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The Traveler (Fourth Realm Trilogy #1) by John Twelve Hawks

In London, Maya, a young woman trained to fight by her powerful father, uses the latest technology to elude detection when walking past the thousands of surveillance cameras that watch the city. In New York, a secret shadow organization uses a victim’s own GPS to hunt him down and kill him. In Los Angeles, Gabriel, a motorcycle messenger with a haunted past, takes pains to live "off the grid" — free of credit cards and government IDs. Welcome to the world of The Traveler — a world frighteningly like our own.In this compelling novel, Maya fights to save Gabriel, the only man who can stand against the forces that attempt to monitor and control society. From the back streets of Prague to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, The Traveler portrays an epic struggle between tyranny and freedom. Not since 1984 have readers witnessed a Big Brother so terrifying in its implications and in a story that so closely reflects our lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400079292
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/18/2006
Series: Fourth Realm Trilogy Series , #1
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 378,383
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

John Twelve Hawks lives off the grid. The Traveler is his first novel.

Read an Excerpt



Maya reached out and took her father’s hand as they walked from the Underground to the light. Thorn didn’t push her away or tell Maya to concentrate on the position of her body. Smiling, he guided her up a narrow staircase to a long, sloping tunnel with white tile walls. The Underground authority had installed steel bars on one side of the tunnel and this barrier made the ordinary passageway look like part of an enormous prison. If she had been traveling alone, Maya might have felt trapped and uncomfortable, but there was nothing to worry about because Father was with her.

It’s the perfect day, she thought. Well, maybe it was the second most perfect day. She still remembered two years ago when Father had missed her birthday and Christmas only to show up on Boxing Day with a taxi full of presents for Maya and her mother. That morning was bright and full of surprises, but this Saturday seemed to promise a more durable happiness. Instead of the usual trip to the empty warehouse near Canary Wharf, where her father taught her how to kick and punch and use weapons, they had spent the day at the London Zoo, where he had told her different stories about each of the animals. Father had traveled all over the world and could describe Paraguay or Egypt as if he were a tour guide.

People had glanced at them as they strolled past the cages. Most Harlequins tried to blend into the crowd, but her father stood out in a group of ordinary citizens. He was German, with a strong nose, ­shoulder-­length hair, and dark blue eyes. Thorn dressed in somber colors and wore a steel kara bracelet that looked like a broken shackle.

Maya had found a battered art history book in the closet of their rented flat in East London. Near the front of the book was a picture by Albrecht Dürer called Knight, Death, and the Devil. She liked to stare at the picture even though it made her feel strange. The armored knight was like her father, calm and brave, riding through the mountains as Death held up an hourglass and the Devil followed, pretending to be a squire. Thorn also carried a sword, but his was concealed inside a metal tube with a leather shoulder strap.

Although she was proud of Thorn, he also made her feel embarrassed and ­self-­conscious. Sometimes she just wanted to be an ordinary girl with a pudgy father who worked in an office–a happy man who bought ­ice-­cream cones and told jokes about kangaroos. The world around her, with its bright fashions and pop music and television shows, was a constant temptation. She wanted to fall into that warm water and let the current pull her away. It was exhausting to be Thorn’s daughter, always avoiding the surveillance of the Vast Machine, always watching for enemies, always aware of the angle of attack.

Maya was twelve years old, but still wasn’t strong enough to use a Harlequin sword. As a substitute, Father had taken a walking stick from the closet and given it to her before they left the flat that morning. Maya had Thorn’s white skin and strong features and her Sikh mother’s thick black hair. Her eyes were such a pale blue that from a certain angle they looked translucent. She hated it when ­well-­meaning women approached her mother and complimented Maya’s appearance. In a few years, she’d be old enough to disguise herself and look as ordinary as possible.

They left the zoo and strolled through Regent’s Park. It was late April and young men were kicking footballs across the muddy lawn while parents pushed ­bundled-­up babies in perambulators. The whole city seemed to be out enjoying the sunshine after three days of rain. Maya and her father took the Piccadilly line to the Arsenal station; it was getting dark when they reached the ­street-­level exit. There was an Indian restaurant in Finsbury Park and Thorn had made reservations for an early supper. Maya heard noises–blaring air horns and shouting in the distance–and wondered if there was some kind of political demonstration. Then Father led her through the turnstile and out into a war.

Standing on the sidewalk, she saw a mob of people marching up Highbury Hill Road. There weren’t any protest signs and banners, and Maya realized that she was watching the end of a football match. The Arsenal Stadium was straight down the road and a team with blue and white colors–that was Chelsea–had just played there. The Chelsea supporters were coming out of the visitors’ gate on the west end of the stadium and heading down a narrow street lined with row houses. Normally it was a quick walk to the station entrance, but now the North London street had turned into a gauntlet. The police were protecting Chelsea from Arsenal football thugs who were trying to attack them and start fights.

Policemen on the edges. Blue and white in the center. Red throwing bottles and trying to break through the line. Citizens caught in front of the crowd scrambled between parked cars and knocked over rubbish bins. Flowering hawthorns grew at the edge of the curb and their pink blossoms trembled whenever someone was shoved against a tree. Petals fluttered through the air and fell upon the surging mass.

The main crowd was approaching the Tube station, about one hundred meters away. Thorn could have gone to the left and headed up Gillespie Road, but he remained on the sidewalk and studied the people surrounding them. He smiled slightly, confident of his own power and amused by the pointless violence of the drones. Along with the sword, he was carrying at least one knife and a handgun obtained from contacts in America. If he wished, he could kill a great many of these people, but this was a public confrontation and the police were in the area. Maya glanced up at her father. We should run away, she thought. These people are completely mad. But Thorn glared at his daughter as if he had just sensed her fear and Maya stayed silent.

Everyone was shouting. The voices merged into one angry roar. Maya heard a ­high-­pitched whistle. The wail of a police siren. A beer bottle sailed through the air and exploded into fragments a few feet away from where they were standing. Suddenly, a flying wedge of red shirts and scarves plowed through the police lines, and she saw men kicking and throwing punches. Blood streamed down a policeman’s face, but he raised his truncheon and fought back.

She squeezed Father’s hand. “They’re coming toward us,” she said. “We need to get out of the way.”

Thorn turned around and pulled his daughter back into the entrance of the Tube station as if to find refuge there. But now the police were driving the Chelsea supporters forward like a herd of cattle and she was surrounded by men wearing blue. Caught in the crowd, Maya and her father were pushed past the ticket booth where the elderly clerk cowered behind the thick glass.

Father vaulted over the turnstile and Maya followed. Now they were back in the long tunnel, heading down to the trains. It’s all right, she thought. We’re safe now. Then she realized that men wearing red had forced their way into the tunnel and were running beside them. One of the men was carrying a wool sock filled with something heavy–rocks, ball bearings–and he swung it like a club at the old man just in front of her, knocking off the man’s glasses and breaking his nose. A gang of Arsenal thugs slammed a Chelsea supporter against the steel bars on the left side of the tunnel. The man tried to get away as they kicked and beat him. More blood. And no police anywhere.

Thorn grabbed the back of Maya’s jacket and dragged her through the fighting. A man tried to attack them and Father stopped him instantly with a quick, snapping punch to the throat. Maya hurried down the tunnel, trying to reach the stairway. Before she could react, something like a rope came over her right shoulder and across her chest. Maya looked down and saw that Thorn had just tied a blue and white Chelsea scarf around her body.

In an instant she realized that the day at the zoo, the amusing stories, and the trip to the restaurant were all part of a plan. Father had known about the football game, had probably been here before and timed their arrival. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Thorn smile and nod as if he had just told her an amusing story. Then he turned and walked away.

Maya spun around as three Arsenal supporters ran forward, yelling at her. Don’t think. React. She jabbed the walking stick like a javelin and the steel tip hit the tallest man’s forehead with a crack. Blood spurted from his head and he began to fall, but she was already spinning around to trip the second man with the stick. As he stumbled backward, she jumped high and kicked his face. He spun around and hit the floor. Down. He’s down. She ran forward and kicked him again.

As she regained her balance, the third man caught her from behind and lifted her off the ground. He squeezed tightly, trying to break her ribs, but Maya dropped the stick, reached back with both hands, and grabbed his ears. The man screamed as she flipped him over her shoulder and onto the floor.

Maya reached the stairway, took the stairs two at a time, and saw Father standing on the platform next to the open doors of a train. He grabbed her with his right hand and used his left to force their way into the car. The doors moved back and forth and finally closed. Arsenal supporters ran up to the train, pounding on the glass with their fists, but the train lurched forward and headed down the tunnel.

People were packed together. She heard a woman weeping as the boy in front of her pressed a handkerchief against his mouth and nose. The car went around a curve and she fell against her father, burying her face in his wool overcoat. She hated him and loved him, wanted to attack him and embrace him–all at the same time. Don’t cry, she thought. He’s watching you. Harlequins don’t cry. And she bit her lower lip so hard that she broke the skin and tasted her own blood.

Reading Group Guide


“This novel’s a stunner. . . . You won’t want to put the book down.” —People

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of The Traveler, an excursion into a vividly imagined world that stretches many of today’s disturbing realities to their logical and profoundly frightening conclusions.

1. Maya has been trained since childhood to be a Harlequin, yet she chooses to live a normal life. What aspects of her upbringing play the largest part in her decision? In what ways does her relationship with Thorn exemplify the conflicts any daughter might have with a strong, distant father?

2. Are Thorn’s demands on Maya justified? Under what circumstances, if any, do children have a responsibility to renounce their own way of life and dedicate themselves to their parent’s cause? Why does Maya ultimately decide to honor her father’s request?

3. Discuss the meaning and ramifications of the Harlequin motto, “Damned by the flesh. Saved by the blood” [p. 22/mm 23*]. What familiar moral percepts or sayings embody the same or a similar message?

*Page references are provided throughout this guide for both trade and mass market editions; the trade appears first, followed by a slash and the mass market page reference.

4. Nathan Boone believes that he is “part of a historical battle against the forces of disorder” [p. 26/mm 27] and that “order and discipline were the values that kept Western civilization from falling apart” [p. 27/mm 28]. Can you cite specific periods or events in history that support this point of view? Does an emphasis on “order and discipline” necessarily lead to tyranny?

5. The Traveler is set in a world very much like our own. How accurately does the author describe the use—and possible abuse—of technology? Do any of the surveillance techniques the Tabula employ seem entirely far-fetched?

6. The Harlequin mentality requires “no compassion, no attachments, no mercy” [p. 72/mm 75]. Do the relationships among the Harlequins in the novel conform to this ideal? Can any group function successfully without the members feeling a sense of attachment to one another? Does the sharing of a common goal, for example, adequately explain Maya’s feelings about Mother Blessing, Linden, Willow, and even the traitor, Shepherd?

7. Dr. Richardson maintains, “while the priests continue to pray and the philosophers continue to speculate, it is the neuroscientists who are closest to answering mankind’s fundamental questions”[p. 79/mm 81–82]. Have you heard about or read studies that offer convincing evidence that scientists are on the brink of answering those questions? Has science rendered the insights of religious thinkers and philosophers irrelevant? Can a spiritual or philosophical approach offer an understanding of history and human behavior that science cannot replace?

8. From the central characters to the secondary figures, the characters in The Traveler make choices about how to use their individual power. Discuss the influence of their backgrounds, religious beliefs, and real-world experiences on the decisions made by the following characters: Maya, Nathan Boone, Kennard Nash, Lawrence Tawaka, Vicki Fraser. Are the Brethren motivated purely by self-interest and the desire for control? Are Maya and her supporters acting purely out of idealism?

9. Maya recounts the “secret history of the world” to Gabriel, Vicki, and Hollis [pp. 185–86/mm 191–92], identifying some of the Travelers who have changed the course of human history. Although it is based on the conceits of the novel, does Maya’s account present a credible interpretation of the forces that have shaped history? What makes her descriptions of Travelers and of the Harlequins persuasive?

10. In explaining the Brethren’s plans for him, Kennard Nash tells Michael, “These days people are frightened of the world around them, and that fear is easily encouraged and maintained. People want to be in our Virtual Panopticon. We’ll watch over them like good shepherds” [p. 237/mm 246]. Have leaders, both in America and around the world, taken advantage of the fear and uncertainty many people feel to impose their own political or religious agendas? If so, how?

11. Gabriel meets with the Pathfinder at an abandoned missile site. How does the physical setting embody the real terrors and challenges Gabriel faces? In what ways does it enhance the mythic themes that run through the novel?

12. Sophia calls the 99 Paths, “a practical list of ideas with the same goal: to break the Light free of your body,” allowing Travelers to enter the different “realms” or “parallel worlds” [pp. 324–26/mm 339–41]. Have you, either through your religious education or independent experience, encountered the idea that other realms exist? If so, is Sophia’s explanation consistent with your previous knowledge or beliefs? Whether or not you are a newcomer to this idea, do you find it to be a helpful or inspiring approach to spirituality?

13. The novel touches on many contemporary issues: the fear of terrorism and the role of the government in protecting the nation; the growing complacency of American citizens; the misuse/abuse of technology; and scientific contributions to improving quality of life for the individual and society as a whole. How balanced are the points of view the author offers on each subject? Are good and evil always clearly defined?

14. The narrative point of view alternates among the characters. Which character is the most realistically drawn? Who do you identify most closely with and why?

15. How does the plot of The Traveler follow the arc of a traditional thriller? What does it share with other science fiction novels you have read?

16. The Traveler is the first book in a trilogy. Which characters would you like to learn more about in future volumes? Are there other aspects of “the secret history of the world” that the author should explore?

Customer Reviews

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The Traveler (Fourth Realm Trilogy Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 116 reviews.
LadyHester More than 1 year ago
Imagine a future where everyone is tracked in the Vast Machine. Each human lives on the "gird" and follows the rules. This future scenario is not really that hard to imagine, one of the reasons I liked the story so much. For science fiction it wasn't much of a stretch. The main characters of course are struggling to stay of the grid while being tracked by an evil power within world governments. The plot is action packed but also strangely slow. I also found it difficult to like the main female character. She was so disconnected. Overall a good read and I already own the sequel.
Park99 More than 1 year ago
I heard about the mysterious author of this book and thought I would give it a try. I have read a number of fantasy series and enjoyed the Traveler immensely. I have since read the other two books in the trilogy. The books tell of people called Travelers who can "travel" to other realities. The story goes that almost all great thinkers/world changers throughout history have been travelers. The travelers are protected by people known as Harlequins. A secret group known as the Brethren seek to control the power of the Travelers. The focus is on brothers Gabriel and Michael Corrigan who have discovered they are travelers. One chooses to work against while the other becomes manipulated by the Brethren. A harlequin named Maya must protect them. I found all the characters very interesting, and thought the idea that we are trapped in a Vast Machine not hard to believe. If you are willing to open your mind, I suggest taking a stab at these books.
ksn_jesse More than 1 year ago
After my roommate freshman year in college handed me this book randomly, it has become probably my favorite book of all time. It has everything that a great story needs, character you can connect with, great fights, and it makes you think. This story follows Gabriel his brother Michael, and a reluctant Harlequin warrior named Maya as they are thrown into a world hidden beneath the Vast Machine, where we all live our normal lives. Gabriel and Michael are found out to be potential Travelers, people who are able to leave the physical constraints of our world and travel to the other realms. Each significant change throughout history is the supposed work of one of these visionaries, who are able to see the world in an entirely new way after their travels. These Travelers are protected by a group of armed protectors who call themselves Harlequin. Harlequin are trained from birth to be lethal weapons with the sole purpose of protecting the Travelers as they go about their lives. Maya, who had chosen to leave the Harlequin world behind, is dragged back in by her father and asked to go find and protect the Corrigan brothers. In my mind, the greatest accomplishment of the book is the ability of Twelve Hawks to make you think. It makes you think about the world that we live, about the laws, wars, and fear-mongering of the public media. To me specifically, it makes you think about yourself and how you would fit into the world that he has created. I will say that this book touches upon a number of different topics from politics, religion, and social standings and structures. Be open and ready to be challenged. With this said though, it is also a fast paced action packed read. There wasn't a single point in this book that I wanted to set it down, and I've re-read it I don't even know how many times, and each time I am on the edge of my seat and find another aspect I didn't think about. You will love this book.
nprfan1 More than 1 year ago
This is a book that deals with what I suppose John Twelve Hawks believes to be the "real world". Basically, the story says that there is a cabal of men (and women too, I suppose, though Twelve Hawks doesn't mention any) who really rule the world, and they are opposed by people who are born with the potential to travel between universes - travelers, they're called - who by their very nature have the ability to effect changes in world affairs.

Devotees of "The X-Files" will devour this book and its potential sequels lock, stock, and barrel. And just like that TV series, I'm sure they will find more questions than answers. But if you didn't like "The X-Files", or never really cared to watch it, you probably won't go for "The Traveler".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you're looking for a quick and entertaining book to read, pick this up! It's a modern day fantasy thriller that doesn't get too technical.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and plan to read the whole series. It is a good story and I like the characters. I am suggesting that people sho like this book will also like Thomas Perry, especially the Jane Whitfield series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next one. There is a good bunch of villains, courageous heroes, and universal themes of good and evil and the meaning of brotherhood. And I love the strong female characters.
Bill_in_LA More than 1 year ago
It was a little bit hard to get in to, but once the author had you in his grips, it was hard to get away. I ended up reading all three books in the trilogy. There were times where I was dazed and confused, as there was much jumping around. There were other times where I was wondering if what the author was suggesting was actually happening in today's society... if it is, then it's very scarey!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time getting into the first few pages....then I was hooked! Loved everything about this book! Definitely makes you think about our lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i thought that this book had some class for a teen reading book. this book also gave some great morals that we see in every day life. so in all this book gets an A+
seph on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I feel like I should've enjoyed this book much more than I did. The concepts in the plot are the kinds of things I normally love in a suspenseful thriller with a touch of sci-fi and/or fantasy. There was plenty of action in the book, plenty of intrigue to keep my brain guessing. It's taken me a while to pinpoint where it fell flat for me, but I think it's that the characters were boring. They all have the potential to be interesting, but they weren't. I knew what they planned to do long before any of them seemed to. We never got to see too deep into anyone's thoughts or emotions. At times I felt like I was reading a summary of a story rather than the story itself. Still, the author gets points for creativity for the plot. The closer I got to the end of the book, the more franticly I began to wonder how he could possibly wrap it all up, and wouldn't you know it, I discover this is just the first book in a series. Argh! The plot is interesting enough that I will likely pick up the next book, and I do have hope that the characters will develop a little more yet. When I described this book to my husband however, he added it to his read pile without hesitation. He said it sounds interesting, and "I don't need character development."
Djupstrom on LibraryThing 6 days ago
What an interesting story and author. I am not sure which I was intrigued with more. I can't wait for the second installment that is being released this year. I envy the "Off the Grid" life of Twelve Hawks, but I could never do it.
thebigmg on LibraryThing 7 days ago
This book is a cyber/sci-fi twist on the governmental totalitarianism perfected in 1984. Oddly I think that the book actually downplays the true amount of control and tracking that can be done with modern day technology but Hawks still manages to make the world feel like a clear coffin with evil figures always watching your every move. The supernatural aspects of the book were not greatly elaborated but seeing how this is the first of a trilogy I guess that can be overlooked.The Characters tend to be a little one dimensional but do avoid being cookie cutter jokes. All in all the book offers a unique look at where the world might be going buts gives the hope that people banding together always have a shot at overcoming the odds. 87/100
TanyaTomato on LibraryThing 7 days ago
There is a "vast machine" that so many of us are caught up in. I sometimes briefly come to my senses, and this book brought me back around again. Of course it is fiction, but there are better pursuits than tabloids and must see TV. Those things are dumbing us up. I want to find the Utopian society that Twelve Hawks created.
FicusFan on LibraryThing 7 days ago
A very fast read, a competent thriller, but not much else. Very shallow in terms of plausibility, and characters and even the story.Tries to do a more SF/F flavored Da Vinci Code (he uses the Templar's like a tea bag, and quickly dunks them in).Like watching the bottom of an octopus - with no real thought given to the top - where the brains are. Why is there a millennial old organization who are in pursuit of order (which is really a symptom and not a goal in itself) ? What is it that travelers do that make them so contrary to order. It implies that every good or thoughtful or caring deed comes about because of a traveler. That regular humanity has no ability to think outside the box, or stand up for what is right.Story is silly, and the characters are underdeveloped. I didn't really care about what happened and it was like reading a video game - all motion and no real story.
bethlea on LibraryThing 11 days ago
Using a sci-fi approach, John Twelve Hawks examines the modern world on the brink of total invasion of privacy. It also looks at the possible complete control of a secretive group that, although ruthless in pursuit of its goals, claims to want to make a world where everyone behaves because they know they are being watch.One special group of human beings, called Travelers, are able to travel to other dimensions. Another group, called Harlequins, are dedicated to defending Travelers. But now the Brethren (also known as the Tabula) want to capture a Traveler so they can complete their construction of a society where no secret can be kept.
fantasmogirl on LibraryThing 13 days ago
A "out there" take on big brother watching, but one that kept you hanging on to see how far their eye would reach. I was pulled in early on, lost momentum in the middle, but picked it up again by the end. Looking forward to the next two in this trilogy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
5 stars! A fascinating read. This book was written nine years ago and is less speculative than it would have seemed when written--that is in regard to our society; I have no information about Travelers. If the Brethren do not exist, the will they represent does. We seem to have the basis for the technology if not all the gadgets. The characters have their own problems and conflicts; the story is not just about systems or good vs. evil.  It is not unique but it is extraordinarily good. If you don't mind thinking a little, try it.  If ALL you can say after reading it  is "amen" or "that couldn't happen", think some more. Now to find the sequel.
Paperback_Princess More than 1 year ago
This book threw me for a loop. This was another re-read because I could remember some details vividly, but the way it ended was that it was clearly set to be a series, and I wanted to finish that series. When I started this audiobook, the author made a statement about how the "Vast Machine" was constantly monitoring us, and that left a bad taste in my mouth right from the get go. I still enjoyed most of the book once I stopped thinking of everything that he said as comments of a paranoid schizophrenic who thought that the wold was out to get him. A lot of his ideas within the book, such as an organization thoroughly tracking people all over the world by use of all cameras and the like was just horrifying. I liked that Maya had tried to live her own life separate from what her father wanted her to do, and yet she couldn't really escape what her life was meant to be. Maya and Hollis were my two favorite characters because they were totally kick ass in the way that they didn't want to take crap from anyone including the Gabriel, who was destined to become a Traveler. What I didn't like was Michael and Gabriel, both of them were so naive and stupid when it came to their decisions. At one point when the brothers were separated and they meet in a different realm, Gabriel tells Michael everything about who is helping him knowing full well that he was in a place that was owned and controlled by the bad guys, and Michael, rather than protect his bother, decides to tell everything to the bad guys knowing that there is something fishy about them. Greed and stupidity drove them both. Although it was sad that there was a lack of relationships in this book, I almost liked that the book focused more on the Travelers and how they were to find their way into these different realms (such as the Hungry Ghost Realm) and how they discovered this secret world of Harlequins and the Tabula and this century old battle between the two forces. What scared me the most in this book was that there is all this technology out in the world, and it could be used to monitor everything that we do. The Tabula was this organization that used ATM Camera's and hacked into cars to lock the occupants inside. That was the scary part that there really could be some evil people that had all this information about us? Reading this book, does make you a little paranoid. All in all, it was well written, I found Maya to be less feminine, although I'm not sure if thats because of her raising or the writing, but in the end, I have already requested the second book from the library and I'm in this to see it to the end. Until next time.
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OldLady1956 More than 1 year ago
Last night I finished reading this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. The story line consisted of a good combination of character development and suspense to keep my interest. I cannot not wait until I leave work today so that I can go home and start the second book of this three book series.
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