The Southern Vampire Mysteries
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (December 2013)|
||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (September 2010)|
Cover of Dead Ever After
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
e-Book (Kindle, Nook)
Audio Book (CD)
The Southern Vampire Mysteries, also known as The True Blood Novels and The Sookie Stackhouse Novels, is a series of books written by bestselling author Charlaine Harris. The first installment, Dead Until Dark (2001), won the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Mystery in 2001 and later served as the source material for the HBO drama series True Blood (2008–2014). The book series has been retronymed the True Blood Series upon reprinting, to capitalize on the television adaptation.
In The Southern Vampire Mysteries/True Blood Series, Harris develops a detailed mythology and alternate history that approaches supernatural beings as real; at the beginning of the series, vampires' existence has only been public knowledge for a couple of years, while other supernatural beings, such as werewolves, shapeshifters, faeries, etc., exist but do not go public until later in the series. The setting is contemporary, and the stories occasional reference popular culture.
The series is narrated in first person perspective by Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress and a telepath in the fictional town of Bon Temps in northwestern Louisiana. The 12th book, Deadlocked, was released on May 1, 2012. Harris was originally contracted to write 10 books, but she revealed at Comic Con 2009 that she has signed a contract for three additional books. On May 14, 2012, Harris' Facebook administrator announced that Dead Ever After (May 7, 2013) would be the final book of the series.
- 1 Novels and short stories
- 2 The Sookie Stackhouse Novels' universe
- 3 Television adaptation
- 4 See also
- 5 References
Novels and short stories
The Southern Vampire Mysteries (novels)
|1||Dead Until Dark||Ace Books||May 2001 (paperback)
January 2008 (hardcover)
|291 pp||ISBN 0-441-01597-2||ISBN 0-441-00853-4|
|2||Living Dead in Dallas||Ace Books||April 2002 (paperback)
January 2009 (hardcover)
|291 pp||ISBN 0-441-01673-1||ISBN 0-441-00923-9|
|3||Club Dead||Ace Books||May 2003 (paperback)
March 2010 (hardcover)
|292 pp||ISBN 0-441-01910-2||ISBN 0-441-01051-2|
|4||Dead to the World||Ace Hardcover||May 2004 (hardcover)
May 2005 (paperback)
|291 pp||ISBN 0-441-01167-5||ISBN 0-441-01218-3|
|5||Dead as a Doornail||Ace Hardcover||May 2005 (hardcover)
April 2006 (paperback)
|295 pp||ISBN 0-441-01279-5||ISBN 0-441-01333-3|
|6||Definitely Dead||Ace Hardcover||May 2006 (hardcover)
March 2007 (paperback)
|324 pp||ISBN 0-441-01400-3||ISBN 0-441-01491-7|
|7||All Together Dead||Ace Hardcover||May 2007 (hardcover)
March 2008 (paperback)
|336 pp||ISBN 0-441-01494-1||ISBN 0-441-01581-6|
|8||From Dead to Worse||Ace Hardcover||May 2008 (hardcover)
March 2009 (paperback)
|359 pp||ISBN 0-441-01589-1||ISBN 0-441-01701-0|
|9||Dead and Gone||Ace Hardcover||May 2009 (hardcover)
April 2010 (paperback)
|312 pp||ISBN 0-441-01715-0||ISBN 0-441-01851-3|
|10||Dead in the Family||Ace Hardcover||May 2010 (hardcover)
March 2011 (paperback)
|311 pp||ISBN 0-441-01864-5||ISBN 0-441-02015-1|
|11||Dead Reckoning||Ace Hardcover||May 2011 (hardcover)
March 2012 (paperback)
|325 pp||ISBN 0-441-02031-3||ISBN 0-441-02060-7|
|12||Deadlocked||Ace Hardcover||May 2012 (hardcover)
March 2013 (paperback)
|336 pp||ISBN 1-937007-44-8||ISBN 0-425-25638-3|
|13||Dead Ever After||Ace Hardcover||7 May 2013 (hardcover)
March 2014 (paperback)
|352 pp||ISBN 193700788X||ISBN 0-425-25639-1|
|The last novel in the series.|
|13.5||After Dead: What Came Next
in the World of Sookie Stackhouse
|Ace Hardcover||29 October 2013
|n/a||ISBN 0425269515||ISBN n/a|
|Alphabetically ordered farewell to all the characters.|
|n/a||The Sookie Stackhouse Companion||Ace Hardcover||30 August 2011 (hardcover)
2 October 2012 (paperback)
|480 pp||ISBN 0-441-01971-4||ISBN 1937007898|
|A guide to The Southern Vampire Mysteries universe.|
The Southern Vampire Mysteries (short stories and novellas)
|#||Title||Original release||Location(s)||Main character(s)|
|1||"Fairy Dust"||October 2004||Powers of Detection
A Touch of Dead (2009)
|Sookie Stackhouse (narrator)|
|Introduction of Claudine's brother Claude, and posthumous introduction of their sister Claudette.|
|2||Dancers in the Dark
|October 2004||Night’s Edge||Sean O'Rourke &
Layla Larue Lemay
|Introduction of Sean and Layla, later seen briefly in All Together Dead.|
|3||"One Word Answer"||December 2004||Bite
A Touch of Dead (2009)
|Sookie Stackhouse (narrator)|
|Introduction of Hadley's death & Mr. Cataliades, Waldo, and Sophie-Anne Leclerq.|
|4||"Tacky||October 2006||My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding||Dahlia Lynley-Chivers|
|Introduction of vampires Dahlia and Taffy, and their husbands Todd and Don.|
|5||"Dracula Night"||September 2007||Many Bloody Returns
A Touch of Dead (2009)
|Sookie Stackhouse (narrator)|
|6||"Gift Wrap"||October 2008||Wolfsbane and Mistletoe
A Touch of Dead (2009)
|Sookie Stackhouse (narrator)|
|7||"Lucky"||December 2008||Unusual Suspects
Between the Dark and Daylight (2009)
A Touch of Dead (2009)
|Sookie Stackhouse (narrator),
|8||"Bacon"||July 2009||Strange Brew||Dahlia Lynley-Chivers|
|Features the vampires Dahlia and Taffy|
|9||The Britlingens Go to Hell
|September 2009||Must Love Hellhounds||Batanya & Clovache|
|The Britlingens were previously introduced in All Together Dead.|
|10||A Touch of Dead
|October 2009||Sookie Short Story Collection||Sookie Stackhouse (narrator)|
|11||"Dahlia Underground"||April 2010||Crimes by Moonlight||Dahlia Lynley-Chivers|
|Features the vampires Dahlia and Taffy—takes place during All Together Dead and straight after |
|12||"Two Blondes"||August 2010||Death's Excellent Vacation||Sookie Stackhouse (narrator),
|13||"A Very Vampire Christmas"||December 2010||Glamour magazine||Dahlia Lynley-Chivers|
|14||"If I Had a Hammer"||August 2011||Home Improvement: Undead Edition||Sookie Stackhouse (narrator)|
|August 2011||The Sookie Stackhouse Companion||Sookie Stackhouse (narrator),
|16||"Death by Dahlia"||October 2011||Down These Strange Streets||Dahlia Lynley-Chivers|
|17||"Playing Possum"||September 2012||An Apple for the Creature||Sookie Stackhouse (narrator),
|18||"The Blue Hereafter"||April 2014||Games Creatures Play||Sookie Stackhouse (narrator)|
- Dead Until Dark
- Living Dead in Dallas
- Club Dead
- Dead to the World
- Dead as a Doornail
- Definitely Dead
- All Together Dead
- From Dead to Worse
- Dead and Gone
- Dead in the Family
- Dead Reckoning
- Dead Ever After
The Sookie Stackhouse Novels' universe
Two years prior to the first novel's timeline (in 2002 according to the Sookieverse timeline), vampires around the world have revealed themselves, via television, to the world as actual, and not mythical, beings after the development of a synthetic blood product (the most popular marketed brand of which is called "TrueBlood") that provides adequate sustenance for vampires and therefore does not require them to feed on human blood.
Worldwide, reaction to the vampires' "Great Revelation" is mixed. The policy in Muslim countries is death and torture for vampires, while most African nations, Argentina, and Bosnia refuse to acknowledge vampires' existence. Some nations, such as France, Germany, and Italy, acknowledge vampires and do not torture them, but do not give them equal rights as citizens. Canada, Japan, Mexico, Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States are more tolerant; however, even in the US vampires are not permitted certain rights, like the right to marry.
Rather than acknowledging the legend that vampires are deceased humans who have risen from the dead to prey on the living, the vampires insist they are simply the victims of a medical condition that makes them allergic to sunlight and affects their dietary needs.
Vampires are pale and cold, possess unfathomable strength and speed, and have keen senses of hearing, smell, and vision. This makes it easy for them to protect themselves. They also have the ability to remain completely still, expressionless, and silent. Vampires can control the minds of humans ("glamor", often seen as a form of hypnosis) by staring into a human's eyes and speaking in a soothing, trance-inducing voice. Vampires can induce complete or partial amnesia in a glamored human, and can compel them to do anything the vampire desires. A few vampires can even fly; others may have other powers and abilities.
Vampires' fangs come out when they are hungry, see blood, are sexually aroused, or need to fight. All vampires are compelled to obey their individual maker. Harris' vampires do not age. They can survive and recover from most forms of physical injury, but they will die if staked, exposed to sunlight, burnt by fire, completely drained of their blood (if not treated promptly), or decapitated. Silver is highly toxic to them. Unlike the vampire mythology of other universes, crucifixes have no effect on vampires in Harris' universe, garlic only produces allergic reactions, vampires can be photographed, and most (except the "very old ones") are able to enter places of worship or step on "holy ground". They cannot enter a home unless invited, and if an invitation is withdrawn, they are physically unable to remain on the premises. Since vampires can glamor humans to invite them to enter their homes, humans must avoid eye contact and order the vampire off the premises when an unfriendly one tries to gain entry.
Fangbangers, the human cult followers fascinated by vampires, include volunteers willing to be bitten to provide fresh blood nourishment to vampires. If a vampire and a human share blood (each drinking from the other), it will form a blood bond, linking the pair's psyches. Vampire blood without exchange is sought after by humans as a drug that can enhance strength, heal wounds, and increase attractiveness, among other desirable effects. Due to the shortage of willing vampire donors, human "drainers" attack vampires and drain their entire blood supply, either staking the vamps or leaving victims to die in the sun. The blood is then sold as a drug, in vials on the underground market. It can be highly addictive, but may cause psychotic or murderous rampages by human users upon first use; it is highly unpredictable who will be affected in this manner. In "One Word Answer", a vampire's blood given to a dead body, in combination with magic words, raises the ghost of the body's former inhabitant.
Though many vampires in this universe try to live among humans, they remain very secretive about their organization and government. The vampires divided the continental United States into four divisions (clans), each represented by a symbol: the Whale, the Feather, the Thunder Bolt, and the Eye. A division consists of multiple kingdoms, each controlled by a single lead vampire known as the King or Queen. Each kingdom is subdivided into areas (formerly known as fiefdoms), each controlled by a sheriff who owes allegiance to the monarch.
Weres and shapeshifters
Weres and shapeshifters can assume either human or animal forms, and are collectively referred to as the "two-natured". A variety of different types of weres and shapeshifters exist in The Southern Vampire Mysteries, including werefoxes, werepanthers, weretigers, werewolves, etc. Being bitten by a were can transform a person unwillingly at full moons into a man/beast form closer to that of classic legend, but a person must be bitten several times to accumulate growth. Shapeshifting conditions manifest in puberty.
As Sam tells Sookie, shapeshifters can assume the form of any animal, but most often change to the same animal every time, usually a creature they have a special affinity for, and they call themselves by that animal, e.g., werebat or weredog.
In contrast, weres are only able to shift into one animal (werebats, werelynxes, werepanthers, weretigers, or werewolves). Within the two-natured community, the capitalized term "Were" is reserved only for those who can change into wolves. The Weres consider themselves superior to all others, but they all cooperate with each other. Most of the two-natured beings organize themselves into packs; each pack is led by a packmaster.
Although vampires announced their existence to the world, the two-natured beings maintained their secrecy to observe the vampires' results. In this series mythology, the shifters decide to publicize their existence in the ninth book, Dead and Gone (2009).
Demand for vampire blood has been growing on the black market, as the blood is very powerful and addictive. The strength of the blood depends on the age of the blood (the time since it has been removed from its owner), the age of the vampire from whom the blood has been removed, and the individual chemistry of the drug user.
In this universe, the effects of vampire blood in humans are feelings of power, increased strength, acute vision and hearing, increased sexual desire, and enhanced physical appearance. The results are notoriously unpredictable and vary per person, lasting from weeks to months. Some people go mad—even homicidal—when the blood hits their systems. Vampires hate drainers and the users of the drained blood. A vial of blood can cost from $200 to $400, depending on the age of the vampire and the preference of the seller.
In The Southern Vampire Mysteries, humans' reactions to vampires are varied.
- "Fangbangers" are vampire groupies who enjoy having sex with vampires and being bitten, perhaps consume vampire blood, or just like the excitement of being around vampires.
- "Drainers" are humans who attack vampires in order to drain their blood, though it is a hazardous job. Drainers travel in teams, singling out vampires through a variety of methods and then carefully planning their ambush. They bind vampires with silver chains and drain the blood into vials.
- Some humans have not accepted vampires as creatures of God, and organizations such as the Fellowship of the Sun are against vampires and their existence.
in The Southern Vampire Mysteries universe, fairies "...are your basic supernatural being. From us come elves and brownies and angels and demons. Water sprites, green men, all the natural spirits... all some form of fairy." —Claudine
Fairies are portrayed in the series as beautiful, with pointed ears and glossy, thin skin. Physically, fairies are super-humanly strong and durable. They are tough, ferocious, and incredibly long-lived, but not immortal. The Shreveport werewolf packmaster says, "They love to flirt with disaster, they love to role-play." In this universe, fairies are extremely attractive to humans as well as to vampires. Vampires have a hard time resisting fairies because of their smell and taste; fairy blood is intoxicating to vampires. A fairy, Claudine, is first introduced in Dead to the World. Watching vampires react to her, Sookie thinks that “it was like watching cats that'd suddenly spotted something skittering along the baseboards.” This makes face to face interactions between them all but impossible. However some individuals, such as Sookie's great-grandfather Niall Brigant, are able to "suppress their essence", effectively masking their scent and making such contact safer.
In the Southern Vampire Series, fairies can be killed with either lemons, limes, or iron. When a fairy dies a corpse is not left, just a sparkling powder (or fairy dust); the body just fades away, and the fairy's spirit goes to the next oldest family member to tell them of their death. The fae call their afterlife "The Summerlands".
Fairies are secretive about their own race, customs, interactions, and world. They normally inhabit the fae world, named Faery, but there are portals and doorways between it and the human world. Sookie's great-grandfather Niall is a fairy prince, and Claudine and Claude are Niall’s grandchildren. In later books, Claudine admits that she is Sookie's fairy godmother. She was assigned this role in an effort to move on to the next level, which is angelhood.
Sookie's great-grandfather is over 1000 years old, and her half-human great uncle is centuries old. Those who have fairy blood in them but are not full-blooded fairies are immune to the effects of iron, lemons, and limes, while maintaining some of the attractive qualities of fairies. Niall states that Sookie and Jason have both inherited the beauty of the fairies, but only certain creatures can tell they are part-fairy. As a genetic quirk (possibly due to fairy blood), Jason greatly resembles his great uncle to the point where others are unable to differentiate between the two of them. Sookie appears to have inherited more magical fairy powers (such as immunity against mind spells from vampires and maenads), while Jason only has the power of attraction and seduction. However, most assume this is mainly due to his physical appearance. It is also stated in one of the books, by Mr. Cataliades, that Sookie's telepathy is not a trait she obtained from her fairy blood. In the short story "Fairy Dust", Sookie says Fairies love attention and admiration, a fact she learned from Sam. In this story, it is also implied that Fairies have the ability to cast spells, as Claudine was muttering something under her breath to hypnotise or calm down the people she and her brother, Claude, were interrogating. Claudine also magically appeared to aid Sookie when she was in mortal danger on a number of occasions, however, she hinted that there were limits to how and when she could perform that trick. Sookie was not always aware of her fairy godmother's timely interventions.
It is also known that fairies can conjure objects, demonstrated by Claudine in "Fairy Dust", when she summoned a contract, and in Dead to the World, when she changed her outfit magically. A fairy, Preston, also displays the abilities to shapeshift and to seduce even Sookie, who is usually telepathically resistant to such abilities.
Telepaths are humans who can read the minds of other humans and feel the emotions of different creatures that are portrayed in a creature's "brain signature". Vampires have a "hole" as their signature, so telepaths cannot read their mind. (However, Sookie occasionally picks up a few flashes of thought from vampires.) Were and shifter signatures portray emotions or colors. Demons' signatures are compared to a buzzing sound or like the "static in a radio station". Maenads' signatures are represented as an endless mystic chant. Fairies (and a few powerful witches) can block their minds from telepaths. Sookie refers to their minds as being "shielded".
Telepaths are rarely encountered in the supernatural community. It is revealed in Dead Reckoning that Sookie's power of telepathy was granted to her family by the half-demon Desmond Cataliades. He was great friends with Sookie's half-fairy grandfather Fintan, and so he became a sponsor to Fintan's descendants and was required to give them a gift. He had the power of telepathy and thought it a great gift to Fintan's family, as it would give them an edge over their fellow humans to know what other people were thinking and planning. Fintan and Adele drank Cataliades' blood (although Adele was tricked into it, as Cataliades mixed it with her wine), and from then on Finatan and Adele passed on to most of their descendants the power of telepathy. However, Cataliades revealed, only the descendants who, like Sookie's grandmother Adele, had the essential spark would inherit the telepathy. When asked what the essential spark was, Cataliades responded, "It isn't easy to pin down in terms of your DNA. It's an openness to the other world. Some humans literally can't believe there are creatures in another world besides ours, creatures who have feelings and rights and beliefs and deserve to live their own lives. Humans who are born with the essential spark are born to experience or perform something wonderful, something amazing." Although Adele had the essential spark Fintan did not want her to have the gift. When each Stackhouse child was born Cataliades came and inspected them to see if they had the gift.
Wiccans and witches
In The Southern Vampire Mysteries canon, a witch practices magic rituals, drawing from a power most people never tap into that can be focused for various effects through the use of rituals and spells. A Wiccan, on the other hand, practices a pagan religion that follows the ways of the Mother. Practitioners can be both Wiccan and a witch, or more one or the other. Witches and Wiccans first appear in the fourth book, Dead to the World. Sookie’s colleague and fellow barmaid at Merlotte’s, Holly, is a Wiccan practitioner, but not a witch. In later books, Sookie learns more about witchcraft and befriends Amelia Broadway, a true witch, in New Orleans.
- Britlingens: Extremely powerful and skilled beings from another dimension who act as mercenaries, considered to rival vampires in strength. Summoning Britlingens requires an exorbitant amount of money, but once summoned they are very difficult to kill.
- Devils: Beings that can corrupt human souls and even buy them. Devils only make deals at crossroads they are very tricky and have no empathy. The contract must be signed with the blood of the person who sells their soul to the devil (not to be confused with "the Devil", who rarely appears "above ground"). In return, the devil will grant that person their dearest wish. Devils look very human, except for their very sharp teeth and dark red eyes. They are able to possess humans and other supes (referred to in Dead Ever After); they can also appear out of thin air. They may have other powers which have not been revealed so far. Devils and demons tend to cross paths once in a while, but it has not been made clear whether or not these two species are related to each other.
- Fae Creatures: As noted above, the world of faery in this universe includes "fairies, nymphs, water sprites, angels, elves, demons, pixies, goblins, and brownies", with fairies being the majority and base race.
- Demons: Beings that have very sharp teeth and are tricky to kill. They can manipulate fire (referred to in Dead and Gone), they can run faster than any human or animal (referred to in Dead and Gone), and can have a very powerful touch (referred to in Dead as a Doornail). When they die, the earth does not take the body in nor does it decompose, so it has to be burned (referred to in Definitely Dead). They also possess the power of telepathy (referred to in Dead Reckoning) and can shapeshift (referred to in Deadlocked).
- Elves: Very little is known about these creatures. It is expressed in the short story "Two Blondes" that they have very sharp teeth and their blood is poisonous to vampires. If elf blood is ingested, it will greatly weaken and disorient a vampire for a short period of time. In "Two Blondes", Sookie shoots Rudy, a half-elf, in the face and chest, but he is not mortally wounded. This implies elves are very durable supernaturals and may potentially be more dangerous than others previously introduced.
- Goblins: Little yet strong creatures whose touch burns the skin (referred to in Club Dead).
- Maenads: In Greek mythology, a maenad is a female follower of the Greek god Dionysus. In the series universe, however, a maenad is a creature whose blood is corrosive to vampires. In Harris' universe, maenads are rare "ancient creatures" of the supernatural community that are divinely powerful, immortal, and chaotic neutrals. They can control any creature through madness and demand tribute. When they rave they go on rampages, and sometimes tear humans and animals to shreds. They can be cannibalistic at times.
- "True Blood Panel". KPBS. July 29, 2009.
- "Up Close And Personal With Three Of Our Favorite Paranormal Writers: Frost, Harris and Singh". RT BOOK REVIEWS. April 12, 2012.
- "Dead treat: A chat with Charlaine Harris". The Miami Herald. April 29, 2012.
- Charlaine Harris Community Board, February 13, 2013
- Sookie Stackhouse Coda After Dead to Be Released; Synopsis Posted, February 28, 2013
- Harris, Charlaine (October 2004). Stabenow, Dana, ed. "Fairy Dust". Powers of Detection (Ace Trade). ISBN 978-0-441-01197-1.
- Harris, Charlaine (October 2004). "Dancers in the Dark". Night’s Edge (Harlequin Books). ISBN 978-0-373-77010-6.
- Harris, Charlaine (December 2004). "One Word Answer". Bite (Jove Books). ISBN 978-0-515-13970-9.
- Harris, Charlaine (October 2006). "Tacky". My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (St. Martin's Griffin). ISBN 978-0-312-34360-6.
- Harris, Charlaine (July 2009). Elrod, P.N., ed. "Bacon". Strange Brew (St. Martin's Griffin). ISBN 978-0-312-38336-7.
- Harris, Charlaine (September 2009). "The Britlingens Go To Hell". Must Love Hellhounds (Berkley Trade). ISBN 978-0-425-22959-0.
- Harris, Charlaine (April 2010). Harris, Charlaine, ed. "Dahlia Underground". Crimes by Moonlight (Berkley Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-425-23563-8.
- Charlaine Harris Community Board
- Dead treat: A chat with Charlaine Harris
- Charlaine Harris Community Board, February 28, 2013
- Harris, Charlaine (September 2007). "Dracula Night". Many Bloody Returns (Ace Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-441-01522-1.
- Harris, Charlaine (December 2008). Stabenow, Dana, ed. "Lucky". Unusual Suspects (Ace Trade). ISBN 978-0-441-01637-2.
- Harris, Charlaine (December 2008). "Gift Wrap". Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (Ace Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-441-01633-4.
- Harris, Charlaine (August 2010). "Two Blondes". Death's Excellent Vacation (Ace Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-441-01868-0.
- Harris, Charlaine (August 2011). "Small-Town Wedding". The Sookie Stackhouse Companion (Ace Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-441-01971-7.
- Harris, Charlaine (August 2011). "If I Had A Hammer". Home Improvement: Undead Edition (Ace Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-441-02035-5.
- Harris, Charlaine (September 2012). "Playing Possum". An Apple for the Creature (Ace Hardcover).
- Koski,. "Life in Bon Temps: Timelines". The Sookie Stackhouse Companion (ACE). ISBN 0-441-01971-4.
- Harris, Charlaine (2003). Club Dead. ACE.
- Harris, Charlaine (2002). Living Dead in Dallas. ACE.
- Harris, Charlaine (2006). Definitely Dead. ACE.
- Harris, Charlaine (2010). Dead in the Family. ACE.
- Harris, Charlaine. Dead to the World. ACE. ISBN 978-0-441-01218-3.
- Harris, Charlaine. Dead as a Doornail. p. 15.
- Harris, Charlaine. From Dead to Worse. ACE. ISBN 0-441-01589-1.
- Andreeva, Nellie (2007-02-26). "Anna Paquin finds "True" calling for HBO". Hollywood Reporter (Reuters).