Posts Tagged Magic

The Black God’s War: Splendor & Ruin, Book I by Moses Siregar III

Storyline: Holy Moses! What a splendid and unique fantasy start to an original fantasy series! The Black God’s War: Splendor and Ruin, Book I written by the highly talented Mr. Mosey Siregar, will grab a’hold of you and pull into his world where gods fight alongside man and destinies unfold in unimaginable ways.

A mighty empire pushes to conquer the neighboring kingdom of Pawelon and after ten years of endless fighting, an end might finally be in sight. Lucia must decode the meaning of The Black God’s messages for her and her holy brother, Caio. Even though Caio is a man of peace, their father, the king, thrusts this war upon them, risking both of their lives for glory.

Prince Rao is powerful sage who will stop at nothing to see this war stopped and gone from his lands. He must use all of his skills to fight not only the gifted siblings, but their gods as well. Rao must reconcile his own philosophical beliefs with those of the myths of the invaders’ gods.

Can a peaceful resolution be met without anymore unnecessary bloodshed and tears?

Grammar/Spelling:  Incredibly, this might be the first book I’ve read in ages and ages without a single grammatical or spelling error. I don’t know if it’s because I was so captivated by the story that I overlooked them, but Moses did a phenomenal job editing his book!

Character Development: The story focuses on a variety of characters and fully develops each person perfectly. Moses carefully crafted each character’s personality so that the reader can truly feel Caio’s reluctance in leading his father’s army into battle. The inner-struggle of Prince Rao as he tried to convince his father that he was worthy of his respect and was a worthy fighter. Lucia’s strong will and desire to protect her brother at all costs while hiding her own dark secrets came across clearly and distinctly.

Writing Style: The story flowed beautifully and quickly. Even though Moses introduced two very different and wholly new religions and a completely new pantheon if gods, I never felt as if I were overwhelmed with information. Nor did I felt as if I there wasn’t enough information about each side’s beliefs and rituals.

Another unique facet of The Black God’s War was the telling of all sides of the story. I’ve read books (and hell, watched movies) that showed both sides of warring nations, but never with this approach. Every important scene was told through the eyes of each player’s perspective.

I felt myself being pulled in separate directions: Huzzah! May the Rezzians conquer all!

No, wait! Let’s hear it for the Pawelons! They must destroy the invaders!

Well played, Moses. Well played indeed!

Continuity:  No issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 5

The Black God’s War: Splendor and Ruin, Book I by Moses Siregar III was a dazzling beginning to a fantasy series that was a delight to read and nearly impossible to put down. I am really looking forward to continuing the series and believe that Moses’ story will only get better!

Everyone and their respective mamas should go out and get a copy (or sit on their couch and order it)! I only hate that it took so long for me to review the book and pass along the greatness to you!

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Now, I would like for you to meet Lucia, the royal daughter of the Kingdom of Rezzia. She’s as stunning as she is fearless.

Celia: How did you first meet your writer?

Lucia: You want to talk about that bastard? Was it when he was torturing me with nightmares of dying children? Or when he tortured me with nightmares of my flesh burning? Or when he decided to kill (SPOILER ALERT)? No, I remember now. It was when he dropped me into the black god’s underworld lair. After falling through the pitch black for so long I lost my sanity, I landed in a dark sea full of the dead bodies of our soldiers. Yes, that was how I met him. You’ll pardon me if I prefer that we change the subject.

Celia: Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

Lucia: Yes. The Book of Time. I am a member of the royal family of Rezzia, and I have a patron goddess. At the least, a brief mention of my life would have to be written into The Book.

Celia: What are your favorite scenes in your book: Action, Dialogue, Romance?

Lucia: Romance. There are so many scenes in this book. Action? There was too much of it for me. Dialogue? I prefer quiet. I only found some modicum of repose in my romance with Ilario.

Celia: Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?

Lucia: No, but the bastard had to work on some things.

Celia: Do you infiltrate your author’s dreams?

Lucia: Ha! What kind of person do you take me for? Do you understand that Lord Danato, The Black One, has invaded my dreams since I was thirteen years old? For the last sixteen years? And after all I’ve been through, you think I would be so insensitive as to infiltrate another person’s dreams? The answer is no.

Celia: Are you happy with the genre your author has placed you in?

Lucia: I’d much prefer to be in a trashy romance. A very trashy romance, at that. That sounds rather pleasant after all I’ve been through. But the bastard put me in the correct genre. I can’t hold that against him.

Celia: Would you be interested in a sequel if your writer is so inclined?

Lucia:  *Sigh*

He hasn’t put me through enough? Why would I want to be subjected to his cruel treatment again? I suppose it’s possible that my life will be very different in the future. I admit, I’ve put some of my demons to rest. But I’m afraid the decision I made at the end of this book will haunt me, and I’m not sure I’m ready to face those issues.

Celia: If you could give yourself a superpower, what would you choose?

Lucia: You haven’t read this book yet, have you? I have powers, but I didn’t ask for every power that I have. Although, if I could, I would choose to have one of those powers again. I’m sorry I can’t say more. You’ll have to read the The Black God’s War.

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The Witchcraft Wars: Ursula’s Quest – Tracey Alley

Storyline: Since I’ve already used the “right up my alley” pun already, I’m just going to be blunt and say: Ursula’s Quest was wonderful. Tracey Alley has picked where she left off with Erich’s Plea and continued with a new, exciting story that is hard to put down and leaves the reader clamoring for more!

Ursula is plagued with dreams of her father’s voice telling her that she must find the missing key to save the kingdoms. She must leave the safety of the Monks of the Black Lotus and strike out across the desert lands of Kemet to reach the Temple of Life and she must do so even at the risk of her unborn child.

All the while, Slade and his companions are fighting their way across the wilds to find his father and try to stop the evil witch from winning a war that will surely end their world as they know it.

Grammar/Spelling: I think another beta-read would be a great idea. And it might help with the comma conundrum of which there is a lack of. (There is a lack of commas, not the conundrums. There are plenty of challenges…the key, the Dark One, the upcoming war… A LOT of conundrums abound in the story…)

Character Development: As usual, Ms. Alley’s characters are both well-defined and quite captivating. With Ursula’s Quest, we really get to dive into Slade’s sister side of the story and learn how she came to be part of the Black Lotus. Like Slade, she wants nothing more than to find her father and save the kingdom from the evil witch, Shallendara’s, plan to conquer the kingdom and let chaos reign. She worries that her unborn child will keep her from making the ultimate and difficult decision of choosing to fight and risking the baby or fighting and losing everything that is important to her.

Writing Style: The writing style is fluid and easy to follow. Again, Ms. Alley has incorporated her knowledge of ancient religions into the history and beliefs of her fantasy realm. Ursula and her traveling companion, Ming, travel to the Temple of Life and find that they must make it through a series of tests in order to reach their goal: the missing key. This is very closely related to the path that the ancient Egyptians’ souls traveled to Heaven. Since I love all things Egyptian, (except maybe all that heat – c’mon! Couldn’t they live in a more a temperate climate? Maybe even closer so I wouldn’t have to travel so far to see the pyramids?!) I really enjoyed those details and loved the use of the Reverse Confession.

Continuity:  No issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4+

Ursula’s Quest written by the talented and charming, Tracey Alley is fantasy at some of its best! Ms. Alley keeps you interested without being too heavy handed with the fantasy aspect that some novels rely heavily upon. This journey is not only about elves, trolls and magic, it is about love and the recognition that there is something stronger than evil in the world: faith.

I anticipate that the rest of Ms. Alley’s series will be as fresh and exciting as the first two books have been. I would recommend this story to all ages and especially anyone who is just starting out in the fantasy genre. Good job, Trace!

Now, an interview with Tares, the Minotaur from Tracey Alley’s Witchcraft Series:

(Celia’s Note:  This was my first interview with a Minotaur up close and personal and I must say that I was suitably impressed with Tracey’s ability to capture this fellow in all his wonderful glory.  I’d hate to have him mad at me, let me tell ya!)

Celia:  You are the first Minotaur ever to join the ranks of the Knighthood of Ilmater and, if you’ll pardon my saying so, yours is a race better known for its’ savagery rather than sacrifice.

Tares: I do not mind your question, [said with a slow smile], it is true that my people are more known for their skills as warriors than for their willingness to sacrifice for others but you must also remember that the minotaur people are a very honourable race.   I was brought up to believe in honour and that dishonouring oneself or one’s tribe was the greatest sin one could commit.  After I left the Isles of Dread to make my way in the world and met priests of Ilmater they seemed to me to be perfectly compatible with all that I had been taught.  I feel honoured and humbled to be a member of Ilmater’s Knighthood, although I am, as yet, still only a warrior priest.

Celia: Were you surprised when Lord Michael Strong teamed you with Lara, a former thief and assassin in your task to find and free Sir Patrick san Decroix?

Tares:  I was a little surprised and, in truth, at first found the pairing to be… difficult.  Lara is, or I should say was, very efficient at her profession.  Yet she is also extremely irreverent and it is difficult to get her to take things seriously.  I found that something of a trial, yet Ilmater tests us all and I looked upon it as such.

Celia:  After your escape from the prison in Zeaburg you readily joined Slade in his quest to find High King Erich rather than return with Trunk to Lord Michael, why was that?

Tares: It was my belief that following Slade was the will of Ilmater.  The Knighthood have always served the Royal Family of Vestland.  I could do little by returning but perhaps achieve much by continuing to serve the former Crown Prince.

Celia:  Yet your companions, for the most part, were highly the ideal companions for a warrior priest of Ilmater.  How did you reconcile yourself to following orders from someone like Nikolai for example?

Tares: Ilmater moves in mysterious ways and although I would not say so directly to the mage I believe that Ilmater has marked out Nikolai as one of His own.  It was extremely difficult for me to follow someone who had dedicated themselves and their lives to a deity of blood and evil yet in time I saw a different side to Nikolai, a side that the necromancer may not even be aware of himself.  Apart from which Ilmater calls upon all of us to make sacrifices for Him, I was merely following the tenants of the Knighthood that I believe in with all my heart.

Celia:  One final question.   Do you believe that the Knights of Ilmater will be able to win the war against the evil sorceress Shallendara?

Tares:  Firstly you must understand that we fight a war on two fronts.  We must not only defeat the war of conquest that Shallendara incited among Prince Ulrich and The Dark One but we must also stop the witch from her plans to open the portal to the gods.  If she should succeed then all of Kaynos will be destroyed.  This is a very difficult time for all of us, we still do not know the whereabouts of High King Erich, the Knights must fight a deadly war against a type of magic for which we still have no defence and Shallendara must be stopped from opening the portal.  I have not been given any insight from Ilmater as to how the war will proceed.  It is my hope and my prayer that we will succeed on all fronts and that the loss of life will be minimal but I have felt the effects of witchcraft and know how deadly it truly is. *sigh*

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It was an accident…

“What am I going to do with you?” The wizened old woman asked as she clucked her tongue and opened the door wide enough for the boy to enter her tiny hovel. It only seemed tiny from the outside because once he was inside he could never see all the way to the back of some the shelves on the wall. There was also a hallway to the left of the door that appeared to be so long and narrow, it never ended. He had never been down that hallway and had no real intention of finding out if it actually had an ending.

She gestured to the worn wooden table that dominated the room, “Just put it there, Andy. As usual…” She hobbled over to her dusty, film laden shelves and began her selection of various herbs, unguents and god knows what; all the while, humming a song that Andy could never quite place. He was certain he had heard it somewhere else before, but could never figure out why it sounded so familiar. Andy watched her seemingly random selections with fascination. It seemed like she always chose the same things, but they never came from the same location. How she kept any of this mess straight, he would never know.

But, choose she did and when her song reached a point when it sounded as if she would actually break into an actual song, the sound died out and she spun around with a toothless grin on her old, wrinkled face.

“You have done well in bringing this as soon as you could. Let’s take a look at what you’ve got here.” Unwrapping Andy’s bundle, she nodded her head as she appraised the lumpy creature.

Andy never meant to hurt it… He only wanted to play with it. He never meant to hurt anyone or anything… but his ventures into the world lately always lead him back here to this hovel for the old woman to mend. But this time, he really felt as if even she couldn’t undo what he had accidentally done.

“You’ve snapped her neck, my child! I’m not certain that even my abilities can repair this one. And a human at that! Oh, Andy. Andy, Andy, Andy.” Her voice trailed off and picked up the hypnotic almost-song again. Could this old lady be a land locked siren? Impossible. Andy had heard the stories from the sailors down at the docks. She was far too old…and ugly.

“Are you listening to me, Andy?” He shook his head, clearing his impossible thoughts. Andy hung his head until his chin was nearly touching his chest and his lower lip started to tremble. “Oh, my boy, don’t do that! Hush! We’ll fix her! Don’t you worry! Old Magpie will fix her right on up and she’ll be good as…well…she’ll be good. Why don’t you step outside and clear your head and let Old Magpie do her work?”

Andy nodded emphatically. Old Magpie would fix her! He had all of the faith in the world that she could undo his latest mistake!

Would he never know his own strength? It’s just that he was so curious and, at times, so hungry for knowledge. Sometimes you have to break something to truly understand how it worked, right?

Andy stepped outside and listened to the noises of the small night animals. He looked up at the cloud covered moon; he was glad to be just this side of the full moon. Maybe by the next cycle, he would have a better understanding of how to conduct his…investigations…without harming the subjects.

The old, familiar tingle started in his toes and his hands started to tremble as the clouds started to clear from the face of the bright yellow moon. His last thoughts were of the girl on the table and his unshakable confidence that by the time he got back, the old woman would be chatting it up with the young girl and everything would be right as rain… Or so he hoped…

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The Royal Dragoneers – M.R. Mathias

Storyline: Dragoneers and dragon tears… M.R. Mathias’ The Royal Dragoneers is an outstanding new take on a very old fantasy theme: dragons, trolls and magic.

Jenka De Swasso wants nothing more than to be a King’s Ranger and, as usual for someone with a destiny larger than themselves, his life takes a sudden and dramatic turn after an encounter with a young dragon named Jade.

The goblins have a new king, Gravelbone, and are organizing with the “mudged” dragons to drive man out of their lands. Gravelbone intends to destroy the king’s huge defensive wall, poison the entire kingdom and make the survivors into his slaves.

Zah and Jenka are the only ones that can save the kingdom from the demon Gravelbone and his nightshade. Together, they must convince the king of the impending war, avoid being locked away for being dragon sympathizers and learn the true nature of their bonds with their pure blooded dragons, Jade and Crystal.

Grammar/Spelling:  I noticed some inconsistencies with the spelling of a character named Rikky. Occasionally, it was spelled with only one “k”. There were also some minor punctuation problems that another read through with a beta reader could definitely take care of.

Character Development: The characters range from a powerful Druida to a stubborn young King’s Ranger to dragons, each with their own form of magic to help move the story along very nicely.

One of the standout characters for me was Rikky. He is barely a teenager and even at his young age, he shows a ferociousness and tenacity seldom seen even in men twice his age. Even after a debilitating attack from the goblins, he is determined to seek revenge on the Goblin King at nearly any cost.

Writing Style: Mr. Mathias has taken a tired old genre, reshaped and revamped it to start an entirely new saga with some surprising twists. The Royal Dragoneers have each bonded with a pureblooded dragon from the far northern reaches of the kingdom and the idea that not only can man fly with a dragon, but that he could literally bond with one is incredible.  Is it possible that Avatar got the idea from Mr. Mathias? Hmmmm?

His depictions of the battles between the pureblood dragons and the mudged (or tainted) dragons are both energizing and amazing. I can almost feel the wind whooshing by as the dragons barrel dive and spray fire (even ice!) on their enemies below.

The story does have some graphic scenes of violence and gore and a sprinkle of adult language, so I don’t know that it is for everyone.

Continuity:  No issues noted with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4

Bravo, Mr. Mathias! Your Royal Dragoneers is truly a new spin on an old dragon tale. I really want my own Dragon Tear and my own dragon. So, if you see any flyin’ about, send ’em my way and I might be so inclined to come pick ya’ up and we’ll go for a ride!

Great job, sir! Not just another cookie cutter fantasy with terrible, made up names and a predictable story-line; but, the makings of a great series that could continue for a long, long time! I look forward to reading the rest of the saga and learning more about dragons and their amazing powers.

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The Kinshield Legacy – K.C. May

Storyline: K.C. May I have another?! The Kinshield Legacy is a remarkable fantasy about a simple man who wants to do the right thing and help put the rightful heir on the Thendylath’s throne by solving the mystery of the runes.

Gavin Kinshield is the descendent of the last great king’s champion and would like to live simply while patrolling the countryside, lending out his protection and skills as a warrant knight.  However, as Gavin nears the completion of the Rune Stones’ mystery and the fulfillment of the prophecy that he become the next, albeit a reluctant, king; he must confront his past in order to face his future.

Ms. May has written The Kinshield Legacy as an entertaining and well written fantasy that draws the reader in within the first chapter and pulls us along for the fantastic journey of the reluctant would-be king of Thendylath.

Grammar/Spelling: I did not notice any issues with grammar and spelling.

Character Development: Ms. May has a wonderful cast of characters that are well-developed and each has a life of his/her own prior to becoming entangled with Gavin and the runes.

When the reader first meets Gavin, he appears to be a roughhewn, scraggly Warren Knight just happy to make some money, buy some ale and a little company. But, as we get to know Gavin, it becomes apparent that there is definitely more to this solid man. He is forever standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and trying to right the wrongs from his past.

There is nothing kind about Brodas Ravenkind, Gavin’s enemy. Ravenkind is a power hungry wizard that plans to usurp the throne from whoever is solving the mystery of the Rune Stones. He is quite easy to dislike and after learning all of the horrible things he has done to get where he is, the reader can only hope that Gavin can give him a good what-for.

Writing Style: Ms. May creates a new and entertaining fantasy world without overwhelming the reader with too much fantasy lingo. With this story, the reader doesn’t have to have a vast knowledge of all things fantasy to keep up; instead, they just need a little imagination to enjoy it. Ms. May uses a good mixture of story telling and flash backs to help move the plot along and you can almost feel Gavin’s pain (literal) and anguish over losing his family.

Continuity:  There were no problems with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4

I sincerely hope that the Kinshield Legacy will be the first in a series! Do you hear me, Ms. May?! I am really looking forward to finding out what Gavin will do when it comes time to face his fate and fulfill his destiny as the new king of Thendylath.

There are some adult themes (language, situations) and some violence throughout the story. So, it might be suitable for younger readers. But, I would highly recommend this to anyone who believes in fate and magic.

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The Crystal Facade – Debra Martin & David Small

Storyline: Debra and David: double the authors, double the greatness. The Crystal Façade is book two (really, it could actually standalone) in a fantasy series that I can only hope continues until the end of time. Or at least until I can’t stands it no mo’!

The Crystal Façade picks up the story six months after the first adventures on Otharia and Earth. Dyla has been having increasingly disturbing visions of Sir Blackheart and know that until she goes back to Earth to finish the quest they started, these visions will never go away. The glamour has worn off Otharia for Cat and all she wants to do is to go back home to Earth and start living a normal life – teaching her students and archeology-ing – again.

Together Cat, Dyla and Éclair, the very powerful telepath, make the trip back to Earth. After they leave, the conspiracy doesn’t seem to stop weaving out of control. Darius must figure out who is trying to kill him and prevent an evil power from taking over Otharia.

Grammar/Spelling: I noticed some minor issues with punctuation and grammar. I also noticed an odd twist to an old saying (Perhaps it’s due to the differences between Earthlings and Otharians?): “She was a beautiful, headstrong, young woman who seemed to attract men to her like flies to the fire.” I have always heard it stated as, “like moths to the flame.” This phrasing did nothing to detract from the story at all – just something that I noticed and thought it was worth mentioning.

Character Development: The Crystal Façade is fairly well-written and developed. Even though it is book two, the characters were flushed out well enough that it was easy to follow the storyline. Of course, now I must read the FIRST book so that I can get the ENTIRE story. Geez! Thanks guys! Like I don’t have ENOUGH books to read! I kid, I kid!

Darius is the new lady-loving young Duke of Telkur (Well, he’s always loved ladies, so that part isn’t new, per se.) and he might have met his match with the beautiful, spit-fire Crystaline. He decides to prove his mettle by saving her from kidnappers. (At least attempting to!)

Éclair is the strongest telekinetic that has ever been born in Otharia and, because of that, he is also one of the youngest teachers at the Otharian Institute for Paranormal Studies. His techniques have been ill-received by the older teachers and staff, so his decision to take the trip back to Earth is met with very little resistance on their part.

Writing Style: The Crystal Façade is unique because it runs in parallel timelines on Earth and Otharia to keep the action moving along and the reader quite entranced.

The trip to Earth should have been an easy, in and out expedition, but of course, it’s not. Cat, Dyla and Éclair are being followed and harassed by Blackheart’s goons while searching for Merlin’s cave; while back on Otharia, we have kidnappings, coercions, secret societies and even a rebellion.

Nothing is ever simple, is it?

Continuity:  I noticed no issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4-

I really enjoyed Debra Martin and David Small’s fantasy collaboration, The Crystal Façade. I can promise I’ll be buying the first one – unless *ahem* for some other reason I get a copy – and will be able to highly review and recommend it as well!

The Crystal Façade is a distinctive and exciting journey into the fantasy genre and I can only hope that there are many more great trips to Otharia!

The story had some minor adult situations and language, so I would give it a PG-13 rating.

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Kistmet’s Kiss – Cate Rowan

Storyline: It’s like the King and I with a lot less singing and a whole lot more sexy. Cate Rowan has spun a fabulous Middle Eastern romantic fantasy with Kismet’s Kiss.

The Great Sultan Kuramos is facing down an enemy that even the most mighty of warriors and greatest of kings cannot overcome: a disease born of a goddess’ curse. This mysterious plague has sickened many members of the royal family and there seems to be no hope until he reaches out to a neighboring realm of Teganne – known for its great healers and magic.

The Royal Healer Varene na Seryn is as talented and stubborn as she is beautiful. Combining her healing knowledge and magic, she must overcome the sickness that is taking the Sultan’s family and servants one by one.

Can Sultan Kuramos and the Healer Varene overcome their differences to save the royal family? Will his strange customs and distrust of magic be the wedge that keeps these two apart or will it draw them together as the fates so will it?

Grammar/Spelling: I noticed a few errors; I would recommend another good read through by a beta reader.

Character Development: As a strong-willed (ok, really, I’m more “stubborn” than “strong-willed” because I have very little will power when it comes to chocolate…I mean, really… It’s quite sad.) woman myself, I can absolutely relate to the Royal Healer’s refusal to play second (or even seventh) fiddle to an old fashioned custom that puts the man in charge.

Not only am I the Queen of Commas, I am also the Empress of Mixed Signals and Kismet’s Kiss was definitely a story of two ships passing in the night. That being said, throughout Kismet’s Kiss Varene and Kuramos are definitely wandering over into my Land of Confusion (not to be confused with that great Genesis track) and you are left wondering if they’re ever going to get it together.

Writing Style: The story quickly grabs the reader’s interest and pulls the reader through the sensuous and magical desert land of Kad. Ms. Rowan’s fantasy world is unique and mysterious. I really felt like I was transported (possibly via magic carpet) into a land of endless desert and talking jencel-birds.

Even though this is a romance novel, the love scenes are actually few and far between; so even the most modest of readers could enjoy Kismet’s Kiss.

Continuity:  No issues with continuity.

Overall Rating: 4+

Ms. Cate Rowan’s novel, Kismet’s Kiss, was a breath of fresh air with a whole new world (HA! Like I could resist swiping a line from Disney’s Aladdin!  You’d have been sad and disappointed if I wrote this entire review without mentioning it at least once. Admit it.) set in the very ancient world of the Middle East.

I encourage all of you lady folks to read this one (and maybe even you men folks can read it too… I won’t judge you…) and get lost in a sexy world of love, magic and mystery.

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