Prosper
In the pitch dark, witty fantasy novella Prosper's Demon, K. J. Parker deftly creates a world with vivid, unbending rules, seething with demons, broken faith, and worse men.In a botched demonic extraction, they say the demon feels it ten times worse than the man. But they don’t die, and we do. Equilibrium.The unnamed and morally questionable narrator is an exorcist with great follow-through and few doubts. His methods aren’t delicate but they’re undeniably effective: he’ll get the demon out—he just doesn’t particularly care what happens to the person.Prosper of Schanz is a man of science, determined to raise the world’s first philosopher-king, reared according to the purest principles. Too bad he’s demonically possessed.At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Prosper Details

TitleProsper
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 28th, 2020
PublisherTor.com
ISBN-139781250260505
Rating
GenreFantasy, Horror, Novella, Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction

Prosper Review

  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
    January 1, 1970
    I have an idea you aren't going to like me very much. By all accounts, the above quote should be correct. A morally grey, snarky, violent, heartless antihero main character? He's awful, truly, absolutely vile at times... and yet, the joke's on you, unnamed narrator, because I happened to love this protagonist.Prosper's Demon features one of the most unusual devices I've ever read, in that we follow an anonymous narrator who plays both hero and villain in his own story, and the casualties of I have an idea you aren't going to like me very much. By all accounts, the above quote should be correct. A morally grey, snarky, violent, heartless antihero main character? He's awful, truly, absolutely vile at times... and yet, the joke's on you, unnamed narrator, because I happened to love this protagonist.Prosper's Demon features one of the most unusual devices I've ever read, in that we follow an anonymous narrator who plays both hero and villain in his own story, and the casualties of his decisions are terrible at times. He's more or less remorseless, seeing things as "for the greater good" and all that, and despite how much sick satisfaction he seems to take in his own brutality at times, I couldn't help but devour every page.The demons in this story are also a bit unusual, and they don't quite follow the "Satan's legion" sort of archetypes I'm used to seeing. They've each got their own little personalities, too, especially this one particular demon our narrator has a long-standing feud with. The utter exasperation when these demons see our exorcist coming is downright hilarious. "You again?" So, in order to get Master Prosper to like me, I had to give him an opportunity to prove that he was right and I was wrong, deluded, an idiot. Easy peasy. What is most unusual about this novella, though — and coincidentally, what I adored most of all about it — is that, despite its often dark and violent nature, it is hilarious. The narrator's sense of humor is definitely a dry one, and I laughed out loud so many times reading this. I can easily see this being the sort of book I'll reach for over and over again just because it would be such a fun, quick read whenever I'm feeling slumpy or having a bad day (or just needing a good, morbid chuckle).Thank you so much to Tor.com for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review!
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  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    fulfilling book riot's 2020 read harder challenge task #17 Read a sci-fi/fantasy novella (under 120 pages)review to come!
  • Johann (jobis89)
    January 1, 1970
    “And belief, like love and sleep, is something you can’t do anything about. You can’t make it come if you want it, and you can’t make it go if you don’t.”A short and sweet review for a short and sweet novella! First of all, thank you so much to @torbooks for sending me a free copy! I dug the hell out of this one. This is not a horror book, by any stretch of the imagination - although a few parts are somewhat gory - it’s more of a fresh take on demonic possession.Our morally questionable narrator “And belief, like love and sleep, is something you can’t do anything about. You can’t make it come if you want it, and you can’t make it go if you don’t.”A short and sweet review for a short and sweet novella! First of all, thank you so much to @torbooks for sending me a free copy! I dug the hell out of this one. This is not a horror book, by any stretch of the imagination - although a few parts are somewhat gory - it’s more of a fresh take on demonic possession.Our morally questionable narrator is capable of exorcising demons from those who are possessed. His methods are effective and he really doesn’t care about the mess he leaves behind whilst doing so. He encounters Prosper of Schanz, who is a man of science aiming to raise the first philosopher-king - it’s just a shame Prosper is possessed.The writing alone blew me away. The prose is absolutely beautiful, yet manages to be both witty and satirical. The narrator’s dry humour simply had me cackling out loud at times! I would say it’s quite an intellectual read as well, it leaves with you lots to ponder and consider.It’s so incredibly short, clocking in at just under 100 pages, but so much is packed in here. There’s impressive world-building and an intriguing storyline, it’s truly impressive when an author can be this effective within so few pages!The less said the better! This is one to sit and binge in a couple of hours. Look out for it early next year. It was a lot of fun! 4.5 stars.
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  • Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    There's a lot of great stuff going on in this novella.My first, I believe reasonable, reaction was one of, "Hey! This is like Bujold's Penric's Demon!" But very quickly, it went down the rabbit hole, scaring away every mouse, drenching itself in blood, and proving that art really IS mightier than the sword.I like. A lot. I doesn't end there. It doesn't even begin there. What I got during the reading was a treatment of the prisoner's dilemma wrapped around a despoiled world much like our own and There's a lot of great stuff going on in this novella.My first, I believe reasonable, reaction was one of, "Hey! This is like Bujold's Penric's Demon!" But very quickly, it went down the rabbit hole, scaring away every mouse, drenching itself in blood, and proving that art really IS mightier than the sword.I like. A lot. I doesn't end there. It doesn't even begin there. What I got during the reading was a treatment of the prisoner's dilemma wrapped around a despoiled world much like our own and set in a boiling vat of Enlightenment-era intrigue, authoritarian bullies, and the delightful introduction of widespread institutionalized demon possession.Nice, right? So, yeah, I want MORE. A lot more. Novels worth. GIVE ME MORE! :)
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  • FanFiAddict
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 8.5/10Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of Prosper’s Demon in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this eARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novella.Prosper’s Demon is a darkly humorous take on demonic extractions, written with exquisite prose and featuring a protagonist that I absolutely loved and loathed. Only Parker (aka Tom Holt) has the chops to write something so profound and complete in such a short work.I have an idea you aren’t Rating: 8.5/10Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of Prosper’s Demon in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this eARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novella.Prosper’s Demon is a darkly humorous take on demonic extractions, written with exquisite prose and featuring a protagonist that I absolutely loved and loathed. Only Parker (aka Tom Holt) has the chops to write something so profound and complete in such a short work.I have an idea you aren’t going to like me very much.That may prove to be the only thing we’ll have in common, so let’s make the most of it.I do terrible things.When you have a morally ambiguous narrator, one who remains nameless throughout the story, that is an expert in their craft but could give less of a rip about his clientele, you are sort of left wondering by the end of the tale whether or not they were good to begin with. Sure, they do good work, what with exorcising demons and whatnot, but when it potentially costs the life of the client, aren’t they really just a murderer with a knack?I actually fell in love with the narrator. So much so that I want more in this world from Parker. There is something about a protagonist that you love to hate, like Jorg in Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy. I also felt that the setting was just so perfect for this story. We’ve seen modern-day possession stories in urban settings, and I for one am good with taking a pass on another for the time being. Lastly, the narrator’s dialogue with the demons themselves is something to behold. They are spoken to more like nuisances than the horrifying spirits we take them for, and the narrator tends to toy with and threaten them more than anything.It is sort of difficult to talk about this novella without revealing spoilers. With it being so short, even the slightest hint can lead you down a path that I’d rather you find for yourself.This wasn’t my first shot at Parker’s works, considering I read An Orc on the Wild Side in 2019, but it gives me even more incentive to tear into his backlog as I have heard so many great things about his fantasy worlds. I highly recommend this novella as it is one of my favorites to come out of Tor.com publishing.
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  • Lukasz
    January 1, 1970
    4.5/5I have an idea you aren’t going to like me very much. That may prove to be the only thing we’ll have in common, so let’s make the most of it. I do terrible things.KJ Parker has mastered the art of writing short fiction. With instantly recognizable voice, unreliable narration andhumorously cynical tone, he makes me laugh, think, and loathe his protagonists. In Prosper’s Demon the unnamed narrator can spot demons and communicate with them. The church has authorized him to evict them from 4.5/5I have an idea you aren’t going to like me very much. That may prove to be the only thing we’ll have in common, so let’s make the most of it. I do terrible things. KJ Parker has mastered the art of writing short fiction. With instantly recognizable voice, unreliable narration and humorously cynical tone, he makes me laugh, think, and loathe his protagonists. In Prosper’s Demon the unnamed narrator can spot demons and communicate with them. The church has authorized him to evict them from their human hosts. While keeping the host healthy should be his priority, it means little to him. The truth is, he doesn’t give a damn about his fellow human beings and he knows scruples only from theory. Demons call him an evil lunatic and that should tell you everything you need to know about him.Demons don’t die. They change hosts. When a demon with whom the narrator has a grudge takes over a royal child, things get complicated. Especially that a royal tutor and genius, Prosper of Schanz, may be inhabited by a demon as well. The narrator will have to make a difficult choice - expelling the demon will deprive the world of more masterworks. And if the narrator believes in anything, it's in genius.We live in a miserable world, where the best we can honestly hope for is that one empty, meaningless day will follow another without things getting actively worse. (...)only two things live forever, the instruments of darkness and works of genius. At 116 pages, it packs much more of everything than most novels succeed in 500 pages. KJ Parker is brilliant and Prosper's Demon proves he's still in prime form.ARC through NetGalley
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  • Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 StarsAs someone loves dark fantasy and possession stories, this novella was one of my most anticipated releases for 2020. From the premise, I thought it could be a new favourite, but I was disappointed to find that this piece of short fiction did not quite fit my expectations.This novella was written in a very literary style. While this is common for Tor.com novellas, I was still hoping for a bit more focus on plot, given the synopsis. The narrative voice of the main character was easily the 2.5 StarsAs someone loves dark fantasy and possession stories, this novella was one of my most anticipated releases for 2020. From the premise, I thought it could be a new favourite, but I was disappointed to find that this piece of short fiction did not quite fit my expectations.This novella was written in a very literary style. While this is common for Tor.com novellas, I was still hoping for a bit more focus on plot, given the synopsis. The narrative voice of the main character was easily the strongest aspect of this story. He was purposely written to be an unlikeable protagonist and was very self aware of his flaws. I found his discussions surrounding demon possessions to be fairly interesting, but eventually I wanted movement in the plot itself. Eventually the story does pick up, but there was just not enough emphasis on the action for my personal reading tastes. So, overall, this was a dark read that I would recommend to literary fantasy and horror readers. Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, Tor.com
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  • The Artisan Geek
    January 1, 1970
    ------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------17/11/19I really enjoyed Prosper's Demon! It was a dark but funny read altogether, with a marvellous ending!! A full review is to come!! ;)13/11/19Oh my gosh! Look at that cover!! A sincere thank you to tor.com for gifting me a copy of this book. :) Can't wait!!You can find me onYoutube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
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  • Justine
    January 1, 1970
    See this review and others at Whispers & Wonder Sometimes I wonder if it's more that I hate Them than that I love my fellow humans. But nobody pays me to think that, so I don't do it often.Prosper's Demon was my first descent into the mind of K.J. Parker, and what a curious and entertaining introduction it has been. Upon turning the final page, I immediately questioned why I've waited so long to finally dive into the works of such an incredible author, and truly regretted not doing so See this review and others at Whispers & Wonder Sometimes I wonder if it's more that I hate Them than that I love my fellow humans. But nobody pays me to think that, so I don't do it often.Prosper's Demon was my first descent into the mind of K.J. Parker, and what a curious and entertaining introduction it has been. Upon turning the final page, I immediately questioned why I've waited so long to finally dive into the works of such an incredible author, and truly regretted not doing so sooner. This story is told with such beautiful and sophisticated prose just dripping with wit and sarcasm, making this an engaging narrative posing many philosophical questions that continue to linger. It's a strange one, one that I haven't read the likes of before, and one that I enjoyed immensely.We're delivered to a historical Renaissance-reminiscent setting during an age of enlightenment that feels remarkably realistic and familiar. The most beloved figures are those that contribute to the intellectual and technological advancement of society. Allow me introduce Prosper of Schanz, renowned and highly sought after genius of the arts and sciences. Oh, and he's possessed by a demon. Yes, this world is populated by a finite number of demons; ones that can hurt, but cannot die. Instead they attach themselves to unfortunate and unsuspecting souls to survive and thrive. The final stand against this scourge is a sanctioned order of demon hunters.Enter our anonymous and unreliable narrator, who's determined to consistently break the fourth wall to tell us his tale as a charming rhetorical conversationalist. Let's rewind – what I meant to say was a callous and sardonic man capable of seeing, interacting with, and exorcising the demons that plague the world. While proficient in his craft, his hatred for Them has caused him to lose touch with his humanity, and his ultimate goal is to win…no matter the cost. I absolutely loved this character, even though he himself told me otherwise. And I suggest you take everything he says with a grain of salt.As for the story itself, I don't want to give too much away, as this is a short novella that clocks in at about 100 pages. The narrator injects the main plot with tiny insights into his past that aid in evolving our understanding of not only the world built around us, but his motivations, as well. The depth Parker is able to achieve with such a small amount of real estate is just astonishing. I will, however, tell you that the ending completely blindsided me, and it was just absolute perfection.There's really nothing more to say other than you need to read this book. I made my way through this in just a couple hours, and I was left wholly satisfied. If you're one that enjoys duplicitous tales with characters that fall into that lovely morally gray area, infused with some dark humor and the fantastical, then look no further, Prosper's Demon is the one for you. I highly recommend.Note: A huge thank you to the author and Tor.com for providing me with a complementary copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Anton
    January 1, 1970
    Delightful new novella kindred in style to Blue and Gold. Clever, witty and cynical... A great example of Parker’s writing.Enjoyed a lot! It is definitely one of the better ones...
  • Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from Tor.com in exchange for an honest review!I wanted to like this more than I did.It's a very interesting premise and a fresh take on demonic possessions. But I never felt like I had enough of a grasp on the world to fully understand what in the hell (pun slightly intended) was going on. It's interesting and written well, but in the end I felt like it lacked details that made it fully immersive for me as a reader.
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  • Christine Sandquist (eriophora)
    January 1, 1970
    This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks. I have an idea you aren’t going to like me very much. That may prove to be the only thing we’ll have in common, so let’s make the most of it. Prosper’s Demon is an absolutely stellar example of KJ Parker's signature wit. As always, Parker's protagonist is more than a bit of an asshole, but you have to love the wry, humorous prose he's couched in. This would be a great entry point for someone new to Parker's short fiction, This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks. I have an idea you aren’t going to like me very much. That may prove to be the only thing we’ll have in common, so let’s make the most of it. Prosper’s Demon is an absolutely stellar example of KJ Parker's signature wit. As always, Parker's protagonist is more than a bit of an asshole, but you have to love the wry, humorous prose he's couched in. This would be a great entry point for someone new to Parker's short fiction, given how thoroughly it epitomizes the tone and characters he's known for. Although this novella shares a universe with My Beautiful Life, they are both stand-alone and independent of one another. Parker has a penchant for nameless narrators, and Prosper’s Demon continues that trend. It’s an interesting stylistic choice, especially since it’s hardly noticeable up until you begin writing about the book in question. You start to write a sentence saying that did such and such, and then you backtrack - wait, what’s his name? DID he have a name? Oh, huh, he didn’t have a name . Parker manages to draw you into the head of his characters so thoroughly that you never stop to consider the fact that you don’t even have a word to call them. It’s the purest of first person stream-of-consciousness style narrations, eliminating all the chaff. The reader is meant to BECOME the main character, to insert themselves into the novella, and to experience what it would be like to be such a complete and utter asshole themselves. It’s fascinating.  The novella opens on, well, a murder scene. And I do mean opens on it - the very first sentence describes the corpse lying on the bed. It’s established quite quickly that our anonymous narrator is not the best person out there, given that he’s the murderer. Sure, a demon made him do it - but he also chose to put himself in a position that gave the demon and opening to sneak into him while he was asleep. But, regardless, it’s up to the reader whether or not the good he does balances out the bad, so off goes the body down a nice deep crevasse. Thus does Parker set the stage for this little demon hunting tale.  I WOKE TO FIND her lying next to me, quite dead, with her throat torn out. The pillow was shiny and sodden with blood, like low-lying pasture after a week of heavy rain. The taste in my mouth was familiar, revolting, and unmistakable. I spat into my cupped hand; bright red. Oh, for crying out loud, I thought. Here we go again. Really, though, our dear narrator is less of a hunter and more of a shepherd. The demons can’t die, but they can be shuffled along and weakened. He was born with the ability to see and interact with demons, which is quite rare in this world. He first encountered a demon all the way back when he was in his mother’s womb, when a demon attempted to hide in her and recover after having suffered a grievous injury. This did not go very well for the demon, and likely contributed quite a bit to the somewhat skewed moral compass our narrator now possesses.  The narrator’s semi-lucrative demon-shepherding trade is sanctioned by the Church, though the demons are working on discrediting the whole institution altogether with mixed success. Sometimes he’s welcomed into villages, and other times he’s given the cold shoulder. On the whole, people are usually glad to see him when they need him but would very much prefer he not wear out his welcome after the demons have been exorcised. Largely, this is due to the fact that exorcisms are messy at best. It is not a clean process to extract a demon. They latch on to their host’s minds, and pulling them out tends to do quite a bit of damage. On the flip side, however, the demons aren’t a huge fan of the exorcism process either - it’s painful in a way that we mere mortals could never understand. Thus, sometimes the best option is to bargain with them and convince them that leaving on their own is in their best interests.  Give me five minutes, It said. At which point, you have to make a decision. You consider the amount of damage It’s already done—in this case, a broken leg, because I’d heard it break, and almost certainly a rib or two, high chance of internal bleeding, the little bastards never can resist playing—and then you weigh the harm It’ll do if you leave It in there a moment longer against the havoc It could cause if you have to yank It out. Factor against all that the pain and trauma It’ll feel being extracted, of which It’s so very, very scared; and then you ask yourself, is It really so tired and hungry that It’ll risk being manhandled, or is It simply trying it on, the way They all do, 999 times in 1,000?  This way of life is all well and good for dear Narrator, right up until he finds a demon inhabiting the premier scholar of their kingdom: the good Master Prosper. It’s quite a subtle little thing, and rather more aesthetically pleasing compared to the ones he’s used to (by which I mean that it looks like a very attractive young woman rather than the nasty crabby-gooey things he typically sees). He’s set to be the mentor for the Duchess’ as yet unborn child. Naturally, the unborn child also has a demon inside of it. All around, this is not a great situation for anyone - and so, he bargains.  Fine, It said as It saw me scowling in at It through some poor devil’s eyes. I give up. I’ll go quietly. No, you won’t, I said. I’ve got a job for you. You what? You’re going to do something for me, I said. Or I’ll hurt you so badly you’ll remember the pain every day for the rest of your everlasting life. Two pale eyes gazed at me. If I’d been capable of pity, I’d have felt it. You’re serious, aren’t you? About the job, yes. And the pain. Completely stunned. Tens of thousands of years of existence, you think you’ve heard it all, but apparently not. You want me to help you? I nodded. Collaboration, I told It. It’s the next big thing. In exchange for helping Prosper’s titular demon out with Prosper’s art project, the demon agrees to do a bit less harm in the short term. Sure, our narrator will be assisting with their long game plan, but at least the people in his own generation will feel a bit less pain for it. Tit for tat, after all. As mentioned above: Collaboration is the next big thing. And so, they embark on a quest of artistic vision: to create the large bronze statue in the world. It will be magnificent, glorious, a monument to mankind. It might even be worth the cost. There’s only one way to find out.  It’s damned impressive how much fun Parker makes reading about asshole main characters. You love to hate them. They murder, they make horrible decisions, they lie and cheat and steal. But the prose is light, wry, and witty. His plotting makes it clear contextually that the main character is horrible, and so it never feels apologetic. If anything, it wallows in it, joyfully. Parker makes no attempt whatsoever to truly justify the actions of his characters, and it makes for an entertaining and hilarious read about awful human beings. It almost reminds me of a Quentin Tarantino film, if Tarantino wasn’t a foot fetishist and was actually witty.  Anyway, the real takeaway here: I thoroughly enjoyed this novella, and you should read it too if you like witty assholes who shepherd around demons.More reviews can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks.
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  • Liviu
    January 1, 1970
    This is a novella set in the magic/demons etc universe (sort of, as details sometimes vary, but with Saloninus, Invisible Sun etc) of the author and it is one of the best of its sort - I generally prefer the smaller scale pieces in this universe, but Prosper's Demon which touches on the bigger scale issues (for example, we find out that there are some 70K odd demons per religious authority, but any demon hunter/exorciser will generally encounter only a few as they tend to stay local) manages to This is a novella set in the magic/demons etc universe (sort of, as details sometimes vary, but with Saloninus, Invisible Sun etc) of the author and it is one of the best of its sort - I generally prefer the smaller scale pieces in this universe, but Prosper's Demon which touches on the bigger scale issues (for example, we find out that there are some 70K odd demons per religious authority, but any demon hunter/exorciser will generally encounter only a few as they tend to stay local) manages to stay interesting and believable until the end, while keeping one turning pages to see what happens next and posing some interesting questions (eg is it better to have 1000 years (say - a long period on an order of magnitude greater than any human life if you want) of relative peace and prosperity followed by the brutal destruction of society or 1000 years of strife that keep going etc...) all written in the usual unreliable first-person narration of a very unlikable but compelling narrator that is the trademark of the author especially in his short pieces.Put in some art, science, engineering, and a huge sculpture and overall an extremely satisfying novella up to its explosive climax. Highly recommended
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  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    Perfect Parker. If you’re a fan already then this 100 page novella has all the best features of his writing. It’s set in a typical Parker late Medieval world, which doesn’t have to be described in detail as its secondary to the story. The story is about our first person narrator who casts out demons from people who are usually unknowingly possessed by them. This world has a number of such demons, looking for a home in human minds, just enough of them to give him a living in this profession. Our Perfect Parker. If you’re a fan already then this 100 page novella has all the best features of his writing. It’s set in a typical Parker late Medieval world, which doesn’t have to be described in detail as its secondary to the story. The story is about our first person narrator who casts out demons from people who are usually unknowingly possessed by them. This world has a number of such demons, looking for a home in human minds, just enough of them to give him a living in this profession. Our exorcist has to dig into an individual’s mind to do his job, so perhaps a loose link to the fine Parker novel, The Last Witness, where a practitioner is described who removes memories from individuals by also delving into their mind.It doesn’t quite have the entertaining meanderings away from the central storyline of other larger Parker novels, but we still get a detailed lesson on casting large bronze statues, and discussions on morality and great art!Shame it was so quick a read as I enjoyed every page, but it was just the right length for the interesting, wryly amusing and sometimes shocking story (as in the very first paragraph) the author wants to tell. Some concepts are left a little unfinished in this short book, for the reader to reflect on I think, such as the exorcist noting that as he grows up the demons he communicates with get smarter and more articulate too - a symbiotic relationship left unspoken?Recommended for Parker fans and also a more accessible, short, introduction to his style for beginners...
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  • Justine
    January 1, 1970
    Originally posted to I Should Read ThatI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.Prosper’s Demon was one of my most highly anticipated January releases, in part because of its astonishing cover -- yes, I am shallow. While this horror novella wasn’t necessarily what I expected or craved, I enjoyed this strange and snarky tale of demonic possession and exorcism.This novella is a funny one, because while it does everything it says in the blurb it Originally posted to I Should Read ThatI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.Prosper’s Demon was one of my most highly anticipated January releases, in part because of its astonishing cover -- yes, I am shallow. While this horror novella wasn’t necessarily what I expected or craved, I enjoyed this strange and snarky tale of demonic possession and exorcism.This novella is a funny one, because while it does everything it says in the blurb it is much more literary than I expected. Novellas are obviously shorter than your standard book, so space on the page is at a premium. I really liked the plot, but the focus of the book wasn't the plot. There were pages of musings on philosophy and art that, although I enjoyed them, didn’t seem to quite fit in with the novella format. I think I expected a more straightforward narrative and while I did like this aspect of the book, it prevented me from adoring this book as much as I might have otherwise and I think it will turn off some readers. Despite this, Prosper’s Demon is a fun and snarky romp through a historical fantasy setting, mostly due to the fantastic nameless narrator. He’s an exorcist and self-proclaimed asshole who is incredibly morally grey -- the book opens with him waking up next to a dead body and he is mildly annoyed and inconvenienced rather than horrified. I really think that his voice and morally dubious nature is the factor that ties this story together -- Prosper’s Demon might otherwise have just been a forgettable novella with some good ideas.Overall, I did enjoy this book and am so pleased I had the chance to read it. If you’re looking for an unconventional and entertaining novella, I’d highly recommend Prosper’s Demon. 3.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Tor.com for providing me with a copy of Prosper's Demon via Netgalley in exchange for my open and honest review.Prosper's demon, written by author K.J. Parker is a ride through sarcasm, nihilism, and philosophical morality. Even though the ending made the reading of the rest of the story worth it, this book is not for everyone. It employs time jumps, a stream of conscious writing style, and an unreliable narrator. All is not what it seems with this story. The story starts with a Thank you to Tor.com for providing me with a copy of Prosper's Demon via Netgalley in exchange for my open and honest review.Prosper's demon, written by author K.J. Parker is a ride through sarcasm, nihilism, and philosophical morality. Even though the ending made the reading of the rest of the story worth it, this book is not for everyone. It employs time jumps, a stream of conscious writing style, and an unreliable narrator. All is not what it seems with this story. The story starts with a person named Prosper of Schanz. He is a scholar, artist, visionary, and thinker - ultimate creator. He is also currently populated by a demon. Demons exist; they live inside of people; they do damage, and have machinations. Because they cannot die and have been alive for possibly billions of years, they play the long game. Their ideas and schemes can be thwarted, but much like a river, they find other avenues to flow down. They find different ways of achieving their goals. Removing the demon can cause damage that can cause irreparable harm to the human. It is very Sisyphean.Enter our unreliable narrator. He is an anonymous exorcist who can see these demons and pluck them from the souls and bodies of those they inhabit. He is an entirely unlikeable, and unempathetic. He has this gift that he has cultivated over his comparably short lifetime that allows him to interact with a demon. But for him, it is always the end's justify the means. If the human is damaged or die from having a demon removed, that is on the demon, not the exorcist. It is a morally bankrupt position to take, but that lack of care representative of the type of character the exorcist is. Prosper's demon and the anonymous exorcist have a battle of wits through the course of the novel. Or at least that is what I think the author intended to portray. It is more like a battle of wits on the part of Prosper, and someone who is utterly uninterested on the part of the exorcist. The conversations between the two of them are confusing and banal. This story is a short one clocking in at 100 pages. At 50%, I could not figure out who was talking, anything much about the characters or their intentions, and anything about the environment. The dialog is written in a stream of conscious style that made it difficult to figure out who is speaking. In the last 50% of this book, it got easier to figure out what was going on, but at this point, I didn't care about any of the characters and frankly just wanted to be done. I wanted to like this book, and I gave it a higher star rating at three stars because I know that for some readers, this kind of storytelling is fantastic, and Prosper's Demon was done very well if you enjoy these types of narratives. But it wasn't for me. If you would like to read more of my reviews or various other bookish things, please come by my blog at https://beforewegoblog.com/
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    Prosper’s Demon is a darkly funny novella about an exorcist.The story is well told, through the snarky, sarcastic voice of the narrator. Even though the tone is funny, the writing is absolutely beautifully crafted, There were stunningly vivid descriptive phrases that really caught my eye.“The pillow was shiny and sodden with blood, like low-lying pasture after a week of heavy rain.”The plot itself is pretty fast-paced, there’s not much space for unnecessary details. Parker does a really good Prosper’s Demon is a darkly funny novella about an exorcist.The story is well told, through the snarky, sarcastic voice of the narrator. Even though the tone is funny, the writing is absolutely beautifully crafted, There were stunningly vivid descriptive phrases that really caught my eye.“The pillow was shiny and sodden with blood, like low-lying pasture after a week of heavy rain.”The plot itself is pretty fast-paced, there’s not much space for unnecessary details. Parker does a really good job of explaining the world-building and developing the main character. I might have liked to learn a bit more about the world and how the demons fit in, but it was a solid enough base for the story to set itself. The ending was really clever and surprised me.The main issue I had with Prosper’s Demon was just that I wanted it to be more. Not in terms of length, the story is told perfectly within the shorter word count and I think the author made the right chose to fit it to a novella instead of a novel. However, because of the summary, the cover and the first few paragraphs, I thought the story would be darker, maybe even more disturbing.A darkly funny, quick novella that’s sharp and unusual enough to be surprising.A deeply memorable read.
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  • Jonathan Strahan
    January 1, 1970
    A really strong instalment from Parker, one of his better novellas of recent year.
  • J.A. Ironside
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest reviewProsper's Demon is a strange, compelling little tale. Told from the POV of a cleric/ demon hunter (though not in the Winchester way) the reader is taken on a journey through a world like ours or a historical version of ours, but different. Demons exist alongside humans but they are unseen and intangible to all but those with particular aptitude. Demon nature seems to be to cause mischief and harm which they do via possession. The ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest reviewProsper's Demon is a strange, compelling little tale. Told from the POV of a cleric/ demon hunter (though not in the Winchester way) the reader is taken on a journey through a world like ours or a historical version of ours, but different. Demons exist alongside humans but they are unseen and intangible to all but those with particular aptitude. Demon nature seems to be to cause mischief and harm which they do via possession. The clerical order dedicated to casting them out is hardly about peace and light either - a lot of harm is often done in the 'eviction' process. Our MC has a longstanding animosity with a particular demon and what follows is a sort of cops and robbers journey where the demon, often desperately trying to escape the MC, is pursued by the man he made an eternal enemy of. It's dark in many ways, but the tone is light. This is a fun read with a tongue in cheek poke at goodness versus evil, and life versus art thrown in. The narrator introduces himself by saying that the reader won't like him. This isn't strictly true. We're not meant to like him because his moral compass is skewed and his actions are often reprehensible, but he is a very compelling character. If you have to like your MC or they need to be 'good' this may not be for you. I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it.
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  • Stefan Fergus
    January 1, 1970
    Fantastic. Another intriguing novella, with a fascinating narrator and story. Superb.
  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Tor.com for providing me with a copy of Prosper's Demon via Netgalley in exchange for my open and honest review.Prosper's demon, written by author K.J. Parker is a ride through sarcasm, nihilism, and philosophical morality. Even though the ending made the reading of the rest of the story worth it, this book is not for everyone. It employs time jumps, a stream of conscious writing style, and an unreliable narrator. All is not what it seems with this story. The story starts with a Thank you to Tor.com for providing me with a copy of Prosper's Demon via Netgalley in exchange for my open and honest review.Prosper's demon, written by author K.J. Parker is a ride through sarcasm, nihilism, and philosophical morality. Even though the ending made the reading of the rest of the story worth it, this book is not for everyone. It employs time jumps, a stream of conscious writing style, and an unreliable narrator. All is not what it seems with this story. The story starts with a person named Prosper of Schanz. He is a scholar, artist, visionary, and thinker - ultimate creator. He is also currently populated by a demon. Demons exist; they live inside of people; they do damage, and have machinations. Because they cannot die and have been alive for possibly billions of years, they play the long game. Their ideas and schemes can be thwarted, but much like a river, they find other avenues to flow down. They find different ways of achieving their goals. Removing the demon can cause damage that can cause irreparable harm to the human. It is very Sisyphean.Enter our unreliable narrator. He is an anonymous exorcist who can see these demons and pluck them from the souls and bodies of those they inhabit. He is an entirely unlikeable, and unempathetic. He has this gift that he has cultivated over his comparably short lifetime that allows him to interact with a demon. But for him, it is always the end's justify the means. If the human is damaged or die from having a demon removed, that is on the demon, not the exorcist. It is a morally bankrupt position to take, but that lack of care representative of the type of character the exorcist is. Prosper's demon and the anonymous exorcist have a battle of wits through the course of the novel. Or at least that is what I think the author intended to portray. It is more like a battle of wits on the part of Prosper, and someone who is utterly uninterested on the part of the exorcist. The conversations between the two of them are confusing and banal. This story is a short one clocking in at 100 pages. At 50%, I could not figure out who was talking, anything much about the characters or their intentions, and anything about the environment. The dialog is written in a stream of conscious style that made it difficult to figure out who is speaking. In the last 50% of this book, it got easier to figure out what was going on, but at this point, I didn't care about any of the characters and frankly just wanted to be done. I wanted to like this book, and I gave it a higher star rating at three stars because I know that for some readers, this kind of storytelling is fantastic, and Prosper's Demon was done very well if you enjoy these types of narratives. But it wasn't for me. If you would like to read more of my reviews or various other bookish things, please come by my blog at https://beforewegoblog.com/
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  • Gerhard
    January 1, 1970
    The attention to detail that KJ Parker evinced in the Two of Swords series is on full display here. The tone is equally acerbic and drily amusing, as with the account of Prosper of Schanz attempting to cast the largest bronze horse statue ever seen in this version of demon-infested Renaissance Europe. If the Trojan horse immediately springs to mind, note this is not a casual reference … but in a completely unexpected manner that makes for an explosive ending.Not to mention an ending that seems The attention to detail that KJ Parker evinced in the Two of Swords series is on full display here. The tone is equally acerbic and drily amusing, as with the account of Prosper of Schanz attempting to cast the largest bronze horse statue ever seen in this version of demon-infested Renaissance Europe. If the Trojan horse immediately springs to mind, note this is not a casual reference … but in a completely unexpected manner that makes for an explosive ending.Not to mention an ending that seems far too abrupt. The reader is just getting to grips with the unnamed narrator’s frankly quite horrifying world – where 15 million humans are haunted and periodically possessed by 72 936 demons (the official stats are supplied by the Church), and protected by a handful of ‘immune’ exorcists – when it ends. Hopefully Parker returns to Prosper’s Renaissance vision, as this wondrous and violent world needs another visit or two, at least.Prosper of Schanz, of course, also seems to be modelled on Leonardi da Vinci, another restless genius way ahead of his time (whether or not he himself was demon-possessed, who knows?) I felt that the subtext of art as a force for good, and what is the true legacy of a great artist, is kind of an afterthought here.It is almost as if Parker felt he needed some philosophical rumination to balance out the copious bloodletting. This is definitely more Parker than it is a manifestation of Tom Holt (perhaps Parker’s own fictional literary demon?), but is well-worth reading if you enjoy evocative world-building.
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  • Strix
    January 1, 1970
    lmao that ending
  • Jon Adams
    January 1, 1970
    The protagonist is despicable and I loved it.
  • Laura (crofteereader)
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you NetGalley and Tordotcom for the advanced copy; all thoughts are my own.So this one is everything I would expect from a Tordotcom novella: short, smart, weird, and an absolute blast (pun intended, but you'll have to read it to find out why). Our nameless narrator has such a brilliant colloquial tone as he describes his lifelong battle with an immortal enemy. There's also a very clever moral balancing act at play that we see in bits and pieces.Obviously, the length is an important factor Thank you NetGalley and Tordotcom for the advanced copy; all thoughts are my own.So this one is everything I would expect from a Tordotcom novella: short, smart, weird, and an absolute blast (pun intended, but you'll have to read it to find out why). Our nameless narrator has such a brilliant colloquial tone as he describes his lifelong battle with an immortal enemy. There's also a very clever moral balancing act at play that we see in bits and pieces.Obviously, the length is an important factor in a successful novella. That means picking and choosing what to leave out. Personally, I would have wanted more about the world and the other people like our narrator - if they all have similar origins, why they think he's weird/different. And there are a few things that end up feeling almost like an afterthought (like the narrator's sister).I guess part of the problem comes with the sense of inevitability at the end. The way the whole story is set up, you're left with that dreaded sense of "what was the point?" And I guess the point was that it was a fun read. I'd definitely be interested in more books/stories/novellas by this author
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    Prosper's Demon by K.J. Parker is a somehow delightful novella about a man who has the special "gift" of detecting and removing demons that have taken residence in other humans. This man has found himself in a constant stuggle with one particular demon that can't seem to leave him alone.Told in first person, the narrator's sarcastic and self-deprecating tone really worked for me. The narrator is a deeply flawed human, which made for an interesting exploration of the nature of so-called heroes Prosper's Demon by K.J. Parker is a somehow delightful novella about a man who has the special "gift" of detecting and removing demons that have taken residence in other humans. This man has found himself in a constant stuggle with one particular demon that can't seem to leave him alone.Told in first person, the narrator's sarcastic and self-deprecating tone really worked for me. The narrator is a deeply flawed human, which made for an interesting exploration of the nature of so-called heroes and villains. I also enjoyed the setting of the novella, where the idea of demons is just beginning to go out of style in favor of scientific explanations for possession, which gives the reader just enough pause to wonder what is really going on. Overall, Prosper's Demon is a nice short read to spend an afternoon with.
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  • Raksha
    January 1, 1970
    ARC sent to me by the publisher, Tor, at my request.Prosper’s Demon is the dark, satirical fantasy that you didn’t know you needed, until you did."Sometimes I’m so stupid, I’m amazed I manage to breathe."Prosper of Schanz, a genius, finest painter and sculptor, gifted musician, yada yada (with the tiny problem of being possessed by your friendly neighbourhood demon, no biggie), wants to raise the newly born prince to be the first philosopher king.Enter our unnamed narrator, a cynical, ARC sent to me by the publisher, Tor, at my request.Prosper’s Demon is the dark, satirical fantasy that you didn’t know you needed, until you did."Sometimes I’m so stupid, I’m amazed I manage to breathe."Prosper of Schanz, a genius, finest painter and sculptor, gifted musician, yada yada (with the tiny problem of being possessed by your friendly neighbourhood demon, no biggie), wants to raise the newly born prince to be the first philosopher king.Enter our unnamed narrator, a cynical, pessimistic exorcist, who doesn’t care about the mess he leaves behind as long as he gets the demon out.Things I loved:⤀the narrator. I love this dry-humoured, callous exorcist so much.⤀the writing. I’m amazed at how much I loved this tiny book, considering it’s less than a 100 pages, with all its characters and the world-building.⤀the cover. You might call me shallow but LOOK AT IT! One of my favourite covers of this year!This has completely changed how I look at short fiction and I would suggest checking this out if you love dark fantasy with a dose of humour.Rating: 4.5/5 rounded off to 5.P.S: That quote should be the tagline for the movie that is my life. Seriously. I’m having it printed on a t-shirt.Prosper's Demon is out on January 28, 2020.The quote above was taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: A twisty, clever and irreverent story about demonic possession.So apparently K.J. Parker is a pseudonym for author Tom Holt, and this has been common knowledge for the past five years. I just got that memo, lol, but even if I didn’t know this, it wouldn’t change my opinion of Prosper’s Demon at all. I loved this short I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: A twisty, clever and irreverent story about demonic possession.So apparently K.J. Parker is a pseudonym for author Tom Holt, and this has been common knowledge for the past five years. I just got that memo, lol, but even if I didn’t know this, it wouldn’t change my opinion of Prosper’s Demon at all. I loved this short novella to pieces! This is my first time reading either Parker or Holt, so I’m going into this story with completely fresh and unbiased eyes. Told by an unnamed narrator who can “see” demons in people and expel them, Prosper’s Demon tells the story of a brilliant artist and scientist named Prosper of Schanz who has taken on two seemingly impossible challenges: first, he has been granted permission to oversee the social and educational development of the newly born Prince of Essen, imagining a future “philosopher king” who will be a perfect human specimen. And second, he wants to engineer and build a gigantic bronze horse to display in the palace, which will be the largest and most complex bronze statue ever built.Unbeknownst to Prosper, his artistic ability and ingenuity are due to an uninvited demon living inside him, a demon the narrator refers to as “She.” Our narrator, chasing after a different demon who so recently forced him to murder a young woman, gains access to the Palace and befriends Prosper, convinced he'll be able to easily expel the demon inside him. But Prosper's demon is one he's never met before, and it doesn't take long for our narrator to get caught up in the demon's scheme. She confides that She’s been working on a project She calls the “grand design” for hundreds of years, and that Prosper will bring her plan even closer to fruition. So what does our narrator do with that interesting information? That is for you to find out when you read this book!This idea has the potential for a much longer book, and yet Parker tells this unusual story in just 112 pages. I’m always amazed when authors can condense a story into such a small package and still succeed at plot, pacing and characterization, but that’s just what Parker has done here.My favorite part of the book is definitely the voice of the narrator whose wry humor was a perfect backdrop for his unorthodox occupation. He starts the story by admitting “I have an idea you aren’t going to like me very much,” and goes on to inform us that there are precisely 72,936 demons in existence, and that in his jurisdiction he’s responsible for monitoring 109 of those. Because of that, he keeps running into the same demons over and over, including a demon who’s given him plenty of grief over the years. He can “smell” demons and communicate with them telepathically. He simply has to order them “out” of the body, and they must comply. However, there are risks with expelling demons, and Parker gleefully goes into the sometimes gory details of these exorcisms.The story also dips back into the narrator’s past as he tells us how he discovered he had the ability to see and expel demons as a child and some of what he’s learned over the years. This is where the author added some nice emotional moments, and again, I thought this was so well done, considering how short this story is. And if you’ve ever wondered how bronze statues are made, then pay attention! Prosper’s Demon goes into fascinating (and at times, excruciating) detail about the process. I personally was fascinated. The ending did wrap up rather too quickly, but it was the only stumble I can think of in an otherwise stellar novella.Laugh out loud funny, endlessly fascinating and filled with wickedly gruesome moments, Prosper’s Demon is a dark and entertaining treat.Big thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy.This review originally appeared on Books, Bones & Buffy
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  • Austine (NovelKnight)
    January 1, 1970
    Check out the original review and more on NovelKnight! This book was provided by the publisher (via NetGalley). This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. I've found the best way to enjoy a book is going in with no expectations, and that' exactly what I did withProsper's Demon. This witty, wicked little book was exactly what I didn't know I needed, offering up a serving of snarky commentary on a world that could almost be our own if it weren't for the fact that Check out the original review and more on NovelKnight! This book was provided by the publisher (via NetGalley). This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. I've found the best way to enjoy a book is going in with no expectations, and that' exactly what I did with Prosper's Demon. This witty, wicked little book was exactly what I didn't know I needed, offering up a serving of snarky commentary on a world that could almost be our own if it weren't for the fact that demons abound. But I'm getting ahead of myself.Our narrator, as the synopsis says, is both lacking in name and an exorcist of demons. He's not always the most reliable voice and his choices are often on the questionable side but he's almost a good person. It depends on the day. This ambiguous moral compass is exactly what sucked me into the story because you're in his head. You're experiencing the world as he does when he does, the decisions to be made, the tough choices where there are no good choices, only the lesser of two evils.There were sort of two stories going on despite the short length of the novella. We have the narrator, the exorcist, traveling around and evicting demons from human hosts who is faced with the choice of defeating evil now to hinder the Greater Plan marginally in the future. And then there's his relationship/vendetta against one demon in particular. Somehow both stories combine into this overarching examination of belief vs science, good vs evil, and reality vs art. To be honest, I expected Prosper's Demon to be... darker. After all, we're dealing with demons and exorcism and just look at the cover! Doesn't it suggest something less light and fluffy? But turns out looks are deceiving because though there are darker undertones to the commentary as a whole, the actual story presentation is lighter. Conversational. Even the narrator, who makes the claim that we as the reader won't be a fan of him, is intriguing. Yes, he does some questionable things and blurs the line between good and evil to the point that it no longer exists, but there was that little bit of goodness. He thinks about doing the right thing even when that's not always what happens, and it's enough of a redemption to hook me as a reader.I don't have much else to say about Prosper's Demon. If you like your protagonists with a twisted sense of humor and demons who aren't your typical demons, and some backhanded commentary on greater world questions, I think you're really going to enjoy this short book. I couldn't get enough and almost wish it was longer (though that would likely take away from its charm).Make sure to have Prosper's Demon on your reading radar!For More Bookish Content: Blog || Twitter || Facebook || Bloglovin'
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  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    I remember the first time I read K.J. Parker. It was a weird experience, because the narrative was unassuming, and the story felt like it flowed on its own without any real sense of direction. Both of those characteristics were completely wrong, though: Parker shines because of the sly way he writes a story, leading you to that turning point near the end of the story where you stop, hold your breath, and just say, "Oh."Prosper's Demon is a good K.J. Parker story, but it doesn't compare with the I remember the first time I read K.J. Parker. It was a weird experience, because the narrative was unassuming, and the story felt like it flowed on its own without any real sense of direction. Both of those characteristics were completely wrong, though: Parker shines because of the sly way he writes a story, leading you to that turning point near the end of the story where you stop, hold your breath, and just say, "Oh."Prosper's Demon is a good K.J. Parker story, but it doesn't compare with the genius of The Devil You Know, The Last Witness, or (his thus-far masterpiece, at least based on what I've read so far) Purple and Black. It doesn't feel quite as tight or as profound as those works, and while it's hardly fair to rate this story based on what else Parker has done, it still doesn't have the kind of OOMPH that sets any story by any writer above all the rest. It's serviceable and entertaining, but it needs a little bit more of Parker's special sauce.Of course, this IS a Parker story, and a mediocre Parker story is a lot better than the best of what a lot of other authors can produce. I can see this novella serving as a good starting point for anyone wanting to get a sense of what Parker can do. Just move on to some of his other novellas after that, because when Parker shines, it's like a glorious brass horse shining in the sun.(view spoiler)[(Briefly.) (hide spoiler)]
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