Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What Makes a Good Lead Male?

I love a good male lead. He doesn't have to be the MC, either. But what makes a guy a good lead character? Here are some male leads I loved for different reasons:


Reese from DESTINY'S FIRE by Trisha Wolfe ~ He's seriously hot, totally intense, literally kicks ass, and risks everything for the girl he loves.


Jameson from NIGHT SKY by Jolene Perry ~ He's a total guy. I mean, seriously. He is the narrator, and his thoughts are so true to a teenage guy. But despite his urges, he is sensitive. (I might have a huge crush on him. *blushes*)


Seth from The Covenant Series by Jennifer Armentrout ~ He's the Apollyon, which gives him control over all the elements. He is edgy and despite his soft spot for Alex, he would hurt anyone he needed to or wanted to.


Henry from The Goddess Test Series by Aimee Carter ~ He's Hades. Do I need to say more? But he's not the "I can do whatever the hell I want" (Yes, that was a bad pun) portrayal of Hades. He pines over lost love and doesn't get involved in things he shouldn't.


They're all different, yet I fell for each of them because they stood out to me. The one consistent between them all was their conflicting personalities. Each is strong in his own way, yet vulnerable at the same time. For me, that's the key. I call it perfectly flawed.


Who's one of your favorite male leads and why?


*I was interviewed by Kendra Saunders for 13 1/2 minutes on IPN Nation. Listen here.

77 comments:

  1. I love the idea of a perfectly flawed character. They really are more relatable than one that is too perfect. None of us is too perfect! Am I right?

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  2. Yep! Jameson in Night Sky was pretty awesome. :) Had me smiling and sighing long after I'd finished reading the book.
    Damon from vampire diaries comes to mind ( I can't seem to stop watching the reruns so he is imprinted in my mind..haha) is quite flawed, but has a side of him no one gets to see very often.gets really fang-y when anyone tramples on his loved ones. :)

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    1. It took me a while to warm up to Damon. I'm a team Stephen girl. But Damon is growing on me.

      Oh, and Jameson... sigh. Love him.

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  3. It's funny, I don't go for the aggressive,overly assertive MC's. I like the quiet ones--the ones who know what they want and who they are, and go about their lives quietly (or as quietly as they can in the midst of whatever turmoil's in the book! LOL). That's not to say they can't kick butt if they NEED to, they just don't want to. Does that make any sense? : D

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    1. Yes, that makes perfect sense. It's funny because I like female MCs like that. LOL. I'll be blogging about female leads next week.

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  4. Jameson sounds rather perfect. ;D Flaws can act almost in a contradictory way when developing male characters. There's something about a strong, good-looking guy that has needs.

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    1. I completely agree, Sheri. Why are flaws so much sexier in fictional men? LOL

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  5. Great post. I agree - they can't be perfect and I don't really care if they're dashing or not. In fact, I'd prefer them to not be dashing- flawed, cynical and funny is a brilliant mix.

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  6. Oh Seth. I keep jumping between him and Aiden. I'm on book 2 of The Covenant series.

    Gotta love George Cooper from Tamora Pierce's first book, Alanna: The First Adventure. I mean seriously, who couldn't go for the King of Thieves. The man does everything to help this girl out--even when he thinks she's a boy. And ya know, he didn't get to his seat of power without some fun. He's got a collection of ears. Most honorable thief you'll ever meet. Sorta. (Of course, since the 1st book was published in the 80s I've now read what he looks like when he's an adult and has kid...crush has died a little)

    To name another man from Jen. Armentrout. Daemon of Obsidian---he's a walking sarcastic, hot piece of ass. **squee** The model and her are coming to my nick of the woods!

    Hahah great post Kelly. Now, I'm hoping my boy can be added to this list one day. He's a sarcastic, vulnerable little pain in the godly ass. :)

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    1. I have to read Obsidian. I think it will be my next book. I've heard so many great things about it. I'm totally team Seth. I like my guys with a little edge. :)

      I know what you mean about adding your own boy to the list. I have one who is my ideal guy. I can't say who he is yet though, but I'll share as soon as I can. I'm totally in love with him. Don't tell my husband. ;)

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    2. Lol oh an ideal guy?? Curious!!! HAhah I know my poor boyfriend. Love him to death but boy some of these fictional characters are great ;) Hence why we love their character flaws ONLY in a fictional setting ;)

      And Dude--READ Obsidian. Daemon is WAY better than Seth and Aiden as a love interest. Course (I'm half-way through the 2nd covenant book so he may surprise me)

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    3. I loved Seth in PURE. I will definitely read Obsidian though. Thanks!

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    4. Lol okay now I'm excited to finish it.. :)

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  7. I tend to like really unusual leads, like Edrick in Chime, who is struggling with addiction, yet is noble.

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    1. Unusual is good. It makes for interesting reading.

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  8. I like a variety of male leads- the one thing they have in common is they are flawed. Often- they aren't described in a way that is attractive to everyone (I like them to be a little different). O like them all to have strength- mental, emotional or physical.

    ~Jess

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    1. I think the little physical flaws too. A crooked smile, hair that doesn't quite lay right--something that makes them unique.

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  9. I like the guys to be striking figures. No not perfect but at least redeamable in the end. I also like a bit of muscle and mayhem thrown in. Who wants boring nice? In real life yes, but not in a fantasy world. I think we all like a bit of bad boy when we dont actully have to live within their mess.

    ctny

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    1. LOL. I couldn't agree more. I tolerate so much more in fictional men. ;)

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  10. If I want a perfect guy I'll play with my daughter's Ken doll. Give me a guy with a flaw he can work on and I'm yours. :)

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  11. Great post! I prefer the aggressive males leads- a hard guy with a soft spot. I don't need them to be attractive in fact, I sometimes get annoyed when an author has a beautiful male lead.

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    1. I like attractive in a different way. Or attractive in the female lead's eyes but not by typical standards.

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  12. My favorite male leads are the strong silent types. :)

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  13. What a though-provoking post, Kelly! Appreciate the insights offered by you and everyone else as I continue to develop male characters in my storyline. Great food for thought.

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  14. I like a guy character who's someone I'd be friends with in real life. (Not date, necessarily!) Someone with just the right amount of kindness to care about you, but enough daring irresponsibility to have fun. My favorite guy in YA is Four from "Divergent." he's a real grown up!

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    1. Now, I think I have to take that book off my shelf and read it. Of course, I'm already reading two other books. Hmm...

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  15. I, too, like a man who's not perfect. However, he must have a sense of humor. Who cares if a man is tall, dark and handsome if he can't laugh and share the humor with others? I really enjoy Nathan Fillian on Castle.

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  16. I feel so special :-D

    Adam from Where She Went - LOVE.

    And the guy from Freefall by Mindi Scott. SO good.

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    1. You should. You created such a great male lead. :)

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  17. I don't have a favorite, except for Rhett Butler, of course. I did like Luke, in Rachel's Holiday (Marion Keyes) a lot. I also like Ranger in the Evanovich books, now he is dangerous. I am attracted by quirky and brilliance, to both fictional and real life, fatal for me.

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    1. Judging by the male leads in Stella's life, I think I know your preferences. ;)

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  18. Woman, I think you knew me in a past life.. (true about the men in my stories, though).

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    1. LOL. I think we do have some past life connection or something. I just understood you from the day I met you, and I think you are one of those truly rare and beautiful people. :)

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  19. I need to read these books to get to know these characters.

    I also look for strength mixed with vulnerability. I like that in a male lead.

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  20. Completely different genre, of course, but one of my favourite characters (at least when the writer was at his best) has been Sean Dillon, written by Jack Higgins. A former IRA man turned British operative, Dillon's a tremendous charmer and a dangerous man. He never apologizes for his past, but has put it behind him.

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    1. Sounds like a great character to me. :)

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  21. Off the top of my head... Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables
    Ha and now I'm laughing at myself

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    1. Don't laugh at yourself. To each her own. :)

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  22. Male leads are so important. When I was writing my most recent, I wanted to make the reader fall in love so they'd care about him as much as the heroine. He's kinda perfect, and from the feedback, the readers like him even more than the female mc!

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    1. LOL. I have a book that made my agent fall in love with the male lead--more so than the female MC so I can relate.

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  23. My most recent male lead is Odd Thomas from the Dean Koontz series. Flawed, humble, but extremely humorous! :)

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    1. I used to read a lot of Dean Koontz. It's been a while.

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  24. I'm fickle. I usually like the guy in the story I'm reading, or I don't like him, depending. Like someone else mentioned, Rhett Butler is my all time favorite. He's a scoundrel, but a nice one. :)Enjoyed the post.

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  25. I was smiling my way through this post. The male leads that get to me are those who risk EVERYTHING to save a family/loved one or to get to the truth/seek justice. They might even come off as a little arrogant sometimes (but we all know that's just self-defense ... *wink*)

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    1. I think you'd like the male lead in Touch of Death. ;) I do like cockiness that stems from a place of insecurity.

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  26. "Perfectly flawed"
    What a perfect way to put it! :)

    I like male leads that feel like real people. It really doesn't matter what they look like or how they act, it's how deep they are.

    I like Lance from Illuminate. He's so different from most male leads--quiet and geeky--and he really grows into himself by the end of the book. I thought he was adorable.

    I also like Felton from Stupid Fast. He's your typical teen boy through and through, and I like how real he felt.

    Great post!

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    1. Yes, being real is so important. I can tolerate any kind of guy as long as he's real.

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  27. Love this post because that's my MO. All my characters are perfectly flawed individuals--some more than others.

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    1. Some more than others--LOL. I know what you mean.

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  28. I always tend to fall for the male leads that are struggling to be the perfect 'good guy' in a flawed society. Captain Carrot in Pratchett's Discworld books, Burroughs' John Carter of Mars (book version, not the lamo movie version), and others like that. I guess I'm secretly still dreaming of a knight in shining armor. Cliche, huh? ;-)

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  29. Seems we all have the same idea of a good male lead. I also like when he is a serious guy.

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  30. "Strong yet vulnerable. Perfectly flawed." <-- I love that description. Yes. Exactly. And perhaps one of my favorite male leads of all time is Sir Percy Blakeney from The Scarlet Pimpernel. :0)

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    1. You know when you quoted me, I realized I like contradictory qualities. Funny that it didn't register with me until you repeated my words. I'm a weird one. ;P

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  31. I have to totally agree with what you said. Thanks for sharing your views.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  32. Well, being male myself, I like seeing male leads that are willing to be vulnerable, yet not be wimps, and not get sassed out by every girl woman relative they know.

    I have nothing against comic relief pest types, sometimes that's appropriate and fun, but I feel like there'e not the same level of variety for male leads as there now are for female leads. I still find lots of books still prefer the male leads to be either so serious they're suffocating as the reader, or so silly that any level of depth is nonexistent. Yes, I know there's middle ground between the two, but frankly beyond MG I don't see it in fiction much anymore, at least from the authors I find in new books.

    I know we're supposed to have some handle on what's out now because books from too far back are either classic or too dated to have the same kind of market, they don't reach many of today's readers, but frankly, a lot of my favorite books were from a decade ago, or smaller books by authors whose more current "mainstream" work can be hit or miss for me.

    I still feel like a lot of books now still struggle with moving beyond certain male stereotypes that readers (particularly some key female authors) are okay with employing, yet if the same degree and/or type of stereotypes were used in their female leads, we'd see all these extremist with a capital "E-X-E-T-R-E-M-E!" six o'clock news stories about how derogatory and offensive it is. Am I the only male reader/writer who finds this frustrating?

    Also, since girls and women are more vocal about their fiction reading, or just reading in general, and have large pull in publishing from a book production standpoint, do they think male stereotyping isn't as offensive to boys and men as it is girls and women, especially in U.S. and Canada? I just find that hard to believe.
    I have to admit I often watch a lot of television with more female-focused leads and topics because a lot of the "boy-centric" just doesn't do it for me. If it's not cheesy and hokey, it's gross humor palooza, and if it's not hokey or gross, it's about psychotic pervs trying to take over the world, or the boys/men just don't do it for me.

    The only show I can think of where the lead guy isn't a screwball in the "Beavis and Butthead way" (I'm still in mourning that it's being reborn with new shows, and the annoying ads that will hit my favorite websites...) is House, but I don't like that show either because seeing guys like House and Dexter make me NEVER want to grow up to be 30+ if that's what I have to "look forward to" in terms of finding characters older than nine to geek out over, if you know what I mean. That's how much they don't do it for me.

    Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough or something, but I'm only being honest, and I'm speaking only of my experience, someone here might steer me to books and authors that I just didn't know about that would ease some of my concern in this regard.

    If someone out there can name one book MG and up where the teenage male leads aren't gross pranksters or psycho pervs who belong in 1959 and before more than 2012, please share them. All I know I have a stronger incentive to publish my books because I think my male characters are real, without falling into the above stereotypes I mentioned.

    Do you agree, Kelly? You've read a lot of my writing. Not published yet but still...an early unbiased input would help my morale right now.

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    1. Sorry if I got too "Barbra Walters" here, Kelly, but hopefully you know I'm saying out of concern, not just to rant.

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    2. Have you read Masters of the Veil by Daniel Cohen? Sam is a great lead male, and I think you'd really like him.

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    3. Nope, I'll check it out. Thanks for sharing. Again, I apologize if I got too intense, I was also updating my blog with new posts at the same time I wrote that reply, which I'd thought about before posting.

      It is hard finding male leads in books I can get behind, that aren't too dated, for certain reasons you can understand as a writer yourself.

      Of course, as reader I just want a book to engage and entertain me, whether's it's new or old, but at the same time, you must understand the unique way writers have to play "Monkey in the Middle" between books we like personally, which may or may not reflect the current market, and books that are coming out in the last couple years more accurately reflect the current readership.

      It seems books across the board are getting so short and fast paced you'd have to have the mindset of a picture book author or poet to succeed, hard as it is to break in for non-illustrators, the best of them are still fair examples of how brevity and simplicity can win the day. I don't want to be needlessly complicated, but I'm also not "simple" either, if that makes any sense.

      What do you think, Kelly?

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    4. I don't think books have to be that simplified. I do think that with more series out there, the complications get spaced out across the series, so that might have something to do with it.

      Night Sky is also a book with a great male lead, but it is sort of a romance. I'm not sure if you like that kind of story. Still, I love Jameson in that book. He's such a great male lead.

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    5. Thanks for another book to check out, Kelly.

      Oh, I've nothing against romance in general, remember my stories sometimes have a love story in them, or a hint of one, on the tame side for obvious reasons, but a love story nonetheless.

      It's just worrying when the romance is more focused on physical attraction and the emotions and respect aspects get diminished or glossed over entirely.


      If being physically attracted was all it took to find someone special, that's not saying much to the other qualities a potential life partner should have.

      I know we're talking characters under 16 in most cases here, but I think this is a fair point to make, especially with the recent trend in people waiting until mid life in some cases to marry and have children, we need to see it reflected more in books on the YA level.

      Even though books with nontraditional families has increased a fair amount across the spectrum, there's still only a small niche of those books which are able and willing to show that teens are able to have a romantic relationship that's not just about sex, anymore than adult couples that work outside the bedroom as much as in.

      I don't want to patronize here, but if or when we get to a point where sex is continued treated like a cheap thrill pastime, we're sending our teens under 30 adults a very worrying message. Inadvertently making the problem worse, not better.

      To be continued...

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    6. Just like getting married to the right person for us, deciding to raise children, and buying our first home, intimacy is more special (and legally and morally sound) when it's earned, from someone we love and respect outside the bedroom, and I don't think the concept's old-fashioned.

      That may part of why romance novels are so popular, not counting the more intentionally more risque ones, even if we get lured in by those racy (or just down right suggestive...) covers, a lot of romance novels are not just about the particulars of romance or sex, but also have that right couple getting together/happy ending factor we don't always strive for in our own life.

      I feel like we settle too easily just to not be overly picky. But if there's any area we deserve to be a little more disconcerting is deciding who we marry.

      Besides, since once upon a time we were marrying folks before 20 was commonplace, even forgoing higher education to do so, especially for women, even when they could go to college and vote in the States or the U.K. for that matter.

      I don't think it's a stretch to depict teen couples today who may be committed in terms of dating exclusively, but are waiting until later to get married and raise children, I think those people really exist, but get overshadowed by all the hype surrounding the problems involved in the less than ideal cases.

      Besides, we're expecting kids and teens to achieve greater academic and career milestones than ever before, but many of us can't and/or don't work well at that pace.

      Just like there's more to an effective education than stuffing extremist ideals of academics and societal expectations, that's why I think lots of teens and twenty-somethings like me suffer periods of burnout that kind of frazzled pace.

      Bad economy or not, not every person can work in a pressure cooker and expect to SURVIVE, never mind thrive, and until we acknowledge that in a more proactive and vocal way, we risk losing some of the most hopeful prospects for turning things around for the States, simply by asking too much of them, far too soon.

      Especially if the only people in your life have this seemingly automatic angst and mistrust to anyone younger than them, it doesn't exactly inspire them to "Grow up" on an emotional if not academic level.


      As much as we don't want our next generation of movers and shakers to be unfairly left behind or outclassed by other parts of the world, I fear we put so much emphasis on traditional methods of learning, we neglect people like me who didn't fit the mold, are getting unfairly portrayed as lazy hacks who didn't want to work hard in the first place.

      While that's true for some, it's not my story at all, but I realize now that if I hadn't dropped out when I did, I would've built up an even greater hatred for the education system, not healthy for me personally, and would not help my eventual children's writing career.

      Sorry for going Barbra Walters again, but just like gender stereotyping, education pressure is another hot topic for me, both at once really brings out my inner journalist I guess, I do wonder sometimes if I was a journalist in a past life.

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    7. Taurean, I just finished reading Dead of Night and it totally downplayed the relationship. It was all about emotion and very little about physical. Of course it's a paranormal book and I'm hesitant to even add romance to that label. Knee Deep is a romance but the characters don't take it where most YA books do. It's a powerful story too. One that all teen girls should read.

      So I do think there are romances out there that are more realistic. Yes, they are harder to find sometimes, but they are there.

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    8. Good, I mean I'm not trying to come off like some self-righteous prude here, I just think strongly there needs to be more variety in general of books that explore common themes and issues in less stereotypical ways.

      Last year's books especially made me concerned we were losing touch with that. Even giving up all together. So thanks for sharing your examples and thought to the contrary.

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  33. I guess because I've been married for over 20 years, I think about life after the "happily ever after". Plus, I think that quite a few YA books have the weakness of weak male characters. They're more often one dimensional, I think. I thought one of the best books that showed married life- after the "happily ever after" was Book 3 of Paullina Simon's Tatiana and Alexander series. Book three is "The Summer Garden".

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    1. I haven't read that one. Thanks for the recommendation. :)

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