LEGION: THE MANY LIVES OF STEPHEN LEEDS

legionLegion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds
by 
Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Detective – SciFi

Series: Legion #1-3

Publisher: Tor Books (September 18, 2018)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 400 pages

My Rating: 4 stars

Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is a collection of three companion novellas focused on schizophrenic genius Stephen Leeds, whose unbelievable detective skills have sprung forth from his legion of hallucinatory “aspects”. While the first two novellas have been previously published (I’m referring to “Legion” and “Legion: Skin Deep”.), this time out fans of the series can re-experience those old Leeds adventures before devouring the wrap-up novella, “Lies of the Beholder,” which ties up more than a few dangling plot lines before ending the tale in satisfying fashion. But will it satisfy everyone? Probably not. But, like all Brandon Sanderson stories, Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is inventive, entertaining and does an amazing job bringing such a unique concept to life.

As the title declares, Stephen Leeds lives a multi-faceted life. Basically, this is due to him having forty “aspects” or different personalities, if you will. Each one of these other individuals are hallucinations within his mind; distinct beings who have their own unique personalities and fields of expertise. Stephen hears them, talks to them, sees them, and even has different rooms in his home set up for each one to live in. Naturally, no one else sees any of these aspects though, which shrieks of a really bad case of untreated schizophrenia, but Stephen seems to have a handle on the whole thing, so no harm done, I guess.

What is distinctly interesting about this whole aspect system is that Stephen unconsciously creates each of these beings. Each time he uses his genius abilities to master an area of knowledge he then brings into existence an aspect to embody that knowledge, store it, and then promptly forgets everything he has learned about it. So when our genius detective needs to recall something about a subject he has previously mastered out comes one (or more) of his aspects to act as an imaginary partner(s) whom Stephen has imagined discussions with, bickers with and swaps banter with.

Needless to say, Stephen’s amazing abilities have allowed him to be super successful at solving crimes and complex problems by tapping into his imaginary army of gurus. This success has led to large amounts of money, which has resulted in Stephen building a mansion large enough for him and his aspects to all live together out of sight of ordinary people who might find Stephen’s habit of dining with invisible people disconcerting. This success has also allowed him to be very, very picky about what cases he accepts, resulting in Stephen only dealing with highly unusual situations.

It all begins in “Legion,” the first novella, which is about the search for a stolen camera which allegedly can take pictures of people and events at any time in the past. Definitely a nice science fiction vibe in this story, and while Sanderson’s narrative doesn’t add anything new to the well mined time travel mythos, it was still a fun, fast read with some interesting psychological and philosophical questions.

“Skin Deep” keeps the many aspects of Stephen coming at you with a mystery centering on a dead body which everyone is searching for. Supposedly, this dead guy was a pioneer in biotechnology who developed a super secret, super advanced method for storing massive amounts of information in the cells of the human body. Naturally, everyone believes the dead guy stored some of his most amazing, ground-breaking scientific discoveries in his own body before he died, so everyone is in a deadly race to find it.

Finally, there is the new novella, “Skin Deep”, which is quite different in tone and feel from the others. Here Sanderson attempts to deal with many of the questions regarding Stephen, his aspects, and his previous relationship with a psychologist named Sandra. Overall, the answers provided are satisfying, include some shocking moments, and definitely give a possible theory, of sorts, to Stephen’s condition and his aspects, but there are definitely a few plot holes, some missteps with the established lore, and a conclusion which feels a bit too nice and tidy.  What really stuck out to me, though, was the much darker, less light-hearted vibe of the story; a circumstance which left me feeling a bit jarred out of my nice comfort zone.

Like many other readers, I have to say the most satisfying aspect of this collection is experiencing Stephen’s unique world filled with his imaginary alter egos. The constant banter, detailed discussions, and colorful personalities of all the different “aspects” keeping the detective stories filled with fun. But what makes Legion a more nuanced and addictive read is how Sanderson deftly adds many serious questions just under the surface though.  Things like how and why Stephen creates and pretends that his different alter egos are real. These ongoing mysteries about Stephen and what is actually real in his world a nice brain puzzle for readers to enjoy in addition to the detective tale they are already reading.

My only complaint about the collection would be “Lies of the Beholder” attempting to do too much, answer too many questions, and wrap up Stephen’s tale in too few pages. No Sanderson story ever is unfinished or unpolished, but this novella just felt like it was missing too many pieces, skipping too many steps, making too many changes in an effort to arrive at a preordained place in a single leap. It wasn’t bad as much as it was incomplete, in my opinion.

Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds was an entertaining read any way you look at it. The concept of Stephen and his aspects is a unique, fun idea, which Brandon Sanderson capably handles. The mysteries Stephen finds himself embroiled in are entertaining and intriguing stories. And while I have issues with the third novella, it did not stumble to the point where I hold the book in less esteem, so I highly recommend this one to everyone out there.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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SUPER SATURDAY: 9/22/18

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Other (more accomplished) bloggers spend their Saturdays showcasing all the great goodies they have received from publishers.  Since I infrequently get those (and definitely do not receive enough to fill a whole blog post) I’ve decided to spend my Saturdays showcasing some of the cool books I’ve picked up recently from used book stores, thrift shops, and yard sales. (Oh, yeah, I love going to yard sales on Saturday mornings.  Fun stuff.)

This week I’ve got a treat in store for my brothers and sisters who love sword and sorcery, because I hit a mother lode on a recent trip to my local used bookstore, snagging enough reading material to keep me busy for weeks.

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And if that wasn’t enough sword and sorcery, I was able to start obtaining physical copies of my favorite modern sword and sorcery series.  Wasn’t lucky enough to find all four books though, which was horribly disappointing.

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Have to say this was a great haul for the week, but I’ll be out this a.m. looking for some more at all the yard sales and thrift stores in my area, so wish me luck!

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FRIDAY FACE OFF SEPTEMBER 21, 2018

friday-face-off

Welcome to the Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in the literary universe.  If you want to join us next week, check out next week’s predetermined theme, choose a book, compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog

This week’s theme is:

“I wandered lonely as a cloud’ – a cover featuring clouds!”

This is another theme where only one book seemed to fit.

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AND THE WINNER IS . . .

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A TIE!  Very different artistic styles, colors, and imagery made it difficult for me to choose between these two.  If pushed though I’d probably pick the cover on the left due to the light, airy feel to the image, but it is very, very close.

So, do you agree with my picks?  Disagree?  Love all the covers?  Hate them all?  Let us know!

Posted in Cover Lover, Friday Face-Off | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

TOP THREE THURSDAY

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Welcome to Top Three Thursday! This is a weekly feature I’ve decided to host from this day forward.  A day where I can post a short list on different topics I’ve been thinking about.  The focus this time out is: SERIES I WANT MORE OF!

Certainly, there are a lot of series that I want more of.  Whether it be my dream for Tolkien to keep having unpublished manuscripts found, dusted off, and published or my excitement whenever Barbara Hambly releases another Darwath novella, I have older series I keep loving to love.  But today I’m going to focus on a few recent fantasy offerings which I want more of.


THE GRIM COMPANY3. Grim Company – Luke Scull

Okay, this series is definitely grimdark, which isn’t a genre I’m terribly interested in lately (I’m a bit tired of it, I believe.), but it is among a handful of grims that I still look upon favorably.  Not sure where Luke Scull could go with the series after the last book, but I’d be interested to see.

Purchase The Grim Company at Amazon


SEVENFORGES2. Seven Forges – James A. Moore

From a so-so start, this series grew into a great sword and sorcery story which just begs for James A. Moore to continue on with the saga.  I’ve read in interviews that the author does intend to return to this world, has a few more stories to tell, and I for one can’t wait to see what is in store next.

Purchase Seven Forges: Seven Forges, Book I at Amazon 


when the heavens fall1.  Chronicles of the Exile – Marc Turner

Many readers of this series compared it favorably to Malazan.  Since I’ve never read Erickson and Esslemont’s sprawling fantasy series, I can’t testify that such a comparison is accurate, but I can tell you that I highly enjoyed this complex story, loved all the diverse characters, and was loving how Turner kept building and building upon the previous plot lines.  Great stuff.  Really wish the author would get a chance to finish this epic saga up instead of leaving things incomplete.

Purchase When the Heavens Fall, Book One at Amazon


HONORABLE MENTIONS


SKELETON WARRIOR1.  Khraen Saga – Michael R. Fletcher

Okay, there have actually only been two short stories regarding this character, but they are so damn good, so filled with potential that they beg for Michael Fletcher to devote a whole book, trilogy, or series to this undead Khraen.  I heard rumblings one time that the author definitely intended to do so soon.  Anyone heard anything new?

Read it free here and here


romulus buckle 12. Pneumatic Zeppelin – Richard Ellis Preston Jr.

This is probably my favorite steampunk series.  Not that I’ve read very many steampunk books, because I haven’t, but of the ones I have, this swashbuckling story of a post-apocalyptic world with its zeppelins and steampunk culture is tops.  And, sure, Preston has written three books so far, but Romulus’ story is far from over, and I can’t wait to read some more of it.

Purchase Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders at Amazon  

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WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: Death of the Planet of the Apes

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Waiting on Wednesday is a meme which lets readers share their excitement for books coming out soon, and this week the story I’m eagerly awaiting is . . .

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death planet of the apesDeath of the Planet of the Apes by
Andrew Gaska

Genre: SciFi

Series: Planet of the Apes

Publisher: Titan Books (November 13, 2018)

Author Information: FB | Twitter

Length: 320 pages

New adventures revealing secrets stemming from Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

Taylor, the astronaut from Planet of the Apes (Charlton Heston), appeared briefly during Beneath the Planet of the Apes, but his whereabouts remained largely unknown–until now. Revealed for the first time are Taylor’s deadly adventures, the violent unrest among the apes, and the secrets of the mutant city hidden beneath the Forbidden Zone..

Purchase the book at Amazon

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TOP TEN TUESDAY

TOP TEN TUESDAYS

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where a new top ten list hits the web every week!

The topic this time out is: Books on my Fall 2018 TBR List!

Pretty self explanatory topic this week, so let’s get right to it.


mystic dragon10. Mystic Dragon – Jason Denzel

In an effort to be completely transparent, I’m going to say I probably would not be reading this novel if I hadn’t received a review copy from the publisher.  However, since I have gotten a copy, I have to say taht the reviews so far have encouraged me to give this book a go, especially since everyone says the world building is superb.

Purchase Mystic Dragon (The Mystic Trilogy) at Amazon


in a time of treason9. In a Time of Treason – David Keck

This is another book I received a review copy of.  I have been slowly but steadily working my way through book one of the series, In the Eye of Heaven, and when I’m finished I’ll be diving into this sequel.  Hopefully, the pacing problems of book one escape this second volume.

Purchase In a Time of Treason at Amazon


privateer8. The Privateer – Margaret Weis & Robert Krammes

A review copy of this book arrived in the mail a while back, and I have to say the description of swashbuckling action captured my imagination.  This is definitely something I’m going to be reading before to long.

Purchase Privateer (The Dragon Corsairs) at Amazon


book of magic7. The Book of Magic – Gardner_Dozois (editor) 

No, I didn’t get a review copy of this book, but if anyone from the publishing house is reading this, I’d love to.  Anyway, I enjoy having a good collection of short stories around whenever I don’t have time for anything more involved, and this looks interesting.

Purchase The Book of Magic: A Collection of Stories at Amazon


showdown6. Showdown – Ted Dekker  

For many years my Christian reading friends have been telling me I should give Ted Dekker a try, raving about his amazing stories which feature classic tales of good versus evil.  And I’m thinking it is about time to give the author a try.

Purchase Showdown (Paradise Series, Book 1) at Amazon


she who waits5. She Who Waits – Daniel Polansky

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, liked the second one, and could not get into this one when I first picked it up.  Why the trajectory of the story has been downward for me I’m not sure, but I’d still like to see how it all ends, so I’m going to force myself to read this soon.

Purchase She Who Waits: Low Town 3 at Amazon


fierce gods4. Fierce Gods – Col Buchanan

Unlike many of you, I enjoyed the first three books of Col Buchanan’s series.  When I got around to opening this fourth installment though I was burned out and needed a break from this world and its problems.  Still want to know what happened though, so I’m going to read this one soon.

Purchase Fierce Gods (Heart of the World) at Amazon


fire & blood3. Fire & Blood – George R.R. Martin

Honestly, I’m dealing with a bad case of ASOIF withdrawal.  No book in eons.  No tv show this summer.  It really is damn awful.  At least, MArtin has seen fit to throw his fans a few scraps with this novel, which I will be happy to devour as soon as possible.

Purchase Fire & Blood at Amazon


legion2. Legion – Brandon Sanderson

I’m not terribly familiar with this character nor have I read the previously released novellas, but I tend to enjoy most any Brandon Sanderson book which I receive for review.  And since I got this one in the mail a week or so ago, I can’t wait to give it a go and see where Sanderson takes me this time.

Purchase Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds at Amazon


port of shadows1.  Port of Shadows – Glen Cook

I’ve been excited for this latest installment of the Black Company series ever since I heard it announced ages ago. Can’t tell you how excited I got when I opened my mailbox and saw the Amazon envelope which I knew had my copy of this novel inside.  Now I just have to finish my current book before I can start this one.

Purchase Port of Shadows: The Black Company at Amazon

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WAR CRY

war cryWar Cry by Brian McClellan

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Tor.com (August 28, 2018)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 112 pages

My Rating: 4 stars

War Cry is a short, action-oriented novella by Brian McClellan. Like his previous works in the Powder Mage Trilogy universe, the author mixes magic and more modern methods of warfare together to create a unique world; a tantalizing backdrop for this tale of soldier Teado and his small band of soldiers caught up in a brutal conflict. Here shape changers, illusionists, and fire wizards fight side-by-side with men riding motorcycles, flying World War II era fighter planes and bombers, and waging war with rifles and handguns. And while the narrative itself doesn’t vary far from the tried-and-true narrative of a classic war tale, War Cry is fast paced, filled with action galore, has several nice twists, and is addictive entertainment like all McClellan’s stories up to this point.

The war began before Teado was even born. The dark, horrific embrace of the endless struggle branding every one of his memories from earliest childhood to the present. All rumors of peace ridiculous lies to be scoffed at. The brutal, nearly forgotten struggle of his platoon the only real thing left in a world filled with shadows. His nights spent listening to the enemies radio broadcasts causing him to wonder if he should give up this fight, desert his comrades, and see if the promises of amnesty, food, and a soft bed are more than just lies. Yet Teado fights on, because his only family is the men and women whom he fights beside every day, and he cannot bear the thought of forsaking them or bringing them harm!

As I’ve already mentioned, War Cry is a rather short (112 pages) novella; its sole desire to tell an entertaining war story in a limited page count. To accomplish this feat, McClellan quickly introduces the main characters, sketches in a world caught up in a decades long war, then drops his readers into a non-stop, action-packed adventure. All of which means this isn’t a tale filled with penetrating introspection, detailed descriptions, endless commentary, or fully developed characters, so no one should pick this one up expecting all that.

Many reviewers seem to have issues with the complexity of War Cry though; its supposed failure to “flesh out” all the characters and fully reveal the world viewed as failures by the author to take full advantage of this premise. My response to these criticisms is that War Cry is not only a damn fun war story to read, but it’s exactly the type of fiction SFF needs more of these days. No, the novella doesn’t preach at its readers like it’s a holy text. Nope, it doesn’t endlessly expound upon meaningful social commentary. What it does is entertain its readers. And I, for one, am very happy it does, because we all need an escape from reality from time to time, and War Cry is exactly what I personally was looking for.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Purchase the story at Amazon

Posted in 4 Stars, Fantasy, Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

DIVE SMACK

dive smackDive Smack by Demetra Brodsky

Genre: Thriller-Mystery-YA

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Tor Teen (June 19, 2018)

Author Information: Twitter

Length: 336 pages

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Dive Smack by Demetra Brodsky is a solid debut novel, one which tells an easy to follow story filled with enough mystery, suspense, and supernatural elements to keep readers turning the pages.

Theo is a high school kid dealing with a lot of stress. His normal teen issues like school projects and a burning desire to gain a scholarship to Stanford University complicated by the fact he is an orphan. (His mother having died years ago in a house fire, and his dad passing away from a heart attack a year ago.) Theo now living with his grandfather, who has become a heavy drinker since his son’s death and emotionally unavailable.

The only support structure our young man has is his best friend Chip, his teammates on the school diving team, a girl named Iris he is definitely attracted to, and his Uncle Phil (not really his biological uncle but his dad’s best friend) who is also his treating psychologist. These people and the Adderall he constantly takes helping Theo cope with a reality marred by unresolved grief and an unspoken fear that he was the one who started the house fire which killed his mom and, ultimately, caused his dad’s death.

But just like it only takes a spark to ignite a fire, it only takes a family history project at school to set Theo’s fragile existence a blaze. His and his partner Iris’s harmless investigation into their families’ pasts leading to Theo having dreams of unremembered events, uncovering unknown facts, and, finally, learning horrible truths that lead to a final revelations which changes everything!

Probably the most enjoyable thing about this story for me was the mystery elements. I thought Demetra Brodsky wove her clues into the ongoing narrative skillfully and for maximum effect, never giving them too much of the spotlight, and allowing the suspense to build organically. This mystery driving my personal desire to finish Dive Smack to gain the answers to all my questions. The conclusion a fitting wrap up for Theo’s story.

As for criticisms, they are a bit more lengthy, but I’m not going to belabor my dislikes. Basically, I found the first half of the book to be rather slow moving, tedious at times, and rather dull; loads of buildup without any real excitement, if you will. This probably had something to do with the amount of time spent detailing Theo’s diving; a sport which I personally don’t find very interesting, but others might. I also never warmed to Theo as a protagonist, finding him to be a really difficult character to empathize with or even like. I also felt that there really wasn’t any thrills in this book, at all. Definitely, the mystery and hints of the supernatural are there, but thrills . . . No, not very many of those anywhere.

Overall, Dive Smack is an entertaining book which uses its clues, questions, and mysteries to keep afloat what would otherwise be a rather ho-hum affair. I did enjoy my time spent with this story, and I do believe others might enjoy it much more than I did, finding in Theo a modern teen in whom they can empathize.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: LEGION: THE MANY LIVES OF STEPHEN LEEDS

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Waiting on Wednesday is a meme I’ve participated in for years which lets readers share their excitement for books coming out soon, and this week the story I’m eagerly awaiting is . . .

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legionLegion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds
by 
Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Detective – SciFi

Series: Legion #1-3

Publisher: Tor Books (September 18, 2018)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 400 pages

Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad.

A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems… for a price.

Stephen’s brain is getting a little crowded and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects.

This fall, Tor Books will publish Brandon Sanderson’s Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds. The collection will include the science fiction novellas Legion and Legion: Skin Deep, published together for the first time, as well as a brand new Stephen Leeds novella, Lies of the Beholder. This never-been-published novella will complete the series.

Purchase the book at Amazon

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FUNDAY MONDAY, OR THE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP ME SURVIVE THE WEEK AHEAD (AUGUST 27, 2018)

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Another week begins.  I quickly slip into my business suit and head back into the office to save a few innocent people. While I try to fool myself into being excited about the promise of a new week and the continuation of the regular grind, deep down, I’m not, so I’m going to escape dreary reality by finally reading a great book . . . or maybe even two!

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kullKull: Exile of Atlantis by Robert E. Howard

Genre: Sword and Sorcery

Series: REH Library #2

Publisher: Del Rey (October 31, 2006)

Author Information: REH Foundation 

Length: 352 pages

In a meteoric career that spanned a mere twelve years, Robert E. Howard single-handedly invented the genre that came to be called sword and sorcery. From his fertile imagination sprang some of fiction’s most enduring heroes. Yet while Conan is indisputably Howard’s greatest creation, it was in his earlier sequence of tales featuring Kull, a fearless warrior with the brooding intellect of a philosopher, that Howard began to develop the distinctive themes, and the richly evocative blend of history and mythology, that would distinguish his later tales of the Hyborian Age.

Much more than simply the prototype for Conan, Kull is a fascinating character in his own right: an exile from fabled Atlantis who wins the crown of Valusia, only to find it as much a burden as a prize.

This groundbreaking collection, lavishly illustrated by award-winning artist Justin Sweet, gathers together all Howard’s stories featuring Kull, from Kull’s first published appearance, in “The Shadow Kingdom,” to “Kings of the Night,” Howard’s last tale featuring the cerebral swordsman. The stories are presented just as Howard wrote them, with all subsequent editorial emendations removed. Also included are previously unpublished stories, drafts, and fragments, plus extensive notes on the texts, an introduction by Howard authority Steve Tompkins, and an essay by noted editor Patrice Louinet.

Purchase at Amazon

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