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On the Proection from Editors entry - the opening to How Firm a Foundation didn't strike me as plodding. I actually thought it was pretty interesting and it helped me to visualize some aspects of the sailing ships that I hadn't quite been able to capture in my mind's eye before that. I'll agree that it didn't really seem relevant to the overall plot, howver (even with so many major characters involved). Though it does result in the ship in question being conveniently available for other events later (due to having to sail home for repairs), the scene could certainty have been left out without hurting the plot noticeably.
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