Customer Reviews for

The Angel's Game

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

Zafon's newest is FAR different but an excellent read!

The length of this volume could have been drastically reduced by better editing in the first act, entitled "City of the Damned." This section strives to become the foundation for the remaining two "acts" and does so overly well. The hero, David Martin, is a writer, the ...
The length of this volume could have been drastically reduced by better editing in the first act, entitled "City of the Damned." This section strives to become the foundation for the remaining two "acts" and does so overly well. The hero, David Martin, is a writer, the son of a mother who abandoned him and his father shortly after his father returned from the Spanish "War in the Phillippines" a broken and haunted man. When David was in his early teens, his father was murdered in front of him. Fortunately, he was employed as a writer at a rather "raggy" daily newspaper and his writing caught the eye of a wealthy benefactor who made it possible for him to become a featured writer. As expected, the other journalists grew jealous and he was sacked after a year. He becomes a highly read author, who is contractually required to use an alias, nearly losing everything else in the process and that is where the story becomes intriguing. It is also the end of "act one."
The following two "acts" detail the relationship David develops with "the boss," Andreas Corelli, a mysterious publisher who commissions him to write a book that "will capture the world." The path this writing leads our hero, the people he meets and the problems he encounters in the year following his meeting Mr. Corelli, makes the last 261 page a much quicker read than the first 139.
This is a much darker novel than was The Shadow of the Wind. The Sempere & Sons' book shop and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books are welcomed old friends returning from that novel, however, Mr. Zafon takes the reader into an entirely different aisle in the world of literature with the writing of this work than was his leading in the previous novel. This is as a bloody a tale as is it dark. By the end of the book, I was weary of the body count and discouraged by the "cheap" manner in which Mr. Zafon was dealing with the conclusion of his tale. I was discouraged, that is, until the epilogue, when the picture was complete and the story was shown to have no wasted bloodshed. Each action was as necessary, and usually painful, for David as it was for the reader. There are no nightmares to be found in this book, only the sorrow experienced by those who feel compelled to write then share that part of their soul with the world.
There is a decided Spiritual dimension to this parable. David wrestles with an evil who befriends him, yet the price for that friendship far exceeds the benefits given. He is confronted with the miracle of life, magic, love, and mystery all by his skill as a writer, yet he refuses to glimpse beyond the material to see the Real. Mr. Zafon is either a lapsed Catholic or a very radical practicing one, as his understanding of religion is seeped in ritual and he presents faith as something that is deeply personal but just as deeply powerful. Even the title of the book is a hint of the Spiritual nature of the story, as he understands the Biblical idea of "Angel" as a messenger and who is not always a welcomed guest.The love Mr. Zafon has for literature is evident in this, and in his previous, novel. There are references to Dickens' Great Expectations, homage to Goethe's Faust, Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and a host of other great novelist's works are evident in this tale. Mr. Zafon does not plagiarize the other works, he only honors them with incorporating their "flavor"

posted by YoyoMitch53 on April 22, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Incomplete Ending

I loved Shadow of the Wind. While I enjoyed The Angel's Game, I did not like the ending. It just felt wrong and unfinished. It left me incomplete. I found the characters in both books interesting. I just feel that Shadow of the Wind had more to offer the reader. Bet...
I loved Shadow of the Wind. While I enjoyed The Angel's Game, I did not like the ending. It just felt wrong and unfinished. It left me incomplete. I found the characters in both books interesting. I just feel that Shadow of the Wind had more to offer the reader. Better characters, and story.

posted by Sundari on March 12, 2010

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  • Posted April 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Zafon's newest is FAR different but an excellent read!

    The length of this volume could have been drastically reduced by better editing in the first act, entitled "City of the Damned." This section strives to become the foundation for the remaining two "acts" and does so overly well. The hero, David Martin, is a writer, the son of a mother who abandoned him and his father shortly after his father returned from the Spanish "War in the Phillippines" a broken and haunted man. When David was in his early teens, his father was murdered in front of him. Fortunately, he was employed as a writer at a rather "raggy" daily newspaper and his writing caught the eye of a wealthy benefactor who made it possible for him to become a featured writer. As expected, the other journalists grew jealous and he was sacked after a year. He becomes a highly read author, who is contractually required to use an alias, nearly losing everything else in the process and that is where the story becomes intriguing. It is also the end of "act one."
    The following two "acts" detail the relationship David develops with "the boss," Andreas Corelli, a mysterious publisher who commissions him to write a book that "will capture the world." The path this writing leads our hero, the people he meets and the problems he encounters in the year following his meeting Mr. Corelli, makes the last 261 page a much quicker read than the first 139.
    This is a much darker novel than was The Shadow of the Wind. The Sempere & Sons' book shop and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books are welcomed old friends returning from that novel, however, Mr. Zafon takes the reader into an entirely different aisle in the world of literature with the writing of this work than was his leading in the previous novel. This is as a bloody a tale as is it dark. By the end of the book, I was weary of the body count and discouraged by the "cheap" manner in which Mr. Zafon was dealing with the conclusion of his tale. I was discouraged, that is, until the epilogue, when the picture was complete and the story was shown to have no wasted bloodshed. Each action was as necessary, and usually painful, for David as it was for the reader. There are no nightmares to be found in this book, only the sorrow experienced by those who feel compelled to write then share that part of their soul with the world.
    There is a decided Spiritual dimension to this parable. David wrestles with an evil who befriends him, yet the price for that friendship far exceeds the benefits given. He is confronted with the miracle of life, magic, love, and mystery all by his skill as a writer, yet he refuses to glimpse beyond the material to see the Real. Mr. Zafon is either a lapsed Catholic or a very radical practicing one, as his understanding of religion is seeped in ritual and he presents faith as something that is deeply personal but just as deeply powerful. Even the title of the book is a hint of the Spiritual nature of the story, as he understands the Biblical idea of "Angel" as a messenger and who is not always a welcomed guest.The love Mr. Zafon has for literature is evident in this, and in his previous, novel. There are references to Dickens' Great Expectations, homage to Goethe's Faust, Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and a host of other great novelist's works are evident in this tale. Mr. Zafon does not plagiarize the other works, he only honors them with incorporating their "flavor"

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Very, very good.

    This has to be one of the most frustrating books that I have ever read. The first 100 pages made me want to pull out all my hair because though interesting in general, it was long winded and could have been 50 pages shorter.

    In 1920s Barcelona, David Martin is a young man who has been orphaned at a very young age. But he is lucky in his patronage as his mentor is Pedro Vidal, one of the richest men in town. Through Vidal, he gets a job at the local paper where he soon excels writing a pulp fiction serial. His stories are an instant hit and widely embraced by the populace. Unfortunately, his success turns friends at the paper into foes and he is eventually forced to leave. He finds another job and is contracted to a long term deal with two unscrupulous publishers, writing under a pseudonym. One constant through this period is the presence of a mysterious man, Andreas Corelli, who wants David to come work for him. Through a confluence of different events that break David's heart and spirit, David would eventually agree to a contract with Mr. Corelli. Shortly after he makes this agreement, his former publishers suffer brutal and mysterious deaths. David has nagging doubts about Corelli but the money that he is offered and the freedom that comes along with it prove to be temptations that cannot be passed up.

    But as David writes this book, his doubts continue to grow. Who exactly is Andreas Corelli?What kind of publisher pays an exorbitant amount of money for a book that he never intends to publish? Also what is the relationship between Corelli and the former occupant of David's house?

    This book is beautifully written and melds elements of mysticism, the supernatural and features very intelligent debates/discussions of the nature of religious belief, faith and the human search for meaning. The author is obviously a very talented writer whose love for the written word is apparent. In his writing he pays tribute to the masters like Dickens, Bronte, Wilde, etc. His writing is lyrical, magical and in his hands, Barcelona becomes a dreamlike locale that I am now dying to visit. But before I could get to the place where I could say all this about the book, I had to survive the first section of it which just seemed to go on and on and on. Honestly, I believe that many people will get so frustrated with this first section that they may give up and therefore miss out on a truly great book. I wish that this portion of the book was trimmed down because it detracts from the overall work. Another problem with the book was that I felt that too many characters were introduced that sometimes I lost count of who each person was. This could have easily been a 5 star book but these two factors made me rate it lower.

    But all in all, it is a very well written book that does not leave you with easy answers. By the end of the book you are unsure of who is victim or villain. You do not walk away with a clear sense of who the hero is or if there is even one.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A chilling thriller that will keep you on your toes

    In "The Angel's Game", I was transported to Barcelona, albeit the Barcelona of the 1920s. Through Mr. Zafon's descriptive prose, Barcelona was brought to life. I got a chill reading about the Pueblo Nuevo Cemetery with its 'forest of angels and crosses' and the scenes that took place within its walls. I could hear footsteps echoing in the alleyways, smell the putrid stench of decay, feel the neglect of buildings abandoned long ago, and see 'the whole of Barcelona stretched out .' (pg 50) before me. Mr. Zafon has also created several memorable characters: David Martin, the tortured narrator; Andreas Corelli, angel or demon; Isabella, a kind and generous soul; etc.... These characters stayed with me long after I finished reading. They seemed to inhabit my dreams.

    Mr. Zafon's novel centers around a young writer who unwittingly makes a pact with the devil. Yes, a Faustian bargain; however, there is more to the novel, namely, there is an underlying mystery that will have you guessing/thinking throughout the novel. The story moves quickly. I found myself repeatedly saying I have time for just one more chapter. I read the book in three days - because life interrupted and I needed sleep. It is a book that you will not want to put down.

    People have commented that this book is one in a series and a prequel to "The Shadow of the Wind". I have yet to read that book and did not find myself at a disadvantage. I believe that this book stands on its own quite well and highly recommend to those that have read previous works of Zafon or those who like mystery/thrillers.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2010

    Amazing and beautiful

    I must start by letting everyone know that I dont write reviews. I had to make an exception because this novel took my breath away. Not only is it beautifully written but the plot is thrilling and unexpected. The characters are wonderfully developed, they are human and very real. I sat down to read this and could not put it down... I wanted to find every excuse throughout the 5 days it took me to read all 500 pages, to steal away and read on. I almost wish it hadn't ended and I could read on forever. I simply loved every moment of it.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR

    I THINK THE BEATLES SONG IS AN APPROPRIATE TITLE FOR THIS REVIEW. I JUST READ TERRANCE RAFFERTY'S REVIEW IN THE NEW YORK TIMES,AND IT'S A SHAME HE DIDN'T FIND THIS AS MAGICAL AS "SHADOW OF THE WIND".
    I AM 54 YEARS OLD AND I MUST SAY, THAT LIFE HAS NOT BEEN A VERY MAGICAL EXPERIENCE. THE MUNDANE BUSINESS OF DAY TO DAY OVERPOWERS THE FEW MOMENTS OF JOY,AND LIKE THE MAIN CHARACTER IN THIS BOOK, WE MIGHT ALL CONSIDER A PACT WITH A "DEVIL" TO ACHIEVE THAT WHICH WE LONG FOR.I HATED TO PUT THIS BOOK DOWN BETWNNE READINGS. IT IS HARD FOR ME,A VORACIOUS READER, TO FIND REALLY INTERESTING BOOKS ON ALL LEVELS, BUT THIS ONE WAS,FOR ME. ALL READING IS SUBJECTIVE,AND I NEVER BASE MY PURCHASES ON CRITICS LIKE MR.RAFFERTY. I WISH THE AUTHOR HAD TRANSLATED THIS BOOK HIMSELF,OR I WISH I READ SPANISH,BECAUSE THEN I THINK IT WOULD HAVE MEANT A LOT MORE.
    MACBETH SAYS IT BEST WHEN,AFTER HIS WIFE'S DEATH AND HIS PREPARATION FOR HIS FINAL BATTLE, THAT LIFE IS "FULL OF SOUND AND FURY,SIGNYFYING NOTHING". THIS BOOK BRINGS ME ALONG WITH THE PLOT AND REMINDS ME OF THE FEW JOYFUL MOMENTS IN MY LIFE WHERE INTELLECT, EMOTION, TALENT AND PASSION ALL COMBINED MAGICALLY TO PUSH MY SOUL ABOVE THE MEDIOCRE LEVELS OF EVERYDAY LIFE, AND ACHIEVE THAT SOMETHING I LONG FOR.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Incomplete Ending

    I loved Shadow of the Wind. While I enjoyed The Angel's Game, I did not like the ending. It just felt wrong and unfinished. It left me incomplete. I found the characters in both books interesting. I just feel that Shadow of the Wind had more to offer the reader. Better characters, and story.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    OOPS! I accidentally wrote this review on Zafon's other book!!!

    Loved this one too! As I accidentally said, Love loss, buried secrets, lack of trust, connection, books....What more can you ask for? I love Zafon's writing style and his creativity to keep the reader hooked to each page! His writing appeals to both sexes, which is quite a trick to pull off! Another book that captured my heart recently is EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by Pirrung,only it appeals more to women. Loved it so much that I'm promoting it as best I can! It deserves to be read and enjoyed! The reviews tell the story!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 29, 2009

    I Kept waiting

    I waited and waited for the story to "come together". It never did. There were many events that happened and were then forgotten. The "love" of his life dies and no emotion.......I won't read another of this author's works.

    4 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    Couldn't put it down

    I loved this book. It was thrilling, I couldn't put it down. I also loved "Shadow of the Wind." I can't wait to read more of his books. His books are definately intended for readers who want suspense and mystery.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    As soon as I fininished The Angel's Game I reread The Shadow of the Wind. Please translate more books as soon as possible!!! Ruis Zafon is the writer for anyone who loves books and believes in their soul. Just say "No" to kindle.

    Please translate more books by Ruis Zafon. This book is the perfect book for anyone who love books, who loves to read, and sees books as a mirror into the soul of humanity.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic story

    I loved Shadow of the Wind and am just as enthralled with The Angels Game. I am listening to it on CD (which I sort of hate to do with such excellent writing but that's just what worked out for me) I do not speak much Spanish so I would never come up with the pronunciation that the narrator has. It really makes you feel like you are in Spain listening to an authentic Spanish story. I highly recommend this. The names of people and places spoken by the narrator with his accent are just beautiful to listen to. I may go back and read it later so I can take it slow and savor some of the passages and hopefully read it with the same beautiful pronunciation in my head. I hope he will write many more books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Angel's Game

    A strange, foreboding and complex tale of kidnapping, duplicity, crooked police, murder and intrigue with an ample shot of devils and a gothic universe that encompasses eternal life, witchcraft, a cemetery of forgotten books and spiritual benefactors. It is about a troubled writer, David Martin and his strange struggle with his art and his destiny in Barcelona 1917 -1930. He is a common man of no established family who has only one wealthy friend, Pedro Vidal who assists him endlessly out of guilt. Christina, his one true love throughout the book, is Pedro's chauffeur's daughter, who is good for considerable heartache. David a workaholic experiences numerous strange life-changing occurrences.

    He begins his writing career as a journalist, graduates to anonymous but successful crime pulp fiction and then writes his first and last novel as well as ghost writing one for his friend Pedro Vidal, whose ability is failing, unbeknownst to him. David is wrenched back from death's brink to embark on writing a book that will change the world for a mysterious wealthy publisher from France. He acquires a strange tower house that is haunted by an unusual history, which entangles him entirely. David is blessed with a young writing assistant, Isabella who struggles to keep him sane.

    The cemetery of forgotten books is probably the most intriguing concept of the book. The location of which is apparently only known to avid bookman like Senor Sempere of the renowned Sempere and Sons Bookshop. He is David's oldest friend and supporter who ultimately divulges its secret to him. The pace is baroque, deliberate and intricate until the last sixty pages when it flies with action, murders, escapes and suspense.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Up to Par

    I was disappointed in this book. I had been looking forward to it for a long time because I loved his first book but this one wasn't even in the same league with his first book. Zafon's writing style is the only thing that keeps you turning the pages. The characters are interesting but do not live up to their potential. The characters seem to move through the pages as confused as the reader does trying to figure out WHAT"S THE STORY ABOUT ANYWAY?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Another great from a great writer!

    I absolutely LOVED "The Shadow of the Wind" and I couldn't wait for another book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon to come out. While this isn't as good at "The Shadow of the Wind" it is still a great read. I can't help but excape into the places that he writes about and I truly feel like I'm watching a movie, rather than reading a book. The author is so descriptive, you to will get lost in this book. A mystery, a romance, and an angel? You've got to read this to find out the secrets hidden throughout.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

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    Slightly Disappointed

    First let me state that The Shadow of the Wind was, by far, one of the best books I have ever read. For me, The Angel's Game did not quite live up to my expectations after having enjoyed TSOTW so much. I was definitely drawn into David's world and this author absolutely makes me feel like I am living vicariously through his protagonist. The Angel's Game started strong and I was immediately immersed in the dark atmosphere of the book. A little after midway through the story this book started to lose some of its hold on me. I think it may have been the way the story was branching off in so many directions. I do understand the purpose of having David encounter all these other characters, but I sometimes felt like I was reading three separate stories that were being forced to mesh into one book. I didn't feel David and Cristina's love story as emotionally as the love story in TSOTW because I never got that sense of their connection. By the end of The Angel's Game I felt a little let down by what seemed to be a quick wrap up to a complicated story that could have been concluded about 200 pages earlier if I hadn't had so much peripheral story to deal with. That being said, I would still recommend this book, and I still look forward to this author's next work. I loved that the Cemetery of Forgotten Books also played a part in The Angel's Game. I loved the inclusion of the Sempere family and learning more of their history. I absolutely love Carlos Ruiz Zafon's writing style and his ability to make me feel as if I am part of the story, experiencing what his characters are experiencing as if I am walking through the streets of Barcelona with them. Do I think this book was as wonderful as The Shadow of the Wind? No, I don't. But it is still a good book and well worth your time to read and become a part of these characters' world for a short time.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

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    Didn't measure up

    As a huge fan of Shadow of the Wind, I eagerly awaited Zafon's next novel. Although I enjoyed Angel's Game, I felt it fell short of his first. I found myself a bit confused about Sempere as he in included in the plot of this as well, until a little more than halfway through where I figured it out. The writing is just as beautiful as Shadow's, but the plot is a lot darker. Not everyone gets a happy ending. I did enjoy the tie-ins that allowed the characters to continue to exist in the same beautifully written world, but overall I felt the plot wasn't as finely crafted as from his first work. It started out well enough, but I felt it dragged and left me not as satisfied as I had hoped. Still worth a read, but didn't quite measure up to the excellence of Zafon's first venture.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    As Good as it Gets

    "The Shadow of the Wind" is without doubt one of the finest literary achievements in recent history. Sublime in Spanish, it is possibly even surpassed by the remarkable translation of Lucia Graves, and "The Angel's Game", in Spanish, is as rich, beautifully written, original and thought-provoking as its predecessor. We look forward to the English-language version, with its incomparable use of language.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2009

    Psst! Want a Great Summer Read that's Smart and Fun? Here it is!

    Vividly told with drama, intrigue, laughs, love and the pure joy and magic of books and their power to transform us, The Angels Game is the prequel to the internationally best-selling The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The author dazzles us but never overwhelms as he weaves his tale set in Barcelona of the 1920s. An orphaned boy grows to manhood in a Gothic world of wonders and secrets. He is befriended by a rich, failed writer, and a local secondhand bookshop owner and is seduced into the world of words. We follow David Martin as he becomes a writer himself and is drawn into a literary mystery involving a powerful stranger Andreas Corelli, who commissions a book to be written which brought only bad luck and ruin to the writer previously hired for the task. Clues are unearthed in the old house where David now lives involving closed off rooms and dreams and visions of unsettling events. The characters are well drawn and the tale is enlivened with a dash of humor and wit. There are two loves in Davids life and you will fall in love with these women too.
    Explore the Barcelona of the 1920s in this exciting and enchanting tale. It is perfect for summer reading for anyone who has ever fallen in love with a great book. It has already become one of my new favorites.

    Curt Jarrell
    Glen Burnie, MD

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 12, 2010

    Beautifully written...story line falls apart

    I eagerly awaited reading this book after being enchanted by "shadow of the wind".
    The initial chapters re-captured the lush, sensual writing style I enjoyed in his previous novel...but then the plot became disjointed and at times silly.
    Would still recommend as this author is pure joy to read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Love the way he writes...

    I was a bit disappointed that the story was about the same family. Shadow of the Wind was just awesome and I did expect his follow up to be a completely different story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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