The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Volume 2

( 13 )

Overview

A mystery as dazziling as a hall of mirrors.
A seductive, terrifying, all-too-real world.
A beguiling, erotic literary adventure.

Discover why readers everywhere are enthralled by this “marvelous confection of a book.”*

In which the astonishing adventure to end all adventures continues—and the excitement ...

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Overview

A mystery as dazziling as a hall of mirrors.
A seductive, terrifying, all-too-real world.
A beguiling, erotic literary adventure.

Discover why readers everywhere are enthralled by this “marvelous confection of a book.”*

In which the astonishing adventure to end all adventures continues—and the excitement doubles.

Like every other honest man, an assassin has his reputation to consider. So it is with Cardinal Chang. A brutal killer with the heart of a poet, Chang is no longer able to trust those who hired him. Disconcerted, he sets out on the trail of a mystery like no other, in a city few have traveled to—featuring three unlikely heroes with a most intriguing bond.

*Philadelphia Inquirer

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Acclaimed director and playwright Gordon Dahlquist's unique debut novel is a shelf-bending (almost 800 pages!) tour de force that skillfully blends elements of historical mystery, suspense, romance/erotica, dark fantasy, and even science fiction.

Set in a world vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century Europe, the novel begins with a naïve would-be socialite named Celeste Temple receiving a letter from her fiancé, who informs her that their engagement is over. With no explanation whatsoever, her beau -- an up-and-coming figure in the Foreign Ministry named Roger Bascombe -- has regretfully ended the relationship and asked Miss Temple to never contact him again. The irrepressibly inquisitive Temple, however, decides to follow Bascombe after-hours and tails him to a remote country mansion, where she sneaks into a masquerade ball and witnesses young women -- apparently under the influence of a mysterious mind control device -- being violently assaulted and sexually brutalized. After barely escaping with her life, Temple eventually joins forces with a philosophical assassin and a royal doctor to try and somehow make sense of it all…

If Dahlquist's wildly ambitious debut were fast food, it would undoubtedly be supersized. Everything about The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters is massive -- from the daunting cast of characters to the multitude of subplots. Adventursome readers who like challenging story lines (like Hal Duncan's Vellum, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, et al.) will surely enjoy this genre-transcendent novel; mystery and suspense fans looking for a quick read should look elsewhere for their literary kicks. Paul Goat Allen
From the Publisher
“Fantastic…I was in seventh heaven.” —Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth

“Carr[ies] the reader on a mind-twisting odyssey…sweeping, highly original and absorbing.” —Dallas Morning News

“Studded with treats…beautifully written.”—Entertainment Weekly

“As flat-out fun, engaging and funny as any tale of mystery and imagination I can recall.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A remarkable achievement of imagination and stellar writing.” —Tampa Tribune

“An erotically charged, rip-roaring adventure for adults with scarcely a dull moment to be had, which defies its great length to keep the reader on the edge of his seat.” —Daily Mail

Publishers Weekly
Debut novelist Dahlquist aims for a blockbuster with a mishmash of Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre and Eyes Wide Shut that never quite comes together. Three months after 25-year-old Celeste Temple travels from "her island" (a Bermuda-like place) plantation home to Victorian London, fiancé Roger Bascombe breaks their engagement. Driven more by curiosity than desire, she follows him from his job at the foreign ministry to Harschmort House, where, with little prodding, she quickly finds herself in silk undergarments at a ritual involving masked guests and two-way mirrors. Making her escape, Miss Temple (as she's called throughout) kills a henchman. Ceremony organizers pursue her as she pursues their secrets. Poetry-quoting assassin Cardinal Chang and diplomat Dr. Abelard Svenson come to her aid. Chang tries to save a half-Chinese prostitute; Abelard tries to save a governess named Elöise; Miss Temple discovers she is not the woman she thought she was, nor Roger the man she hoped for. Meanwhile, through science and alchemy, evildoers capture erotic memories and personal will in blue crystals. Dahlquist introduces so many characters, props and plot twists, near-death experiences and narrow escapes that the novel has the feel of a frantic R-rated classic comic book—if comics were arch. (Aug. 29)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
After her fiance terminates their engagement-by letter, no less-Celeste dons a disguise and follows him to murky Harschmort Manor, where big surprises await. This Victorian thriller, playwright Dahlquist's fiction debut, has been sold to 26 countries. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A bloated, wildly fanciful Edgar Allan Poe-esque tale, seemingly set in Victorian London, follows a jilted young woman's plucky resolve to get to the bottom of her fiance's mysterious disappearance. Miss Celestial Temple, a young woman of respectable means, receives an incomprehensible letter at her hotel from her intended, Roger Bascombe, abruptly ending their engagement-and she decides to follow him. It proves quite an adventure, taking Miss Temple on a curious train ride and depositing her in a sumptuous house equipped with a theater in which she witnesses strangely erotic experiments on women, while Bascombe and others watch from the gallery. Giving her name as Isobel Hastings, she is coerced into a masked ball and nearly raped trying to escape before managing to make her way back to the city. Meanwhile, a certain shady Cardinal Chang, so-called because of his red topcoat and Asian appearance, is hired to knock off Colonel Arthur Trapping, commander of the 4th Dragoons, who is already dead and disfigured by the time Chang gets to him. Numerous characters become absorbed in Trapping's murder, such as Doctor Abelard Svenson, who acts as the ward of a young, profligate, weak-willed prince, Karl-Horst van Maasmarck, engaged to be married, for political reasons, to Lord Vandaariff's daughter, Lydia. The prince vanishes inexplicably, and the doctor finds in his rooms two glass cards, the size of calling cards, through which several notable characters, namely Bascombe, can be viewed in revealing and intimate moving images. The plot travels perilously tortuous paths, as together Doctor Svenson, Miss Temple and Chang track missing characters whose names keep changing to confound thedefenseless reader. They are lured back to the theater, where a cabal of dangerous men possesses glass books into which people drain their minds. Way, way over the top.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553385861
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/27/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 805,975
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon Dahlquist is a native of the Pacific Northwest, where he worked for several years writing and directing plays. Since 1988 he has lived in New York. He has been a member of New Dramatists, is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect, and a founding member of the CiNE. His works include Messalina (Evidence Room, Los Angeles: SPF, New York), text for Babylon Is Everywhere: A Court Masque (CiNE, Schaeberle Theatre; Theatre Magazine), Delirium Palace (Evidence Room, Los Angeles; published in Breaking Ground), The Secret Machine (Twilight Theatre Company at Solo Rep), Vortex du Plaisir (Ice Factory ’99 Festival at the Ohio Theatre, WKCR’S Manhattan Theatre of the Air), Island of Dogs (4th Street Theatre), Severity’s Mistress (Soho Rep Theatre, New York University; winner of Primary stages’ Bug &Bub award), Mission Byzantium! (American Globe Theatre, NYTW’s Just Add Water Festival), and Reitcence (Horace Mann Theatre).

He has written and directed several experimental films, that have been selected for the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Northwest Film and Video Film Festival. He is a graduate of Reed College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. He has received two Garland Playwriting Awards for Messalina and Delirium Palace.

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters is his first novel.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Royale

Once she made a decision, Miss Temple considered it an absolutely ridiculous waste of time to examine the choice further—and so from the vantage of her coach she did not debate the merits of her journey to the St. Royale Hotel, instead allowing herself the calming pleasure of watching the shops pass by to either side and the people of the city all about their day. Normally, this was not a thing she cared for—save for a certain morbid curiosity about what flaws could be deduced from a person's dress and posture—but now, as a consequence of her bold separation from the Doctor and Cardinal Chang, she felt empowered to observe without the burden of judgment, committed as she was to action, an arrow in mid-flight. And the fact was, she did feel that merely being in motion had stilled the tempest of feeling that had overtaken her in the Comte's garden and, even worse, in the street. If she was not up to the challenge of braving the St. Royale Hotel, then how could she consider herself any kind of adventurer? Heroines did not pick their own battles—the ones they knew they could win. On the contrary, they managed what they had to manage, and they did not lie to themselves about relying on others for help instead of accomplishing the thing alone. Would she be safer to have waited for Chang and Svenson—however much of the plan was her own devising—so they could have entered the place in force? It was arguable at the very least (stealth, for one) that she alone was best suited for the task. But the larger issue was her own opinion of herself, and her level of loss, relative to her companions. She smiled and imagined meeting them outside the hote—she chuckled at how long it would take them to find her—vital information in hand and perhaps the woman in red or the Comte d'Orkancz, now utterly subject, in tow.

Besides, the St. Royale held her destiny. The woman in red, this Contessa Lacquer-Sforza (simply another jot of proof, as if any were needed, of the Italian penchant for ridiculous names) was her primary enemy, the woman who had consigned her to death and worse. Further, Miss Temple could not help wonder at the woman's role in the seduction—there was no other word—of Roger Bascombe. She knew objectively that the primary engine must be Roger's ambition, manipulated with ease by the Deputy Minister, to whose opinions, as a committed climber, Roger would slavishly adhere. Nevertheless, she could not but picture the woman and Roger in a room together . . . like a cobra facing a puppy. She had seduced him, obviously, but to what actual—which is to say literal, physical—degree? One perfect raised eyebrow and a single purse of her rich scarlet lips would have had him kneeling. And would she have taken Roger for herself or passed him along to one of her minions—one of the other ladies from Harschmort House—that Mrs. Marchmoor—or was it Hooke? There were really too many names. Miss Temple frowned, for thinking of Roger's idiocy made her cross, and thinking of her enemies turning him to their usage with such evident ease made her even crosser.

The coach pulled up outside the hotel and she paid off the driver. Before the man could jump from his box to help her, a uniformed doorman stepped forward to offer his hand. Miss Temple took it with a smile and carefully climbed down to the street. The coach rattled away as she walked to the door, nodding her thanks to a second doorman as he opened it, and into the grand lobby. There was no sign of any person she recognized—all the better. The St. Royale was openly sumptuous, which didn't quite appeal to Miss Temple's sense of order. Such places did the work for a person, which she recognized was part of the attraction but disapproved of—what was the point of being seen as remarkable when it was not really you being seen at all, but your surroundings? Still, Miss Temple could admire the display. There were scarlet leather banquettes and great gold-rimmed mirrors on the wall, a tinkling fountain with floating lotus flowers, large pots of greenery, and a row of gold and red columns supporting a curving balcony that hung over the lobby, the two colors twisting around the poles like hand-carved ribbons. Above, the ceiling was more glass and gold mirrors, with a crystal chandelier whose dangling end point, a multifaceted ball of glittering glass, was quite as large as Miss Temple's head.

She took all of this in slowly, knowing there was a great deal to see, and that such sights easily dazzled a person, encouraging them to ignore what might be important details: like the row of mirrors against the oddly curving left wall, for example, which were strange in that they seemed placed not so much for people to stand before as to reflect the entirety of the lobby, and even the street beyond it—almost as if they were a row of windows rather than mirrors. Miss Temple immediately thought of the odious comment of the still more odious Mr. Spragg, about the cunning Dutch glass—about her own unintentional display in the Harschmort dressing room. Doing her best to shrug off twin reactions of mortification and thrill, she turned her thoughts more directly to her task. She imagined herself still standing in the lobby, trying to get up her nerve, when Chang and Svenson entered behind her, catching up before she had even done anything—she would feel every bit the helpless fool she was trying not to be.

Miss Temple strode to the desk. The clerk was a tall man with thinning hair brushed forward with a bit too much pomade, so the normally translucent hair tonic had creamed over the skin beneath his hair—the effect being not so much offensive as unnatural and distracting. She smiled with the customary crispness that she brought to most impersonal dealings and informed him she had come to call on the Contessa Lacquer-Sforza. He nodded respectfully and replied that the Contessa was not presently in the hotel, and indicated the door to the restaurant, suggesting that she might desire to take a little tea while she waited. Miss Temple asked if the Contessa would be long in arriving. The man answered that, truthfully, he did not know, but that her normal habit was to meet several ladies for a late tea or early aperitif at this time. He wondered if Miss Temple was acquainted with those ladies, for indeed one or more of them might well be in the restaurant already. She thanked him, and took a step in that direction. He called to her, asking if she wanted to leave her name for the Contessa. Miss Temple told him that it was her habit to remain a surprise, and continued into the restaurant.

Before she could even scan the tables for a familiar or dangerous face, a black-coated fellow was standing far too close and asking if she was meeting someone, if she had come for tea or supper or perhaps, his brow twitching in encouragement, an aperitif. Miss Temple snapped—for she did not like to be pestered under any circumstances—that she would prefer tea and two scones and a bit of fruit—fresh fruit, and peeled—and walked past him, looking around the tables. She proceeded to a small table that faced the doorway but was yet some distance into the restaurant, so that she would not be immediately visible from the doorway—or the lobby—and could herself scrutinize anyone who happened to enter. She placed her bag, holding the revolver, onto the next chair, making sure it was beneath the starched tablecloth and unapparent to any passing eye, and sat back to wait for her tea, her mind wandering again to the question of her present solitude. Miss Temple decided that she liked it perfectly well—in fact, it made her feel quite free. To whom was she obliged? Chang and Svenson could take care of themselves, her aunt was packed away—what hold could any enemy now place over her, aside from a threat to her own bodily safety? None at all—and the idea of drawing the revolver and facing down a host of foes right there in the restaurant became increasingly appealing.

She picked at the weave of the tablecloth—it was of quite a high quality, which pleased her—and found she was equally impressed with the St. Royale's tableware, which, while displaying an elegance of line, did not abjure a certain necessary weight, especially important in one's knife, even if all one were to do with that knife was split a scone and slather cream into the steaming crease. Despite Miss Temple having had tea that very morning, she was looking keenly forward to having tea again—indeed, it was her favorite meal. A diet of scones, tea, fruit, and, if she must, some beef consomme before bedtime and she would be a happy young lady. Her tea arrived first, and she was busily occupied with scrutinizing her waiter's handling of the teapot and the hot water pot and the cup and saucer and the silver strainer and the silver dish in which to set the strainer and the little pitcher of milk and the small plate of fresh-cut wedges of lemon. When all had been arranged before her and the man departed with a nod, Miss Temple set about to deliberately re-arrange everything according to her taste and reach—the lemon going to the side (for she did not care for lemon in her tea, but often enjoyed sucking on one or two slices after she had eaten everything else, as a kind of astringent meal-finisher—apart from which, as she had paid for the lemon slices, it always seemed she might as well sample them), the strainer near it, the milk to the other side, and the pot and hot water positioned to allow her to easily stand—which was often, due to their weight, the length of her arms, and the leverage involved with her chair (whether or not its height allowed her feet to touch the floor, as hers presently did just with the toes) required of her in order to pour. Finally, she made sure there was ample space left for the soon-to-arrive scones, fruit, jam, and thick cream.

She stood and poured just a touch of tea into her cup to see if it was dark enough. It was. She then poured in a bit of milk and took up the teapot again, tipping it slowly. For the first cup, if one was careful, it was usually possible to forgo the strainer, as most of the leaves would be sodden and at the bottom of the pot. The tea was a perfect pale mahogany color, still hot enough to steam. Miss Temple sat down and took a sip. It was perfect, the kind of hearty, savory brew that she imagined really ought to be somehow cut up with a knife and fork and eaten in bites. Within another two minutes, passed affably with sipping, the rest of her dishes had arrived and she was again pleased to find that the jam was a deeply colored blackberry conserve and that the fruit was, of all things in the world, a lovely orange hothouse mango, arranged on its plate in finger-thick, length-wise slices. She wondered idly how much this tea was going to cost, and then shrugged away her care. Who knew if she would even be alive in the morning? Why begrudge the simple pleasures that might unexpectedly appear?

Though she did make a point, when she remembered, to glance at the restaurant doorway and scrutinize whoever might be entering, Miss Temple spent the next twenty minutes assiduously focused on slicing and preparing the scones with just the right thickness to each half, applying an under-ayer of jam, and then on top of that slathering the proper amount of cream. This done, she set these aside and indulged in two strips of mango, one after the other, spearing each with her silver fork on one end and eating her way from the other, bite by bite, down to the tines. After this, she finished her first cup of tea and stood again to pour another, this time using the strainer and also pouring in a nearly equal amount of hot water to dilute the brew that had been steeping all this time. She sampled this, added a bit more milk, and then sat once more and essayed the first half of the first scone, alternating each bite with a sip of tea until it had disappeared. Another slice of mango and she went back to the second half of the first scone, and by the time she had finished that it was also time for another cup of tea, this one requiring just a touch more of the hot water than before. She was down to the final half of her second scone, and the final slice of mango—and trying to decide which of the two to demolish first—when she became aware that the Comte d'Orkancz stood on the opposite side of her table. It was to Miss Temple's great satisfaction that she was able to smile at him brightly and through her surprise announce, "Ah, it seems you have finally arrived."

It was clearly not what he had expected her to say. "I do not believe we have been introduced," replied the Comte.

"We have not," said Miss Temple. "You are the Comte d'Orkancz. I am Celeste Temple. Will you sit?" She indicated the chair near him—which did not hold her bag. "Would you care for some tea?"

"No thank you," he said, looking down at her with both interest and suspicion. "May I ask why you are here?"

"Is it not rude to so interrogate a lady? If we are to have a conversation—I do not know where you are from, they say Paris, but my understanding is even in Paris they are not so rude, or not rude in such an ignorant fashion—it would be much better if you would sit." Miss Temple grinned wickedly. "Unless of course you fear I will shoot you."

"As you would have it," answered the Comte. "I have no wish to be . . . ill-mannered."

He pulled out the chair and sat, his large body having the odd effect of placing him both near to her and far away at the same time, his hands on the table but his face strangely distant beyond them. He was not wearing his fur coat, but instead an immaculate black evening jacket, his stiff white shirt held with gleaming blue studs. She saw that his fingers, which were disturbingly strong and thick, wore many rings of silver, several of them set with blue stones as well. His beard was heavy but neatly trimmed, mouth arrantly sensual, and his eyes glittering blue. The entire air of the man was strangely powerful and utterly, disturbingly, masculine.

"Would you care for something other than tea?" she asked.

"Perhaps a pot of coffee, if you will not object."

"There is no evil in coffee," answered Miss Temple, a bit primly. She raised her hand for the waiter and gave him the Comte's order when he arrived at the table. She turned to the Comte. "Nothing else?" He shook his head. The waiter darted to the kitchen. Miss Temple took another sip of tea and leaned back, her right hand gently gathered the strap on her bag and pulled it onto her lap. The Comte d'Orkancz studied her, his eyes flicking at her hidden hand with a trace of amusement.

"So . . . you were expecting me, it seems," he offered.

"It did not particularly matter who it was, but I knew one of you would arrive, and when you did, that I would meet you. Perhaps I preferred another—that is, perhaps I have more personal business elsewhere—but the substance remains unchanged."

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not for Danielle Steele or James Patterson Loyalist!! Sorry:)

    An intellectuals dream! Not to be condescending (I suppose it can't be helped), but the people who were not able to "finish" this smart Victorian thriller due to the many twists and turns, or the character complexities, or just because it is NOT an easy read, need to stick to Top ten bestsellers like Steele, Patterson or Nora Roberts.....YUCK! Dahlquist is a thoughtful, ambitious author; not likely to be spitting out a book every month like above mentioned authors. He has too much depth and way too much to say for that kind of nonsense. Can't wait for his next book!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2011

    A Good Read

    I enjoyed this book immensely, but you definitely have to read Volume 1 first, as this is really the second half of a much longer novel, not a stand-alone book. It is an intense, non-stop-action-packed, dark opium dream of a Steampunk adventure, with thrills, chills, and a breakneck pacing that leaves you gasping along with each of the three protagonists. The book switches at several times between the points of view of the three protagonists, but it works since the author stays with each character for roughly a third of the book, so it's more of a focused, 'And meanwhile, this is what was going on with this other character many miles away', than a nervous jumping back and forth. A nice addition to the genre.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2011

    Excellent part 2

    Enthralling is the only word to describe volume 2. It sucked me in and has still not spit me out! Dark Volume, here I come!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2011

    Excellent

    Enthralling is the only word to describe volume 2. It sucked me in and has not spit me out yet! Dark Voulme here I come!

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  • Posted June 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommend If You Like Steampunk Fanatsy

    The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters were my first introduction to the genre of "Steampunk Fantasy", or maybe it's the first book of that genre as it is certainly unlike anything I've read before. Regardless of what other reviewers have written here, I myself could not put it down; talk about downright fun escapism! Written in the style of a gaslight era seriel novel it had everything: mystery and suspense, action, sex [with a healthy dose of fetishism], shockingly evil yet somehow strangely alluring villians with plans for world domination, the burgeoning of an unlikely romance, and plenty of cliff-hanger moments. I found I really cared about the three main protoganists who join together to save themselves and the world: Miss Temple, the quintessential no-nonsense, proper lady who discovers a darker, wilder, side of herself. Cardinal Chang, the mysterious, poetry loving, and quite deadly, assassin who finds himself drawn to Miss Temple. And of course the haunted and gallant Dr. Svenson. Admittedly, there were a few somewhat slow passages but not enough to put me off and most of the book was more like a gothic rollercoaster ride through a house of tongue-in-cheek horrors. I did not read the book until the two volume paperback editions were published and when I reached the end of Volume I, I immediately went to the bookstore for volume II. This novel and it's sequel, The Dark Volume, are singlehandedly responsible for my failure to do any spring-cleaning this year! Dahlquists unique style may not be for everyone but I am hoping for a third installment! (

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  • Posted February 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully written sequel!

    Immediately after finishing the 1st volume, I had to purchase this one and continue on my journey. As expected, more action and adventure ensued. Again, as I said in my review for Volume One, if you are an imaginative individual with an appreciation for historical fiction you should love these books. They are rather lengthy (which I personally enjoy when there is enough interesting and relative content to fill it) but they tell a beautifully, intricate story you have never heard before.
    As always... Patience is a virtue.

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    wished there was a conclusion

    I was immediately drawn in to this series, anticipating an awe-inspiring conclusion. unfortunately, each book simply left off on a to be continued precipice that frustrated me with every purchase. I felt as though I had been duped into buying a single story in three expensive parts. When I finally got to the last book, I just knew my frustrations would be eased, but no, once again I was left flat- forced to assume an ending for myself. I would not buy any more installments, this story has certainly gotten more money from me than was worth what I recieved in entertainment.

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