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The Duck Quacks

The Duck Quacks published on 4 Comments on The Duck Quacks

Theory 1: Molly/ Mab
Part 1

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“You should not presume wizard. I adore Freedom. Anyone who doesn’t have it wants it”


WEIGHT OF EVIDENCE FOR MOLLY AND MAB

This all started with the headaches. Harry has them, we all know this. There have been a few suggestions as to why; Lash coming back, permanent brain damage at the end of WN, perhaps he has strained his magic too much, but then I realized we know at least one cause for this headaches; he has them in SF, when Mab messed with his head while she borrowed his blasting rod, and reprogrammed his head to forget he had ever had it. While discussing this, I wondered well then, if she caused that headache, what else could have happened during the books that she could have taken or messed with?

Which gives us, in discrete mathematics, our starting point?

STATEMENT: Mab caused the headaches.

I am not saying this is the truth, I am stating it as the point of argument. In discrete math, you start with an assumption, then build on it one point at a time, as a test to determine if the original point is true. (For all rational numbers N, if N is F(N) is true, then F( N+1) is true; if you then can reverse it from the final conclusion, the theory is true ; this is called the principles of incursion and reduction.)

So, following this point, what other headaches could have been caused by Mab? It was He Whom Walks who first noted that in the book Turn Coat, that little Chicago was not mentioned. Which is strange, as Harry was desperate to find Thomas; and in every other book, Harry mentions it in every other book, and it had been repaired form it’s damage taken in WN as it was used in SF. Furthermore, when Harry does refer to the table, it is covered by a heavy tarp; which are the same words he used to describe his missing memories of the blasting rods on SF, page 312. And we know Mab caused those headaches, it describes the headaches, right on that very page.

Additional point, Namshiel’s missing coin. We have been assuming That either Marcone, Hendricks, or Gard took it. But Marcones says he did not, Hendricks has shown no signs of it, and Gard was driving. But what if there were other people on the island, undetectable to mortal eyes? Mab cannot interfere directly in mortal affairs, but she can claim anything Harry owns or has rights to. His “life, his fortune, his future”; once he defeated Namshiel was defeated his coin by right of battle was Harry’s and Mab could step in and claim it. ( I will admit this one may be stretching things, but it’s just a side idea.)

STATEMENT: Mab fixed little Chicago in Proven Guilty. “even if there HAD been a threshold, it wouldn’t have done diddly to stop any number of supernatural baddies. The fetches in PG hammered down the /Carpenters’/ front door, and that’s a threshold like the rock of firkin’ Gibraltar. The loup-garou sneered at such things. A threshold wouldn’t slow down a Denarian for a moment, nor would it stop ghouls, ogres, or any number of largely physical (as opposed to manifested spiritual) beings. And even if the skinwalker had been something summoned from the Nevernever into a manifested physical body, the toad demon was one of those too, and IT stomped through Harry’s pathetic threshold in the very first book”

-Jim Butcher

Which leaves questions of how Mab got past the wards, Past Bob- something I consider a point in her favor actually; of all the suspects she could mess with Bob the easiest; and most importantly, how could she have predicted this chain of events?

Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older published on

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About the Book

Paint a mural. Start a battle. Change the world.

Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep real tears… Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.

With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a thrilling magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one — and the killer believes Sierra is hiding their greatest secret. Now she must unravel her family’s past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come.

Full of a joyful, defiant spirit and writing as luscious as a Brooklyn summer night, Shadowshaper introduces a heroine and magic unlike anything else in fantasy fiction, and marks the YA debut of a bold new voice.

Review

This is a unique, clever, sometimes-scary, always engaging story featuring family, music, art, gentrification, friendship, racism, cultural anthropology, cultural appropriation, community, zombies, spirits, self delusion, and self confidence. Among other things.

This is the most unique YA urban fantasy I’ve read, without qualifications. It has been a while since I read an urban fantasy and didn’t see a lot of stuff I had already read in five other urban fantasy series. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy these, as there’s something comfortable in familiarity. But sometimes you want to feel a little less comfortable.

The book isn’t overly complicated, but there’s a lot going on; the characters are intelligent, passionate, and brave; the teens talk like teens; the motivations (except, in my opinion, of the primary antagonist) are believable, understandable, true. The setting is vivid. I love how the tower is utilized by Older in so many ways. I love the cityscape of Brooklyn, which acts as a powerful place.

Just about everything clicks in this dark tale. Spirits in the city are deeply linked to the cultural heritage of the neighborhoods, and that heritage must be seized by a Shadowshaper in order to keep the magic alive. Nobody can come from outside and own it. Sierra is a powerful character, and she goes through some things that many teens go through–like not liking what she sees in the mirror– and some things most don’t go through–like being pursued by a throng haint, a shadow monster covered in mouths. I got a kick out of the numerous cool old men in the neighborhood, particularly in one scene at the University.

I like Sierra, which is nice, because I don’t always like the heroes and heroines in YA novels. She’s spirited, makes generally good choices, and keeps her head in tough situations. Also, she doesn’t spend a lot of time complaining, which is nice.

There are aspects of this novel that feel like they live in a universe nestled right alongside Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. And for me, that’s high praise: American Gods is a favorite of mine.

This book has led me to pick up a copy of Older’s Half-Resurrection Blues: A Bone Street Rumba Novel. My understanding is that these books are decidedly not YA, which suits me just fine.

About the Author

61ynfd6lqpL._UX250_Daniel José Older is the author of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books and the Young Adult novel Shadowshaper (Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015), which was nominated for the Kirkus Prize in Young Readers’ Literature. His first collection of short stories, Salsa Nocturna and the Locus and World Fantasy nominated anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, which he co-edited, are available from Crossed Genres Publications. You can find Daniel’s thoughts on writing, read dispatches from his decade-long career as an NYC paramedic and hear his music at ghoststar.net/ and @djolder on twitter and YouTube.

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Author’s Links

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Review: Kensei by Jeremy Zimmerman

Review: Kensei by Jeremy Zimmerman published on

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About the Book

Jamie Hattori’s alter ego, the masked hero Kensei, has been doing pretty well protecting her neighborhood from petty villains with her martial arts skills, her father’s katana, and a little help from the local spirits. But things get rough when the spirits start flaking out, the Goddess of Discord throws a few cursed apples, and an online gossip site sics an angry football player on her. Then there’s her slipping grades, the vampire owls, and the cute roller derby chick looking for romance. And even worse, Jamie’s hero-hating mom is starting to get suspicious. Can Jamie defeat her mysterious nemesis without tearing her family apart? And more importantly, will she score her first kiss?

Review

I really enjoyed this novel. Zimmerman starts off with an action scene and keeps the energy flowing throughout the book. It clocks in at a seems-slightly-longer-than-advertised, taut 188 pages. I think these pages might be packed with a greater than average number of words. It feels like a 220-250 page book to me.

Jamie Hattori, alter-ego Kensei, is a teen in transition. She is living a secret life, keeping her superpowers and night outings from her mother. Her dad knows all about it. He’s a pretty laid-back, reasonable guy. Mom lost her parents in the middle of a superhero battle, and hasn’t been able to let it go since. She watches one of those channels that rile people up against specific groups, spouting bile and anger, and she lets herself seethe in it. She’s, admittedly, tightly-wound and not willing to see shades of gray when it comes to vigilante activities. Jamie’s extra-curricular activities are hurting her grades and social life. But what can she do? She has the power to help others, and doesn’t take that lightly.

Jamie Hattori resides in the portion of Cobalt City known as Karlsburg, and the supernatural dangers are pretty light there. Usually, it’s just enough to keep her busy at night. She takes on muggers and robbers and physical abusers. But things change suddenly, and she’s in over her inexperienced head. Someone is running a gossip blog called 2thefairest, and it is putting out some ugly envy magic. Golden apples are turning up around town, sowing seeds of discord. And Jamie has been targeted. This might also be connected to Roman vampires, Greek deities, and a bunch of missing students from Jamie’s high school.

Cobalt City exists in a world where superheroes are fairly common. A flaming hero might chase an ice-chucking villain across the street as you’re waiting on a red light. The Traffic Enforcer might fly past, being dragged by the back of a car. Heroes and villains are everywhere, like erectile dysfunction ads, or internet trolls.

The problem is that a group of big-time superheroes, the Protectorate, was infiltrated a few years back, and achieved a lot of destruction and created mistrust among the citizens of Cobalt City. Even the big-time heroes, The A-Listers, like Star Dust, the Worm Queen, Wild Kat, Libertine, Velvet, and the Huntsman, need to remain secretive. Except Star Dust, because he’s one of the richest people in the world, and he isn’t really touchable.

Then there are small-timers, maybe the C-and-D-listers, like Kensei and the Traffic Enforcer, (who spends most of his time beating people up for using their cellphones while driving, or misusing roundabouts). These sorts need to remain cautious. Anybody could be a danger.

Zimmerman captures the teen experience pretty well. We view a lot of Jamie’s firsts: first date, first kiss, first arch-nemesis, first fight with god, first battle with a superhero. Each character comes pre-loaded with motivations and reasons for his/her/their actions. The characters have histories and goals. The characters are dynamic and drive the novel, even if Jamie doesn’t have a license.

I love Jamie’s powers. She can interact with the spirits of places and things. Pretty much every place and every thing has one or more spirits, and being able to see them and talk to them is actually very helpful. Especially when they are feeling cooperative; sometimes they aren’t, which can be quite funny.

I am also a huge fan of the fact that Jamie received martial arts training from the age of three. Her powers aren’t specifically physical, and therefore knowing how to use her body as a weapon is very important.

Among my favorite characters are Jamie’s father, Charles Hattori; Agyo, the Cobalt City Buddhist Church guardian; and the manic-pixie-girl-esque Parker. Jamie is multi-faceted: she’s gay, she’s biracial, she’s a Buddhist, she’s in high school; she is hiding things from her mom, her dad, her classmates, her potential girlfriend; she can talk to the spirits of cars and buildings and light bulbs. She has to deal with how these things affect other parts of her life. Zimmerman navigates these muddy waters expertly.

The second book in the series, Love of Danger, recently went through a successful Kickstarter campaign, and is expected to be released soon. I will certainly be reading and reviewing it here sometimes after that.

About the Author

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Jeremy Zimmerman is a teller of tales who dislikes cute euphemisms for writing like “teller of tales.” His fiction has most recently appeared in 10Flash Quarterly, Arcane and anthologies from Timid Pirate Publishing. He is also the editor for Mad Scientist Journal. He lives in Seattle with five cats and his lovely wife (and fellow author) Dawn Vogel.

Author’s Links

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Mad Scientist Journal
Amazon Author’s Page
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Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep published on

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Review

Note that this is the second book in the Black Blade series. Check out more information on the first book, Cold Burn of Magic, at Goodreads.

Lila Merriweather is only weeks into her new job of being a bodyguard to Devon Sinclair a Bruiser to one of the most powerful families of Cloudburst Falls. Who is also next in line to be head of the Sinclair family. After her heroics in saving herself, Devon, and the Sinclair family head, she is a fully fledged member of the Sinclair family, although not by her own choice. In her new duties Lila must enter a contest called The Tournament Of Blades which is hugely popular with locals and tourist alike. But when someone sabotages the obstacle course event, it’s up to Lila to find out what exactly happened and whether it was an accident or something more sinister. Combining that with her hunt for a merciless troll killer and her secret mission from the head of the Sinclair family Lila’s plate is full. Can the former orphan turn thief turn bodyguard solve the case before tragedy strikes the competition or has Lila Merriweather bitten off more than she can chew?

I often try to shy away from comparing authors because it’s unfair to expect an author to meet your expectations because another author has set the bar high. But I can’t help, but compare Jennifer Estep to one of my favourite authors, and that is Jim Butcher. Although they both have their own unique ways of crafting their stories, it’s incredibly difficult not to see similarities between the two. And this is the biggest compliment I can pay Jennifer Estep. She’s head-to-head in awesomeness with one of my favourite authors. Now, I’m not arrogant enough to think my standards are the litmus test everyone should follow. But for me personally as a reader it makes me incredibly happy that I’ve found a new author that writes in a style and manner that I love. I found this book to be an easy read and although I recommend you do pick up book one in this series: Cold Burn of Magic, because it’s an outstanding book and you should read it. But it isn’t required for you to understand this book. Because Jennifer Estep does a great job of filling in the plot points from the first book and I feel comfortable in saying that if you don’t want to read the first one, then you will be okay to start with book two without it negatively affecting your enjoyment of this book.

This book has plenty of action. Which I love. Jennifer Estep puts just enough detail in describing the action that it allows the reader to really get a clear picture of the fights in your imagination. The characters and world within this book are incredibly rich as well. Although the main characters are Lila and Devon the supporting character are just as interesting as our main protagonists. Jennifer Estep does an amazing job in bringing them alive and you cannot help, but care for the protagonists and there’s nothing better than having antagonists that you can truly despise. However, saying that I did find the plot slightly predictable in places and I did predict the person behind the murders and sabotage pretty early on in this novel. Which disappointed me a little. The magic system set up in this book and its predecessor kind of reminds me a little of The Codex Alera book series. However, while the latter are spirits of sorts and the former are not the same principle and rules apply here. Each person is individual and therefore each person has individual skill sets. The magic here is divided into three categories Strength, Spirit and Sense. Our protagonist Lila skills are Soul Sight which basically allows her to see look into the eyes of another, be it human or monster and feel their emotions or see their final moments before they expire. Her other skill which she keeps mostly a secret from people is something called Transference. This skill is basically she gains a bit of her opponents’ power for a short period of time. The reason she keeps this a secret because people would kill her for that rare gift. Certain individuals within this world steal magic from another by bleeding them with a special blade. Combining all these elements leads the reader on an exciting adventure full of mystery, love, drama, and action. All things I and many others look for when picking up a book.

So will you like it? If you love urban fantasy and enjoy the works of Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, and Patricia Briggs, then I think you will really enjoy this book and Jennifer Estep other books. Although this doesn’t bring anything new to the genre you shouldn’t let that stop you from reading what is a great novel from a great writer. I would highly recommend you read this book and read the first novel in this series as well. I cannot wait to read more of Jennifer Estep’s work.

available from Amazon on 10/27/2015.

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Jen­nifer Estep is constantly prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. Jennifer is the author of the Black Blade and Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. She writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books and is also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

Jennifer is a member of Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and other writing groups. Jennifer’s books have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, Southern Living, and a variety of other publications.

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The September Report

The September Report published on 2 Comments on The September Report

I’m no stranger to reading a ton of books a month. I can get pretty obsessive, so I’ll get a craving for a certain author, and the next thing I know, I’m mainlining their backlist. This can lead to reading several different books a day, foot twitching all the while. It was even worse during the dark days of my fan fiction addiction – I could read 100,000 words a day of stories derived not from the massive pool of accumulated culture, but from a single author’s vision.

This September was very much like that time in my life. I inhaled books. Truly, stronger and headier a high than fanfiction.

THE DEAFENING SILENCE IN HEAVEN

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Sniegoski has done something powerful with this latest installment of his angel’s adventures. Within the first twenty pages, Remy is so close to death that he’s seeing visions of his dead wife, and a certain someone finds out his secret. The first twenty pages! The pace does not let up from there, merely shifts into an alternate world in which something truly terrible has happened, Marlowe shows little of his love for Remy, and Heaven has been sullied. I can’t help but think that Sniegoski has been layering in these alternate world possibilities for a while; despite the jarring dimension-shift, the narrative is entirely coherent. As with all installments in the series, Remy is the heart and soul of it. He is at once vulnerable and strong, sweet and sad, and he carries those traits far from home.

This novel deserves a full review. The reason it is not getting one is not because of time (I would make time), but because I need to reread the entire series. There is so much I’ve forgotten (I’d forgotten all about Francis’s new job, for example) that I simply can’t have a discussion that compares two different timelines when I can’t even remember the main story arc. I can say this: the alternate reality is masterfully done. This, the final novel in the Remy Chandler series (for the present, at least), is a glorious finale to a series I really, really need to reread.

SUNSET MANTLE

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This is a novella that is part of Tor.com Publishing’s elite line-up, and it deserves to be there. Sunset Mantle is a story of honor and war (there are two large battles in 107 pages), and the main character Cete embraces a sort of stoicism that you’d expect from a warrior-priest: he loves the law, he loves his God, and he is willing to sacrifice all not just for his honor, but for his employer’s. The story moves marches from an uncertain beginning to a shocking end, and never slows down for more than a paragraph or two. Alter S. Reiss has a talent for creating and maintaining tension, writing characters who are more than what they seem, and for writing a complete story that makes people beg for more. The world-building he’s done requires a sequel.

FANGS FOR THE MEMORIES

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Molly Harper is one of the cleverest and funniest writers of paranormal romance. Her stories are always just a little bit off the beaten track; she is unafraid to put her characters into unusual situations and extrapolate a fun plot from there. “Fangs for the Memories” is no different. She’s gone back in time within her series to when two of her most endearing side characters, Andrea and Dick Cheney, fall in love.

The best part about the novella is seeing the world through Andrea’s eyes. Harper has real talent for painstakingly creating characters that are so real it’s hard to believe they don’t breathe. But there is so much of Andrea that we didn’t know, and it was revealed slowly and thoughtfully as she fell in love with Dick Cheney, who is not a traditionally romantic hero (but so funny, so very funny).

The series this story belongs to is representative of the best writing coming out of paranormal romance these days: emotional, funny, affecting, and heavy on plot. Even if this is not a genre in which you traditionally read, I think you should give it a try.

ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE

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A couple of weeks ago, Tamora Pierce took part in one of Reddit’s infamous AMAs. A lot of good information was shared: Alanna and George had a fourth child later in their lives, Numair’s book has become so gigantic that it is now a trilogy (the first volume will come out Spring 2017), and after that is over she will be going back in four hundred years in time to the shattering of the Empire of which Tortall, Galla, Tusaine, Scanra, and others were a part.

I’ve been a fan of the Alanna books since before I even hit double digits. Before Robin Hobb, before JK Rowling, before Jim Butcher, I was hooked on any and every Tortallan adventure. The AMA inspired me to pick up Alanna and read the series all over again. My finding is this: Alanna: The First Adventure holds up after all these years. It’s engaging, intense, thoughtfully crafted, and every other compliment I could give it. I know a lot of people for whom these books were the gateway to a lifelong love of fantasy. If you haven’t read them, buy them immediately. Buy them for your children, your nieces and nephews, and your friends’s kids.

Thanks for reading!

Review: Havoc Rising by Brian S Leon

Review: Havoc Rising by Brian S Leon published on 4 Comments on Review: Havoc Rising by Brian S Leon

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About the Book

From Goodreads.

Eternal life. Eternal battle.

Steve—Diomedes Tydides to his Trojan War buddies—just had a bad day on his charter fishing boat in San Diego, but when the goddess Athena calls on her faithful warrior for another secret mission, he’s ready. The bomb that exploded inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art isn’t the crime American authorities think it is. Someone also stole the Cup of Jamshid, and Diomedes knows its fortune-telling abilities won’t be used for anything benign.

Though Diomedes recovers the Cup from a determined shaman holed up beneath Central Park, when he finds his allies slain and the Cup taken once more, he knows he’s up against a truly powerful enemy. Over a millennium has passed since Diomedes last contended with Medea of Colchis, deranged wife of Jason the Argonaut, but neither her madness nor her devotion to Hecate, goddess of witchcraft, has waned, and she intends to use the Cup of Jamshid to release across the world a dark brand of chaos unseen in human history.

Immortal since the Trojan War, Diomedes must once again fight for mortals he understands less and less, against a divine evil he may never truly defeat.

Review

Diomedes_with_the_Palladion_(Glyptothek)

Havoc Rising is in the top three first books in a series I have read in the last year. It’s hard for me to get into a new series when only the first is out. I usually like to have several books to read while I wait. The other two are Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher, and Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire. I hope you can tell by the company that this book is really something special. Not only is it a good book in its own right, it’s an excellent first book in a series. I’m eager to read the second!

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Brian S. Leon did not shirk his research responsibilities when writing a book about Greek gods. I’ve found there is a strong tendency among writers to shoehorn the classical gods into their books without doing a proper amount of research, thus diluting the culture from which they came. They often become superpowered beings that are closer to fanfiction with little basis in history. I’m not making the claim that the gods were real, but they were real enough to the Greeks, who worshiped them, and they have a huge amount of writing devoted to them. Brian S. Leon does not make the mistake of just grabbing the Cliff’s Notes version of the Theogony and watching Brad Pitt’s Troy. He put a lot of time and effort into being as faithful to the primary sources as he could.

In fact, his main character is found in The Iliad. Basically, the main character’s story begins at this moment:

Now Pallas Athene gave Diomedes, Tydeus’ son, strength and courage to prove himself the finest of the Argives and win glory and renown. She made his helm and shield burn with unwavering flame, like that of Sirius the star of harvest, who when he has bathed in the Ocean depths rises to shine brightest of all. Such was the fire that streamed from his head and shoulders, as she thrust him into the heart of the fight where the enemy were strongest.

Because Leon spent so much time and effort doing the research, it does not feel like he stole the names of renowned characters. He is merely breathing new life into them and carrying on a literary tradition.

Havoc Rising was released by Red Adept Publishing on 6/16/2015.

It is available on Amazon as a paperback or a Kindle edition.

About the Author

briansleonBrian S. Leon is truly a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. He began writing in order to do something with all the useless degrees, knowledge, and skills–most of which have no practical application in civilized society–he accumulated over the years. His varied interests include, most notably, mythology of all kinds and fishing, and he has spent time in jungles and museums all over the world, studying and oceans and seas across the globe chasing fish, sometimes even catching them. He has also spent time in various locations around the world doing other things that may or may not have ever happened. Inspired by stories of classical masters like Homer and Jules Verne, as well as modern writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, David Morrell, and Jim Butcher, combined with an inordinate amount of free time, Mr. Leon finally decided to come up with tales of his own.

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