The Disruption

I Aten’t Dead!

Some of you will have noticed that I more or less disappeared halfway through the Republic of Thieves read-along. At that point, I started stressing about midterms and moving, and then the rest of 2013 just flew by. I’ve been so drained of energy that I haven’t even liked the thought of opening Word and starting to write. I’ve been in need of a break.

Well, I’ve had a break now, and I feel ready to return to blogging! I already do it on tumblr, and if any of my readers are there I hope you get in touch! All Lynch fans may be interested to know that during the fall the Gentleman Bastards Chat started happening, first on tinychat and now on IRC. The chat is open all day, every day, but Friday is the official day that sees most of the traffic. Everyone is welcome to join – instructions on how to find us can be found here.

I will wrap up the year as usual. There will be a list of books read and the reveal of WOW of the year. I’ll ponder on how and what I read during the year, the whys and why nots, and take a look at what might be happening in 2014.

So see you guys in a couple of days! I hope everyone had a good Christmas and that your New Year’s will be cracking!

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Republic of Thieves Read Along – Weeks 2 & 3

Last week, I didn’t get around to answering any questions. Why? Because during the weekend I was in Brighton, meeting Scott and fellow Right People. Without my laptop. So I think I may be excused. This week, I’m doing both last and this week’s questions though!

WEEK TWO

Blood And Breath And Water: Patience tells Locke that the ritual to save him is serious business. She wasn’t kidding… What did you make of this scene, and do you think any of it might (perhaps literally) come back to haunt Locke?

I don’t think the pain and such will come back to haunt him, but oh, I do hope the ghost Bug will keep nagging at him because it was amazing! My heart was racing as I read it in the middle of the night! It was unexpected, and discomfiting, and I loved it! And I like sins-written-in-the-eyes thing, absolutely gorgeous.

Orphan’s Moon: Back to the childhood of the Gentlemen Bastards, and here we get another ritual, this one in service to the Nameless Thirteenth. It looks as though it might be Locke vs. Sabetha, round two – but this time Locke seems to be a little slow on that uptake… Who do you think deserves to be given the final oath? Locke or Sabetha?

I’ve got to say I squealed with utter delight on seeing the title of this interlude. I was hoping we’d see it some day! It intrigued me when it was mentioned in RSURS, and now we got it! I’m an absolute sucker for rituals and rules and all that, so it really hit the spot.

As to the Locke-Sabetha rivalry, well. At this point it seems Locke gets the things Sabetha wants, which is unfair considering how much drive she has, how hard she works, how ambitious she is, as opposed to his kind of drifting to places and turning out to be a natural. I wished Sabetha had gotten the final initiation, although of course we knew Locke was getting it. But there was that small flickering of hope they’d both get it…

Across The Amathel: This chapter takes a breather for quite a bit of Eldren history, while Locke starts recovering. What do you think of the history lesson, and Patience’s ominous speculation regarding the Eldren? Is this something you’d like to know more about?

I’m not really concerned with the Eldren, never have been. I like cities and countries and cultures and societies, but am not all that infatuated by obscure mysteries – something that probably sounds odd coming from a fantasy reader, but there it is. Mannerpunk is my thing more than epic fantasies. Unless it turns out the Eldren were rather people-like, I’m fine with anything we’re revealed about them. I am, however, interested in the magi of Karthain, those high-and-mighty assholes. Very, very interesting, they are, and I definitely like it that their power is far from infinite and that they are far from invincible.

Striking Sparks: The gang’s off to Espara, after a bad summer and a pretty thorough dressing-down from Chains, and we finally get to the source of the book’s title – they’re bound for the stage! What are your thoughts on this latest ‘challenge’ and the reasons for it?

Oh-ho-hoo, I love the teenage Bastards! Especially the twins! They are such annoying little ass-hats that you can’t but love them! I completely understand Chains, I would need a break, too. He’s harsh with them at this point, sure, but if you’ve lived with surly teenagers you know how bloody annoying it can get.

The Five-Year Game: Starting Position: The election gets underway with a party (as you do) and before it’s even over, the Deep Roots party has problems – and not just thanks to Sabetha. What do you make of Nikoros and his unfortunate habit?

I think the addiction really adds to his character. It’s a touch that gives him an identity, above that of a tool. He’s a person, he’s got weaknesses, an inconvenience, no matter how helpful he tries to be. I like it.

Bastards Abroad: The gang arrives in Espara, and already they’ve got problems (nicely mirroring the Five Year Game!)… This aside, we’ve also seen some more of what seems to be eating at Sabetha. Do you sympathise with her, or is Locke right to be frustrated with her?

Of course I sympathise with Sabetha! Being the only lady in a group of guys can be tough, and when you don’t get your voice heard except for occasionally – yeah, it’s frustrating. And wrong. Locke’s reasons for frustration make sense because you see things mostly through his focalisation and therefore understand him a bit better (not to mention we’ve had time to adjust to him over the course of two books), but when you think about Sabetha’s position it’s pretty clear why she is how she is. She’s tough, and she has to be. Where is Nazca, they should hang out more.

As an extra, I want to say how much I love it when Locke starts arranging security matters. There’s an urgency and a drive, and I enjoy it so so much. It’s great fun to read, and you can just hear the wheels spinning in his head, the sheer effort and joy of thinking. Love it to death!

WEEK THREE

The election competition.  Sabetha isn’t wasting any time throwing pranks at Locke and Jean.  Mostly it seemed fairly harmless, or at least not overly serious, until they were kidnapped and put onto a ship and taken out to sea.  What did you make of Sabetha’s latest plan? And what did you think about the way she executed it?

I readily admit I did not see it coming, and then chided myself because of course it was coming. It’s what I like about these books in general though – I’m always one-upped. I never expect the things that happen. And it’s great. Plus I think it was a very good plan, and I love the attention to detail Sabetha puts into it. It shows she knows them inside out. And I really appreciate the twenty men she placed outside the door to take Jean down, one of the most amusing things so far!

During the escape overboard and Jean’s rather subtle nose dive into the water – I was curious about the lights Locke saw deep in the water when he was performing his rescue – Locke thought they looked different once he was under the waves which I suppose they would but he also had the feeling that he was being watched?  Do you think this relates back to the Eldren or some other presence?

They’re probably something to do with the Eldren, given that no one seems to know what they are. Maybe something related to the mist at Parlour Passage (in RSURS)? For some reason I’d like to think so, although it might be the way in which the phenomenon’s are described, with that eerie Moomin Ghost Ship tone, and the connection to water and ships.

Given that Locke hadn’t seen Sabetha for five years how did you think their first meeting together went (well, it wasn’t strictly speaking their first meeting of course – were you surprised that Jean and Locke hadn’t figured out that the woman pickpocket was Sabetha?) and also what did you make of Jean and Sabetha’s reaction to each other?

Again, one of my favourite scenes. You need to reread it to see what was going on, once you’ve read it once. Ever so amused! At some point I started suspecting this was Sabetha though, as what are the odds she would find such an accomplished pickpocket in Karthain, where the underworld is quite non-existent? No, there’s no one who could match Sabetha in that respect, and oh the pure joy of it! It’s always good fun to see Locke so outplayed. You think you’re so clever mister.

So, the gang have arrived in Espara and already the plans have gone wrong through no fault of their own!  Jail for a year plus lose a hand for slapping a noble?? What do you think of the justice system in Espara and how does this bode for the gang?

Jasmer’s punishment serves to show that Esparans are not very tolerant, and you can only imagine the punishment for murder or some such crime. I will take this opportunity to say how much I like these little cities in the book. Espara is wonderful, by the sounds of it very small but having pretences at grandeur, and don’t even get me started on Lashain! I hope we go back there at some point, in the novels or in whatever short stories and novellas are forthcoming. Lashain seems like an excellent place for a game, a good place to exercise your attention to detail, with all the strict societal rules and the constant assessment of your peers. I’m only sad we didn’t stay there longer…

The acting company are finally coming together and we’re watching the gang as they try to read, act and grab the best parts – are you all ‘happy face’ with the whole theatre scenes or, sad face!  Also, I can’t help feeling like this whole storyline is a step out of character for the gang.  Any ideas of how it will play out?

Initially, I wasn’t too keen on the play: I don’t usually care for much recited fictional things inside fictional things, if you get my meaning. Having said that, I utterly enjoy the play The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death in Ellen Kushner’s The Privilege of the Sword, and therefore feel inclined to give especially plays some consideration inside narratives. Republic of Thieves is so Shakespearean that the metre (or lack thereof) bothers me to some extent, although of course there’s no reason to expect it there.

On discussing the play on tumblr, there arose some speculation as to the characterization and the correspondence to the Bastards and their immediate circle – but that’s a conversation for later, I think.

We are also being introduced to a number of new characters, particularly Moncraine and Boulidazi.  What are your first impressions of these two and the other new characters in the Company and any particular likes or dislikes so far?

Jasmer is exasperating, but I kind of write him off as an artist and let him be. Boulidazi, though… He makes me uncomfortable. He’s not all that smart or sophisticated, but he’s not unobservant, and that spells trouble. He draws conclusions very much to Locke and Sabetha’s advantage here, but that is also a dangerous aspect, because he takes what he sees for granted and doesn’t really stop to ponder on alternative explanations.

And I have a soft spot for nobility, titles, the upper class society. The social history fan in me squealed with delight when he asked how he should address Locke and Sabetha. I’ve marked it down as “useful information”.

The rooftop scene and the apology.  How did it all go so wrong?  And how will Locke get out of this latest fix with Boulidazi?

I refer you to my previous answer. Boulidazi interprets things based on his observations and doesn’t really entertain any thoughts of other options. Dangerous, very dangerous.

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Republic of Thieves Read Along – Week 1

It is time for the read-along, and I’m running late! I’m always done with my reread, as I want to be done before next weekend and the Brighton meet-up, so bear with me – I have my book next to me so I can check what’s happened and when, as I don’t know this one as well as the previous ones yet. Let’s get on with the questions, shall we?

(Short note: These read-along posts will end up looking way different from those I wrote last year, mostly because I haven’t read with an eye out for quotations. I’m sad not to be able to do it that way again, but perhaps in the future.)

We get to reminisce with several old friends in this section – Calo, Galdo, Chains. How did you like this? Bitter sweet or happy dance?

Happy dance! Without a doubt a happy dance! Oh, how I missed the twins and Chains! The Sanzas are even more annoying than I remember them – or ever conceived them – and Chains is just himself, with a tad more unsolved mystery, which drives me up the walls. I’m not kidding. I want to know more about him.

Finally, the infamous Sabetha makes a physical appearance, albeit in Locke’s reminisces. What are your impressions? How do you think the romance, if there is to be one, will play out?

I’m not going to comment much on this, as my impressions have formed on basis of the book as a whole, and although I’m pretty sure it won’t wreck havoc on anyone’s perception of her, I’d rather be simple. Young Sabetha is all edges and sharp words, which makes me apprehensive of her: the only time she softens is when she takes the trio of misfits to the hanging, and even that doesn’t change my attitude towards her. But she is clever, oh so clever, and thinks extremely well on her feet. She has my respect, if not my affection.

After trying absolutely everything to save Locke, Jean still won’t give up. What did you think of that little pep talk he gave Locke concerning Patience’s offer of healing?

I was actually expecting more mourning on his part. Or rather hoped for it. But of course, Jean is practical and rather throws himself to work than wallows in his feelings – the very opposite of Locke, actually. We saw that in Red Seas, and we see it here. When he brings up Ezri in Lashain, well, that got me in tears. Actually, I’ll quote that here, just so I’m not the only one crying:

What are you going to tell the woman I loved? The woman who burned so you could have the slightest chance in hell of even being here in the first place? If I can get up and live with that every gods-damned day, then so can you, you son of a bitch.” (98)

Gods damn you, Jean Tannen. You and your bloody big heart.

Locke has a few caveats to working for the Bondsmage. Wise or just Locke grasping for some control over his life? What would you ask Patience?

I’d say it’s wise. Locke if someone knows about semantics, a feature that particularly appeals to me, and he knows you don’t make deals with this kind of people without making absolutely sure both sides know what is implied, what is offered, what is off the table. As to what I would ask of Patience, I don’t know. Largely the same things as Locke, and he got a couple that I wouldn’t have thought of.

At the end of this section, we see that all is not as Patience laid it out. How much do you think Patience knows of the plot to off Locke and Jean? Do you see it interfering in the rigged election?

This is Locke and Jean. If something can interfere with their life and plans and everything included, it will.

 

So that’s it for this week! I apologise for being short and saying very little, but I hope that as we get on I will have more to say and more time to write it down in a coherent, semi-intelligent fashion!

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Thieves prosper again!

Hi everyone!

I’m sick and therefore excused from tonight’s party, which means I have the time to let you know that I got my hands on The Republic of Thieves two days ago and finished it last night!

Republic of ThievesI’m not going to into details here – suffice to say there were lots of things that required a brief break to absorb and then it took another moment to squeal before getting back to reading. There’s also the fact that because of school and social obligations, I speed-read it through in two sessions, all put together 16 hours of intense reading. Towards the end I lost track of details, but am now working my way through at a slower pace, looking around and musing at the details and their implications and speculating about what is to come. I missed Locke and Jean. So much.

Another reason, the one that has nothing to do with lack of sleep, for rereading is this: there is going to be a read-along! Sign up for it, if you feel like talking about these things – I think this is going to be an excellent opportunity to get my thoughts about the book into order! Find out more about the read-along in, for example, here!

I will at some point try and collect some thoughts that I had during and in the middle of the first read – actually, such a list exists, because I wrote one during spare moments at school. It’s already up on tumblr, but I’ll post it here sometime, perhaps after the read-along.

Can we declare this month Republic of Thieves month? Or the next 30 days? Because you’re unlikely to get much else out of me! My housemates were duly informed that I would be unsociable, and especially one of them has been very understanding – whenever I emerged to get tea or to eat or to just have a polite chat with him, he would first ask how it was going and then usher me back into my room, telling me to “go read!” I wanted to share this because it was extremely sweet of him not to mind my unsociableness and then listen to my commentary.

I will now get back on tumblr and the appropriate tags – the conversation is slowly starting to flow, as more people finish the book – and will be back later this month to discuss the book in earnest!

Oh, and if anyone is interested in what books I’ve read since the last monthly post, let me know! I can at the very least put up a list of the books, even if I have no prepared commentary on them!

See you again soon, guys!

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Operation Classic: Wuthering Heights

I finished it! I finally finished Wuthering Heights! BRING ON ALL THE MOVIE ADAPTATIONS I CAN FINALLY WATCH THEM!

I’m actually glad I haven’t read it before. I started it some years ago, but was put off by Joseph’s dialect which at the time was a tad too challenging for me. And a good thing I put it off because I’m pretty sure I would have missed a whole lot.

What is on the top of my mind at the moment is the way people always talk about Wuthering Heights in terms of a love story. In a way it is, yes, but I did not by any means think much of it. Cathy and Heathcliff barely share any page time.

About halfway through the book I found all the characters massively annoying, particularly either Catherine and Nelly the Narrator. Then I started to appreciate the way Heathcliff is written; he’s really determined to get his revenge on everything and everyone in it and will ruthlessly destroy everything in his way. It’s actually really good. I understand why people like the character.

The character who finally managed to make their way into my heart was Hareton Earnshaw. There’s something there, to make a reference to Disney while wanting to compare Hareton a bit to the Beast. There’s an unrefinement, under which there’s a will to please, and a rather earnest love and loyalty. Yeah, Hareton is my favourite of the characters.

To conclude, I want to mention how much I actually liked this book. I didn’t expect to, but I did. If the narrative technique was the same as employed by Charlotte Brontë, I would say I prefer Wuthering Heights to Jane Eyre, something I didn’t think I would say. Of course, they are very different. What greatly appeals to me in Wuthering Heights is the way a couple’s stubbornness leads to the destruction of the happiness of more or less all. It’s rather beautiful, in its way.

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Excuses and Explanations

Hello blogosphere!

I’ll start by saying how absolutely embarrassed I am for being very lazy and not updating; two months’ worth of books have gone unreviewed. I worked rather intensely for those months, and when I finally started my summer vacation in the last week of August my exchange was growing so very near I had a million things to do and couldn’t be bothered to think of books I’d read weeks and weeks and weeks ago.

Indeed, I leave for Cardiff early on Friday this week. There is no knowing when I will have reliable Internet access, so I’m putting this blog on a little break; I’ll see how I feel about blogging when A) I have Internet access and B) I know what school is going to be like. I’m also hoping to do a lot of travelling and socializing during these four months and therefore am likely to be scarce on the Internet. We’ll see how my reclusive Finnish nature takes to it all, though.

As an offering of apologies, I will post here my very, very fresh thoughts on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, also just now posted on my tumblr page.

I hope you all have a nice fall! Do not catch the flu that’s going around! I did, and am not enjoying myself one whit!

Yours, with all the love,

Veera

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Books in June ’13

Let me tell you, it has been a busy month again! Work leaves me little free time, and what I have of it I tend to spend with friends. And I still have to take care of all the exchange business (like, you know, finding an apartment…) and studies and everything.

But I do manage to read, so here you guys go!

 

Jonathan L. Howard: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer

Johannes Cabal has never pretended to be a hero. There is, after all, little heroic about robbing graves, being chased around by torch-bearing mobs, and selling your soul to the devil. All routine inconveniences, however, when your business is raising the dead.

But now Cabal wants his soul back. He needs his soul back.

It means a trip through festering bureaucracy of Hell and a bet with Satan. It means that, in return for his own soul, Cabal must gather one hundred others.

Given control of a diabolical carnival – created to tempt to contentiousness, to blasphemy, argumentation and murder, but you can also win coconuts – and armed only with his intelligence, a very large handgun, and a total absence of whimsy, Cabal has one year. One year to beat the Devil at his own game.

And isn’t that, perhaps, just a little heroic?

(Back cover of Headline 2009 paperback)

This book was recommended to me based on my love of one of Locke Lamora’s made-up identities, the type of character I’ve now come to call Fastidious Vadran. The person who recommended this really hit the nail on the head – Johannes Cabal is exactly what I like. Very grumpy and indeed very fastidious, he seems to be the kind of character who has crooked morals and stops at nothing to achieve his own ends.

But there’s more to him than that, and Howard plays that out in this first book with skill. It’s very amusing in a vein of Terry Pratchett, while the subject material veers more towards Neil Gaiman, and I can promise you, this book does not fail to tug at your heartstrings amidst the laughter.

I very warmly recommend this book! I’m not one to go for books about necromancers, as that particular art doesn’t appeal to me, and would never had picked Johannes Cabal up had it not been recommended to me. Now that I have read it, I can honestly say I would have sorely missed out.

Published: 2009

Pages: 335

 

Jonathan L. Howard: Johannes Cabal the Detective

For necromancer Johannes Cabal, dealing with devils, demons and raising the dead is pretty much par for the course. But when his attempt to steal a rare book turns sour, he is faced by a far more terrifying entity – politics.

While awaiting execution for his crime, Cabal is forced to resurrect an inconveniently deceased emperor. Seizing his chance, the cunning Cabal engineers his escape, fleeing the country on a state-of-the-art flying ship.

But the ship has more than a few unpleasant surprises, including an unwelcome face from the past and the small matter of some mysterious murders. Cabal may work with corpses but he has absolutely no intention of becoming one. Drawn into a deadly conspiracy, is he shuffling dangerously close to the end of his mortal coil?

Johannes Cabal is back – a little older, a little wiser, but just as sharply funny, cuttingly sarcastic, and unexpectedly violent as ever.

(Back cover of Headline 2010 paperback)

Yes, I jumped right to the second part. This one I enjoyed even more than I did the first one, mostly because it plays a lot with the conventions of detective fiction – including a murder within confined quarters and a revelation scene in the best whodunit style – and I could really enjoy all the genre jokes. It’s also even more entertaining when it comes to humour than its predecessor.

I have an ever-growing soft spot for Cabal. Impatient, annoying, grumpy, darling man!

Published: 2010

Pages: 365

 

Torsten Ekman: Aleksanteri I: Keisari ja isänmaa

I’m sorry, another book in Finnish! Although this is translated from Swedish, there is no English translation, as far as I know. My apologies.

The title is at first misleading: the book is not strictly a biography of Alexander I. He is the main character, so to speak, but more attention is directed towards Finland and how the events of the Napoleonic Wars link different European countries. It’s often hard to tie Finland into the Napoleonic Wars: at the beginning of them, Finland was still a part of Sweden, whereas from 1808 onwards it became an autonomic part of Russia. This book truly helped me see these events in a wider context, with the focus naturally on the relationship between Finland, Russia and Sweden.

But I must say the translation was not very good. Lots of incorrectly inclined Finnish, some that made my shudder in disgust (“Rehbinder ei tietänyt”) and just general oddness. I have not checked, but this is probably a mark of the translator being either in a hurry or just very lost in the interlingual twilight zone – either way, they haven’t been able to step back from the original text in order to see the target language in the right light. (I’m not blaming, I do that myself whenever I have to translate something…)

But in general, it’s a nice primer to what went on around that time. I liked it, and can now confidently continue on to more in-depth works on the subject.

Published: 2011 (original title Alexander I. Kejsare och fosterland)

Translation: Martti Ahti 2013

Pages: 300

 

Agatha Christie: Appointment with Death

A tyrannical old martinet, a mental sadist and the incarnation of evil. These were only three of the character descriptions levelled at Mrs. Boynton, the matriarch who kept her family totally dependent on her. But did she really deserve to die on the excursion to beautiful Petra? Hercule Poirot hears about the murder and feels compelled to investigate-despite the family’s request not to do so. Do they have something to hide and, if so, can they keep it hidden from this master sleuth?

(Goodreads)

This Christie was originally on my project list, as the film version really appeals to me. I did enjoy the book, although concentrating on it was a little hard due to the strong visual memories from the film and the fact that work was busy at the time I was going through this one and had to read it in a very fragmented fashion. Nonetheless, it’s a gripping Christie, despite my trouble remembering what was the novel and what the film.

Published: 1938

Pages: 303

Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora

Read this time for the read-along going on in Tumblr! I finished a little early.

The reasons why I love this book can be found in a previous post here.

Published: 2006

Pages: 530

 

David Lodge: Small World

Veteran rivals for an exclusive academic chair (recently endowed with $100,000 a year) do scholarly battle with each other in what the Washington Post Book World called a “delectable comedy of bad manners . . . infused with a rare creative exuberance”. From the author of the award-winning Changing Places.

(Goodreads)

This one was recommended to me by my father. We don’t really share an opinion on literature, but about this he was absolutely right – I loved it. Small World is funny, surprisingly gripping after you figure out who is who and how it’s structured, and probably even more deeply entrenched in literary jibes than I can recognise (I intend to read it again at some future date with the objective of dissecting it better). This is clearly a well thought out novel and consequently a pleasure to read. I particularly recommend it to those interested in literary theory, although it’s entertaining even if you’re just a general book lover like yours truly.

Published: 1984

Pages: 339

 

Agatha Christie: After the Funeral

When Cora is savagely murdered with a hatchet, the extraordinary remark she made the previous day at her brother’s Richard funeral suddenly takes on a chilling significance. At the reading of Richard’ s will, Cora was clearly heard to say: “It’s been hushed up very nicely, hasn’t it… But he was murdered, wasn’t he?”

In desperation, the family solicitor turns to Hercule Poirot to unravel the mystery…

(Goodreads)

Yet another Christie! This time I remembered the killer very well, even the clues leading up to them, but I nevertheless enjoyed this one very much! Perhaps one of the clues is a little too obviously a clue, but it’s hard to say, as it was one of the clues I remember from the film.

Published: 1953

Pages: 378

 

That is all I managed this month!

Books bought:

Michael Gregorio: Critique of Criminal Reason

Jonathan L. Howard: Johannes Cabal: Fear Institute

Honno (edit.): Wooing Mr Wickham

Jonathan Strahan (edit.): Fearsome Journeys

Venetia Murray: An Elegant Madness

…It is actually possible I bought other books as well, but the months are a little blurred in my mind.

Currently reading:

Georgette Heyer: Bath Tangle

 

Next weekend is Finncon! I will try and report about it!

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