Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Now I Rise

She has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself.After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada wh...

Title:Now I Rise
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0553522353
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:471 pages

Now I Rise Reviews

  • Emily May
    Apr 23, 2016

    That was AWESOME. I guess it's my "western" ignorance that keeps me thinking of this series as fantasy. It

    , to me at least, like fantasy. And yet, both

    and

    are

    That was AWESOME. I guess it's my "western" ignorance that keeps me thinking of this series as fantasy. It

    , to me at least, like fantasy. And yet, both

    and

    are

    .

    I love this reimagining of Vlad the Impaler as a woman called Lada. I love that Lada is allowed to be every bit as mean and bloodthirsty as Vlad, but also, somehow,

    . Well, from me anyway. She stands out as one of my favourite characters from all the YA series I've read in recent years, reminding me somewhat of Adelina from

    , but she's much nastier than that.

    This book is - in short - about the fall of Constantinople and Lada's reclamation of Wallachia (you should read the actual history of this, if you're unfamiliar; it is

    ). It is split into two stories that rarely meet, but both are

    .

    Radu is working as an insider within Constantinople and reporting to Mehmed, but the handsome young Cyprian makes him start to wonder where his true loyalties lie. I love the moral conflicts of Radu's character, and the lessons he learns about life and love along the way. Lada, on the other hand, is

    . She must fight against all the male nobles and soldiers who dismiss her because of her sex, and she is torn between playing by their rules to gain an advantage, and saying "screw it!" and doing her own damn thing. She doesn't disappoint.

    I was also pleasantly surprised by the funny banter between Lada and her loyal soldier boys on the road:

    . Oh my, it was absolute perfection. I don't know what it says about me that I love reading about Lada and her perspective so much. But as much as she is a tough-as-nails murderess, it's hard not to have a certain admiration for her ingenuity and determination.

    Look, I wouldn't come searching for historical accuracy in this series, but if you are looking for some

    -- I cannot recommend these books highly enough.

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  • Simona Bartolotta
    Oct 12, 2016

    •Last year, I adored

    . I think its publication was a true event;

    . Kiersten White had clearly meant her story to stand out as

    , and she succeeded gloriously. Just the fact that her heroine didn’t put love above anything else was impossibly refreshing; the two male protagonists were so

    •Last year, I adored

    . I think its publication was a true event;

    . Kiersten White had clearly meant her story to stand out as

    , and she succeeded gloriously. Just the fact that her heroine didn’t put love above anything else was impossibly refreshing; the two male protagonists were so faceted and fleshed-out, I sometimes wondered at their not bursting out of the two-dimensional page; and the moral greyness of all three of them, paired up with the harshness and the violence of the world they moved in, made me think often of

    .

    In few words,

    . And I would have been satisfied with Kiersten White just confirming all the work she had done in that book, even without any real improvement. Meaning: I am a fool. Because

    .

    Oh, what am I saying? She took all the good things she had put in book one, worked some magic, and the level of the whole series skyrocketed. If the third installment is anything akin to these two books, the Conqueror’s Saga is bound to become a favorite of mine.

    But I’ve blabbered enough; you’re here for a review, and a review I’ll deliver.

    •The book follows

    , each of them either struggling with their demons, fighting for their dreams, and sometimes both at once.

    (since she is the one mostly on the road) than Radu’s, and for me it was also slightly less engaging,

    in a direction that is as frightening as, to YA readers used to ponies and rainbows, it is unexpected.

    No one is going to be surprised if I say that

    . What is probably going to make you wrinkle your nose is that I see in her as much steadfastness and commitment as fear.

    .

    White, indeed, in this book added to her characterization a great many nuances strongly linked to

    . The truth is that if Lada could, she would be neither, man nor woman: she is honest when she says that

    no matter how

    her body and sexuality in general can make her, but, on the other hand

    . Her relationship with Mehmed is masterfully

    , and I love White for giving their romance a narrative purpose, instead of doing the opposite, as it happens more and more often, and bending every other thing to it.

    , too, which she constantly mentions also metaphorically, is

    , not to mention more obvious hints like her title –Prince– or her refusal to be dressed up like a doll.

    Moreover, her being so viscerally attached to her homeland almost brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes this feeling is concretized in physical elements of the landscape, and those passages stole my breath.

    •My second point about Lada’s plotline concerns

    . I think

    .

    , for instance, are hardly recurring presences, but their personalities are perfectly outlined in very few but very skilled strokes. (Daciana, besides, is a stunning female character, and she deserves a whole paragraph only to her praise, but this review is already way too long as it is, so I'll pass.) The same can be said for

    (I love you, Hunyadi! I love you!), whom Lada puts in direct contrast and comparison with her late father, to the point that she outright tells him –

    As for

    ,

    is more or less the only one who stands out, if we consider that, after all,

    and

    ; thus, Nicolae stands for the Janissaries. And

    , well, he hardly speaks in the whole book: it’s complimentary to say that he is a puppet. When I noticed his flatness in

    , I considered it a flaw, and a very annoying one at that, but I’ve come to think that if White wanted him fleshed-out, she would have fleshed him out with little effort. I think, now, that his character is so bland because Lada does not see him, just as she doesn’t see who doesn’t interest her:

    , too power-driven, too angry with the male half of humanity (her problems would basically be gone if she were a man, but she still would rather choose androgyny)

    (I think Nazira’s observations on her and Mehmed were eerily on-point about this). What she treasures, in her own lucid way, in Bogdan, is his loyalty: the only thing she notices in him is his loyalty. You see how,

    .

    It’s astonishing how

    can turn out to be an important piece of a wider picture if we only think about it.

    •And now,

    . As I said, his side of the story is more engaging than Lada’s, and surely way more

    too. If I were a tiny bit more dramatic than I am, I’d say it’s

    . Let’s settle for

    then.

    I don’t think I know another YA author who is so skilled at staging

    of the world: in White’s mind, nothing is all white or all black, and Radu’s perspective show it perfectly.

    The irony of Radu’s destiny is that, but for the two only people he would sacrifice everything and anything for, the other significant people in his life are all pretty nice fellows. So who do you think he’ll need to betray and put in danger?

    and

    are exactly like Radu, i. e., too precious for this world.

    , and it’s lovely and reassuring, how their love for each other can warm the bleakest moments of the story. On the other hand, it was a masterstroke on the author part to give Nazira that touch of, if not cruelty, then need for revenge towards the Byzantines—she would have come off as too pristine otherwise.

    If Nazira was my present hope, sweet, charming Cyprian is all my future one —

    .

    •A part from Radu’s sorry fate, what is truly unbearable in witness him witnessing Mehmed’s war crimes and the horrors of war, or, as he himself puts is, the

    Radu’s process of disillusionment is, as I see it,

    : it’s what monopolizes the reader’s attention and what best focuses his sympathy and emotional involvement.

    was Lada’s book, but

    is unarguably Radu’s, and he takes over the role of true protagonist with no difficulty whatsoever. His moments of doubt, or the ones when he realizes both sides are engaging in unspeakable cruelties and that taking one over the other is not nearly as easy as it was before, are written so as to make them as

    as possible,

    through tiny, clandestine holes the author had opened for us, which only adds to our torment, but also to our commitment.

    •Lastly, in case it still wasn’t clear, I only want to say that

    and I applaud her not only for her creative work, but also for all the

    a book like this requires –speaking of which, the only reason this series is labeled as

    is that it’s a

    , but there’s no magic or anything like that in it.

    is, in brief,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    and

    at once. I don’t know how I am supposed to wait so long until the conclusion and I know I’ll be unhealthily obsessed but this story and, above all, these character until next summer (and possibly after that too, but at least the wait will be over).

    If you still haven’t, for your own good, readers, go catch up with this series now. You’ll see you’ll thank me.

    *All the quotes are taken from an ARC and are subject to change*

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
    Oct 25, 2016

    **************THERE WILL BE SOME SPOILERS *************

    Okay, so I freaking

    Mehmed! He was alright in the beginning of the first book when him and Lada, and Radu were just friends. And then he becomes Sultan and Lada encourages him and he's a prat! First off, I don't like that crap custom of having the harem. He's in love with Lada but popping out kids. My arse!

    And Lada and Radu just keep loving him no matter what. The hell?

    Anyhoo, Lada is off trying to get her throne of Wall

    **************THERE WILL BE SOME SPOILERS *************

    Okay, so I freaking

    Mehmed! He was alright in the beginning of the first book when him and Lada, and Radu were just friends. And then he becomes Sultan and Lada encourages him and he's a prat! First off, I don't like that crap custom of having the harem. He's in love with Lada but popping out kids. My arse!

    And Lada and Radu just keep loving him no matter what. The hell?

    Anyhoo, Lada is off trying to get her throne of Wallachia and she's having a very hard time. No one cares for her and no one wants her to be prince. < -- Yes, prince. Assassins are trying to kill her but Lada and her men take care of most of that and then Lada just starts taking her revenge.

    I love Lada's men. They are very loyal to her for the most part. Bogdan and Nicolae hold a special place in my heart. I also fell in love with Hunyadi who was an enemy at one time but became a great friend to Lada. Then that b••tard Mehmed happened!

    Lada asked Radu to come to her and help her but he's stuck so far up Mehmed's rear end that he doesn't go. He's in love with the jerk. Once again, what the hell? Mehmed is doing nothing in this book but using Lada and Radu. I really hope Mehmed either takes a turn for the better in the next book or that Lada kills him deader than dead!

    I love Radu's wife, Nazira. She was so much fun and so smart! She had me laughing a few times.

    Then Mehmed sends Radu off to Constantinople, he just sends him out to possibly get killed. I loathe him! Nazira goes with Radu, so there was a whole sh•t show over there.

    Lada goes through all kinds of hell. She even saw her mom which was beyond crazy train!

    There are those that are killed of course and I wish they weren't but it is what it is.

    Then Lada gets her throne and she's not all that happy with the way things have been going. I love her so much. She's bloody, brutal, but she takes up for those that need to be taken up for.

    You better rock it in the next book Lada and not let anyone kill you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Some court people thought they could tell her what she needed to do. Wellllllll, that didn't work out too good for them in the above excerpt =)

    Take that b•tches!

    MY BLOG:

  • Nastassja
    Apr 23, 2017

    Reading

    was not an easy experience for me, but

    doubles it in intensity and heartbreak. When you have to chose between people you love and right and wrong, things get very messy. There’s no white or black, everything’s gray and painful.

    Once again

    immerses

    Reading

    was not an easy experience for me, but

    doubles it in intensity and heartbreak. When you have to chose between people you love and right and wrong, things get very messy. There’s no white or black, everything’s gray and painful.

    Once again

    immerses us into the history

    and she does it with style. She lets us observe the events without intervening, without imposing her opinion on readers, but simply letting us choose what side we’d prefer. I am not very good with history, but this book (and the previous one) made we want to know more about this period of time, to learn about real historical figures who are main characters in this series. Granted, the author is more frivolous with historical events in book 2 than she was in book 1, but still you won’t miss out on major events and dates, which author describes with diligence. But no, all of it is secondary and unimportant compared to characters.

    We will never know what real Lada (Vlad), Radu or Mehmed thought, how close or distant they were to each other, but reading Kiersten White’s version of these people made we believe this is exactly how they were in real life, how they thought and lived. It’s not about truth or lies, it’s about a soul.

    In And I Darken Lada, doubtless, was the star of the book. A fierce girl who wanted to go home and make everything better. Lada was brutal but also naïve and that made her so human, so vulnerable. In this book… I don’t know what happened to Lada, but she became almost unbearable. Her obsession with

    bordered on madness and foolishness. She was like a broken record player stuck at the same note in a song. Maybe it’s how things should be and Lada’s slowly turning into a ruthless monster is what it is suppose to be, but my heart hurt no mater what, because I got attached to these characters, and

    . She doesn’t fight her inner demons any longer, she embraces them and her conscience is barely bothered with her cruelty. Lada still doubts and regrets things, but there’s getting less and less things to regret for her.

    His struggles were so real, so humane, so heartbreaking I wanted to cry. In this part he finds himself in the situation when friends become strangers and enemies become friends. He no longer knows what is right or wrong, but

    . He doesn’t want to embrace his dark side, he struggles with his inner demons. And I loved Radu for it, because he reminded me of myself and, doubtless, many other people who ever found themselves in a situation when they wanted to do the right thing but didn’t know how.

    . Plus, I really loved that finally Radu met someone deserving him, unlike Mehmed whom Radu always loved but who would never love him back.

    Mehmed… is still Mehmed, meaning that I am still torn about his character. He seems different when he’s with Radu or Lada, but his actions and deeds show us his sly, ruthless side. He seems like two different persons, but as we see Mehmed only from the siblings’ points of view it’s understandable they are idealizing him, because they love him, and he loves them too, it shows in his actions when he’s with them. But again, betrayal is one of the main threads that goes through this book, and anyone can betray a person they love, because of their ambition. By the way, I need to underline that

    Of course, I cannot not mention

    . Lada and Radu do not meet in this book. Not once. But they think about each other a lot.

    It helps them to do something less ruthless (in the case of Lada), or embrace oneself for something ruthless (in the case of Radu). It breaks my heart thinking that their story would not end well, and there’s a possibility when one of them would have to kill the other. See, this is why this series is so hard to read, because even when you love someone you still might betray them.

    Kiersten's writing is superb as ever, plus

    It played a great role in book 1 as well, but in this one the game is upped and religion has taken the front seat. We all know that people were ready to do monstrous things because God "said" them to do it. But everything was always about ambition and power, and religion was and

    a great instrument to level and manipulate opponents. Both

    call the other infidels, but in reality there’s no such thing - only fighting for superiority. And Radu is in the center of that fight, and he sees what righteousness can do to good people, turning them into monsters. There's no good people on this side of the wall, as there's no good people on the other side, as well.

    >> You haven't yet started

    ? You are missing a lot on something deliciously vicious.

    You want the history of 15th century

    and

    ? You want to witness the fall of

    ? You want siblings relationship? You want

    ascension?

    I promise, you won't regret it.

  • Candace
    Jul 05, 2017

    When I finished the first book in 'The Conqueror's Saga', I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next book. I absolutely loved Mehmed, Lada and Radu. I was completely taken in by their unique personalities and the love that they had for one another. Despite the fact that their interests were often conflicting, they managed to remain the closest of friends, and sometimes more.

    However, I am sad to say that I didn't get the same pleasure from reading 'Now I Rise'. It was like this book came along a

    When I finished the first book in 'The Conqueror's Saga', I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next book. I absolutely loved Mehmed, Lada and Radu. I was completely taken in by their unique personalities and the love that they had for one another. Despite the fact that their interests were often conflicting, they managed to remain the closest of friends, and sometimes more.

    However, I am sad to say that I didn't get the same pleasure from reading 'Now I Rise'. It was like this book came along and burst my bubble. Any seeds of resentment and anger that were planted in 'And I Darken' came to life in this book. My view of these characters has been irreparably changed...and not for the better.

    One of the things that really stood out to me about the first book was the loyalty that this trio seemed to have for one another. Even as their political and religious alliances were in opposition, they always found a way to support one another and place their personal relationships first. Yes, for Mehmed and Lada there were a few betrayals, but I never felt like they were more than superficial, based upon the expectations of their positions. Perhaps I just wanted to believe that, especially where Mehmed was concerned, even though the writing was on the wall.

    In contrast to the first book, 'Now I Rise' is full of betrayal and underhanded manipulations. Every one of them turns their back on the people that care for them, some to a greater degree than others. However, none of them were innocent of treachery in this book.

    Mehmed, in particular, was a character that I grew to despise. He claims to love Lada, but sells her out at every turn. Honestly, I began to dislike him in the last book as he repeatedly chose to sleep with other women while professing his love for Lada. What a pig! I wanted to make excuses for his behavior then, but I've got my head on straight now. This book helped me come to the realization that he is nothing more than a calculating, self-centered, power-hungry asshat! I hope that Lada kills him.

    Although I like Lada more than Mehmed, she is equally obsessed with power and consumed by her blind ambition to reign. I think I probably cut her a little more slack because she is a big time underdog. It is rare to encounter such a strong, badass female lead character, so I really want to like her. Unfortunately, I found her pretty unappealing for much of this book also. She may not have betrayed Mehmed and Radu in the huge way that they both betrayed her, but she did plenty of horrible things in order to assert her power over those she hoped to rule. The brutal tactics she employed didn't sit well with me either, regardless of the fact that I wanted her to achieve her end goal.

    Sweet Radu also proved to be a big disappointment this time around. Turning his back on his sister, he willingly submits to Mehmed's every self-serving demand. It was pathetic. He befriends and then betrays close friends in order to further Mehmed's quest to conquer Constantinople. Even as he knows that what he is doing is wrong, he repeatedly chooses to sacrifice others that are innocent in the hopes that he will gain the affection of a man that he knows will never love him the way that he does. I wanted to pity him, but my anger toward his actions never let that emotion set in. In some ways he was every bit as bad as Mehmed, but his duplicity was hidden beneath a façade of presumed harmlessness.

    After finishing this book, I feel hollowed out. There is a part of me that still wants to see how things will work out. I'd hate to miss it if Lada ends up killing Mehmed. However, a part of me is just disgusted with all of these characters that I once loved.

    I'm not sure that I can bear to watch them destroy one another. It is clear that this isn't going to be a HEA type of story. The damage is done and I suspect that their insatiable hunger for power and unobtainable love will just end up destroying them all. It is fitting, but not necessarily something that I feel like watching play out. I guess I'll see how I'm feeling when the third book is released. For now, I'm going to lick my emotional wounds and give my disappointment plenty of time to sink in.

    Check out more of my reviews at

  • brekkersbutt
    May 16, 2017

    me talking about my bleak future in which i suffer a painful death from all the career opportunities i won't be able to snatch:

    ▶ 🔘──────── 00:09

    me talking about how amazing and full of potential cyprian and radu are together:

    ▶ 🔘──────── 12:50:53

    honestly, it's been such a long while since i've actually finished a book without DNFing it and actively writing a somewhat coherent review that all my effort and ambition has just squeezed its way down the drain.

    in fact, i'm going to just lazily jot down

    me talking about my bleak future in which i suffer a painful death from all the career opportunities i won't be able to snatch:

    ▶ 🔘──────── 00:09

    me talking about how amazing and full of potential cyprian and radu are together:

    ▶ 🔘──────── 12:50:53

    honestly, it's been such a long while since i've actually finished a book without DNFing it and actively writing a somewhat coherent review that all my effort and ambition has just squeezed its way down the drain.

    in fact, i'm going to just lazily jot down all of my thoughts for your convenience:

    - let's start with mehmed. if you're like me, you probably lean heavily towards the will-this-asshole please just stop being idealized by radu and (at times) lada. he has his moments, but what I liked about his role in this sequel is that he's generally treated as more of a side-character than a main.

    i have a lot of channeled emotions towards him if i'm being honest. I want to like him, I can agree with some of his choices, but at the end of the day? he's just a punkass wimp who uses people like wet rags and i

    about all that shit.

    - then there's lada, who's basically the embodiment of this:

    although she gets even more brutal and fiercer, I like how she's evolved with her view on women. first book? she didn't really care for them and only thought of them as weak. sequel? her perspective on the women she meets broadens a little more.

    - let's get to the part that I actually want to talk about, which is — insert incessant knuckle cracking — radu. the top tier cinnamon roll!!

    like. he goes through so much it physically made my already aching heart ache. he's so hung up on mehmed and his loyalty to him that sometimes you just want to softly caress his cheek, grab his face, and yell him to stop wearing his goddamn heart on his sleeve. in the city of constantine, he goes in as a spy for mehmed but comes out not knowing who he is anymore (with a shitton of trauma pulling its weight onto the poor boy).

    - actually you know what i lied. the REAL cinnamon roll is nazira. a soft lesbean who's not just a ball of sunshine but also a sneaky little spy and super invaluable? radu wouldn't get half of his shit done in the city of constantine without her to be perfectly FUCKING honest. i hope, when i read the third book, she finally gets to see fatima again and she won't have to go through anything ever again ever. period.

    - getting back to what i'm still not over: cyprian and radu. wow kiersten white you really know how to create a diddly darn slow-burn romance that just :} stomps all over whatever :} semblance of emotions that i harbour :}

    as much as i live and BREATHE for epic love stories like this (no don't tell me radu and cyprian's relationship isn't epic i will slam a baguette down your throat) i really don't handle them well at all (masochism at its best!!) so do ya'll mind if i just -

    *slings radu and cyprian on each of my shoulders like rag dolls* - pack everything precious to me and leave or?

  • kazzy boy ⚓
    May 19, 2017

    and to your left, you can see me, clearly still recovering from the jet lag of reading this book

    took

    by the throat and smashed it through a wall.

    i stayed up all night reading it and i can’t believe my feels bag is already overflowing at 7 am like how am i supposed to function for the next 24 hours??? just who put me in charge of this flesh vessel, didn't they know i'm underqualified for existence??? i am fucking it up

    all i'm going to

    and to your left, you can see me, clearly still recovering from the jet lag of reading this book

    took

    by the throat and smashed it through a wall.

    i stayed up all night reading it and i can’t believe my feels bag is already overflowing at 7 am like how am i supposed to function for the next 24 hours??? just who put me in charge of this flesh vessel, didn't they know i'm underqualified for existence??? i am fucking it up

    all i'm going to say right now is that

    's a grounded cosmic star and i'm ready to fistfight the fucking moon for his goddamn happiness like i’m so protective of him that i'm willing go cut somebody off for simply having the wrong energy towards him. and kudos to

    for destroying the ‘women are delicate angels’ myth by proving times and times again that women can be ruthless and strong and even awful, at times.

    also, thanks

    for that ending which was the equivalent of 1000 daggers stabbed into my heart and rendering me absolutely numb.

    when i manage to climb out of my metaphorical grave, revitalized and made anew (which is very unlikely)

  • Lola  Reviewer
    Jun 16, 2017

    Too often I read YA fantasy series that make me ask myself, ‘‘Why am I reading this book? What is the purpose of this story? Haven’t I read something similar recently?’’ But with this particular series, the purpose is clear.

    Lada wants to be Prince of Wallachia. She will stop at nothing to achieve her goal. She will destroy anything and anyone t

    Too often I read YA fantasy series that make me ask myself, ‘‘Why am I reading this book? What is the purpose of this story? Haven’t I read something similar recently?’’ But with this particular series, the purpose is clear.

    Lada wants to be Prince of Wallachia. She will stop at nothing to achieve her goal. She will destroy anything and anyone that gets in her way. There’s nothing I love more than a determined character. It makes me feel invested in the story. Lada is someone to be both admired and feared.

    Even when I thought about halting my reading, I couldn’t do that for long. I needed to know if Lada would succeed. Although this is a historical series—not fantasy!—as it’s based on true events, I am unfamiliar with Romanian history. (A shame, really, since I was born there.) So thinking about the fact that what I’m reading is also instructive and realistic sparked my interest. Burst it, really.

    Radu and Lada are separated for the entire novel. Lada is gathering allies and Radu becomes Mehmed’s spy. The ugly Mehmed. He’s back. He isn’t ugly exactly—but he’s awful. If you hated him in the first book, you will want to strangle him now.

    The separation is truly felt. Both characters are affected by it and so is the reader. Radu and Lada together are quite something. But at the same time, they are getting older and their futures are getting blurrier. They need to make sure they know where they’re going and how to get there.

    New characters are introduced. Some allies, some enemies, some somewhere in between. I adored that. Not knowing if someone can be fully trusted spices my reading experience. I liked wondering about people’s intentions and worrying for the protagonists and holding my breath when danger came.

    Just like the first book, it took me a few chapters to get into the story. I forgot how the first book ended, so I was confused at first. But the beauty is that even if the story is not written from the first person point of view, it still feels as though we’re reading Lada and Radu’s inner thoughts, making it easier to know what they’re thinking and how they perceive everything that is happening.

    It's so unfortunate this isn’t a TV series. It would be such a winner in my opinion. Plus I would just love to see a kick-ass Lada on screen. Something between a Lara Croft and a Cersei Lannister. Cannot wait for the last book. So sad… last book. Why must it end?

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