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We're going to post the Sutcliff Swap rules and schedule, and open for sign-ups, Real Soon Now! But while you're waiting, why not squee about your favorite Sutcliff book in the comments here? This is your chance to remind others of that book they'd almost forgotten they'd loved, and inspire them to request or offer fanfiction or fanart for it. And if a book you haven't read sounds good to you, you can read it this summer and enjoy the fanworks created for it - and maybe you'll want to request it for Yuletide or Yuletart, or for next year's Sutcliff Swap. (Because this is going to be so much fun we will want to do it again!)

We're doing this on Dreamwidth only, so that we can use comment subject lines to identify the books we're talking about. If you don't have a Dreamwidth login, you can use OpenID or comment anonymously. ETA: anonymous commenting is now enabled! OpenID works too, which will email you comment replies. Please join in and promote your favorite Sutcliff books (this post has a list of all the books), and start thinking about what you might want to request and offer for the Sutcliff Swap!

Also, if you are intrigued by the descriptions of books you haven't read yet, you should be sure to join, not just watch, the community (at either site) so you can see locked posts. *cough*

Re: Sword at Sunset

Date: 2012-06-06 10:06 pm (UTC)
motetus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] motetus
I am starting this tonight! :D

Sun Horse, Moon Horse

Date: 2012-06-06 11:51 pm (UTC)
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
From: [personal profile] melannen
Well, since the gospel of Frontier Wolf seems to be pretty well spread already, I'll talk about my favorite that doesn't already have fic: sun Horse, Moon Horse.

This one is set in pre-Roman Britain, and tells the story of the creation of the White Horse of Uffington - or rather of the creator of the White Horse. He is a chieftain's younger son, too dark and too small and too introverted to ever fit into the place he was born into, and it isn't really until disaster hits that he starts to figure out how to be who he is anyway.

It's a very short book - shorter even than Frontier Wolf - but for all that it creates this world and draws you into it thoroughly, and the way it does it - there's no "outsider" POV to make this a culture clash like many of her book, there's just Lubrin Dhu who is an outsider at the same time as being thoroughly immersed in the culture.

spoilery parts: This isn't one of the typical outsider gains acceptance, finds a home stories, though, or one of the outsider leaves home, finds their people ones - Lubrin never really finds acceptance; his narrative is about realising that he will never fully gain acceptance from his people, but that doesn't make them any less his, or him theirs. Which is not a happy narrative (yes, she kills him in the end) but it was a narrative that I really needed when I first found the book, that there are different kinds of loneliness.

I found it a deeply unsettling book, but it's also a book full of beauty-- Lubrin is an artist with an artist's eyes, and the beauty he makes and sees around him is the thread of joy that runs through it despite everything and that both makes the story work and makes it one of my favorites.

(disclaimer: I haven't read this one in years and don't have a copy to hand, so any inaccuracy here is due to rose-tinted memory.)
Edited Date: 2012-06-07 01:41 am (UTC)

Re: Sun Horse, Moon Horse

Date: 2012-06-07 04:11 am (UTC)
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
From: [personal profile] carmarthen
Oh, this one made me cry a lot. I thought there were some parallels with The Shield Ring, about artists as outsiders in warrior cultures.

I'm not sure what one could write for it, though.

Re: Sun Horse, Moon Horse

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Re: Sun Horse, Moon Horse

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Re: Sun Horse, Moon Horse

Date: 2012-06-10 04:59 am (UTC)
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
From: [personal profile] carmarthen
Psst-- you may not remember any better than me, but do you recall if the horse was ever assigned a gender in the book?

Re: Sun Horse, Moon Horse

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The Silver Branch

Date: 2012-06-07 02:59 am (UTC)
opalmatrix: A young Asian woman with a facial tattoo - character Doa from Blade of the Immortal - lies on her stomach reading (Doa Reads)
From: [personal profile] opalmatrix

At the great Roman fortress and shipyard of Rutupiae in Britain, the new junior surgeon finds that the red-headed centurion who has just directed him to the bath house is, in fact a distant cousin. The two of them become friends, and after a political mishap, they are both sent to a remote posting on Hadrian's Wall. When the traitor Allectus takes over the rule of Britain, the two join an underground resistance movement and see things through to the bittersweet moment when Rome comes to take back its own.

Justin, the surgeon, is a shy, self-deprecating young man who believes himself a disappointment to his father. Flavius, the centurion, is friendly and confident, but an orphan who was raised by his elderly great aunt. The two make a pleasing "opposites attract" pair. The well-drawn secondary characters - Evicatos, a hunter who befriends the cousins on the wall; Paulinus, a deceptively mild-mannered member of the resistance; and especially the redoubtable Great-Aunt Honoria - appeal to my love of a team cast, working together.

This book doesn't seem to get as much love as most of the Sutcliff Roman Britain canon. There is not a whole lot of character-building angst, and although my slash goggles are usually keen, I can't find anything but friendship between the cousins. But I love Justin, especially, as a character (I can identify with him), and I'm always happy with a plot involving outnumbered good guys fighting against evil. The details of the British landscape - from the marshes outside of Rutupiae to the farm on the Downs (the same one Marcus, Esca, and Cottia built in Eagle of the Ninth) to the wilds along the wall - are lovely too.

(This is the DW version of my writing account ... I use something else for discussions/modding on the Sutcliff_talk book comm.)

Re: The Silver Branch

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Re: The Silver Branch

Date: 2012-06-07 04:13 am (UTC)
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
From: [personal profile] carmarthen
I love Justin, too!

Also, Flavius may be Alexios' father. Or grandfather, although either one does slightly twisty things to some aspects of canon. FAMILY SAGA TIME?

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Re: The Silver Branch

Date: 2012-06-07 10:47 am (UTC)
tryfanstone: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tryfanstone
This book!

Allectus crushing the moth, Carausius and Cullen - oh, Cullen, so brave, that incredible depiction of fighting through the mob, that so brief flowering of the empire in the North... There's such a vivid urgency in the description and action in this book: twenty years on, I still can't forget some of the imagery Sutcliff uses here.

Thank you so much for mentioning. :)

Re: The Silver Branch

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Knight's Fee

Date: 2012-06-07 12:05 pm (UTC)
tryfanstone: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tryfanstone
I can do three, right?

Knight's Fee.
Like Geoffrey Trease and writing at the same time, Rosemary Sutcliff here picks up some of the political themes which were very much present in children's novels of the period (Bows Against the Barons, anyone? Hereward the Wake?) - integration, rebellion, resistance - and her own interest in wounded heroes, and of them makes this story. It's set in Norman England, just after the start of the Norman Conquest, and covers a rather longer timespan than most Sutcliff novels, taking half Saxon, half Breton dogboy Randal (Randal the Bastard, Randal the Thief,... ) from whipping boy to a knight with his own manor, the knight's fee of the title which is both reward and cost. Along the way, it encompasses some beautifully drawn other characters - Ancret, the wise woman, Bevis, whom Randal loves and serves, and the minstrel Herluin, who sells Randal to his first leige-lord, Sir Everard. Oh, and William Rufus' death. I'm not going to spoil it, but it's beautiful and tragic the only way Sutcliff can write, and I loved it as a child only second to Eagle of the Ninth.

D’Aguillon looked down at his tangle of pale hair with a kind of half-amused wonder, and said, ‘Randal – do you love me, then?’
‘If you take a half-starved dung-hill whelp and bring it up to be your hunting dog and hearth companion, you’re likely to find in the end that the silly brute loves you!’ Randal wept, almost defiantly.


And:

Lewin said, 'You killed de Courcy?’
‘Oh yes,’ Randal said very gently. ‘I killed de Courcy.’


Shipping? Eh, there is such a plethora of characters and a tangled mix of alliances and friendships and loyalties that almost anything could be written. Randal/Bevis is so near canon as to make little difference, but I ship, hard, post-canon Randal/Herluin.

Re: Knight's Fee

Date: 2012-06-07 12:15 pm (UTC)
opalmatrix: A young Asian woman with a facial tattoo - character Doa from Blade of the Immortal - lies on her stomach reading (Doa Reads)
From: [personal profile] opalmatrix

I love this book a lot, although it is very sad. The way the tragedy builds up in slow, measured acts is really masterful.

Post-canon Randal/Herluin ... oh, wow, I bet I could write that. Herluin wouldn't stay, if course, but Randal would always be watching for him to come down the track.

Re: Knight's Fee

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Blood Feud

Date: 2012-06-07 12:09 pm (UTC)
tryfanstone: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tryfanstone
Blood Feud
Vikings, slavery, debts owed and paid in blood, the Black Sea trade routes, the Varangian Guard – the Emperor’s own wolves, the Vikings of Constantinople – this book hits my fictional and historical kinks so damn hard. It’s the story of Englishman Jestyn (a big man, lean and rangy and scarred as an old hand) and his journey from the Saxon Shore to the slave markets of Dublin to Jutland, no longer thrall but friend to the warrior Thormod Sitricson. From there, the blood feud of the story takes them to Constantinople, and Jestyn to a new life, under the shadow of the white god and in the House of the Physician.

Like all Sutcliff’s books, it’s beautifully realised, and tragic, and Jestyn’s journey is one of redemption and faith and friendship. It’s written in the first person, unusual, and contains rather more early Christianity than she covers in other periods and other places; the descriptions of Constantinople are, frankly, stunning and unforgettable.

The Imperial Palace is like a city in itself, palaces and pleasure pavilions, armouries and stables, even the lighthouse and the Royal Mint, all set in shady gardens sloping to the Bosphorus. And everywhere one looks one sees beauty and strength and splendour. In the greatest things, the mighty tower of the lighthouse with its blazing crest of flame that speaks to shipping far across the waters of Marmara and up the straits towards the inland sea: in the smallest – the colonnade before the Emperor’s private quarters, opening on to a tiny court, and in the court a tiny tree whose leaves were all of beaten gold.

Shipping? Jestyn/Thormod, but, familiar, Sutcliff bookends this story with Jestyn/Alexia, the small, fierce girl of a character so many of her heroes love.

Incidentally, I had *no* idea the BBC had done anything with this book, and if anyone can point me in the right direction I would be incredibly grateful...

Re: Blood Feud

Date: 2012-06-07 04:36 pm (UTC)
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
From: [personal profile] carmarthen
I'm not sure the BBC miniseries is obtainable anymore, but I gather they set the whole thing in England (!), which...seems to be defeating the point, IMO. But maybe someone has better obscure-TV-show-finding-fu than I do (I have none).

Anyway, I love Alexia a lot, personally! Blood Feud I feel like leaves an awful lot of the emotions unspoken, even moreso than usual, such that not all the characters' relationships entirely make sense to me--which makes it excellently fertile ground for fic.

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Re: Blood Feud

Date: 2012-06-12 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] thursdaynext
I'm not aware of a BBC version of Blood Feud, however there was a series based on the book made by Thames Television in 1990 which was called Sea Dragon (after the ship in the novel).

I can't find very much about it online, sadly, although basic information is on imdb.

Outcast

Date: 2012-06-07 12:11 pm (UTC)
tryfanstone: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tryfanstone
Outcast
Full disclaimer. Outcast is, to my mind, the slave!fic Sutcliff would be writing if she was writing fanfiction today. (I am absolutely convinced that she’d be gleefully writing hurt/comfort knotfic with the rest of us, just better.) It’s the story of – eh, it’s the story of storms; the storm that wrecked a Roman merchantman on the Cornish shoreline and brought Beric to the Clan as a black-haired orphan. As with many of Sutcliff’s waifs and strays, he fights for his place in the warband and wins his warrior’s spear, but this is nowhere near the end of the story – p.26, to be honest, in my own New Oxford Library edition with the stunning Kennedy illustrations (recommended!). Kidnapped, enslaved, set to the oars on a Roman longship, it’s another storm altogether which washes Beric up on Romney Marsh, to encounter again the Roman engineer Justinius. It’s not the last storm, either.

The face above him was growing clearer every moment: a dark, hard face with the brand of Mithras between the eyebrows, out of which eyes that were the cold grey of wintry northern seas looked down at him with an odd intensity.

Staring up into that dark face, Beric burst out desperately: ‘I never turned robber! I only ran away because he said he would sell me into the salt mines! You heard him – you were there - ’

‘So it
is you,’ said the Maker of Roads and the Drainer of Marshes.

Shipping? Justinius/Beric. Gloriously.
Edited Date: 2012-06-07 12:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Outcast

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The Shining Company

Date: 2012-06-07 04:50 pm (UTC)
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
From: [personal profile] carmarthen
This is tied for my favorite Sutcliff, and hardly anyone seems to have read it. It's set in Wales around AD 600, and based on Y Gododdin, so I do not think it is a spoiler to say that the body count is very, very high.

It follows Prosper, son of a minor chieftain, as he becomes a shieldbearer to one of the Gododdin princes, Cynan Mac Clydno. The first part of the book is, I feel, echoing aspects of Eagle of the Ninth, only here the potential OT3 is less lopsided--Prosper and Luned have their kinship bond (they're cousins), Luned and Conn are in love but separated by station, and Conn and Prosper are BFFs. And Prosper is a bit more aware than Marcus that Conn being his bondman is something that impairs their friendship. Lots of gorgeous evocative descriptions of their lives, with echoes of the Roman past here.

And then the rest is adventure and tragedy! TSC is written in the first person, almost as if an older Prosper is looking back on his life and telling it to the reader, like a bard--and there are intriguing hints of what he may have done post-book. There are the usual cast of amazing secondary characters, besides Prosper, Conn, Luned, and Cynan, the most interesting is probably the bard Aneirin, who supposedly wrote Y Gododdin.

I don't want to say too much about the ending, which would be spoilery, but there's wonderful fic potential here, and not just for the slash and OT3-inclined. And it is, I feel, one of Sutcliff's most beautifully written books.
Edited Date: 2012-06-07 04:51 pm (UTC)

Re: The Shining Company

Date: 2012-06-07 11:07 pm (UTC)
motetus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] motetus
I finished this a few days ago and still can't stop thinking about it - it's probably my favourite Sutcliff book so far. If I'd been told how it was going to end in advance I probably would have been really pissy about it, but when it got to it, somehow it worked perfectly (gah, Cynan. The poor thing broke my heart. :(), and yes, loads of post-book fanfic possibilities!

Re: The Shining Company

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Sword Song

Date: 2012-06-07 04:55 pm (UTC)
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
From: [personal profile] carmarthen
Sword Song was Sutcliff's last published book, published posthumously (she was about halfway through editing it). It is a little rougher, but it's also fairly strongly influenced by Norse sagas and rather different in tone, IMO, from her other books.

The protagonist, Bjarni, is a young Norseman outcast from his settlement for a crime...so of course he has to go a-Viking. Along the way he acquires a dog and learns to respect women (there is a segment which struck me as...really problematic re: women, but I may be the only one) and has crushes on his ship-carls and all the usual for Sutcliff heroes.

I'm actually not the biggest fan of the book itself, but I desperately want fic for it. Bjarni's eventual love interest intrigues me (especially because of how they met, which I don't want to spoil), and Bjarni's lack of affect does as well. Fic about Bjarni learning to have ~feeeeeelings~? And yes, there's slash potential, too.

Geez, it is hard to try to convince people that books are awesome and ficcable without spoilers.

Date: 2012-06-07 05:00 pm (UTC)
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
From: [personal profile] carmarthen
Psst, OpenID should work now, Isis. And then people can get emailed comment replies.

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] carmarthen - Date: 2012-06-07 06:51 pm (UTC) - Expand

Dawn Wind

Date: 2012-06-07 11:24 pm (UTC)
ext_189645: (Default)
From: [identity profile] bunn.livejournal.com
Sixth Century Britain. Rome is gone, Arthur is a fading memory, and Owain, who is little more than a boy is almost the last survivor of a British force defeated in battle against the Saxons. The other survivor is a young British warhound, which he names Dog. In the ruins of abandoned Viruconium, he meets a girl, Regina, who was left behind by the fleeing population of the city when they fled. They try to leave Britain for Brittany, but Regina gets ill, and Owain ends up selling himself as a slave to the Saxons to get help for her, because that's all that he has left to sell.

I didn't like this book all that much when I first read it as a kid. But something has kept me revisiting it periodically ever since and I now think it's one of her cleverer and more complex books. It's about... responsibility, and aging, and promises, and getting the job done, and never giving up hope.

And I have a great deal more to say but that will do for now. :-D

Re: Dawn Wind

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Warrior Scarlet

Date: 2012-06-08 02:49 pm (UTC)
espresso_addict: Bay at dusk with clouds (scotland)
From: [personal profile] espresso_addict
I won't claim Warrior Scarlet is my favourite, but I think it deserves more love than it gets. It has, I think, the earliest setting of any of Sutcliff's novels, in the Bronze Age, in a small settlement on the South Downs. While it tackles her theme of outsiders, it's gentler than some of her novels, aimed at a younger readership, and with a much less bleak feel. And it's a really short novel, 232 pages in my edition.

The hero, Drem, has a withered arm, and the story tells of his struggles to gain acceptance among the men of his tribe as he grows from childhood to manhood. He has a mentor, Talore the Hunter, who lost his sword hand in a raid; a blood brother, Vortrix, son of the chieftain; a couple of very different elderly men who influence his life in different ways; and a half-wolf hound. There's a cunning new king, a hint of times changing with the coming of iron, conflict between races and bags of Bronze Age religion.

Drem's story is quite well explored, but I'd be really keen to see more on the adults, in particular the enigmatic Talore.

Re: Warrior Scarlet

Date: 2012-06-09 02:04 pm (UTC)
tryfanstone: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tryfanstone
Loved this book so, so much - the number of times I borrowed it from the library was absolutely ridiculous. And Talore! - I'd forgotten, but isn't there a lovely piece of description when he's just looking at the fire?

... thank you for mentioning, apart from wishing I could go back and change sign-up right now...

(PS. Sun's out up here. You might be lucky.)

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Re: Mark of the Horse Lord

Date: 2012-06-08 08:54 pm (UTC)
chantefable: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chantefable
There's a BAMF usurper queen? Political intrigue and secret identity? And the supernatural? Quite exciting.

Is Liadhan/Phaedrus shippable? :)

Re: Mark of the Horse Lord

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Re: Warrior Scarlet

Date: 2012-06-08 10:10 pm (UTC)
ext_189645: (Default)
From: [identity profile] bunn.livejournal.com
I'll second this. Warrior Scarlet is a lovely little tale, and has some very strong Sutcliffy themes.

Re: Warrior Scarlet

Date: 2012-06-09 03:10 pm (UTC)
espresso_addict: Two cups of espresso with star effect on coffee pot (coffee cups)
From: [personal profile] espresso_addict
I fear I've failed to do it justice here, sigh. It is a very good short exposition of some of her main themes. And the wonderfully detailed evocation of the very-alien-to-us background culture is another big plus for me.

Blood and Sand

Date: 2012-06-09 07:27 am (UTC)
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)
From: [personal profile] carmarthen
To get out of the Celtic-Roman-Viking rut a bit (and now for something completely different)....

Blood and Sand is one of Sutcliff's adult novels, set in the 19th century Ottoman Empire. It's based on the true story of Thomas Keith, a Scottish soldier who converted to Islam and fought for the Ottomans. Here's the summary:

The Ottoman Empire (that "Sick Old Man of Europe"), is the setting of an aptly titled novel that examines the loyalty between men that helps makes warfare bearable. Thomas Keith, a Scottish soldier during the Napoleonic wars, is captured in 1807 in the Nile delta by Turkish forces under the Egyptian viceroy. With no reason to rejoin the English forces, he is persuaded to become an officer in the viceroy's army. Training for desert warfare, and witnessing the fellowship and piety of the Bedouin troops, he converts to Islam. During a long but unsuccessful campaign to free the holy cities of Mecca and Medina from forces hostile to the Turks, Thomas commands a troop of cavalry, marries a girl he has rescued and serves as amir (governor) of Medina, making a close friend of Tussun Bey, the viceroy's son. Loyalty and friendship are the strong thread on which Sutcliffe strings her stirring narrative--most of it based on historical fact. In this veteran British author's hands, what might have become merely a harsh tale of violence in the deserts of Arabia becomes a memorable, sensitively rendered story.

It is not exactly a happy book (based on true story, and so far I've yet to read a Sutcliff novel based on a true story that wasn't a tragedy), but it is ridiculously, almost over-the-top homoerotic. I originally bought this because of the superficial similarities to Lawrence of Arabia, my fandom at the time, and having read it, they're very superficial--Thomas isn't at all like Lawrence, and Tussun Bey is nothing like Ali--but it's just about as homoerotic. For example, right after they go naked swimming:

He was aware of an abrupt movement beside him and when he looked round the boy had come up to his elbow and was looking with concerned interest at the entry scar of the musket ball just below his, Thomas's, hip. It would fade and turn silvery by and by, but now it was still purplish and had the indefinable look of being tight and sore.

"That was at El Hamed?" Tussun said.

"Yes."

"Ssss," the boy sucked in his breath between his teeth. "It must have been a sharp hurt in its time."

"Sharp enough," Thomas agreed. "But I had a good surgeon. In a year it will be small enough--almost--to cover with the ball of my thumb."

Tussun put out a slim brown hand, and with the unselfconscious ease of old friendship [NOTE: THEY MET YESTERDAY], set his own thumb lightly over the puckered and livid place. "In a year, maybe," he said judicially, "assuredly there is a way to go yet."


More ridiculously homoerotic bits at my journal; includes a brief neutral mention by a character of pederasty.

Also, because this is an adult novel, everyone knows what sex is. Sometimes they even have it. There is a graphic description of circumcision which uh, kind of surprised me. And Thomas does eventually marry (his relationship with his wife is pretty interesting!). There are aspects of it regarding women and especially women's sexuality that kind of bothered me, but other aspects that didn't.

There are actually two stories in this fandom on AO3, which I think probably puts it #3? or at least tied? for most-written Sutcliff fandoms.

Re: Blood and Sand

Date: 2012-06-09 01:43 pm (UTC)
chantefable: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chantefable
"Also, because this is an adult novel, everyone knows what sex is. Sometimes they even have it."

Well, that's a great selling point. A 19th century Osmanlı setting - this is probably the closest to contemporary that Sutcliff came? Judging by the period, it's probably the time of Mustafa IV or Mahmud II the Reformer (mostly the latter, I guess). After some googling, I'm wondering about him being called Aga: I thought until 1826 only yeniçeri and "top-managers" at court were called agas. (Like the eunuchs-in-charge at the Sultan's harem, that thing.) IS he one of the yeniçeri? (Originally they only admitted Christian boys in early teens, to be raised in islam & in absolute loyalty to the sultan... then again, it's the 19th century, maybe he could have been accepted by then, what with the general decline.)

Interesting!

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