Manny's Reviews > The Last Battle

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
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's review
Dec 05, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: children, science-fiction, donalds-are-trumps
Read 2 times. Last read January 1, 1974.

A dismayingly poor conclusion to the series... I honestly don't understand why a fair number of people apparently like it. (I believe it even won some kind of award). The writing is flat and uninspired compared to the earlier volumes, and the preaching has completely taken over the narrative. Oddly enough, a lot of it also comes across as extremely immoral. Let's not even get into the question of whether the treatment of the Calormenes and their god Tash is racist or bigoted. The thing that really annoys me is the way that foolish, deluded Puzzle, who acts as front man in a religious coup by agreeing to don the lion skin and impersonate Aslan, is somehow given a free pass. Why, exactly? He was only obeying orders? It seems to me that this is reductio ad absurdum, taking the notion of Christian forgiveness to its logical and extremely nasty conclusion, and I still have no idea what C.S. Lewis thought he was doing. If George W. Bush could read, he would probably find this book rather comforting.

[Update, Oct 2014]

The following passage from Knausgård's Min kamp 6, which I read yesterday, expresses the point I wished to make rather better than I did (my translation):
Grace removes all distinctions, in grace we are all equal. The radicality of this idea is so great that we can hardly grasp it. But it is this, and nothing else, that Christianity is about. There are no differences between people. The worst person is worth just as much as the best. Jesus said: if someone strikes you, turn the other cheek. He is a person like you, he is you. It is an inhuman thought, because it is thought outside our social structures. It is indeed a godlike thought. Adolf Hitler has just as much worth as the Jews he gassed to death. It dissolves our identities, they have been created by difference, and that is what makes Christianity unrealisable, we cannot think ourselves away, it is too much to lose, it is all we have.

[Update, Aug 2017]

If I understand him correctly, Donald Trump is saying the same thing in his already-famous 'many sides' speech. No one is worth more than anyone else, Trump apparently wants to tell us. The neo-nazi who drives his car into the crowd of protesters is worth just as much as the woman he kills, because we are all children of God. But as Knausgård notes, this is a difficult idea for mortals to comprehend. And to be honest, I believe Trump could also have phrased it better.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Started Reading
January 1, 1974 – Finished Reading
December 5, 2008 – Shelved
December 5, 2008 – Shelved as: children
December 5, 2008 – Shelved as: science-fiction
August 15, 2017 – Shelved as: donalds-are-trumps

Comments (showing 1-46 of 46) (46 new)

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message 1: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker But the notion of Christian forgiveness is exactly like that. Once you repent, it's Heaven for you. See, for example, Waugh's econmium to the Catholic faith in Brideshead. But aside from that, while it's been a few years since I've read The Last Battle, I believe Aslan says that it's because Puzzle didn't understand what was going on. The focus is on the intention to do evil and not the act. I also believe that Puzzle does repent once he does understand.

Valerie If you don't personally know Jesus then I think it would be difficult to really appreciate this book in the fullness of the original intent. Aslan is symbolic of Jesus (by Lewis' own account) and not a generic god. It is eerily where we are now in our world...every way to God is good and every god is the same...or else you are intolerant or politically incorrect. Say the name Jesus in a non-Christian conversation and watch how uncomfortable everyone gets ( like now perhaps.)

Lewis has presented an account that can only have been inspired by the greatest creator of all. It isn't man-made religion. It is the relationship with Jesus. That is true Christianity. C.S. Lewis has written the story in a manner that breaks it down to the childlike faith that Jesus says we must have in Him alone to enter the Kingdom of God.

What is preachy or flat about the way he has written it?

The thing about this last book that made it so difficult for me to read was experiencing the similarity of our own world's present state to that of end times Narnia.
It was disturbing for me to see how the prophesies that are foretold about our world's end unfold in this book for Narnia.

It has already begun here... Everyone is looking out for number one (the dwarfs) or they are muddled up in what they actually believe and thus without realizing it have aligned themselves with Satan (Tash) who is in fact the enemy who the Bible tells us roams the earth looking for those he can destroy.
In our world I see people and factions who want to be accepted... but most draw a line when it comes to Christians...they don't see their own agendas but accuse the Christians of theirs. As I mentioned above, many cannot tolerate the name Jesus is offensive. Even as you read this post you may find yourself burning with anger. Christians...always referring to Jesus...and why?

Why do you suppose when people swear they don't invoke the name Buddha or any of the other god names? Because Jesus really is the true King...Satan knows it, but the world is like the characters of Narnia...they didn't know Aslan personally and they refused to believe the accounts of the witnesses, so they did not realize when they were being so blatantly duped.
Likewise, if you don't know Jesus personally, then you won't realize that you are one of the misguided, or one of the one's that won't recover from the hurt resulting from the acts of those who do things in the name of Jesus that don't align with who He really is.

C.S. Lewis writes about Christianity. It is what it is. You can't rewrite history either though this world would have us try.

No apologies...the Chronicles of Narnia is about Christ and Christian relationships. There is nothing more noble than using your talent for the purpose the King has gifted you for.

Well done Lewis!!!!

Manny Hm... well, Valerie, to answer some of your points:

Say the name Jesus in a non-Christian conversation and watch how uncomfortable everyone gets (like now perhaps.)

Talking about Jesus does not in itself make me feel uncomfortable, though I am very disturbed by some of the things done in His name. You might want to look at my review of the New Testament for further comments.

C.S. Lewis has written the story in a manner that breaks it down to the childlike faith that Jesus says we must have in Him alone to enter the Kingdom of God.

That's a reasonable description of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a book I still rather like. But I don't like this one.

As I mentioned above, many cannot tolerate the name Jesus is offensive. Even as you read this post you may find yourself burning with anger. Christians...always referring to Jesus...and why?

The American Right are not entirely blameless here. In the terminology of this book, someone like Ann Coulter calls herself a follower of Aslan, but clearly worships at the altar of Tash. Which does indeed make many people burn with anger.

the world is like the characters of Narnia...they didn't know Aslan personally and they refused to believe the accounts of the witnesses, so they did not realize when they were being so blatantly duped.

You know, it's not like we're really disagreeing on everything...

Valerie Hi Manny,
Please forgive me as I am extremely new to this site. When I was commenting on your thread, the comments that you have pulled out of my post were truly meant for the gentleman who had posted directly above me. I felt it my duty to share my opinion as I felt that he had entirely missed the point of the book/series.

I too am disturbed by things done in the name of Jesus. That is in fact why I so love all of the Chronicles of Narnia...because in my opinion they ring true to what it is really all about.

I respect that you didn't like this book. Indeed, it was quite a difficult read for me at first due to the parallel nature of the times in which we live and the end times of Narnia. I don't like to think about an end of things as they are even if they are not what I want them to be. I actually had to put the book down at times and force myself to come back to it. But this story strengthened me in so many ways. It was an eye opening account that caused me to realize the treachery of my own bent toward fence straddling for the sake of harmony with those who don't believe.

From a literary standpoint, I of course enjoyed several others of the series much more. You mentioned that you liked The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and I think all would probably agree on that one.
I also enjoyed the Magician's Nephew. My favorite of the lot is however The Silver Chair.

It's silly really, but my life is so stressful, I enjoy reading things like these books that many would consider children's books.

I am not sure what you mean by "The American Right." (Again forgive me...I am no scholar and not the least bit politically inclined.) As far as America goes, as it is the basis for my entire life experience, I think it quite parallels the end-time Narnia. I do not think it "right" about much at the present time and it causes me distress even though I do realize it is not for me to worry about as I have no control over it. I do think that on a worldly level, our way of life is as good as it gets, but from a spiritual standpoint, we have long ago lost our sense of direction.

I will say though that people all have free choice. I don't like it when someone professes faith and is false, as you have credited Ann Coulter of being/doing. Still though, I don't think it is a valid reason for anyone to deny themselves the great love of Jesus... sort of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face, lol. Of course I won't deny my heart break over Satan's greatest allies being, it would seem lately often those who profess Christ. Still, Christians don't save...that is for Jesus alone. So again nothing, can stand in the way of that...even a hypocritical liar. I tell my children, in the end those you credit for influencing your decisions will not stand with you before God Almighty. You will have only yourself to answer for, and they will answer for themselves, so make sure your choices are really your "own" through and through.

My curiosity is peeked regarding your review of the New Testament. I will check it out despite the fact that usually I avoid discussion of the Bible within this type of context.
I say "this type of context" but really I mean what I would suspect the context would be. Of course without knowing what you have written I cannot say yours will be something I would avoid as well. This I do know...I make every attempt not to tamper with the Word of God as it is alive. I believe when a true Christian reads the Word, the Spirit provides exegeses as needed for him/her, and so I have never thought of, nor would I ever think of looking at the manuscript from an academic view.

His thoughts are not our thoughts...his are far superior, you know?

But I'll have a look.

Warm regards!

Valerie Oh Manny, do I feel silly! I told you I was no scholar!!! I had no idea that was actually a book. Oh my...well back to the review! Tallyho!

Valerie Wait yet again. So, do you know Jesus or don't you? He is not a belief system. He is a real person who true Christians have a relationship with.

I don't understand your review of the New Testament. I don't know this book but I think it is a translation of the Bible New Testament...yes?

Man there is so much more much more...

message 7: by Manny (last edited Jun 10, 2012 01:36PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny Hi Valerie,

Well, it sounds like we don't really disagree very much here, except that I must regretfully say that I am not a Christian. I do not know Jesus, though, from everything I have heard about Him, it is my loss. My review of the New Testament, which is indeed the Bible New Testament, is meant to suggest that, though maybe I chose an unnecessarily obscure way to say it.

When I say "The American Right", I am referring to the disgraceful and cynical political grouping based on the Republican Party, who have over the last 30 or so years discovered that they can increase their political power by hypocritically pretending, generally in the most transparent way, that they follow the teachings of Jesus. These people, by calling themselves Christians, have done a great deal of harm to Christianity. People like Richard Dawkins are directly reacting to them, and of the two I vastly prefer Dawkins. The tragedy is that many people currently feel that is the choice they are being offered. I would have loved to know what Lewis might had thought here.



Valerie Hi Manny,
Ah yes...I have never understood how most of my friends in the church run to Republican politics under the guise of concern over issues such as right to life etc. (which I am for) but appear to be blinded to the oppression that results from their political stances.

As a true Christian however, I don't consider George Bush a fellow believer. Many call His name, but few are really His. When you meet Jesus, His living Spirit comes to dwell within you, and if you learn to listen to it, then you gradually become more discerning. I do not know George Bush personally but when I look at a tree and see apples...I automatically assume that the tree is an apple tree. If I see nuts, then a nut tree. If I see no fruit, then I may not be able to tell by the leaves or tree scaffolding at first...but after a while, the time of fruiting will come...and then becomes more clear.

I would pose that Lewis had many things to say about people who profess Christianity and are false. But then again, he was mature enough in the faith to know that this life is only a whisper and not what really matters. It is a fallen will never be is for us to fulfill our missions here and then go on to what has been prepared for us. If you were a Christian, I would say, look around and see the is like Narnia...the end has may take hundreds or thousands more years, or it may be this very year...we don't know...but it is in motion.You won't stop it...there has never been a prophecy in the Bible that doesn't eventually come true.
And regarding fake Christians, it is a given because since the beginning, whatever is authentic, satan makes a counterfeit for. Do you know the story of how Lucifer was the most beautiful of all God's creations but he wanted to be in charge and so lead the failed coup to take over heaven? You know, where the Bible tells us a third of the angels fell with him (these are now demons?)
One of the enemy's tactics is to use these counterfeits. I don't know how your translation of the New Testament put it when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, but if you read a direct translation from the original manuscripts you will see that while it appeared that satan used scripture to tempt Christ, what he really did was use scripture with a slight twist. There was always something left out to make the scripture work for his scheme.

In your review of the New Testament you said that you googled to see if Jesus was an actual historic character, yes...did I understand you correctly? And that you found no historic record of His being on earth? If that is what you meant, you need to look again...there is not really much of a dispute among most scholars, atheists and all regarding whether or not Jesus actually lived. Some think he was a good man, a prophet, a lunatic, etc. Of course only Christians believe Him to be the incarnation of God.

I know it may sound crazy to you, but what if you theorized for a moment that He did rise from the dead?

I know He did because I know Him. To you, I say I think He knocks at your door. I would encourage you not to fall for apes who say they know Him. Why would you allow fools to rob you of the truth? Ask Him Himself... Jesus...ask Him.

The Bible says "draw near to the Lord and He will draw near to you."

The most direct translation available currently is the NIV ( New International Version.) You should read it and ask for revelation. The gospel of John was written by Jesus' best friend on earth from most accounts. Maybe start there...not for truth...ask Him to show you.

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." Revelation 3:20 ...a book also written by Jesus' best friend John, by most accounts.

If I didn't know Him, then this would all be a crazy thread...a mindless exchange of opinions. But, I do know Him, and so I encourage you to look away from the distractions of the fakes and seek the authentic King who had nothing good to say about most of the "religious" people of the time when He was on earth.

I am not a perfect person. I fail all the time to live up to my calling...but thanks be to Jesus alone, it is not about what I can do or how good I become. Its about know...unmerited favor? The Bible tells us none of us are good enough to get into heaven. If it were possible, then Jesus would not have had to diminish Himself into the form of a man and to suffer rejection and abandonment from even His closest suffer the most painful and humiliating death ever known to mankind (incidentally...a death that was foretold historically in the scriptures of Isaiah hundreds of years before crucifixion was even invented.)
There was no way...but He made a way...willingly and gladly...and so when others try and make the results of our fall His wise...He came to is the enemy and father of lies who perpetrates that bonk.

I am praying for you Manny because I believe the Lord is calling you. I am praying that He will send water and any seeds of the gospel in your heart will begin to root and grow.

Peace brother.


Manny But is it really a paradox? I think he has a good point when he says that it is the very essence of Christianity.

message 10: by Manny (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny Well, I presume that Knausgård would say those people haven't really thought through the implications of what they claim to believe.

I am reminded of a nice quote from Peebles concerning time dilation in special relativity: "This is sometimes called the Twins Paradox, although the effect is observed and it is not paradoxical."

message 11: by Manny (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny Another nice quote, which I just stumbled over in Pigliucci and Boudry's Philosophy of Pseudoscience:
Popular religion pays little heed to theology, as revealed by research into theological incorrectness. Theists may be able to reproduce theologically correct dogma when explicitly required to, but they seem to operate with much simpler and less counterintuitive supernatural beliefs than those condoned by theology.
Here, the theologically correct belief is that everyone is equal and all sins can be forgiven, but the popular belief is clearly that not everyone is equal and some sins are unforgivable.

Personally, I think the popular belief is right and the theologically correct one is extremely dangerous. When the nuclear weapons technician in Level 7 pushes the button which starts World War III and obliterates life on Earth, he is by that action damned for all eternity. It doesn't matter if he repents later. And I would prefer Puzzle, who has a similar role in this story, to be damned for all eternity.

message 12: by Manny (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny Elham, I'm glad you liked it. The article is interesting: the authors argue that theology is a refinement formed by reflection on what they call popular religion, but pseudoscience, in contrast, is a debasement of science. Though personally I'm not sure it's this simple. The analogy is certainly an interesting one....

Qadoos Zafar well that's what i thought, disappointed

María Paz Greene F Crazy fanatics, playing to be God, and judging everybody... except, a writer totally plays God. The problem, then, isn't that, but the naughtyness of the God!!! And I don't mean it in a sexy way.

message 15: by Manny (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny I don't think the New Testament God is as bad as the Old Testament version, but they're both pretty naughty.

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

As a small point I've read from one source that 80% of those who call themselves part of the Religious Right or some such term have not been inside a church in the last five years.

I have to think that churches have not fulfilled their obligations to be handicapped accessible or that TV Evangelists have succeeded in creating a substitutable meta experience.

Jeffrey Whitlock I think Puzzle was given a pass for of three reasons:

(1) While foolish, his intentions were not evil. He lacked the courage to stand up to Shift and was deceived by him (remember, Shift originally argued that they were going to make Narnia better), but he did not intend to start a religious coup. Many Christians believe that you're judged by your works and the desires of your heart/intentions.

(2) Once the plan became truly "evil", he did not know about it (remember, they kept him locked in the stable against his will and only brought him out at night for a few moments). Many Christians believe that you can not be held accountable to a law or knowledge that you do not posses.

(3) He still loved Aslan. Since Aslan is a type of Christ, this is symbolic of the Christian doctrine that accepting and loving Christ earns you forgiveness of sins.

I would agree with your concern if only #3 was in place, but with all three of these things in place, I don't find it nearly as disturbing as you make it out to be.

message 18: by Vipin (new)

Vipin Yadav Oops! :p

message 19: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 15, 2017 05:04PM) (new)

I expected some disagreement by this time. A glance at newspapers indicated that "many sides" was not liked at all; seeing it as a justification for what is reprehensible, and no doubt of benefit to Trump himself.

I had Catholic training through age 16, and there were things that are clearly considered wrong. But, I don't remember any other punishment than burning in hell for eternity. They do change their minds sometimes.

I have read that while other religions lend themselves to analysis; Christianity does not as it is entirely faith based.

So, I'm not going to argue; but would like to pose a question. If you had the opportunity; without any risk of being caught; to kill Hitler before he did any damage; but with the knowledge of what was to come; would you?

Alternatively, if he was already in the middle of his killing spree, would you?

BTW, I have heard that in certain parts of the east people say; "For Krishna's sake" and "For Budda's sake."

Apologies. Dumb question. Sure you would. Your adoption of the "many sides" principle means that it's okay. I'm going to try to consult with Cormac McCarthy.

message 20: by Maru (new) - rated it 1 star

Maru Kun Hi I'm just wondering of the reference to Knausguard relates to something in the last volume of My Struggle (which hasn't been translated yet, so not having mastered Norwegian I haven't read yet) or whether it comes from an earlier volume?

It's more than likely that I was focusing on the excessive drinking and the teenage sexual angst and any moral position in My Struggle went right over my head, so I would be very grateful for any elucidation of the same. This would save me having to read quite a few thousand pages all over again thus obliging me to buy you more than just one drink if the opportunity ever presented itself.

message 21: by Manny (last edited Aug 15, 2017 10:31PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny JohnnyS, it's evident than many people in the failing MSM have missed the subtle theological point that Trump's made. Personally, I was quite moved by his assurance that there were good people at Charlottesville along with the white supremacists, people who only wanted justice done to the memory of Robert E. Lee. I am confident that tomorrow he will go on to explain that there are good people in ISIS too, whose hearts are pure and who only want to be humble soldiers of Islam and defend it from the kaffir.

Maru, the passage I quoted does indeed come from volume 6, which is much more philosophical than the others. You might want to look at my reading updates. Knausgård is a tricky guy.

message 22: by Erik (new)

Erik time for the BBC series to groan through?

message 23: by Manny (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny Have the BBC filmed Min kamp already? Damn, I must watch that.

message 25: by Manny (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny Ah, that one. My kids loved it and watched it a million times. They were particularly fond of the beavers.

message 26: by Warwick (new)

Warwick Jerusalem has a breathtaking passage narrated from the point of view of the angels, which I already quoted but this really reminded me of it – it has the same basic idea about the perhaps disturbing unity of people and times when seen from a deity's-eye view:

Of course we dance on pins and level cities. We deliver up the Jews from Egypt, unto Buchenwald. We flutter tender in the first kiss, flap in agony above the last row in a draughty kitchen. We know what fellatio tastes like and how childbirth feels. We climb upon each other's backs in shower cubicles to flee the fumes. We are in the serene molecular indifference of the Zyklon and the dull heart of the man who turns the wheel to open up the ducts. We are forever standing on those bank steps in Hiroshima as the reality surrounding us collapses into an atomic hell. That moment when you reach your orgasm together and it is the sweetest, the most perfect instant that you ever live through, we are both of you. We keep slaves, and we write Amazing Grace.

message 27: by Manny (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny That is indeed a wonderful passage! Thank you Warwick, looks like I need to check this one out myself...

message 28: by Manny (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny PS Rather reminds me of another Knausgård novel, En tid for alt, where angels are again central to the story...

message 29: by Jim (new)

Jim "you will not replace us!
jews will not replace us!
blood and soil!
blood and soil!" - friday night tiki torch party in Charlottesville

Plenty of good people, for sure........

message 30: by Manny (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny There are good people everywhere, Jim. By the weekend, Trump will be explaining that there are many good people in Iran and Somalia. He will look at Black Lives Matter and see that nearly all those people are good too.

message 31: by Nandakishore (new)

Nandakishore Varma After all, what's good and bad, but a way of looking at things?

message 32: by Jim (new)

Jim Manny wrote: "There are good people everywhere, Jim. By the weekend, Trump will be explaining that there are many good people in Iran and Somalia. He will look at Black Lives Matter and see that nearly all those..."

Orwell rising from the grave to chuckle over the word "good"

plus good double plus good

message 33: by Manny (last edited Aug 16, 2017 02:02AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny Nandakishore wrote: "After all, what's good and bad, but a way of looking at things?"

Yes, if you see black in a mirror, it's white! I admit that's not literally true. But I'm sure you understand what I mean.

message 34: by Jim (new)

Jim Nandakishore wrote: "After all, what's good and bad, but a way of looking at things?"

a quiet friday night in amerikkka

message 35: by Nandakishore (new)

Nandakishore Varma I was arguing once with a lady colleague about the relativity of good and bad. She said there were some things which are absolutely bad, and some things which are absolutely good.

I asked her: "Is killing someone bad?"

She said: "Of course!"

"Is doing one's duty good?" I continued.

"Yes, obviously..." she said.

She didn't see the punch coming. "So, when a soldier kills someone as part of his duty, is it good or bad?"

Ms. Smartarse I was actually wanted to read this, because I want to know how the story ends, plus I read the rest... but your review is scaring me, Manny. *gnaws on comfort blanket*

message 37: by Manny (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny Ms. Smartarse, the plot is pretty simple. (view spoiler)

message 38: by Jim (new)

Jim Manny wrote: "they all lived happily ever after]"

What? the cockroaches?

Ms. Smartarse Meh, all of them are, to be fair. It is a children's book right?
(view spoiler)

message 40: by Manny (last edited Aug 16, 2017 02:22AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny Jim wrote: "Manny wrote: "they all lived happily ever after]"

What? the cockroaches?"

(view spoiler)

message 41: by Manny (new) - rated it 1 star

Manny Ms. Smartarse wrote: "Meh, all of them are, to be fair. It is a children's book right?
[spoilers removed]"

GodAslan moves in mysterious ways.

message 42: by Jim (new)

Jim Manny wrote: "Jim wrote: "Manny wrote: "they all lived happily ever after]"

What? the cockroaches?"

[spoilers removed]"

Heterosexuality saves the day!

Ms. Smartarse Manny wrote: "GodAslan moves in mysterious ways."

I feel an oncoming "bwahahahahaha" XD

message 44: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 16, 2017 09:30AM) (new)

Manny wrote; "I am confident that tomorrow he will go on to explain that there are good people in ISIS too, whose hearts are pure and who only want to be humble soldiers of Islam and defend it from the kaffir. "

You're usually right, but based on some recent reading, I'd bet that he's more likely to first point out the virtues of the Russian mob.

message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

Nandakishore wrote; "She didn't see the punch coming. "So, when a soldier kills someone as part of his duty, is it good or bad?"

Patton is quoted as being quite definitive on that one; "The object of war is not for you poor bastards to die for your country. The object is to make the other poor bastard die for his." Thats "good." Isn't it?

message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

Jim wrote; "Heterosexuality saves the day!"

Heterosexuality prolongs the day.

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