Book Review – The Necromancer’s Daughter

Happy first Tuesday of October. Time for another book review. I’m a bit amazed that my reading has actually slowed since retirement, so I didn’t post a review last week. Today’s is for a book written by friend, fellow author, and Story Empire contributor, D. Wallace Peace.

I haven’t read a lot of fantasy in the last few years, but this one had me spellbound.

My Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I love books with vivid descriptions and imagery. I also love character-driven fiction. The Necromancer’s Daughter gives both. From the opening paragraph to the final line, I was immersed in the pages of this book.

Barus is a healer and necromancer who is summoned by the King of Verdane when the queen is having complications with childbirth. Despite this, both the queen and the child die. Barus takes the infant’s body back to his lowly cottage, breaths life back into her, and raises her as his own.

Nineteen years later, she discovers the identity of her birth father, and he wants to take her back to the castle as heir to the throne. But members of the Red Order don’t want this to happen. The king’s entourage is attacked, he is killed, and Aster flees for her life.

What follows is a journey to the country of Blackrock to seek help from her birth mother’s family. Accompanied by two unlikely companions—Joreh son of the Vicar of the Red Order, and Teko, a cutter from a neighboring country.

The book has plenty of conflict, betrayal, devotion, and love all woven together into a beautifully written story. A resounding five stars.

Not since Tolkein have I been so caught up in a world of fantasy. I highly recommend this one!

New Release: Wreck of The Lanternfish by C. S. Boyack @virgilante

Hey, Readers. I’m pleased to welcome friend and fellow author C. S. Boyack today. He’s no stranger to this site, but he has a brand-new release—the third and final book of his Lanternfish trilogy.

I haven’t read this one yet, but I’m sure it will be as exciting as the first two books. Craig welcomes back a cast of characters— including Captain James Cutler, Don Velasco, Serang, and of course the beloved Root Monsters.

Now, here’s Craig to tell you all about it.

Thank you for having me back. I’m here to talk about the concluding volume in my Lanternfish Trilogy called Wreck of the Lanternfish. Specifically about Diego and Camila Palumbo.

These two are a husband and wife team that were introduced in HMS Lanternfish. They ran a scam where Diego sold curses in one shop, and she sold cures in a competing shop. (None of which actually worked.) By working together they could pit the locals against one another for their financial benefit.

They wound up as a byproduct when James rescued Serang from the gallows. They didn’t officially join the crew but wound up on the ship anyway. (With their own necks intact.)

The Palumbos have a way of spreading misinformation, learning things nobody else should know and prove quite useful in the final volume of the trilogy.

By planting themselves in the right location, spreading a few coins around, and pretending to be seers, they wind up in the heart of the enemy command center. Locals are sympathetic because the war has moved into their country and headquarters is on enemy land.

They wind up playing an important role in the conclusion, but because of their natures, I’m not going to spoil it for you. If a pair of not-quite reformed cons sound interesting to you, pick up Wreck of the Lanternfish.

Wreck of the Lanternfish purchase link

Trilogy link


James Cuttler created a peaceful spot for he and his wife to settle down. Far from the war that ravages their homeland, far from the reputation he earned as the notorious pirate Captain Bloodwater, and far from responsibility.

A royal Prelonian houseguest is a constant reminder of what’s at stake half a world away, of the friends he put ashore to fight the war. He lives in a dream world that’s temporary, at best. It’s only a matter of time before his guest is identified and the black assassins come for her.

He mortgages his precious vineyard to pay for repairs to his ship. If nothing else, Lanternfish will be one of the most powerful ships in the war, if he’s not already too late.

James will have to merge the skills of commander and con man into something new to make this work. He’ll need to avoid those on his own side who would hang him for piracy.

Serang is half a world away, leading her army of mercenary swordsmen toward the Fulminites. Mistrusted by both sides of the war, she appears as a third combatant on the battlefield. She may eliminate the mysterious order, only to succumb to the demons of her own tragic past.

Strap on your swords and hoist the colors one more time as the thrilling Lanternfish Trilogy comes to an end.

Connect with Craig:

Blog My Novels  Twitter Goodreads Facebook Pinterest BookBub

HMS Lanternfish ~ New Release by C S Boyack @Virgilante

Hey, everyone! I’m delighted to welcome back friend and fellow author C S Boyack. He’s been busy churning out the words this year! Today he’s here to talk about his latest release.

Take it away, Craig!

Thanks for having me back, Joan. From August to November is going to be a busy month for me. Today, I have a new book called HMS Lanternfish to talk about. This one continues the adventures that began in Voyage of the Lanternfish, back On January 1st, 2019.

I’m going to let the cover and blurb do their intended job at the end of this. Because Joan is one of my Story Empire compatriots, I’m going to do something more like one of those posts. In fact, this book exists largely because of my Story Empire friends. They are the ones who pushed me into series work.

I jumped in with both feet and took on one of each type. I have one that is intended to be individual stories about the same characters. These can be read out of order without too much confusion. Then there’s Lanternfish. This is intended to be a classic trilogy.

The classic trilogy follows a specific pattern, and this is my first exploration of it. Back in Voyage of the Lanternfish, we met the main characters and they got involved in a very personal mission. In their efforts to bring that project to conclusion, they were exposed to a bigger world than the sleepy seaside village they grew up in. This established some of the fantasy elements and anchored this story solidly as a pirate tale. My heroes were also exposed to a much bigger problem. War on a continental scale.

A tall ship provides options to my characters. There is a possibility they could simply relocate and avoid the whole mess. However, a shady group called the Fulminites are involved and it’s starting to look more like a global conquest. There may not be anyplace left to run.

HMS Lanternfish moves the crew into the war effort. They’re using an unofficial appointment as privateers to help where they can, so piracy is still on the table. In a classic trilogy, this is where the bottom falls out. The motif is to experience utter defeat, but pull together one small thread of hope. That was my goal in HMS Lanternfish.

My target is to take up the keyboard this winter and work on the final volume. I have no intention of pulling a George RR Martin on everyone. Look for the series to conclude in 2021.

If some adventure on the high seas, with strong fantasy elements, sounds like your thing, this is a good time to come aboard.

Thanks again for having me, Joan. I’ll leave that cover and blurb, along with some important purchase links for your fans.

Blurb: The Lanternfish crew completed their original mission, but got exposed to a more global problem. An entire continent is at war, headed up by a headstrong young king with dreams of power, and pushed from behind by a mysterious religious order known as the Fulminites.

Rather than let their country fall under the iron boot of conquest, James and his crew set sail once more to see what kind of muscle Lanternfish can lend to the war effort. Acting precariously under an unofficial charter as a privateer, even his allies aren’t always his friends.

HMS Lanternfish explores new worlds on its way to war and drifts considerably off course. It features an international crew of characters, and for fans of the first book, the root monsters are back, too. Tall ships, a few con games, martial arts, and everything you loved about the original book is all returning.

Hoist the colors and wheel out the guns. Lanternfish is taking to the high seas once more.

HMS Lanternfish: 99¢ for a limited time.

Voyage of the Lanternfish: Book one of the trilogy.

Serang: A supporting story about one of the more intriguing characters.

You can contact Craig at the following locations:

BlogMy NovelsTwitterGoodreads | FacebookPinterestBookBub

Banshee Curse #SomethingWickedTour @StoryEmpire

Hey, everyone. Hard to believe we’re already half way through Story Empire’s Something Wicked Tour. Be sure to check out all the tour stops. Click here for the links.

Today I have author P. H. Solomon as my guest. He’s going to talk about his book The Bow of Destiny with is part of The Bow of Hart Saga. Let’s welcome P. H.

Thanks to Joan for hosting me today. It’s been a lot of fun so far on the Something Wicked Book Tour with the rest of the authors at Story Empire. Please make sure to visit the other stops this week and share those.

One especially chilling scene in The Bow of Hart Saga occurs in The Bow of Destiny when the Banshee is conjured. The truly evil disposition of Corgren and Magdronu is on display as they use magic on a minion to create the creature. It’s a despicable act and highlights what Athson is up against in the story. The result is chilling and something disturbing to see for the characters later. Here’s the excerpt from the spell being cast and what happens:

Trolls ringed Corgren and his Rokan followers in cringing silence in the darkness before the moon’s rising above the distant Drelkhaz Mountains. The Rokans prostrated themselves, murmuring their prayers as the wizard stood facing the fiery breath of Magdronu displayed in the green nimbus of the communication spell. The blind servant tended his ritual wound, groveling in pain at the end of his leash held by the menacing Bane.

“He will be ours in the end, Master.” Corgren gritted his teeth. He must concentrate. The pain of the spell could kill him. Complete dedication rode with risk.

“The fulfillment can take longer than I am willing to wait, patient though I am.” Magdronu’s fire flared and cast flickers across the gathered throng of Corgren’s minions and servants before it ebbed.

“He will succumb to our attempts, though he has escaped so far.”

“Too many times for my liking. He has the luck of Eloch on him. Let us see if he escapes this trap.”

Corgren shrugged. “I do not see how he can. But our schemes are like a web he cannot escape.”

“Call her.” The flames sprang higher, and the dragon’s red eyes glared.

Corgren motioned, and his guards dragged the reluctant old woman before him. The wizard held his breath. The apprehension on her face told all. She was not so confident now. She served him and Magdronu well with her sly spying, petty though she was. Pity he’d lose her services. Corgren’s lip curled. But little more than that. He exhaled.

“I’m faithful to the Master, I am,” the old spy whined. Her body quivered with tension, and her jowls shook.

“And so you will be in this.” Corgren showed his teeth with his best false-smile and nothing more. He waved his hand over her face and spoke the words of the entrancement spell. The old woman collapsed, and the guards backed away and knelt in reverent positions.

“Say these words.” Magdronu’s growl hushed the anxious stirring among Corgren’s servants.

Corgren gasped and winced at the flare of pain and squeezed his eyes shut. His thoughts flamed with words, so he must speak or die. He let the dragon’s snarling language flow from his lips, and the pain subsided. He needed precise speech. This spell meant death – his own if not executed properly.

The wizard opened his eyes, and the green glow blossomed sicklier. Roiling shadow enveloped the insensate old woman, and her wrinkled hands and face faded from his sight. Gone. Consumed. Corgren’s arms shuddered over the hidden form.

Magdronu’s words ended. Corgren’s teeth clicked when he finished the spell. The silence of a cemetery hovered in the air. The Rokans waited, heads bowed. Glowing troll eyes winked in the wan light of the dragon’s breath and the communication spell. The Bane shifted closer, drawn to the magic. It was darkness to death. Corgren’s skin crawled.

The body writhed in the conjured cocoon. Muffled groaning rose to distorted, fractured wailing. Corgren’s servants squirmed, the trolls snarled and shambled away and then cringed.

Nails clawed at the magical shroud. Magdronu huffed flame. Corgren cocked his head. How wonderfully powerful this spell was.

Hands flailed through the inky cloud and tore aside the constraining layers. A screaming face emerged out of the vile womb, skin smooth and deathly pale. The creature shrieked in sobbing wails. Corgren’s Rokan servants wallowed as whispered curses slithered across Corgren’s mind. The blind slave clutched his ears, his screams lost amid the wailing.

Naked, she rose and danced among the thrashing humans, her skin emitting a pale luminescence. She bent and touched them. At each touch, the Rokan pulled a knife or other weapon and slashed or stabbed their own lives away. Corgren arched an eyebrow. Deadly beauty. He’d only read about banshees but – such force of will.

When Corgren’s servants lay quivering in their own blood, the banshee turned for the blind man.

The wizard stepped between the screaming touch of death and her victim. “Not him.”

The screeching stopped. Wizard and banshee stood face to face. Her putrid breath assaulted Corgren in steady heaves of soft groans through incisors elongated into fangs. Her eyes were both wild and doleful. This creature was not to be tamed. Her hair, long, straight, and dark, waved in non-existent wind.

She raised her clawed hand and gathered her breath for howling. Corgren stood firm.

“Do as he says.”

The banshee flinched and cringed before Magdronu. She lowered her head in assent and uttered words soft and raw. “As you say, master.”

Corgren arched his brow. She spoke as well? He ran his hand along his jaw.

Flame flared. Corgren closed one eye against the light of the blaze. Heat? Through the spell?

The deep growl seared Corgren’s mind. “Go, seek the ranger. Trap him without death. We will be waiting.”

Trolls leapt in squeals when the banshee cackled. She snatched up a dark cloak from a dead Rokan and ran wailing north, into the night.

Nothing of the old woman remained in the banshee’s speed and vitality. Corgren cupped his chin and tapped his cheek. Perhaps she would be good for many uses.

Athson later encounters the Banshee in a sudden attack. Here’s a quick part of that encounter – I won’t share all of it because it gives part of the outcome away:

Limbreth snuggled closer for warmth in the chill mist and frowned into the lingering mist.

Tap, tap, tap.

They both jumped. Limbreth’s heart raced at the closeness of the sound. Was Athson afraid?

He separated from her and drew his father’s blessed sword. She unsheathed a sword with her right hand. He motioned her to crouch.

He leaned close. “Let’s check it out.”

She nodded. She preferred boldness to uncertainty. He wasn’t afraid, and neither was she. Her stomach no longer fluttered but tightened instead.

Athson motioned behind them. “We can’t go far and leave the others unguarded.”

“Yes, they depend on us.” Limbreth’s mouth spread into a grimace. Let them find this – whatever and chase it away.

Together they edged further into the surrounding trees.

Tap, tap. Tap, tap.

They paused and gauged the direction. Limbreth sensed the nearness. They stayed in night-shadows and crept toward a pine thicket.

Tap, tap, tap.

A shadow moved. They froze. Limbreth trembled.

The shadow faded into deeper night.

Athson inched forward, and Limbreth followed, gripping her sword too tightly. Athson stepped among the close pine trunks. Nothing lingered there.

A soft whimpering rose to their left. Limbreth almost dropped her sword at the sound. She bared her teeth at her cowardice. Athson turned aside, and she crept after him.

The crying washed over Limbreth, and she hesitated under conflicting urges. A mourner’s sadness escaped her in a sob. She dropped the sword, shrank back, and covered her ears. She wobbled as she moved after Athson.

They drew nearer and found the keening shadow where it knelt swaying. Limbreth’s arms dropped unresponsive at her sides. She gasped. There were words within this distressed display. It spoke of her own death, of her body rotting away, of her spirit rotting into eternal choking dust. Limbreth tasted ashes in her mouth and gagged.

Panic seized her body. Move! She loathed herself.

The wailing figure rose and stepped toward them. Limbreth sank to the ground, and hope evaporated from her thoughts. Life seeped away into the ground. She wept and writhed. She would die.

The cloaked figure approached, its wails deafening Limbreth’s thoughts. But this crushing sound, this dry, choking death, carried a soft undertone of whispering – inviting her. The voice whispered about the seductive promise of release from constant failure and pain in life – the emptiness of living could be wiped away.

Athson stood motionless with his sword in hand. Limbreth needed to move but merely whimpered and trembled. The mist caressed her. The soft undertone beneath the wailing flooded her awareness. Meaningless life was despair. The voice hinted at a welcome end. Her hands fumbled for her belt knife.

Why didn’t Athson move?

The fog folded around them. It smothered the breath from Limbreth’s lungs. She was dying. Athson uttered a hoarse gasp.

Limbreth’s knife moved toward her wrist. Death, come quickly.

No! She fought her movement. Limbreth’s left hand held the knife and trembled with the effort of holding back the fatal cut. She gritted her teeth. No! The knife ceased moving.

More despair harrowed her thoughts, and her resolve melted. She let the blade drift closer to her exposed wrist.

But then pain shot through her arm, and it locked. She screamed. Her left hand no longer drifted toward her other wrist.

Athson grunted as the cloaked figure eased closer. His hand twisted. The voice changed, and uttered subtle words. There is welcome release.

The shadow coalesced into a woman whose bare, slim leg extended from beneath her cloak. Hands of welcoming embrace extended toward Athson, and her slender arms rose, exposing the vulnerable nudity beneath her garment.

Limbreth shouted – or tried, but her breath squeaked away. The mist choked like dust in her mouth when she opened it. Breathe, she couldn’t breathe.

At last Athson lunged at the woman. The sword punctured her chest, and a scream erupted from the pallid figure. Limbreth covered her ears and wept.

The final screech faded, and viscous smoke spewed from the creature’s mouth. The vile blackness enfolded Athson, and he swooned.


Haunted by his past. Hunted in the present. Uncertain what is real.

Athson suffered hallucinations ever since he was orphaned, including a dog no one else sees. The will in his possession, bestowed in a dream, can’t be real. But the trolls now hunting him are. A destiny, both inconvenient and unavoidable, drags Athson into an unwanted quest that challenges all his assumptions. Can he trust anyone? Sworn to secrecy by his dead father about the bow, Athson wants nothing to do with it. A dragon and a wizard want the bow – and Athson dead. Running from the quest and his destiny are tempting options. Then he finds something unexpected. Will his discovery destroy him before he recovers the bow?

Find The Bow of Destiny on Amazon in e-book, audio and print.

Also in this series:

An Arrow Against the Wind

The White Arrow

About the author

P. H. Solomon loves reading and writing fantasy of all kinds, especially epic fantasy. If a book has dragons, elves, dwarves, wizards, magic or mythical creatures, it’s in his reading zone. He lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required).

Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports, and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. His first novel, The Bow of Destiny was named 2016 Book of the Year by Fantasia Reviews and is the first book of The Bow of Hart Saga. The sequel novel, An Arrow Against the Wind, was released in April of 2017. The third book of the series, The White Arrow, was released during October of 2017. P. H. Solomon also authored the award-winning short story, The Black Bag, which won best published short story at SCWC 2012. P. H. is also a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

Connect with P. H. at the following locations:

Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Goodreads   |   Website   |  Bookbub   |   Pinterest   |   Amazon   |   Wattpad

Lanternfish ~ New Release by C. S. Boyack

Hey everyone! I’m delighted to have back friend and fellow writing C. S. Boyack today. He has a brand new release, Laternfish and is here to talk about it. Take it away, Craig!

Thanks for inviting me back, Joan. I’m here promoting my newest book, Voyage of the Lanternfish. Lanternfish is a pirate fantasy. It differs from classic fantasy, because gunpowder is involved. There are still plenty of monsters to go around, along with magic, like any other fantasy.

Excerpts are a standard inclusion on a blog tour, and that’s what I’m providing today. You might consider this one the “call to adventure.”

To set the scene, the characters were enjoying a nice night out. Something went terribly wrong, and this is where we’re joining them.

Throbbing pain coursed through James’ entire body. The cold from a hard surface underneath chilled him, so he tried to curl into a ball. Heavy iron shackles prevented him from moving his legs.

“Dan, Dan, I think he’s coming around,” Bonnie said.

“Bu, Bonnie?”

“Thank God you’re alright.” She smothered him with a hug. “I thought they’d killed you.”

“I wish they had. Where are we?”

“Don’t know,” Dan said. “We’re in some kind of wagon.”

“Where are we going?”

“Don’t know. There’s no windows.”

“Think. We aren’t headed west or we’d be in the sea. That leaves up the coast, down the coast, or inland. What do you know?”

“We crossed a shallow stream,” Bonnie said.

“How far from town?”

“They didn’t hit me. It was maybe as long as it takes to make a pot of tea.”

“That eliminates down the coast.”

“What else do you know?”

“They sound like soldiers. I can’t hear everything they say, but there seems to be someone giving orders.”

“Is that good?” Bonnie asked.

“No. They’re probably crimpers.”

“What?” She asked.

“Press gangs. We’re probably going up the coast to Maldron, to be sold to the merchant cartel.”

“Not me, I hope,” Bonnie said.

“No. Not you. Your fate will be worse than ours.”

“But you know the merchant captains. Maybe you can explain what happened,” Dan said.

“I can try, but it might not help. Something still isn’t right. Crimpers would fill this wagon to suffocation before they went back.”

“Maybe we’re just the first ones,” Dan said. “Maybe they’re going to visit some of the farms to catch some slaves.”

“Not likely. The magistrate would make them pay for slaves as property of the farmers. Keep listening. I can barely raise my head, and I think I’m about to collapse again.”

James faded in and out several times.

Dan banged on the wall of the wagon. “Oi! You out there. Lady has to pee.”

“Tell her to go ahead,” a rough voice answered. Laughter followed.

The wagon came to a halt. Someone fiddled with a lock on the door, then the sound of a chain dragging preceded the opening of the door.

One of the Hollish soldiers stood beside the open door. “Out. All of you.” Two more soldiers pointed their muskets at them.

Dan and Bonnie stepped out of the wagon and rubbed their eyes in the predawn light. James crawled to the door then swooned. The man who opened the door grabbed him by the collar then dragged him out, dropping him in the road with a thud.

The riflemen aimed at Dan. “You. On the ground, face down.”

Dan complied, and the riflemen stuck bayonets against his back. A man on a bay horse rode around the far side of the wagon. Obviously in charge, he said, “Miss Philson, feel free to go into the woods and relieve yourself. Remember, if you fail to return, he gets the bayonet. Terrible way to die if you ask me.”

James struggled to even crawl and his irons tangled in the weeds alongside the road.

“You there. Same thing. Take a piss then get back in the wagon. No shenanigans or your friend pays for it.”

James stretched forward and vomited.

When James raised his head again, his left eye was blood red.

“You didn’t have to hit him so hard,” Dan said.

“What makes you the expert on how hard to hit a man?” A bayonet dug through Dan’s coat, piercing the skin underneath.

Dan remained silent, but took in what he could. They were in the forest, but it could be anywhere. Light reflected off the ocean far in the distance. The wagon seemed to be well made and not some crimper’s holding pen. The leader wore a sword and pistol, but carried no rifle. The rest of the men appeared to have fighting knives, but no swords or pistols of any kind. Hooves were visible from under the wagon, and it appeared to be another bay horse pulling the wagon. “How ’bout me? I want to go too, and my friend needs a drink.”

“You can wait until your sister returns to take your place.” The officer rode to a barrel on the back of the wagon, used a dipper then silently offered it to James.

James struggled to his knees and accepted the water. He balanced himself on one hand and his knees as he raised the dipper to return it.

Chains jangled from the edge of the woods as Bonnie returned. The officer told her to help James into the wagon.

“No need for you to go into the forest,” one of the riflemen told Dan. “Shake it out then get back inside double quick now.”

Once underway, Dan whispered, “We’re moving inland. These ain’t no crimpers. Army uniforms, and nice horses to boot.”

“Good work,” James said. “I checked the brand when I returned the dipper. It’s the brand of Davis LeForge, Earl of Grandelor. Weapons are all new, and they appear to have fresh flints. I’d say they were recently issued.”

“What do you know about this Earl,” Bonnie asked.

James rolled into a sitting position. “He’s the king’s advisor. King Reynard is just a boy. This guy is the ruling power in the land until Reynard is ready.”

“What would he want with us?” Dan asked. “I never even seen the king before.”

“No idea. He wants us for some reason, and he didn’t just send an invitation. Maybe someone accused us of something.”

I hope this little snippet intrigued your readers, and thanks again for having me back.


An honorable man is mistaken for his disreputable father. Now he’s pushed into a political scheme to start a war that will spread across multiple kingdoms. James Cuttler’s fiancé is being held captive to ensure he goes through with the plan.

He soon decides his skills are at sea and procures a ship to wage war upon those who disrupted his simple life. He can’t do it alone, so he recruits a band of cutthroats to help him. But first, they need guns and munitions to outfit the ship properly. Deception and trickery will only get them so far. Eventually, they’re going to have to engage the enemy.

James’ goals aren’t necessarily the same as his crew. It’s a delicate balancing act to collect enough loot to keep his crew happy, while guiding them back to rescue the girl.

Voyage of the Lanternfish is filled with adventure, magic, and monsters. Lots of monsters. Hoist the colors and come along for the ride.

Purchase Link:


I was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. I like to tell everyone I was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

I moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. My writing career was born here, with access to other writers and critique groups I jumped in with both feet.

I like to write about things that have something unusual. My works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours. I hope you enjoy the ride.

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