosan. Plus, for adults, he released The City Trilogy (originally under the name of D.B. Shan), and Lady of the Shades..

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5 stars
15,043 (47%)
4 stars
10,425 (33%)
3 stars
4,897 (15%)
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155 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 867 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 10, 2020
THIS IS NOT going to resolve anything of value

I've noticed that Shan tends to end his books with a big TO BE CONTINUED ... but there's a difference between ending the book with a bit of a cliff hanger...versus literally stopping in the middle of a story. This is a case of the latter.

Deeeeep Breaths.

In this novel, we find Darren competing in the Vampire Trials. Either he manages to prove himself worthy of becoming a full vampire or his life will be cut extremely short.

These trials are meant to for full vampires and Darren is only a half-vampire (and a young one at that). While the other vampires do make some concessions, for the most part, Darren is thrown to the wolves.

His trials are both difficult and painful - he loses his hair to fire, scrapes himself raw on another and nearly drowns to death in a third. Unlike most middle-school books, no one waved their wand to cure him.

He deals with pain and suffering head-on which is something unique compared to many other sugar-coated middle school novels I've read. And his injuries are carried over in the next few books - points for realism!

Just when we get to the climax - BAM - To Be Continued

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Profile Image for Kyle.
168 reviews59 followers
August 19, 2016

Another frustrating TO BE CONTINUED...

Someone needs to explain to me why I paid $8 for a book that didn't have an ending to it. Honestly, it didn't have a beginning either because that was in book 4 Vampire Mountain. It's just the next installment in one long book you have to read one part at a time. I bitched about this when I reviewed Vampire Mountain. Maybe it's just me but when I pay for a novel I think it should be a full NOVEL with a beginning, middle and an end. Isn't that what I paid for? Okay I'll stop bitching now.

This installment of The Saga of Darren Shan was the biggest disappointment yet. Darren has to perform five trials to clear his master's reputation for making him an half-vampire so young. First, I'm not quite sure how that's Darren's problem but then I'm not a vampire. Now consider that these trials are normally performed by vampires in order to prove they are ready to become vampire Generals and they have been preparing for decades if not hundreds of years. Okay so fine Darren fails what's the big deal? The price of failure? Death!

There were no real surprises for me. The trials were what I had expected. Even the cliffhanger was given away in the first part of the book.

So am I going to read Book 6 The Vampire Prince? Well, see that's the trouble with cliffhangers, huh? You really have to read the next book don't you? You have know what happens to poor Darren. Now I'm going to see if I can check the rest of the series out from my local library because I am so not paying for them any more.

To read my review of the other books in this series, use the links below:

Book One: A Living Nightmare
Book Two: The Vampire's Assistant
Book Three: Tunnels of Blood
Book Four: Vampire Mountain
Book Six: The Vampire Prince
Book Seven: Hunters of the Dusk

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews42 followers
January 2, 2020
Trials of Death (Cirque du Freak #5), Darren Shan
Trials of Death is the fifth book in The Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan. It is part of the Vampire Rites Trilogy, consisting of books four through six in the 12-book saga. It was first published by Collins in the United Kingdom in 2001, and in the United States in 2003. Darren Shan is about to take the Trials of Initiation, a series of tests that vampires were forced to take part in during years gone by, to prove himself to the Princes. Currently, it is only used for vampires who want to become a general, or for those who wish to demonstrate their strength. However, Darren Shan is required to endure the trials to earn the respect of the entire vampire race for his mentor Mr. Crepsley's 'impulsive' decision to turn him. Darren is mostly trained by the games master of the Mountain, Vanez Blaze.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه آوریل سال 2006 میلادی

عنوان: آزمون های مرگ: نویسنده: دارن‌شان؛ مترجم: سوده‌ کریمی؛ تهران، قدیانی، چاپ نهم و دهم 1394؛ در 208 ص؛ کتاب پنجم از سری دارن شان؛ شابک 9789644177590؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان - سده 21 م

در کتاب پیشین «دارن شان» برای اثبات شجاعت خود به شاهزاده‌ های اشباح، تصمیم گرفت که در آزمون‌های مرگ شرکت کند، و مربی «دارن» یعنی «لارتن کرپسلی» هم این آزمون‌ها را پذیرفت، اما چیزی که «دارن» خبر نداشت، و سپس متوجه شد، این بود، که اگر در آزمون‌ها شکست بخورد، اعدام خواهد شد؛ «وینز بلین» به «لارتن» پیشنهاد داد، که مربی «دارن» در سر امتحانات حاضر باشد، و «لارتن» هم پذیرفت.به «دارن» گفته بودند، که بیش از شصت آزمون وجود دارد، اما امکان برگزاری برخی از آزمون‌ها دیگر وجود ندارد، و بعضی از آزمون‌ها هم بخاطر قد کوتاه «دارن» امکان‌پذیر نیست، و در کل هفده آزمون باقی ماند، که «دارن» باید در پنج مورد از آن‌ها شرکت می‌کرد.با یاری «سبا نایل» دومین شبح مسن اشباح یک قانون کهن پیدا کرد، که بین هر آزمون، میتوانست یک روز فرصت استراحت، و تمرین، داشته باشد.به هر حال «دارن» برای قرعه کشیدن، به کوهستان اشباح احضار شد.«دارن» از توی کیسه گوی‌ها یک قرعه کشید، و از توی آن، قرعه «هزار توی آبی» درآمد. «دارن» از «وینز» پرسید که چقدر دشوار است، و «وینز» گفت بستگی به این دارد که شنا بلد باشید یا بلد نباشید، «دارن» گفت بلدم، و «وینز» هم گفت که پس خوب است، و میتوانست بدتر از این باشد. «دارن» و «وینز» به تالار تمرینات رفتند، و تمرینات خود را آغاز کردند. در این مرحله باید در تالاری وارد می‌شد، که پس از ورود او، از آب پر می‌شد. «دارن» باید در خروج را پیدا می‌کرد، در حالیکه یک سنگ سنگین هم به پای «دارن» بسته شده بود. پس از پانزده دقیقه تالار پر از آب می‌شد.برای هر آزمون یکی از شاهزاده‌ های اشباح برای نظارت میآمد، و برای این آزمون «میکا ورلت» خودش را رسانده بود.«دارن» پس از گذشتن بیست دقیقه در حالیکه چیزی تا مرگش نمانده بود، پیروز از تالار خارج شد. آنشب موقع استراحت «دارن» برای خوردن شام، به تالار «کولدن لورت» رفته بود، که دوست خودش «هارکات مولدز» را دید.«هارکات» می‌گفت اشباح سر موفقیت و شکست تو شرط بندی می‌کردند. پیش از آزمون شرط بندی‌ها علیه تو بود، اما الان اکثراً به نفع تو هست. خبر خوب این بود که در یکی دو روز آینده جشنواره نامردگان برگزار می‌شد. این جشن وقتی برگزار می‌شد که تمام اشباح به کوهستان می‌رسیدند، و در آن سه شب، جشن برگزار می‌شد و ...؛ نقل نمونه ��تن: «آنها گفتند: اگر بتوانم از آزمون های سختی که برایم درنظر گرفته میشد، موفق بیرون بیایم، مرا خواهند پذیرفت، چیزی که به من نگفتند این بود که اگر در آزمونی موفق نمیشدم کشته میشدم.» پایان نقل. ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Dan.
1,015 reviews98 followers
July 8, 2013




Profile Image for Shawna Finnigan.
507 reviews325 followers
January 17, 2021
This is definitely my favorite one in the series so far. The trials definitely had Goblet of Fire feel and it was neat to see how much all the characters have evolved from the first book. I also liked how this book had all the necessary intense and suspenseful scenes yet it didn't have the scariness and sadness of the previous books. Listening to this series as audiobooks has been really enjoyable so far and I highly recommend this series to everyone.
Profile Image for Sara Kamjou.
612 reviews327 followers
May 29, 2019
تا نیمه‌ی اول کتاب همچنان شاهد روندی کند بودم اما تو نیمه‌ی دوم بالاخره ریتم کتاب تند شد و چندین اتفاق جالب افتاد. حالا بیشتر مشتاقم ادامه‌ی مجموعه رو بخونم.
یادگاری از کتاب:
گاهی ما باید باورهای قدیمی خودمان را به نفع باورهای جدید کنار بگذاریم.
Profile Image for Shannara.
448 reviews81 followers
February 11, 2021
So this is now my favorite book of this series!!! The trials were all so very exciting!!! I loved reading about all the close calls and the drama. Apparently vampires tend to be dramatic. Hahahaha!!! Which makes me laugh for whatever reason.

Mr. Crepsley is even interesting to me now. Along with a lot of the other vampires. Vampire mountain is still super awesome, but seriously, these trials were soooo entertaining.

I highly recommend this to vampire lovers!! I’m thoroughly enjoying the series!!! In fact, I’ve gotta go listen to the next one now.
Profile Image for James Trevino.
68 reviews35.7k followers
August 28, 2016
This was an improvement over the previous book but not by much. The plot is still going nowhere up until the last few pages, but at least Trials of Death was action packed. I feel like the series has lost some of it's appeal with the lack of the Cirque background. Not that the vampire society is not interesting, but it alone is not enough to maintain interest. Maybe the next one will be better.
6,283 reviews67 followers
May 20, 2019
What a great series! Always fun, always a good mixed between action, storyline and characters evolution and some good twists to make it hard to predict where it goes. I like every book of this series so far and this book deserve to be more notice/read (even if I discover it years late...)!!
Profile Image for Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*.
2,473 reviews1,080 followers
March 27, 2018
I went back and forth with being disgusted by the storyline and riveted at the same time. Yes, it was a weird experience.

‘Trials of Death’ wasn’t filler-ish, better than the fourth because the pacing and almost non-stop action made it hard to put down. Action scenes were excellent, nail-grinding, detailed, spaced right. Some disturbing stuff happened during the trails, especially the weird flame stuff.

Characters are more fleshed out, seeming livelier and not imitations of their former selves (the fourth suffered from that a little, especially for Crepsley.) Arra is still irritating, as are a lot of the princes and other vampires following their rigid systems without the bend of common-sense exceptions.

There is something that soured it for me – I still think Darren shouldn’t do the trails because of his age and half-vampire status. Letting a child go through all that, especially for some ancient and limited system, was a form of child abuse and that sickened me. Yes, it’s fiction, but still wrong in this fiction world. There were a lot of torturous trials – burning, almost drowning, cutting, fighting to the death with wild boars – shudders.

The burning was the hardest to take because of the detail. His hair will likely never grow back because of the permanent damage. I mean, geez. All this for that silly code?

Crepsley’s outlook and rigid adherence was disappointing. Apparently I’m more protective of the protagonist than his mentor. It’s shown that these bizarre mindsets are how these strange creatures think. I agreed with the one outcast of the group that there is no honor in losing your life so willingly. If I were in Darren’s shoes I would have started getting raged.

The ending holds a nice surprising or so, and although I did see a betrayal brewing, it worked well for ending this book. Even if I guessed a little of it, it leaves it open with no predictable start of how the next book will begin.

Despite my annoyances with the plot’s direction, it stayed exciting and earned a four star label.
Profile Image for Narges Amooei.
255 reviews159 followers
August 13, 2019
از جذّاب‌ترین و پراتفاق‌ترین‌های این مجموعه تا به الآن بود.
پایانی متفاوت و شوک‌دهنده نسبت به کتاب‌های قبل.
و آدم رو بیشتر مشتاق خوندن کتاب بعدی می‌کنه.
Profile Image for Emad.
139 reviews21 followers
January 31, 2021
آقایِ کرپسلی گفت: «واقعاً نمی‌دانستی اگر در آزمون‌ها شکست بخوری تو را به تالارِ مرگ می‌برند؟»
گفتم: «نه، نمی‌دانستم.»
سر تکان داد و گفت: «اوه، متأسّفم؛ باید زودتر به تو می‌گفتم.»

ولی نگران نباش، آقایِ دارن شان. ما می‌دانیم که هنوز هفت قسمت از قصّه‌هایِ سرزمینِ اشباح باقی مانده است و تو هرطور که شده از این آزمون‌ها جانِ سالم به در خواهی برد. پس به گمانم این تعلیقی که خواسته‌اید ایجاد کنید، کمی خام و ناشیانه است و کارکردِ داستانی ندارد.

ارادتمند، خوانندۀ آزمون‌هایِ مرگ
Profile Image for — nova.
450 reviews325 followers
September 23, 2021
this was my FAVORITE in the series growing up !! all of these books just left me on the edge of my seat.
Profile Image for Vendea.
1,478 reviews156 followers
July 14, 2017
Re-read 14.7.17: Vrátila jsem se k re-readu, protože se mi o sérii zdálo... Od pětky dál je to pěkně depresivní. Věděla jsem, proč čekám. Zkoušky mě ale baví z mnoha důvodů - ať už to samotné zkoušení, opilecká fiesta nebo ten konec... Oh, you break my heart every time I read this, Darren.

Nakonec se mi to líbilo ještě více než předchozí díly. Hezky to uteklo a zkoušky byly fakt vymakaný nápad. Bohužel ten konec... Ach! To mi Shan neměl dělat...

Profile Image for Anna.
127 reviews10 followers
March 11, 2022
دارن شان قشنگ میدونه چطوری خواننده رو دنبال خودش بکشونه …
عجب پایانی داشت این جلد
Profile Image for Cami L. González.
1,157 reviews395 followers
October 13, 2020
En esta entrega nos enfocamos en los Ritos por los que tiene que pasar Darren para demostrar que Mr Crepsley no cometió un error al convertirlo. Por suerte durante su periodo en las cuevas se ha ganado varios amigos que lo ayudan a prepararse para ellos.

Me gustó este libro, ya empezamos a tener nociones de lo que se viene para los siguientes. Hay menciones de un tal Lord Vampaneze que podría ser el fin de los vampiros y siento que las piezas comienzan a avanzar.

Admito que me sorprendió el final, ocurre una traición importante que provoca que los hechos se desvíen de lo que esperábamos (es cierto que llegado en cierto punto, la traición era evidente). Tengo muchas ganas de leer el siguiente.
Profile Image for Nic Echo.
80 reviews4 followers
December 21, 2012
About the Book:
When we last left Darren, he was told that he would have to complete five deadly trials to prove himself a worthy vampire. Not only are the trials themselves deadly, but if Darren fails in any way besides death, he will be executed. It is actually after one of these trials that Darren learns about a treacherous plot that involves the vampaneze.

This book was filled with action and kept me turning the page (especially near the end). Darren's trials were interesting and even though you knew he wouldn't die (he is the main character and there is seven more books after all), Shan still managed to throw some curve balls at you. Although there were parts I didn't enjoy immensely (such as the Festival of the Undead), I still didn't really hate any part of the book this time. Besides, I appreciated getting to see Darren in more than his role as a half-vampire. It is always a plus when the author lets the every day and little affairs pop through into a book as well. It always makes it seem more real, and I didn't feel like I was bogged down with these kind of details either.

My favourite part was definitely the climax of this book, and I found myself unable to put it down and wondering how Darren would put a stop to it. Not only is he in a fix with the vampaneze at this point, but he is also in a bit of a pickle with the vampires, which may also limit his options.

I do wish that Shan went into more details about the Guardians of the Blood and their beliefs more. Although they may not be the most imaginative creature, they are still quite striking to the imagination and Shan could have introduced another culture more thoroughly into his world. All in all though, I really enjoyed this book and started the next one right away (the cliff hanger is a suspense like no other). It may have taken a while, but this series is definitely starting to take off.
Profile Image for Whitney.
123 reviews14 followers
April 9, 2015
Directly after hearing that he must face vicious trials or die, Darren Shan takes on the Trials of Initiation in Trials of Death. The consequence for not passing the Trials is death by being dropped on spikes over and over until death takes you. The Trials are hard enough for adult full-vampires, so how will our half-vampire protagonist fare? One things for sure, if Darren passes the Trials he might have wished he didn’t in the end.


The plot in Trials of Death is all about Darren going through five Trials of Initiation to prove himself to be a good standing vampire. For some, the plot in this book may be a little dull. It all revolves around Darren training and completing the Trials. If you have a big interest in vampire society you might not be so bored. Along with the trials we get intimate details of vampire society in this universe and we get to see it in action. I’ve seen probably and equal amount of reviewers say that the book was either too fast or too slow. Personally, I don’t think it went fast at all. If you’re used to reading books that have slow, gradual development then Trials of Death may have been a little fast-paced.

One thing that I did think was a little too fast was how quickly they started on the Trials. There is literally only one chapter between Darren hoping he doesn’t die in the Trials and him training for his first Trial.


One thing I will say is that I like the way Shan wrote the action scenes and the scenes with the Trials. He describes them so well that I can easily picture Darren going about his challenges without struggling to imagine them. There’s no over-descriptiveness going on; it’s just the right amount of description to be able to imagine the Trials and not be bogged down with information.

The parts where there aren’t any Trials or action going on are pretty boring, though. The Festival of the Undead is an example of the boring parts of the book. While it was interesting to learn about the different aspects of vampire culture, it was still a little dull.


I still like Darren as our protagonist. He’s very realistic. He doesn’t just magically excel at things, even though he does have a few talents for certain things. His emotions are pretty real, too, like when someone makes a joke in a tense situation and he snaps at them. Mr. Crepsley is a character I want to like but just can’t because we still don’t know all that much about him. Darren spent most of his time with Vanez Blane in preparation for the Trials. There are moments where I can say I like him, like when he and Darren hug before Darren’s first Trials and Mr. Crepsley’s confidence in Darren. Besides that, and a few instances where we’re told Darren and Mr. Crepsley are close, I don’t feel any strong feelings towards Mr. Crepsley.

The other vampires were developed a little more since the last book, but not too much. One has to remember that Trials of Death only spans across the course of not even two weeks at most. I feel like Darren should have been in the company of these other characters more so that certain character’s death is more meaningful.

Things I Didn't Like

Unfortunately one of the biggest negatives in books made into my Things I Didn’t Like section: plotholes. There are only two major plotholes that I could catch, but they’re pretty big. The first one is why the Council bent the rules to give Darren extra time after The Hall of Flames. Darren, Mr. Crepsley, and all other vampires have reminded the reader over and over again that vampires are honorable creatures. There are vampires that would, and have, died for honor. During Darren’s first trial, when he could have given himself a head start through The Aquatic Maze that he was so afraid at dying at, he didn’t. Nobody but Darren would have known that he’d cheated but he still didn’t because of honor and nearly died in the process. So why would these vampires bend the rules—that they are literally dead-set on—all of a sudden for a half-vampire? This is a gaping plothole.

The other plothole was with regards to Darren and Kurda running away. Harkat wants to come with Darren but Kurda tells him that he’s too wide to fit through some of the tunnels. However, Gavner ends up going with them and I’m pretty sure that a vampire described as short but wide is probably wider than a Little Person. I know that Gavner needed to be the one with Kurda and Darren in the end to advance the plot, but this doesn’t make sense. Harkat could have fit and gone with them and the whole situation in the end of the book could have been avoided. There is no logical reason for Harkat not being able to come with Darren. Shan should have come up with a different reason as to why Harkat couldn’t join them.


The diversity in Trials of Death is the same as in the last books. One woman, who gets beaten by a pacifist despite being the best, and a vampire with one eye. Sad to say that that’s the end of the list.


I enjoyed Trials of Death. It gave the readers a better look into this vampire society, which the majority of vampire books rarely do. The Trials might be a little boring for some but I thought that they were very well written. The plot twist at the end was great, too. There are gaping plotholes that I don’t like, but what is one to do? The earlier books in the Cirque du Freak series are a little better than this one, even though the books are really moving forward.

Here is a link to my notes.
Profile Image for Baya.
41 reviews10 followers
September 3, 2017
Páni... tak tohle byl zatím nejlepší díl ze všech. Doufám, že to takhle bude i dál a s každým dílem to bude lepší a lepší
Profile Image for MrsJennyReads.
63 reviews
January 18, 2015
Pretty harrowing and brutal, this macabre fifth book in the running Cirque du Freak series continues in the vein of all those that came before it with a lot of action, a lot of blood, and a lot of fun. I liked this one better than the last, as I felt it got a little more involved. But, being a fan of the entire series, I have yet to be disappointed, at all. Shan delivered darkness with Trials by Death, and I would have expected nothing less.

Five Stars!

Profile Image for Jennifer Wagemans.
Author 7 books21 followers
December 2, 2022
Dit was tot nu toe verreweg mijn favoriete boek in deze serie. De plotwending had ik niet zien aankomen, al is het achteraf wel logisch. Ik heb echt een band opgebouwd met de personages en wilde het beste voor ze. Hartverscheurend dat dat niet altijd kan. Ook gaaf om de dilemma's te zien tussen ouderwets vampirisch denken en nieuwe ideeën, en om te zien hoe erg Darren veranderd is in zijn denkwijze sinds boek 1.

Bonus: Trials of Death heeft serieuze Hungergames vibes en is constant spannend. Heel erg gaaf!
Profile Image for erin.
216 reviews8 followers
January 27, 2023
This was good, but a bit repetitive and was a bit lackluster until the ending. Also STILL NO CIRQUE DU FREAK. I miss it. Bring it back, I beg of thee. I will say that I really did enjoy Darren's character development in this book, and how he almost doesn't even realize how he is adapting. At the beginning, we saw him scoff at many of the customs that the vampires partake in, but in this book we see Darren really start to accept and adopt them himself.
Profile Image for Tyrell ⚔️.
566 reviews75 followers
February 11, 2022
“The hands of Fate keep time on a heart-shaped watch."

I loved this installment in Cirque Du Freak. Reading each trial and its effects on Darren were quite an enjoyable read. The ending was a bit of a surprise/let down but sets up next installment remarkably well.
May 28, 2013
Trials of Death by Darren Shan is an outstanding book! I have been an avid reader and fan of the series since its debut in 2000. I remember reading the series since 6th grade and loving it ever since, despite the less than adequate movie. This book is the fifth installment in the franchise and never gets old. This story takes place after Darren and Mr. Crepsley, his vampire mentor, have been traveling from the Cirque for a while. Darren has been a half-vampire for a while now but cannot be a full one until he is acknowledged by the vampire princes atop vampire mountain, the last book. In trying to get the approval of the vampire higher-ups Darren has to face several trials... of death, to prove his vampiric abilities. “The trials happen one night after another” (Shan 9). so they are not easy they can sometimes involve, snake pits, drowning, scorching, and scarring, these are tasks not to be taken lightly. Failure to complete these trials in immediate death to the vampire in the trial along with whatever number of mentors he has at that time. During the novel Darren has to overcome five frightening trials that include, water prisms, stalactite venturing, fighting wild boars with bare hands, and fire prisons. Ultimately on his last trial, Darren is on the floor of the arena almost to be killed by a boar when harkat, his friend who sint a vampire, saves him from dying and then returns to their room at vampire mountain. Darren is confused with the fact at hand, he has always thought to do things they way they are for the vampires, to which His friend Kurda says, “Your verdicts inevitable... That doesn’t mean that you have to stay and face it” (Shan 163). Darren has to flee from the mountain along with Mr. Crepsley and Gavner Purl so that they will live.
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