Diana Wynne Jones Fans discussion

Suggested Summer Reading: Dalemark Quartet

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message 1: by Emilie (last edited Jan 29, 2017 02:52PM) (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Hi everyone,
Since reading The Time of the Ghost was fun in October, I thought we could make an habit of it and have suggested readings every month. Of course, you are free to join in or pass on it, but nevertheless everyone is invited to contribute to the discussion and let the other members know which were their favourite part/plot twist/characters of the book. I'll try to foster debate by adding extracts, commentaries and questions as we go along to make it a more engaging experience for everyone.

The simplest way to go about it seems to have one discussion thread entirely dedicated to the "current" reading of the month instead of multiplying threads, so I created it and named it -very eloquently, might I add - Suggested Reading of the Month :B Let it not be said that I lack imagination.

As for the upcoming monthly readings, I thought we could stay democratic and vote on it. Here are my suggestions:
- Since February is the month of love, I suggest we start off our Monthly Readings in style with the all time favourite Howl's Moving Castle. I don't know about you guys, but I can't get enough of Sophie and Howl :3
- March being #MarchMagics in memory of DWJ and Terry Pratchett's passing, I propose we be more ambitious and read two books instead of one. My suggestions are The Dark Lord of Derkholm and The Year of the Griffin. These two are as magical as you can get and March seems like a good month to read them, don't ask me why.
-April - When I think of April, I think of April's Fool Day, so why no go with the Eight Days of Luke? It also happens to be a short and easy read, which would give us a break after #MarchMagics' reading marathon.

As for the other months, here are a few titles I have in mind: Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant, Deep Secret, Hexwood and Fire and Hemlock (the latter would make a fine summer reading to my mind, for some reason).

How does that sound to you guys? Do you have any suggestions/requests? It can be special requests for specific months, or just suggestions to add to the Spring/Summer reading pool.

message 2: by Paula (new)

Paula (pauldajo) | 67 comments I will read Howl's Moving Castle. I will also have to hunt for the book. Haven't seen it for many years.

message 3: by Alison (new)

Alison (alisonleighjones3) | 10 comments Howl's moving castle is not my favorite of dwj's books (maybe because it's over hyped because of the movie which wasn't my favorite either) but it's been years since I've read it so I'm going to give it another go.

message 4: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments I'm ALWAYS up for a re-read of HMC! :) I'm good for February for that (fits in well with a friend of mine who's holding "February is Fantasy Month" too. :D).

No suggestions at the mo... it all sounds good. :)

message 5: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Pieper (waxesnostalgic) | 32 comments I have a copy of Howl's Moving Castle on my ereader, which I haven't read since I downloaded it. I think rereading it would be fun next month.

message 6: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
I think that's a yes, then :3
I changed "currently reading" to feature HMC. Get your copies of Howl's Moving Castle out, everyone!

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Yay can't wait to visit the moving castle with you all!

message 8: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments Looking forward to it!! :D *pulls out battered oft-read copy* I have a feeling I'll devour it in a sitting sometime this month when I have time. XD

message 9: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Time to liven up this place!
Who's your favourite HMC character?? As for me, I've always had a soft spot for Martha. I like how she shamelessly admits she's enough like her mother to know that Fanny is an opportunistic slave-driver. Although I also quite like Sophie too. What I like about Sophie and the way DWJ wrote her is that with every reading, I seem to discover a new side of her complex personality. Her character is not defined clearly by DWJ, it is instead exposed by her actions and random comments made by the other characters drawing lights to certain aspects of her personality. Seeing people through the prism of other people's perception is always facinating. It does reveal more about the characters issuing the statements than Sophie, though, but that's also part of the fun.

message 10: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Pieper (waxesnostalgic) | 32 comments I'm finding that I've forgotten at times what was in the book and what was in the movie. XD I thought I knew it better than that, but it has been longer than I thought since I last read it.

I think my favorite character has probably changed since the last time too, so I will wait until I'm further in to comment.

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

My favorite remembered character is Calcifer, but once I'm further into the reread that might change. I always feel like I AM Sophie when I'm reading, so it makes it hard to judge her objectively =P. I love the scene where she is talking to the hats (and how it introduces her specific magical-ness that develops throughout the book)....I definitely talk to inanimate objects that way, especially clothes & crafty projects.

message 12: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Naomi wrote: "My favorite remembered character is Calcifer, but once I'm further into the reread that might change. I always feel like I AM Sophie when I'm reading, so it makes it hard to judge her objectively =..."

So do I! I mean, about both actually (liking that part AND taking to inanimate objects. Even in public. I get stared at a lot). This is one of the things I was sorry Miyazaki cut out of the movie, I loved Sophie's brand of magic and how it propelled the plotline. But Miyazaki's and DWJ's Sophie are very, very different characters to my mind. I actually like DWJ's better - she's more complex and witty.

message 13: by Deborah (last edited Feb 15, 2017 08:52PM) (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments Sophie in the movie is calm and nice; DWJ's Sophie is more fiery. Actually, all the characters in the movie are calm and nice, and the book characters are... a mess. XD Which is one of the many reasons why I love them. ;)

My favorite is Howl -- always shall be. :D Oh, though I also love Michael and feel like he gets overlooked a lot... he's great. :) Of course, I love Calcifer and Sophie too! I just love them all! <3

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Just finished re-reading the book. Don't want to give spoilers for those who haven't already read it a million times. I really liked Martha and Michael this time. I feel like they're probably a really great couple, even though we don't really see them together much in the actual story.

Also, I love that Howl is, above all, concerned for the spiders when Sophie goes on her mad cleaning rampages. =D

It's been almost a year since my last DWJ read (much too long!) and I'd forgotten how good she is at letting you (the reader) try to figure out what's going on. And she doesn't repeat herself...some books are constantly reminding you what characters look like or what's going on in the plot, but DWJ trusts you to be paying attention, or to go back a few pages yourself if you missed something...

message 15: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Naomi wrote: "Just finished re-reading the book. Don't want to give spoilers for those who haven't already read it a million times. I really liked Martha and Michael this time. I feel like they're probably a rea..."

Indeed, she was not one to underestimate her readers, that's for sure. That's why her books make such good re-reads: you can better savour all the small, subtle things you've missed the first time over.

message 16: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
March is here, and so is #MarchMagics! I highly encourage you to read ANY of DWJ's works this month. And if you want to have a little discussion going, I suggest that we read 'The Dark Lord of Derkholm' and 'The Year of the Griffin', two of her most magical - and satirical - works.
Have a nice #MarchMagics, everyone :)

message 17: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments Ellie wrote: "March is here, and so is #MarchMagics! I highly encourage you to read ANY of DWJ's works this month. And if you want to have a little discussion going, I suggest that we read 'The Dark Lord of Derk..."

Hurray! :D I love #MarchMagics!

I'm still reading HMC for this thread... nearly done. Amazing how I still am catching new things on my 5th read!

I just read Aunt Maria and Wild Robert this week for the first time (quite enjoyed!) and I'm currently re-reading The Pinhoe Egg (aloud, to younger siblings; so fun).

I recently reread Dark Lord of Derkholm but I can pop in for discussions... I will try to read Year of the Griffin later this month for this! :)

*frolics in all the DWJ goodness*

message 18: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Pieper (waxesnostalgic) | 32 comments I finally finished Howl's Moving Castle on Friday. I had forgotten so much of it. It's really a fun read even on the 3rd or 4th time!

message 19: by Yi-Ling (new)

Yi-Ling | 6 comments Hope I am not jumping the gun here but...I love dark lord, it's in my top three! (Or top five at least.) As well as being very funny and a masterful satire of fantasy novels generally, it's also nuanced, thoughtful and dark. I also find it excellently paced and plotted. And it's one of the greatest family DWJ books - all the sibling relationships warm my heart <3

I did also reread howls recently! I really like howl and Sophie's characters and their relationship, but as usual was unconvinced by the plot to my disappointment...

message 20: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Dark Lord of Derkholm is indeed a great satire of the genre :) I am just finishing the third chapter and I must say I had almost forgotten how much of a mess this book was. By this, I mean characters are all over the place very early on. Even though I have read it several times, I always get all the griffins confused in the first few chapters. And I have mixed feelings about Derk and his mad scientist hobby, to be honest. And Blade remids me of a spineless friend I used to have who was so short-sighted you would think he was stupid, only he was not (stupid, that is). I still love the book to bits, though.
I can't wait to get to the part with the sarcastic geese. I love those too much!

message 21: by Deborah (last edited Mar 12, 2017 09:29AM) (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments I love Dark Lord of Derkholm! :D It's definitely a mess, but I love the family dynamic and characters and flipped tropes. :) It was actually the first non-Howl DWJ book I read (since I started with HMC and House of Many Ways) so the first time I read it, it was reeeeally strange to me! But I loved it all the same. :) I named my cat Callette after one of the griffins. XD

DWJ does such a great job of incorporating entire families into her books, and this is one of the best. I wish more stories would do that!

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Mara's pocket universes =)

message 23: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Oh dear, I had completely forgotten how much I LOVE Scales!!! I cannot even BEGIN to describe how I like that character and his character arc. You don't get more "classy badass" than he does. Gotta love the old, sassy, no-nonsense dragon! :3

What about you guys? What's your favourite part/character from Dark Lord of Derkholm? And for those of you who are participating in the #MarchMagics love, but not reading DLD, what are you reading?
(I can't believe half the month has already passed...! I wanted to do so much reading!)

message 24: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments Aaaahh, I can't believe I keep forgetting to drop in here!

So, I didn't actually re-read Dark Lord of Derkholm this month, but YES, I love Scales! Kit might be my favorite character though -- he's just great. I really love Blade and Callette too. :D I named my cat after Callette. ;) (The pocket universes, YES.)

I just re-read Year of the Griffin, and OH MY WORD. <3 I'm amazed how much I forgot about it! It was almost like I was discovering it again for the first time! I remember enjoying it the first time, but this time I positively ADORED IT!!! The motley crew and the shenanigans and Kit and Blade and Callette and company having cameos, and the moon and the jinx and the assassins and adorable talking pigeons and Flury (I always thought Flury was awesome. XD) and all the pairing-up and just all of the things! Wow. I love how rereading DWJ is even better than the first time. I'm SO glad I bothered to reread it for this readalong event over here! :) (Also, I read it aloud to my younger siblings, which meant I had GREAT FUN doing the voices. XD)

Anyone else read Dark Lord of Derkholm or Year of the Griffin this month?

message 25: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
I'm just finishing The Year of the Griffin and I must say I love the dynamics between all the characters and the goofing around. But I had forgotten how much I despised Wizard Corkoran! For all his aloofness, he's still a truly despicable guy - but then again, to give DWJ credit where it belongs, I've come across quite a few people like him, so wrapped up in themselves they can't even begin to see they're behaving heartlessly and selfishly. And don't get me started on moral compass either. They'd never heard of the word.
I feel Corkoran got off FAR too easily at the end. But then again, don't people like him always do?
Anyway it was a truly fun time, reading these two books one after another! Thanks to everyone who joined #MarchMagics and read with us!

message 26: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Hey guys!
I don't know about you, but I think reading one DWJ book a month may have been a little too ambitious a goal afterall. Many of you seemed to be still in the middle of reading Howl's Moving Castle when we moved onto Dark Lord of Derkholm. So why not settle for seasonal suggested readings instead? That gives us plenty of time for everyone to read at their own pace :)

This being said, the Spring Suggested Reading is the Magid Series.
Have fun everyone!

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Aw I love the Magid Series. I think Deep Secret might've subtly influenced me to become a programmer for my day job (anyone remember Rupert melting down his computer when he got frustrated? or for people who haven't read it yet, you'll see when you get there =) ).

message 28: by Emilie (last edited Apr 28, 2017 05:32AM) (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Deep Secret is the best! I love the fact that most of the story actually takes place in a Fantasy Con! You read it and you wish you could be there and do some cosplay with them. Also, I totally understand what you mean when you say Rupert might have influenced you to become a programmer. It's such a clever idea to have a powerful wizard making a living out of computers - and being secreetly smug about it. DWJ used the same trope in A Sudden Wild Magic with Mark, although I felt Mark was underdevelopped compared to Rupert. I'm glad she used the idea again in another book and allowed it to fully bloom. I feel it's one of the reasons why I like Deep Secret so much.
I don't feel its sequel (Merlin Conspiracy) lived up to it.

message 29: by Emilie (last edited Jun 10, 2017 06:26PM) (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
As anyone been reading any of the Magids Books?
I'm almost done with Deep Secret myself (second read-through) and I was wondering why I haven't read it more often. The Magid/multiverse idea, with Earth being Nayward is pure genius. Although to be honest, I think the reason why I like it so much is because of Rupert (aka the prat) and Maree. They are among my Top 5 favorite DWJ characters. These two are complex and full of flaws, yet you can't help but identify to them and love them even more for all their misplaced pride and strong, clashing personalities. Okay, maybe I'm feeling that way because I also am quite strong-headed and they are so lovable nevertheless I don't feel too bad about having a strong personality it for a change.
But it is the Relationship between these two that really makes me love Deep Secrets so much. Oddly enough, of all the romances DWJ has written (or at least, the ones I've read), the romance between Rupert and Maree is by far my favorite. To my mind, the best part of the book is when Maree is gawking at Andrew and Rupert realizes with a jolt he's actually jealous of his neighbour for it - and starts kicking himself for not realizing sooner that OF COURSE, he's been wildly attracted to the sense he was getting from Maree all along and had been crossed with her upon meeting her because she did not fit his romantic ideal. I re-read that part at least 5 times so much I liked it.
(I also think I'm a little bit in love with Rupert myself, but that's another story)

message 30: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments I sadly have been unable to re-read them since I don't own them and haven't managed to get to the library. :( But I agree, I LOVED Deep Secret! And Rupert. ;) (You're not alone. XD)

Rupert and Maree are great, yes! I love all your thoughts on them! And the Fabulous Nordic Type neighbor Andrew--loved that storyline as well. I'd forgotten the moment Rupert realizes he's jealous of him! Awesomeness. :D

And Nick as the teenage Neil Gaiman and his asleep mornings. XD

NOW I WANT TO RE-READ THESE! *flails* I don't know if I'll be able to get ahold of them/have time this summer but I definitely need to reread them someday. :)

message 31: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Pieper (waxesnostalgic) | 32 comments I hadn't been planning on re-reading originally, but reading your comments reminded me that I haven't read Deep Secret since high school! I remembered not liking it too much (for a DWJ book), but that was probably just because I wasn't quite old enough for it yet. It's DWJ at her best, but writing for adults instead of children. I think I had read the Merlin Conspiracy first and enjoyed it a lot, and been disappointed in this one. Probably, I would feel the opposite way now, but I don't have the Merlin Conspiracy to reread.

I had forgotten most of the plot, so it was very exciting and I was surprised again by all of the twists. They just seemed familiar after they happened, but I hadn't seen them coming most of the time. The satirical element is wonderful, too. I was about Nick's age the first time I read it and suppose I might have been confused by her treatment of the characters, who were mostly all older than me. She shows all of their flaws and gently pokes fun at them and their bumbling mistakes and confusions. It's definitely been upgraded in my estimation.

message 32: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments I liked Deep Secret better than The Merlin Conspiracy, but I guess I was just out of my teens when I ready them... I loved hearing your thoughts on it! :D And DWJ can do that sometimes--where a reread is almost as exciting, because we can forget the plot twists, since there are so many! XD I did that with at least Conrad's Fate...

message 33: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Melanie wrote: "I hadn't been planning on re-reading originally, but reading your comments reminded me that I haven't read Deep Secret since high school! I remembered not liking it too much (for a DWJ book), but t..."

If there's one thing to say about DWJ books, it's that they age very well and make wonderful second (or third) readings. They often even improve upon them.
Ever since I read Deep Secret two weeks ago, I've been feeling like reading it over again. Instead I tried picking up Merlin Conspiracy, and now I remember why I liked Deep Secret better. MC, to put it kindly, is not one of her greatest works. Although it probably doesn't help that th only version I own is the French translation. Erk.

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

I always read Merlin Conspiracy, Deep Secret, and a Sudden Wild Magic at the same time. They all have a bit of overlap and feel like they go together to me. So I love all of them kinda equally but I think it's because they're all in one big reading binge in my head.

message 35: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Naomi wrote: "I always read Merlin Conspiracy, Deep Secret, and a Sudden Wild Magic at the same time. They all have a bit of overlap and feel like they go together to me. So I love all of them kinda equally but ..."

I feel ya. I've been itching to read A Sudden Wild Magic over again ever since I've read Deep Secret. Although I prefer by far Deep Secret to the other two, for some reason. I blame Rupert and Maree :)

message 36: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments Ooh, now I'm intrigued... I haven't read A Sudden Wild Magic yet. Must get my paws on it someday. ;) (Rupert and Maree are awesome.) I recently read Hexwood for the first time (SO GOOD OH MY WORD!! <3) and it reminded me a little of Deep Secret and Merlin Conspiracy too, somehow.

message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

Team Rupert and Maree!

A Sudden Wild Magic is wonderfully chaotic. Definitely worth a read @Deborah :)

I love Hexwood so much! I could see the similarity in the mood and the colors.

message 38: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
It just occured to me that we are due for a new Suggested Summer Reading! Gasp! I know, I know, I'm a terrible admin. Since it's been mentionned many times over, I suggest we go for A Sudden Wild Magic. It's one of DWJ's more adult books, which seems perfect somehow for a Summer Reading (I know, I have twisted ideas about what consitutes proper light reading). I thought we could do Hexwood next season, since Noami mentionned ASWM reminded her of Hexwood. How does that sound? Unless one of you has a special request/suggestion?

message 39: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 06, 2017 11:03PM) (new)

Yay! That sounds great to me. I don't know if I mentioned this, but I'm currently on a quest to read all of Diana Wynne Jones' books in the order she wrote them. So I'm coming up on A Sudden Wild Magic anyways :)

message 40: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Pieper (waxesnostalgic) | 32 comments I don't think I'll be able to get a copy of A Sudden Wild Magic this month, but I'd love to reread Fire and Hemlock and Hexwood in the coming months. :)

message 41: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments In the same boat as Melanie, can't get my hands on a copy, but I hope y'all enjoy reading it! :D Someday... someday...

I JUST read Hexwood but honestly I wouldn't mind re-reading it soon. XD I'd LOVE to reread Fire and Hemlock sometime!! :O

message 42: by Emilie (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Well, let's make a deal and make it a "A Sudden Wild Magic" AND "Hexwood" summer reading then

message 43: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments Ellie wrote: "Well, let's make a deal and make it a "A Sudden Wild Magic" AND "Hexwood" summer reading then

Shiny! When does "summer" officially end for these purposes, then? ;)

message 44: by Emilie (last edited Jul 11, 2017 07:06AM) (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
Deborah wrote: "Ellie wrote: "Well, let's make a deal and make it a "A Sudden Wild Magic" AND "Hexwood" summer reading then

Shiny! When does "summer" officially end for these purposes, then? ;)"

Whenever I remember to update the status to Fall reading, I suppose :P
Oh, and it goes without saying that we're doing Fire and Hemlock next, of course

message 45: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments Okay, thank you! :)

message 46: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Pieper (waxesnostalgic) | 32 comments Sounds awesome! I'll have to dig up my copy of Hexwood. I also haven't read that one in over a decade, so I imagine I will probably like it more now too. :)

message 47: by Emilie (last edited Nov 23, 2017 10:49AM) (new)

Emilie | 62 comments Mod
So! Has anyone else been doing some summer reading? I know I have! :D

I've just finished my second read-though of 'A Sudden Wild Magic' and I must say I enjoyed it more than I did on my first read-through, mostly because I knew what to expect this time around - that kept my frustration with Zillah to a tolerable level. I remember screaming at the book and wanting to throw it at walls several times on my first read-through because of her. Literally. I cannot help it, she annoys me. I know it's supposed to be part of her character to be wild and unpredictable and that she was probably subconsciously guided by obscured instincts/forces, but there is unpredictable, and then there's plain irresponsible and dumb. The way she drags her baby Marcus through it all without a thought to consequences for him is apalling.
*Spoiler Alert* Another thing that irked me about her was the way she's supposed to be full of awesome wild magic, which she only uses to either flee or get other people to help her. I know she has issues, but still, it's damn annoying. The way she keeps getting people around her into trouble and thus treated extremely unfairly, you would think she'd get upset enough to defend them once in a while. But no. When she happens to be helping others, it is mostly because she's a) trying to flee with them or b) because Mark/Herrel is involved. In fact, I think pretty much everything she does of her own volition in this book is motivated either by her desire to get over or help Mark. At the very end of the book, she gathers this truly huge quantity of wild magic. What does she do with it? Does she try to stop Marcely? Save her child? Nooooooo, she goes out to help Mark so that HE can save the baby for her. And typically, when Marcely is disposed of, the one who actually attends to her baby is Gladys, because Zillah is too busy being happy to be reunited with Mark to bother with her own child. Ugh!

I still liked the book, though, don't get me wrong. I really like DWJ's portrayal of how magic works in this book. I immensely enjoyed every scene including Gladys and Jimbo, her sarcastic ether monkey - they made quite a pair! Tod was a very fun character to have around and I loved despising Brother Lawrence for his very human lack of perspective and highly variable and flexible moral rectitude. He was both likeable and utterly despicable - the perfect villain.

I can't wait to get a start on Hexwood! It's one of the very few DWJ books I haven't read yet and people usually have very good things tosay about it.

message 48: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Pieper (waxesnostalgic) | 32 comments I'll pull out Hexwood to read next. I am in the middle of a very short book right now. :)

message 49: by Deborah (new)

Deborah O'Carroll (deborahocarroll) | 46 comments I just broke down and added A Sudden Wild Magic to my latest order, so hopefully I'll be getting that in the mail in a week or two. :D

Hexwood is SO GOOD. I don't know if I'll be able to reread it since I'm kind of swamped atm, but it's still extremely fresh in my mind and I adored it. ^_^ <3 I don't think it's for everyone and it's very mind-boggling, but I personally loved it. XD Hope you enjoy it, Ellie! And hope you enjoy your re-read, Melanie! :)

message 50: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Pieper (waxesnostalgic) | 32 comments I started Hexwood today, and now definitely remember reading it before, but still have no memory of any of the plot. Before I started, I was hesitant to mark it as read on Goodreads as I just couldn't remember even reading it despite owning it for over a decade. (I only knew that I must have because I'd never let a DWJ book go unread XD)

Finding it good so far, but am only a couple of chapters in. Pretty sure I wasn't quite ready for it the first time.

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