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The Prestige by Christopher Priest
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The Prestige (1995)

by Christopher Priest

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English (91)  French (2)  Portuguese (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (95)
Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
It really doesn't matter if you've seen the film - the book adds to the dark tale of 2 feuding Victorian illusionists with a modern-day wrapper revealing how the feud has trickled down into subsequent generations. In fact, there was enough additional depth and variation in the Victorian sections that I actually felt that I could be 'spoilt' in spite of The Prestige being one of my favourite films - the end of the book and the fates of pretty much all the key characters is different here.

Told largely through the diaries of the two magicians, this is a study of obsession and animosity. All is fair in magic and war - they disrupt one another's performances, interfere (if not always intentionally) with love lives and ultimately threaten each other's lives. With asides on the cost of living a life of lies, what is considered acceptable to sacrifice for your art, and magic as both illusion and as science we haven't discovered yet, this is heady stuff, told with Gothic glee. I'm not particularly interested in stage magic; it really didn't matter - I was hooked from start to finish, in spite of my niggling annoyance with the way both magicians' treat their wives and lovers. ( )
  imyril | Sep 13, 2014 |
Andrew Westley has all his life wondered if he ever had a twin brother. Though the records disprove this, the once-adopted man believes it true even so. One day his foster father sends him a book written by a man named Borden and so the story goes.

Andrew meets a woman but any possible romanticism between them is brushed off once the reader reads the diaries of Borden and Angier, two turn-of-the-century (the 19th century that is) magicians who are enemies of each other.

The book is mostly about this feud, the pranks they pull on each other, ruining of each others' acts and such incidents, along with their womanizing and their travels and the lengths they go to in their revenge of each other.

The story picks up with the meeting of Angier and Tesla and Tesla's discovery of using electricity to duplicate matter. Angier sees this as a way of genuine transportation of a man and uses this machine in getting back at Borden, who himself has a transported man trick but uses an identical twin to perform it.

The ending of the tale is interesting, almost a supernatural flight of fancy.

The constant letters back & forth and the diary entries are a bit hard to get through sometimes. It's a technique used by Bram Stoker in Dracula and though it works there, for me it was a bit of a struggle.

Still, a fast-paced read once you get through a few of the early words used. Christopher Priest clearly was trying for a writing style contemporary to the early 20th century. There were not a lot of surprises, easily figured out in the plot. I really wished Priest made the ending more of a surprise than not.

Much different than the movie starring Hugh Jackman of the same title. Recommended!


( )
  jmourgos | Sep 12, 2014 |
First of all, I loved the movie by this name, the slow build and the horrific conclusion, the tension between the characters and how you felt for each of them, yet by the end were horrified of both.
Well the book is all that, times ten, and yet, an almost completely different story. It carries the feud beyond the two magician's lives onto their descendants. We begin by meeting a young man who has been adopted and isn't much interested in his family history. However, it soon seeks him out in a way he cannot ignore. From there, we go into the past, reading the journal of both Borden and Angier. Slowly, slowly a picture begins to emerge, but is it trustworthy? These men built their careers and lives on illusion, can we trust what they write in their journals?
The end brings the puzzle together, and yet, the story is still untold. I spent most of the night going over it again and again in my head, and will probably think about it for some time to come. Wonderful escape. ( )
2 vote MrsLee | Sep 8, 2014 |
I was expecting more of this story but actually found it very slow and not sufficiently engaging. I kept waiting for something to really grasp me and make me feel invested in the story, but it didn't really happen. ( )
  Peace2 | Mar 23, 2014 |
Anytime you incorporate Tesla into the scheme of things you have the promise of wild doings. Until he is introduced in the last third of the book, I found the plot plodding. I found myself wishing that the crux of the book was centered around the greatest electrician instead of magicians. ( )
  Elpaca | Dec 18, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christopher Priestprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bracceli, Giovanni BattistaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It began on a train, heading north through England, although I was soon to discover that the story had really begun more than a hundred years earlier.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312858868, Paperback)

The Washington Post called this "a dizzying magic show of a novel, chock-a-block with all the props of Victorian sensation fiction: seances, multiple narrators, a family curse, doubles, a lost notebook, wraiths, and disembodied spirits; a haunted house, awesome mad-doctor machinery, a mausoleum, and ghoulish horrors; a misunderstood scientist, impossible disappearances; the sins of the fathers visited upon their descendants." Winner of the 1996 World Fantasy Award, The Prestige is even better than that, because unlike many Victorians, Priest writes crisp, unencumbered prose. And anyone who's ever thrilled to the arcing electricity in the "It's alive!" scene in Frankenstein will relish the "special effects" by none other than Nikola Tesla.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:35 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Two 19th century stage illusionists, the aristocratic Rupert Angier and the working-class Alfred Borden, engage in a bitter and deadly feud; the effects are still being felt by their respective families a hundred years later. Working in the gaslight-and-velvet world of Victorian music halls, both men prowl edgily in the background of each other's shadowy life, driven to the extremes by a deadly combination of obsessive secrecy and insatiable curiosity. At the heart of the row is an amazing illusion they both perform during their stage acts. The secret of the magic is simple, and the reader is in on it almost from the start, but to the antagonists the real mystery lies deeper. Both have something more to hide than the mere workings of a trick.… (more)

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