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UK Books Received- 11/2011  Next Month / Last Month
In order to provide timely reviews, we prefer to receive Advance Reader Copies of books when possible. Send books to Gayle Surrette c/o SFRevu, 16440 Baden Westwood Road Brandywine, MD 20613

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 03 October 2011 / £6.99) - Coinciding with the release (listed in last month's column) of Chris Priestley's new novel Mr Creecher is this paperback released of his chilling 'haunted house' story, The Dead of Winter. A deliciously unsettlir authority on the things that scare the hell out of us.

"Michael Vyner recalls a terrible story, one that happened to him. One that would be unbelievable if it weren't true! Michael's parents are dead and he imagines that he will stay with the kindly lawyer, executor of his parents' will ...Until he is invited to spend Christmas with his guardian in a large and desolate country house. His arrival on the first night suggests something is not quite right when he sees a woman out in the frozen mists, standing alone in the marshes. But little can prepare him for the solitude of the house itself as he is kept from his guardian and finds himself spending the Christmas holiday wandering the silent corridors of the house seeking distraction. But lonely doesn't mean alone, as Michael soon realises that the house and its grounds harbour many secrets, dead and alive, and Michael is set the task of unravelling some of the darkest secrets of all. A nail-biting story of hauntings and terror by the master of the genre, Chris Priestley. "

Fabled Lands Publishing

Binscombe Tales: Volume One by John Whitbourn (Fabled Lands Publishing 31 October 2011 / £6.99) - John Whitbourn is a British author who deserves to be far more widely known (and thus read). His novel length works (A Dangerous Energy, Popes & Phantoms and To Buld Jerusalem) centre on his own alternate histories of Britain following the Reformation and his last novel to be published by a trade press, The Royal Changeling [Earthlight, 1998], was described (according to Wikipedia) as "...the first work of Jacobite propaganda for several centuries," which gives some idea as to why his particular brand of esoteric fiction may have fallen off the radar of the larger commercial publishers.

That notwithstanding, Whitbourn is also the author of a fine body of shorter works, all of which stand up proudly within the tradition of that particular brand of "macabre, speculative or whimsical short stories" that we Brits seems to do so well. If you're a fan of M.R. James or Ramsey Campbell then The Binscombe Tales, published by Spark Furnace's Fabled Lands imprint may well be of great interest - also available in ebook.

"Mr Oakley has moved back to the small English village where his family once had roots. Binscombe is a place of cricket and corner shops and after-work pints in the Duke of Argyll. But peel away the wallpaper of the ordinary and you will find cracks in the fabric of what we think of as reality: • The man who spent a lifetime waiting for a bus • The suburban kitchen with a gateway to another world • The whispering voices that torment a nightclub owner • The ancient danger that lurks under an electricity substation For a reasonable man like Mr Oakley it could all be too much. But luckily he has the enigmatic figure of Mr Disvan as his guide to the borderland between the everyday and the uncanny. Part-wizard, part-tribal elder, Mr Disvan is Mr Oakley's much-needed lifeline to sanity-and at the same time might just be the scariest of all Binscombe's many secrets. Collected here for the first time, these twenty-six classic tales by John Whitbourn are some of the most anthologized in modern weird fiction. So draw your chair close to the fireside, pour yourself a pint or a cuppa or a scotch, and settle back to have your blood chilled and your imagination thrilled as only a master storyteller can. "

First Second

ORCS: Forged for War by Stan Nicholls (First Second 21 October 2011 / £10.99) - Product Description: ORCS: FORGED FOR WAR (PB)

Gollancz

The Cold Commands (Gollancz S.F.) by Richard Morgan (Gollancz 13 October 2011 / £12.99) - After a three year gap, Richard Morgan (author of the modern classic Altered Carbon)is back with The Cold Commands, a sequel to his previous novel The Steel Remains which, though marketed as fantasy, was very much thinly disguised science fiction in my opinion. This wasn't the only issue I had with that novel, which I described back then as "the fantasy equivalent of shoving a large stick into an overstuffed hornet's nest and poking around very vigorously indeed". At the same time, Morgan is one of the most unflinching and uncompromising writers that he field has produced in recent years (perhaps ever) and for that reason alone, I recommend his work without reservation. Published in hard cover by Gollancz.

"Ringil Eskiath, scarred wielder of the kiriath-forged broadsword Ravensfriend, is a man on the run - from his past and the family who have disowned him, from the slave trade magnates of Trelayne who want him dead, and apparently from the dark gods themselves, who are taking an interest but making no more sense than they ever have. Outlawed and exiled from his ancestral home in the north, Ringil has only one place left to turn - Yhelteth, city heart of the southern Empire, where perhaps he can seek asylum with the kiriath half-breed Archeth Indamaninarmal, former war comrade and now high-up advisor to the Emperor Jhiral Khimran II. But Archeth Indamaninarmal has problems of her own to contend with, as does her house guest, bodyguard and one time steppe nomad Egar the Dragonbane. And far from gaining the respite he is seeks, Ringil will instead find himself implicated in fresh schemes and doubtful allegiances no safer than those he has left behind. Old enemies are stirring, the old order is rotted through and crumbling, and though no-one yet knows it, the city of Yhelteth is about to explode..."

The Iron Jackal by Chris Wooding (Gollancz 20 October 2011 / £12.99) - The new novel from the immensely talented Chris Wooding, now published by Gollancz. The Iron Jackal is set in the same world as Wooding's Arthur C. Clarke Award nominated Retribution Falls, a book also acclaimed by The Guardian as one of their recommended 2009 Summer Reads and blurbed by Joe Abercrombie as being a novel that "...picks you up, whisks you swiftly and entertainingly along and sets you down with a big smile on your face." I've long been an admirer of Wooding's work and have no doubt this new one will garner equally impressive plaudits.

"Things are finally looking good for Captain Frey and his crew. The Ketty Jay has been fixed up good as new. They've got their first taste of fortune and fame. And, just for once, nobody is trying to kill them. Even Trinica Dracken, Frey's ex-fiancee and long-time nemesis, has given up her quest for revenge. In fact, she's offered them a job - one that will take them deep into the desert heart of Samarla, the land of their ancient enemies. To a place where the secrets of the past lie in wait for the unwary. Secrets that might very well cost Frey everything. Join the crew of the Ketty Jay on their greatest adventure yet: a story of mayhem and mischief, roof-top chases and death-defying races, murderous daemons, psychopathic golems and a particularly cranky cat. The first time was to clear his name. The second time was for money. This time, Frey's in a race against the clock for the ultimate prize: to save his own life."

Harper Voyager

Dark Heavens (1) - White Tiger by Kylie Chan (Harper Voyager 29 September 2011 / £7.99) - Not to be confused with Aravind Adiga's Booker Prize winning novel, it's taken a good, long while for Kylie Chan's White Tiger to make it over here from Australia where it was first published back in 2006 - and this is largely due to the shifting sands of publishing as much as anything else. At one point it was scheduled for release by Angry Robot, who were at that time an imprint at HarperCollins - however the imprint was shut down (only to rise again elsewhere and good thing too!) and the book never made it to the stores.

However, Voyager, who originally published it very successfully in Australia have themselves been working on a globalisation of their brand along the same lines as Orbit (who have a successful brand identity working on three continents) and so it is they who are finally bringing Chan's début (though she's written several books in the intervening years) to a wider audience.

"Emma Donahue went to Hong Kong to become a nanny to John Chen’s daughter. But John’s world is different, and he is no ordinary businessman – all the gods, demons and dragons in hell want him dead. And though she doesn’t know it, Emma holds the power to save them all..."

Red Phoenix (Dark Heavens, Book 2) by Kylie Chan (Harper Voyager 27 October 2011 / £7.99) - And with the series already in the bag, Voyager are going for a quick roll-out of Chan's Dark Heavens novels - here's book two, Red Phoenix, also now available in paperback here in the UK.

"The demon threat closes around mortals and gods alike… When Emma became nanny to John Chen's daughter, she never expected to be caring for the child of a Chinese god, or that all the demons in hell would want him dead.

Now she’s in love with John, and they are hunted from China to Europe by a race of demons. But who are the real pawns in this deadly celestial game?"

The Devil's Diadem by Sara Douglass (Harper Voyager 13 October 2011 / £7.99) - Tragically, Australian fantasy author Sara Douglass died only a few weeks ago and the genre scene over there - indeed all round the world, for she was a global author - is all the poorer with her passing. She leaves behind an impressive body of work, including The Axis Trilogy, which sold over 100,000 in Australia alone. VOoager now publish a stand alone title set in the same world - The Devil's Diadem is a paperback original release.

"In a world gone mad, is the Devil’s word the only one you can trust? A foolish monk stole the devil′s favourite diadem and the devil wants it back.

It is mid-twelfth century Europe and Maeb Langtofte joins an aristocratic household to attend Adelie, the wife of the Earl of Pengraic. The earl is a powerful Lord of the Marches, the dark Welsh borderlands.

Then a plague that has swept Europe overtakes England and as life descends into chaos and civil disorder, Maeb is about to discover that the horrors she survived at Pengraic Castle were but a prelude to the terrifying maelstrom which now envelops her and all of her countryfolk.

Hell has come to desecrate England, and the only thing that can possibly foil its plans are the wits of one lonely, isolated and terrified woman."

The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms Trilogy 2) by Cinda Williams Chima (Harper Voyager 10 November 2011 / £7.99) - Cinda Williams Chima, the author of New York Times best-selling The Heir YA series (published in the US by Hyperion) arrived in the UK with the first book of a brand new series - The Demon King which began The Seven Realms Trilogy. The second title, The Exiled Queen is now published by Harpercollins Voyager in paperback.

"You can't always run from danger...

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden's Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn't mean danger isn't far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery – but the bargain they make is one Han may soon regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana'Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen."

The Wars of Light and Shadow (9) - Initiate's Trial: First book of Sword of the Canon (The Wars of Light & Shadow) by Janny Wurts (Harper Voyager 27 October 2011 / £12.99) - A thwacking great trade paperback release from Voyager, Initiate's Trail is the ninth volume of Janny Wurt's epic tale of The Wars of Light and Shadow - however it is also the first title in a new story arc contained within the series, so if you've not dipped into it yet, this is a great jumping-in point. Note that Wurts also does her own cover art - a talanted lady all round.

"Betrayed and double-crossed, Arithon s'Ffalenn is held captive by the Order of the Koriathain. The desperate Fellowship Sorcerers have gambled the weal of Athera and forced through the perilous bargain that spared him, as the last Prince of Rathain, and their sole hope of unity. To suspend the Prime Matriarch's decree of execution, Arithon lives only to battle Marak's horde of free wraiths, unleashed one by one from the shielding grip of the star wards. But on the day the last wraith is redeemed, the inflexible terms sealed by Dakar's oath of debt will come to be forfeit...

Against a world backdrop, in which the Religion of Light has undergone schism, the zealot True Sect's canon grips Tysan, its high priesthood stands consumed by its thwarted ambition: to conquer Havish, last crown bastion and backbone of order that secures the terms of Paravian survival. Now Lord Mayor of Etarra, Lysaer s'Ilessid must fight the pull of the Mistwraith's curse, and battle for sanity to uphold his just ethic. Another young defender will stand at his side, newly sworn by the Sorcerer's auspices.

As Arithon's life once again becomes the fulcrum that shifts the game board, Elaira's choice might save or break the unstable future; while at large and answerable to no mortal law, Davien and the dragon that holds his service throw in the wild card no one predicts…"

HarperCollins

The Night Eternal (Strain Trilogy 3) by Guillermo del Toro (HarperCollins 13 October 2011 / £16.99) - The third collaboration between Hollywood's eternally flavour-of-the-month director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) and author Chuck Hogan and a follow-up to their acclaimed books The Strain and The Fall, the first two titles in The Strain Trilogy. Night Eternal is out in hardcover, published by HarperCollins.

"Humans have been displaced at the top of the food chain, and now understand – to their outright horror – what it is to be not the consumer, but the consumed.

Ephraim Goodweather, director of the New York office of the Centers for Disease control, is one of the few humans who understands what is really happening. Vampires have arrived in New York City, and their condition is contagious. If they cannot be contained, the entire world is at risk of infection. As Eph becomes consumed with the battle against the total corruption of humanity, his ex-wife, Kelly, now a vampire herself, is ever-more determined to claim their son, Zack.

As the Biblical origins of the Ancient ones are gradually revealed, Eph learns that there is a greater, more terrible plan in store for the human race – worse even than annihilation"

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins 13 October 2011 / £16.99) - Over the years. this column does throw up the odd surprise in terms of what might be deemed appropriate to our readers, but Cecelia Ahern's new novel might well appeal to our female visitors, those who like a little chick-lit mixed in with their genre.

Ahern, of course, is a massive name - an author whose works have sold in the millions, all over the world. It's unlikely that she'll be the next GOH at Worldcon, but then again, life can be stranger than fiction, no?

The Time of My Life is a hard cover from HarperCollins.

"Lying on Lucy Silchester’s carpet one day when she returns from work is a gold envelope. Inside is an invitation – to a meeting with Life. Her life. It turns out she's been ignoring it and it needs to meet with her face to face.

It sounds peculiar, but Lucy’s read about this in a magazine. Anyway, she can’t make the date: she’s much too busy despising her job, skipping out on her friends friends and avoiding her family.

But Lucy’s life isn’t what it seems. Some of the choices she’s made – and stories she’s told – aren’t what they seem either. From the moment she meets the man who introduces himself as her life, her stubborn half-truths are going to be revealed in all their glory – unless Lucy learns to tell the truth about what really matters to her.

Lucy Silchester has an appointment with her life – and she’s going to have to keep it.

Touching, warm, funny and poignant, Cecelia Ahern's new novel explores what happens when you stop paying attention to your life."

Hodder & Stoughton

11.22.63 by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton 08 November 2011 / £19.99) - November brings us a huge new Stephen King novel and it does sound like a doozy! More info here on the author's web site and here on the publisher's. A Hodder hard cover. That's my Christmas reading sorted!

"WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11/22/63, the date that Kennedy was shot - unless...

King takes his protagonist Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, 2011, on a fascinating journey back to 1958 - from a world of mobile phones and iPods to a new world of Elvis and JFK, of Plymouth Fury cars and Lindy Hopping, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake's life - a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

With extraordinary imaginative power, King weaves the social, political and popular culture of his baby-boom American generation into a devastating exercise in escalating suspense. "

Indigo

The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner (Indigo 03 November 2011 / £9.99) - Another of Indigo's launch tiles - this new YA imprint from trade giant Orion is taking bold steps into this highly contested market, with a mix of fantastic commercial and literary titles. Sally Gardner's The Double Shadow is the author's fourth novel for older readers, and is a hardcover release out this month.

"Arnold Ruben has created a memory machine, a utopia housed in a picture palace, where the happiest memories replay forever, a haven in which he and his precious daughter can shelter from the war-clouds gathering over 1937 Britain. But on the day of her seventeenth birthday Amaryllis leaves Warlock Hall and the world she has known and wakes to find herself in a desolate and disturbing place. Something has gone terribly wrong with her father’s plan.

Against the tense backdrop of the second World War Sally Gardner explores families and what binds them, fathers and daughters, past histories, passions and cruelty, love and devastation in a novel rich in character and beautifully crafted."

The Wizard Heir (Heir Chronicles) by Cinda Williams Chima (Indigo 06 October 2011 / £6.99) - HarperCollins Voyager have published Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms, a grown up fantasy series here in the UK fairly recently. However it is for The Heir Chronicles - a series aimed at a younger readership that Williams is perhaps best known, at least so far. This second volume, The Wizard Heir, is now published in the UK by Indigo in paperback original.

"Seph McCauley has spent the past three years getting kicked out of one exclusive private school after another. And it's not his attitude that's the problem: it's the trail of magical accidents - lately, disasters - that follow in his wake. Seph is a wizard, orphaned and untrained, and his powers are escalating out of control. Worse, as the magical accidents that plague him grow in intensity, Seph makes a discovery: the stories he's been told about his parents' life and death are fabrications. The people he most trusted have been lying to him. After causing a tragic fire at an after-hours party Seph is sent to the Havens, a secluded boy's school on the coast of Maine. Gregory Leicester, the headmaster, promises to train Seph in magic and initiate him into his mysterious order of wizards. Maybe here he will find a community he can trust? But Seph's enthusiasm dampens when he learns that the training comes at a steep cost. Who can he trust, when everyone around him is keeping secrets? And where can he turn, when he finds himself at the centre of a war he may well not survive?"

Orbit

The Kingdom of Gods: v. 3: Book Three of the Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit 06 October 2011 / £7.99) - American author N.K. Jemisin's début The Hundred Thousand kingdom's received some amazing reviews when it was released on both sides of the Atlantic by Orbit back in February. It marked out Jemisin as an author to watch as did the sequel, The Broken Kingdoms. Orbit now release this third title in the sequence, The Kingdom of the Godswhich should cement Jemisin's reputation with readers and the trade for a good time to come.

"For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameri's ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war. Shahar, last scion of the family, must choose her loyalties. She yearns to trust Sieh, the godling she loves. Yet her duty as Arameri heir is to uphold the family's interests, even if that means using and destroying everyone she cares for. As long-suppressed rage and terrible new magics consume the world, the Maelstrom - which even gods fear - is summoned forth. Shahar and Sieh: mortal and god, lovers and enemies. Can they stand together against the chaos that threatens the kingdom of gods?"

The Revenge of the Dwarves by Markus Heitz (Orbit 06 October 2011 / £8.99) - When the Gemmell Award was won by Polish author Andrej Sapkowski (whose novel Blood of Elves I covered previously), it woke a lot of folks up to the fact that fantasy is not just the province of writers working in English.

I'll be very surprised if we don't see Markus Heitz's German bestseller The Dwarves and it's sequels The War of The Dwarves and The Revenge of the Dwarves, this last of which is released this month by Orbit, on next year's Gemmell longlist at the very least.

Released by Orbit in smart B format, this is the kind of solid fantasy that the market thrives upon - great storytelling set against a solid genre background. Sometimes we don't want the wheel reinvented! And particular mention should go to Bob Lea and Peter Cotton for the cover illustration and design respectively - brilliant, eye-catching stuff!

"Life has not been easy for battle-weary Tungdil the dwarf. But this heroic warrior can't rest yet, as he must now face the most formidable enemy the kingdom has ever encountered. A new evil is terrorising the land of Girdlegard. Monstrous hybrid creatures are on the rampage, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. They are out to steal an artefact which is vital for the kingdom's defence, and whoever holds it could control the world. With the existence of the dwarves under threat, Tungdil must resort to his trusty double axe and risk everything he knows to save his country from annihilation ...Hold your breath for THE REVENGE OF THE DWARVES, the next thrilling instalment in this spectacular epic from international bestselling author Markus Heitz."

Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan (Orbit 06 October 2011 / £8.99) - The second of Brandon Sanderson's Wheel of Time novels, now released in mass market paperback by Orbit.

Finishing Robert Jordan's epic series, following the writer's untimely death must have been a daunting task indeed. It is widely regarded that Sanderson has risen to this challenge in spades - a hugely admirable result, both artistically and commercially (especially when set against similar experiments that have been disastrous - I'm looking at you, Eoin Colfer and your Hitchiker's embarrassment!). That Sanderson has achieved this whilst continuing to forge ahead with his own solo career is a feat so remarkable that makes me suspect he might just be a machine!

"The Last Battle has started. The seals on the Dark One's prison are crumbling. The Pattern itself is unravelling, and the armies of the Shadow have begun to boil out of the Blight. Perrin Aybara is haunted by spectres from his past. To prevail, he must find a way to master the wolf within him or lose himself to it for ever. Meanwhile, Matrim Cauthon prepares for the most difficult challenge of his life. The Tower of Ghenjei awaits, and its secrets will reveal the fate of a friend long lost. The end draws near. It's time to roll the dice."

Prometheus Books

The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire) by Clay Griffith (Prometheus Books 15 November 2011 / £14.99) - The follow-up to The Greyfriar, the first book in Clay & Susan Griffith's Vampire Empire series which I couldn't help but notice was plastered all over my news feeds and mentioned on many of the blogs I visit in the weeks before and following its release. Much positive coverage ensued (the press release for this new book features 24 (count' em!) great quotes for it's predecessor) and this second title, The Rift Walker, looks already to be attracting similar plaudits.

"This is a rousing pulp action steampunk epic adventure - and a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism. Princess Adele struggles with a life of marriage and obligation as her Equatorian Empire and their American Republic allies stand on the brink of war against the vampire clans of the north. However, the alliance's horrific strategy for total victory drives Adele to abandon her duty and embark on a desperate quest to keep her nation from staining its hands with genocide. Reunited with her great love, the mysterious adventurer known to the world as the Greyfriar, Adele is pursued by her own people as well as her vengeful husband, Senator Clark. With the human alliance in disarray, Prince Cesare, Lord of the British vampire clan, seizes the initiative and strikes at the very heart of Equatoria. "

Titan Books

Transformers: Exiles by Alex Irvine (Titan Books 27 September 2011 / £6.99) - One of the secrets of good tie-in fiction is to hire good writers - and Titan have scored with Alex Irvine, a fine author whose award-winning first novel A Scattering of Jades I recall being particularly impressed by.

Transformers: Exiles is Irvine's second novel in this particular franchise, following on from his 2010 novel Transformers: Exodus. A paperback original from Titan.

"The epic battles between Optimus Prime and Megatron have long thrilled Transformers fans. But these two giants werent always great leaders and bitter foes. This new novel continues the electrifying saga that started with Transformers: Exodus, unveiling the origins of the conflictthe explosive events that unfolded before Optimus and Megatron arrived Earthside, forever altering the destiny of their kind. "

Tor

Heirs of the Blade (Shadows of the Apt 7) by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor 07 October 2011 / £12.99) - Product Description: HEIRS OF THE BLADE (TPB)

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman (Tor 21 October 2011 / £7.99) - If, like me, you really enjoyed the brilliantly rendered post-zombie apocalypse that the recent TV show The Walking Dead offered up (and by enjoyed, I mean compulsively tuning in each week to see some new major character ripped apart and eaten by shuffling, mindless brain-thirsty living corpses - yay!), then this is for you!

The first in a trilogy of stand-alone novels penned by thriller author Jay Bonansinga teamed with series (and original graphic novel) creator Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead: The Rise of the Governor is a paperback original release from Tor UK.

"Based on The Walking Dead graphic novels/comic books and the series starring Andrew Lincoln (Teachers, This Life and Love, Actually) and written/produced by Frank Darabont whose previous credits include The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, this is a new trilogy of books written by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, author of Perfect Victim and Shattered. Set in the world created by Robert Kirkman this standalone trilogy is fast-paced, action-packed storytelling about the lengths some men will go to survive. With new characters, new storylines and with the same in-depth character-based plotting that has made the television series such an immediate hit, this trilogy of novels is sure to be a hit with those who love zombies and those who have loved the TV series and comic books. "

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