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The Prestige (GOLLANCZ S.F.) by Christopher…

The Prestige (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (original 1995; edition 2005)

by Christopher Priest

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2,7441102,138 (3.79)2 / 242
Title:The Prestige (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
Authors:Christopher Priest
Info:Gollancz (2005), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Prestige by Christopher Priest (1995)


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English (104)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Portuguese (1)  All (109)
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In the late 1800s, two stage magicians engage in a obsessive and destructive feud, culminating in the development of a magic "trick" that has perilous consequences.

I saw the film long ago, and then recently decided to buy the book (mainly for the awesome cover). I don't think it spoils the book too much to have seen the movie first. In fact, I was glad to know a couple of the secrets so I could focus on the writing. The book is told from multiple points of view, both in the past through diaries and memoirs, and by the two magicians' descendants in the present. None of the narrators know the full story, so the reader has to piece it together. I enjoyed the style of the writing for the most part, even though I don't usually like epistolary books, but I felt the writing style captured the sensibility of late-Victorian writing. The book had a much more gothic feel than I remember there being in the movie, which I quite liked--a strong sense of the uncanny. Perhaps Angier's section was a touch long-winded, though, and the ending did feel abrupt after spending so much time with these characters. ( )
  sturlington | Apr 30, 2017 |
Spooky ending! I would have liked to have had a bit more of the plotline set in current time but it needed all the historical background...

This would be a good book for Halloween...

Simon Vance was terrific (as usual!) doing the narration. ( )
  leslie.98 | Mar 24, 2017 |
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!

( )
  James_Mourgos | Dec 22, 2016 |
The performer is of course not a sorcerer at all, but an actor who plays the part of a sorcerer and who wishes the audience to believe, if only temporarily, that he is in contact with darker powers. The audience, meantime, knows that what they are seeing is not true sorcery, but they suppress the knowledge and acquiesce to the selfsame wish as the performer’s. The greater the performer’s skill at maintaining the illusion, the better at this deceptive sorcery he is judged to be.

-- The Prestige, page 33

Reading The Prestige is like being in the audience of a magic show. You know that you are being fooled, you just don't know how it's being done. So you keep reading, trying not to fall for the misdirection, thinking you have it all figured out. And then you get to the end and realize you've been wrong the whole time, and now you have to reread the book just to admire the way the author wove his magic.

The Prestige is the story of two stage magicians in the Victorian era, two men whose rivalry over one particular illusion extends even beyond their lifetimes. The novel reads like a classic gothic-inspired tale from Wilkie Collins or Charlotte Brontë, with hints of Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevenson. Written as a collection of personal diaries and journals, The Prestige unfolds illusion by illusion until the climactic ending.

A perfect novel for the dark of winter, The Prestige had me hooked from the very beginning and didn't let go until the final page. I highly recommend this winner of the 1996 World Fantasy Award. ( )
  nsenger | Dec 5, 2016 |
My journey with this book:



Interesting again!

What the hell just happened? Did... Did the book just end? ( )
3 vote GoldenDarter | Sep 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 104 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christopher Priestprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bracceli, Giovanni BattistaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Braccelli, Giovanni BattistaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eshkar, ShelleyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sleight, GrahamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spalenka, GregCover 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:14 -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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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