The Dovekeepers: A Novel

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The Dovekeepers: A Novel

by Alice Hoffman

Scribner | April 3, 2012 | Trade Paperback

The Dovekeepers: A Novel is rated 4.5714 out of 5 by 14.
The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel, a tour de force of research and imagination.

Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power.

The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 528 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 1.3 in

Published: April 3, 2012

Publisher: Scribner

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1451617488

ISBN - 13: 9781451617481

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well researched and well written This was a bit of a long and heavy read but overall worth it. I enjoyed the perspective of the four main women in the book at such an ancient and historic time. Their stories are so wonderfully intertwined, and the women so distinct, and the history of that time truly comes to life. At times, some of the descriptions are lengthy so I did skim over the extra details on the landscape or weather etc but did not miss a thing of the interactions of the people. This is not a light read and will take a while to get through but it is compelling. It reminded me of The Red Tent so if you enjoyed that one, you will like this one too.
Date published: 2014-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One worth re-reading I had initially borrowed this book from the library, but I loved it so much that I had to get a copy of my own. I will definitely be rereading this one in the weeks to come.
Date published: 2012-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful Historical Escape ♥ I loved this one; ever since I taught at a Jewish Junior High I have been interested in Jewish History. This novel is a well-researched tale of the Roman seige of Masada. It has intriguing Jewish Mysticism and is lovely because it is written from the perspective of 4 different women:
Date published: 2012-07-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Bored The only reason I would give this book 2 Stars is due to the amount of research that Alice Hoffman had obviously put into this novel, which I certainly appreciated. Honestly though, I think that this roughly 500 page book could have been done in about 200 pages. Poetic descriptions saturated this novel, making for an incredibly dull read. When an author spends two pages describing wind I would rather not read it. I get it, it's windy! It has no bearing on the plot, would you please move on with the story already! This is likely the reason it took me over a month to read this. I did enjoy the main characters and their back stories and I also anticipated where the plot was moving, but I couldn't help but skimming through this. Even though the reviews were nothing but praise, I just couldn't wait to read the last page and be done with it. However, if Hoffman had decided to cut out the the over abundant use of poetic imagery I would likely have nothing but good things to say about this novel as well. Unfortuantely this is not the case, as a result, if anyone were to ask me if they should read it I would tell them not to waste their time.
Date published: 2012-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Stunning Achievement Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers is not only, hands down, the best novel I have read this year, it is one of the best novels I've read EVER. It is every bit as authentically written as Anita Diamant's The Red Tent. (Bold statement, I know!) As a reader the details are so exquisite, you are transported to ancient Israel, which in itself is an achievement since my frame of reference of this time period is narrow at best. Every sight, smell, texture, taste, sound - everything I found myself deliberately slowing down to so I could savour each sentence, it had such a lovely lyrical flow, stylized without being in the least way pretentious. These characters, fully fleshed out, were multi-layered, complex women, each an individual, devoted, independent, flawed survivors, and each magnificently powerful in her own right. Each one of their stories drawn out for you to see, and then woven together flawlessly and with a touch of Hoffman's signature magic. I cannot recommend this one highly enough, and have little doubt that it will be my "Book of the Year", I can't imagine anything being better!
Date published: 2012-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hoffman At Her Very Best! Story Description: Over five years in the writing, The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel, a tour de force of imagination and research, set in ancient Israel. In 70 C.E., nine-hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and an expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow solider. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege. All are dovekeepers and all are also keeping secrets about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love. The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s masterpiece. My Review: I have read a lot of novels about ancient Jerusalem during this era but I must begin this particular review with one word – WOW!! I was completely entranced with Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers which took place during the Roman siege during the first century abbreviated as C.E. which stands for Common Era. Common Era refers to the years counting forward from the birth of Jesus. C.E. has mostly replaced the old use of A.D. in an effort to appease non-theological references and non-believers. The use of Common Era is a more accepted practice now. The Jewish war was written around 75 C.E. by a man named Flavius Josephus who was a Jewish historian. Masada was a desert fortress situated at the top of a rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert and overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada is the Hebrew word for fortress. Hoffman delivers a breathtaking account of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. In 73 C.E. the Roman Governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion. The Romans quickly built camps at the base of Masada in preparation to lay siege to it. They built massive walls and constructed a rampart, then built a huge ramp, moved the battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress. The story is told through the voices of four different women: Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah. Each of these women had secrets about where they came from, who they are, who their fathers were, and who they love. Each of the women’s stories bound them together throughout the novel emotionally and symbolically. The change in each woman’s story flowed effortlessly and leant to the dynamic retelling of this sad and tragic period in history. The dramatic end to this story will rip your heart out and leave tear-stains on your pages as you turn them. The title The Dovekeepers has a symbolic meaning throughout the story. I’ve read a lot of Hoffman’s work and I believe this to be her very best. I believe this will become a classic in the future and a novel that will be talked about in book groups, people’s living rooms, in the news and will be a bestseller. I for sure will be touting the merits of this book to anyone and everyone who will listen. Kudos to you Ms. Hoffman!
Date published: 2012-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hoffman's Best Work Yet! Story Description: Over five years in the writing, The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel, a tour de force of imagination and research, set in ancient Israel. In 70 C.E., nine-hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and an expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow solider. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege. All are dovekeepers and all are also keeping secrets about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love. The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s masterpiece. My Review: I have read a lot of novels about ancient Jerusalem during this era but I must begin this particular review with one word – WOW!! I was completely entranced with Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers which took place during the Roman siege during the first century abbreviated as C.E. which stands for Common Era. Common Era refers to the years counting forward from the birth of Jesus. C.E. has mostly replaced the old use of A.D. in an effort to appease non-theological references and non-believers. The use of Common Era is a more accepted practice now. The Jewish war was written around 75 C.E. by a man named Flavius Josephus who was a Jewish historian. Masada was a desert fortress situated at the top of a rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert and overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada is the Hebrew word for fortress. Hoffman delivers a breathtaking account of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. In 73 C.E. the Roman Governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion. The Romans quickly built camps at the base of Masada in preparation to lay siege to it. They built massive walls and constructed a rampart, then built a huge ramp, moved the battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress. The story is told through the voices of four different women: Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah. Each of these women had secrets about where they came from, who they are, who their fathers were, and who they love. Each of the women’s stories bound them together throughout the novel emotionally and symbolically. The change in each woman’s story flowed effortlessly and leant to the dynamic retelling of this sad and tragic period in history. The dramatic end to this story will rip your heart out and leave tear-stains on your pages as you turn them. The title The Dovekeepers has a symbolic meaning throughout the story. I’ve read a lot of Hoffman’s work and I believe this to be her very best. I believe this will become a classic in the future and a novel that will be talked about in book groups, people’s living rooms, in the news and will be a bestseller. I for sure will be touting the merits of this book to anyone and everyone who will listen. Kudos to you Ms. Hoffman!
Date published: 2012-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hoffman's Best Work Yet! Story Description: Over five years in the writing, The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel, a tour de force of imagination and research, set in ancient Israel. In 70 C.E., nine-hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the horrifically brutal murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and an expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow solider. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power. The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege. All are dovekeepers and all are also keeping secrets about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love. The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s masterpiece. My Review: I have read a lot of novels about ancient Jerusalem during this era but I must begin this particular review with one word – WOW!! I was completely entranced with Alice Hoffman’s The Dovekeepers which took place during the Roman siege during the first century abbreviated as C.E. which stands for Common Era. Common Era refers to the years counting forward from the birth of Jesus. C.E. has mostly replaced the old use of A.D. in an effort to appease non-theological references and non-believers. The use of Common Era is a more accepted practice now. The Jewish war was written around 75 C.E. by a man named Flavius Josephus who was a Jewish historian. Masada was a desert fortress situated at the top of a rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert and overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada is the Hebrew word for fortress. Hoffman delivers a breathtaking account of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. In 73 C.E. the Roman Governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion. The Romans quickly built camps at the base of Masada in preparation to lay siege to it. They built massive walls and constructed a rampart, then built a huge ramp, moved the battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress. The story is told through the voices of four different women: Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah. Each of these women had secrets about where they came from, who they are, who their fathers were, and who they love. Each of the women’s stories bound them together throughout the novel emotionally and symbolically. The change in each woman’s story flowed effortlessly and leant to the dynamic retelling of this sad and tragic period in history. The dramatic end to this story will rip your heart out and leave tear-stains on your pages as you turn them. The title The Dovekeepers has a symbolic meaning throughout the story. I’ve read a lot of Hoffman’s work and I believe this to be her very best. I believe this will become a classic in the future and a novel that will be talked about in book groups, people’s living rooms, in the news and will be a bestseller. I for sure will be touting the merits of this book to anyone and everyone who will listen. Kudos to you Ms. Hoffman!
Date published: 2012-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful and beautiful From the very first pages, the women in this novel will touch you and inspire you with their strength, courage and faith. This novel sheds a whole new light on the events surrounding Masada by taking the reader into the lives and hearts of these women. The author has taken a historical event based on real women and woven one of the most beautiful novels i have read in a very long time.
Date published: 2012-02-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Liked it but mixed reviews got this one for christmas along with 8 other novels. honestly it took me a while to get into the book. i was expecting something different when i started reading. it is definitely not a fast paced reading book. it is written with beautiful detail and you can feel a lot of time and emotions was put into the novel. 4 main characters and 4 points of view about their life before and during the Roman legion and Masada. Yael the red haired fearless assassin's daughter, Aziza the witch's daughter pretending to be a boy, Revka the baker's wife and witness of a horrible murder and Shirah the witch of Moab. My favourite characters where Revka and Azzia. Honestly i found it extremely difficult to get through Yael and Shirah was a bit predictable for me. I found some parts of the book dragged on, but that is the point of this novel. The author paints this incredibly detailed picture of these 4 women's lives. How they are seen, treated and expected to act. You will find love, loss, heart ache, family bonds, bloodshed and triumph in this novel. Not a novel to blow through as i thought i could. sit down with enough time to enjoy every detail and emotion that was put into this book. Feel the strength and bonds of these 4 women and the people of Masada. You can tell the author spent a lot of time researching and preparing this novel. The end is definitely not what i thought was going to happen. Even though the novel flap already gives it away. You will be surprised at the ending. Could have been a bit shorter, but than it would not have captured all the beauty of this novel.
Date published: 2012-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Historical, lyrical, moving While learning more of historical Masada, the reader is swept into the lives of several women whose contrasting circumstances and personalities move together to overcome, or to tolerate, or to accept their destinies played out at a known and revered historical location amidst strength and struggles of the individuals that we often lose sight of, in the larger scheme of events.
Date published: 2011-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Work I really found myself immersed in this book, tho I did wish for more of each characters point of views. The story unfolds and it gives you an idea, a glimmer of what they had to go through and the ferocity of their faith. I found it a stunning piece of work and know it will be one I read over again as the years go on.
Date published: 2011-11-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Absolutely Beautiful! This review originally posted at Christa's Hooked on Books (http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot.com) Thousands of years ago when the Romans invaded Jerusalem a small group of Jews escaped to the mountain fortress of Masada. There they lived as a community, as the war raged on below them. From the little we know, when the Romans finally managed to conquer Masada they found everyone dead except two women and five children. A true historical mystery. The Dovekeepers tells the story of four women who survived the hardships of the desert and found themselves amidst the challenges of fortress life. Yael, a rejected daughter, whose skin is marked with blood, Revka, who witnessed her daughter's murder, Aziza a young girl with a warrior's spirit and Shirah, the community witch and medicine woman. Together they care for the doves, keep each other's secrets and do what they can to survive. The book begins “We had been wandering for so long I forgot what it was like to live within walls or sleep through the night. In that time I lost all that I might have possessed if Jerusalem had not fallen: a husband, a family, a future of my own. My girlhood disappeared in the desert. The person I'd once been vanished as I wrapped myself in white when the dust rose into the clouds” From the moment I read these lines was hooked. The writing in this book is so beautiful. Steeped with emotion and incredible detail is was so easy to get lost in the story. You can tell Alice Hoffman put a lot of time and effort into researching this books. I can picture the world of Masada and the desert perfectly. Though I loved all four women I think Yael and Aziza are my favourite. They are the youngest of the four but I think they are the strongest and the bravest. In many ways both are alone and instead of giving up or giving into despair, they hold on. In the face of adversity they push forward. They are continually evolving, trying to find themselves in the midst of chaos, and I find them admirable. This is an incredible piece of writing and it is truly Alice Hoffman's masterpiece. It is the perfect book to curl up with and just let yourself get lost. If you're a fan of historical fiction or are simply looking for a beautifully written and tragic story, The Dovekeepers is one you won't want to miss!
Date published: 2011-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best books this year The Good Stuff * I wish I had the words to express how wonderful this book is. I will be honest if Simon and Schuster hadn't sent it to me for review, I probably wouldn't have picked it up and let me tell you that would have been a shame. This book is haunting and sad but yet so full of hope and of the resilience of the human spirit * Beautiful raw and honest story and just so god-damned emotional to read * Exceptionally real and strong female characters * History written so it comes alive and you learn so much without feeling like you are getting a history lesson * The faults/flaws of the characters are not hidden and you see how they change and grow over the course of the story * Emotionally raw by the end of the story and had to go hug my children before I could go to bed * Obviously thoroughly researched and you feel the authors passion for the subject matter as it never comes across as dull * I would be shocked if this doesn't get made into a movie or a mini series * Further Reading at the end of the book is appreciated for those like me who will want to find out more of the history * Very wise and thought provoking * A wonderful book for various discussions about faith, forgiveness, compassion, woman's rights etc * Why are you still reading my review -- get thee to a book store now and buy it -- hello what are you waiting for The Not so Good Stuff * Could have been perfect with a some stronger editing. There is some obvious repetition that should have been caught and it would have made it a truly brilliant novel. * I was forced to stay up till a 1am to finish this and the last 15 pages or so I could barely read with the tears falling down. Alice you owe me some coffee and Kleenex & an apology to my kids for mommy being cranky from lack of sleep Favorite Quotes/Passages "Try as she might to keep him a child, Shirah's son was already straining to be a man. She called out cautions, but Adir hurried to the garrison, determined to be among the men he admired. When the wind is so strong that we women know we will choke on the rising dust if we fail to tie our scarves across our faces, boys will always ignore the elements and race through storm clouds, dreaming of glory. Even a witch can't stop her son from becoming a warrior. There is no spell great enough for that." "It was sometimes easier to be with a stranger from whom nothing was expected and to whom nothing was granted in return." "They embraced the feminine aspect of God, the Dwelling. the deep place where inspiration abided, for in the written words of God, compassion and knowledge were always female." "The desire for Jerusalem was a fire that could not be quenched. There was a spark inside the holiest of holy places that made people want to possess it, and what men yearn for they often destroy." What I Learned * Man it really sucked to be a women in ancient times, we are so lucky in this day and age to be treated, for the most part, as the equals that we are (still so far to go) * Now I really already know this, but lets just put this out again -- the persecution of Jews over and over again just completely baffles me. They truly are one of the most formidable, strong and resilient race the world has ever seen. * Tons of fascinating information about 70-75 CE Who should/shouldn't read * Will be buying a copy for my niece, sister and sister in laws for Christmas because I don't want to lend them MY copy and risk the chance of one of them --- "misplacing it" LOL * Those who enjoy a nice light read, would probably not want to pick one up. It is quite intense and detailed * Thinking those of Roman descent might be a little put off * A must have for public libraries 4.75 Dewey's I received this from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review -- thank you for once again breaking me out of my comfort zone and introducing me to something so spectacular
Date published: 2011-10-03

– More About This Product –

The Dovekeepers: A Novel

by Alice Hoffman

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 528 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 1.3 in

Published: April 3, 2012

Publisher: Scribner

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1451617488

ISBN - 13: 9781451617481

About the Book

"Dovekeepers" is Hoffman's most ambitious and mesmerizing novel about four bold, resourceful women who survive on a mountain in the Judean desert 2,000 years ago against Roman armies.

Read from the Book

The Assassin’s Daughter We came like doves across the desert. In a time when there was nothing but death, we were grateful for anything, and most grateful of all when we awoke to another day. W e had been wandering for so long I forgot what it was like to live within walls or sleep through the night. In that time I lost all I might have possessed if Jerusalem had not fallen: a husband, a family, a future of my own. My girlhood disappeared in the desert. The person I’d once been vanished as I wrapped myself in white when the dust rose into clouds. We were nomads, leaving behind beds and belongings, rugs and brass pots. Now our house was the house of the desert, black at night, brutally white at noon. They say the truest beauty is in the harshest land and that God can be found there by those with open eyes. But my eyes were closed against the shifting winds that can blind a person in an instant. Breathing itself was a miracle when the storms came whirling across the earth. The voice that arises out of the silence is something no one can imagine until it is heard. It roars when it speaks, it lies to you and convinces you, it steals from you and leaves you without a single word of comfort. Comfort cannot exist in such a place. What is brutal survives. What is cunning lives until morning. My skin was sunburned, my hands raw. I gave in to the desert, bowing to its mighty voice. Everywhere I walked my fate walked with me, sewn to my feet with red thread. All that will ev
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From the Publisher

The Dovekeepers is Alice Hoffman’s most ambitious and mesmerizing novel, a tour de force of research and imagination.

Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. Yael’s mother died in childbirth, and her father, an expert assassin, never forgave her for that death. Revka, a village baker’s wife, watched the murder of her daughter by Roman soldiers; she brings to Masada her young grandsons, rendered mute by what they have witnessed. Aziza is a warrior’s daughter, raised as a boy, a fearless rider and expert marksman who finds passion with a fellow soldier. Shirah, born in Alexandria, is wise in the ways of ancient magic and medicine, a woman with uncanny insight and power.

The lives of these four complex and fiercely independent women intersect in the desperate days of the siege. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.

About the Author

Alice Hoffman has published a total of twenty-eight works of fiction. Her novel, Here on Earth, was an Oprah Book Club choice. Practical Magic was made into a Warner film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Hoffman’s work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Hoffman is currently a visiting research scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University.

Editorial Reviews

“In her remarkable new novel, Alice Hoffman holds a mirror to our ancient past as she explores the contemporary themes of sexual desire, women''s solidarity in the face of strife, and the magic that''s quietly present in our day-to-day living. Put The Dovekeepers at the pinnacle of Hoffman''s extraordinary body of work. I was blown away.” —Wally Lamb, author of The Hour I First Believed
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