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The Prestige Mass Market Paperback – October 3, 2006

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765356171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765356178
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,154,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Priest, one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists (1983 list), has not been overproductive since he made a small reputation with The Affirmation and The Glamour, published here more than a dozen years ago. His new novel (the title of which refers to the residue left after a magician's successful trick) is enthrallingly odd. In a carefully calculated period style that is remarkably akin to that of the late Robertson Davies, Priest writes of a pair of rival magicians in turn-of-the-century London. Each has a winning trick the other craves, but so arcane is the nature of these tricks, so incredibly difficult are they to perform, that they take on a peculiar life of their own?in one case involving a mysterious apparent double identity, in the other a reliance on the ferocious powers unleashed in the early experimental years of electricity. The rivalry of the two men is such that in the end, though both are ashamed of the strength of their feelings of spite and envy, it consumes them both, and affects their respective families for generations. This is a complex tale that must have been extremely difficult to tell in exactly the right sequence, while still maintaining a series of shocks to the very end. Priest has brought it off with great imagination and skill. It's only fair to say, though, that the book's very considerable narrative grip is its principal virtue. The characters and incidents have a decidedly Gothic cast, and only the restraint that marks the story's telling keeps it on the rails.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The writing is amazing.
The ending was abrupt and disappointing in its lack of explanation.
Brandon Kurtz
If you saw the movie READ THE BOOK.
Gary A Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Ivan Askwith on August 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
Written on the cover of this book is the phrase "Winner of a World Fantasy Award" -- those are the words that first caught my attention. And in retrospect, I find The Prestige entirely deserving of that honor. Few and far between are the books that I pick up and can still remember several years later, but it's been three or more years since I read this one, and certain vibes and moments that I took from it are still with me. This is due, in part, to an average-to-good plotline, but in the end, to Priest's own sleight-of-hand as an author -- he shows an impressive range, a nice attention to detail, and a subdued sense of style which sets the perfect tone for this tale of rival vaudeville magicians in the late 19th century...
Set in 1878, and focused on two magicians who are rivals in both business and love, this story is delivered in a style that made it literally impossible to put down (I think I surreptitiously read it during school classes for about two days, non-stop, and might as well have been absent. I don't even know what I missed). Moving from one character's perspective to another, the story unfolds almost entirely through journal entries written by the two protagonists.
The intriguing conceit of the novel is that these journals are not discovered until almost a hundred years later, when the descendants of the two rivals meet and feel a mysterious connection to each other. As they slowly uncover the series of mysterious and unnatural events which befell their warring ancestors, the action moves fluidly from past to present to future and back, almost without warning. The drastically different narrative styles used in the two journals reveal that Mr.
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57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Michael Battaglia on May 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
This was a lot of fun but probably doesn't warrant repeated reading since it's pretty dependent on plot twists and shocks to hold your interest. With most Christopher Priest novels currently out of print (Dream of Wessex, etc) it's nice to see this one still out there and it's one of his better novels too, which is a nice bonus. Basically it concerns two magicians at the turn of the century who's paths cross and through a series of unpleasant events become bitter rivals, screwing up each other's tricks and driving each other to more and more complicated illusions in a magical game of oneupmanship. This tale is told through two journals as read by their descendants, first one magician, than the other. This style works pretty well, there are some quirks and it probably won't fool anyone who is a Victorian scholar but it looks good enough to me and it's not enough to make me hate the books. What he does an excellent job of is getting us into the world of magicians, without turning the book into a tedious expose of how they do their tricks ('cause it's all about the illusion), you get a glimpse into a sort of exclusive club that's all about convincing you that you're seeing what you shouldn't be seeing. The method of using both journals is a trick that required quite a bit of skill to pull off properly, since the order of the journals make a bit of difference in order to remain surprising and it's interesting to see two different versions of events, especially when one explains the other in greater detail (the only problem with that is that by the time you get to the concurrent event in the second journal, you might have forgotten what happened the first time around).Read more ›
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91 of 106 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 14, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As someone with an interest in the adaptation of books and stories into films, I often read a book and then watch the movie or movies to see how various screenwriters have reshaped the material. In this instance, seeing the movie pushed me to finally read the book that had been sitting on my shelf for two years. One always hates to be a heretic, but this is one of the very rare cases where the movie improves on the original.

The premise of this World Fantasy Award-winning novel is certainly an intriguing one: two English magicians of the Victorian era, Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier, engage in a lifelong rivalry to outperform each other, a rivalry which at times leads to life-threatening sabotage. Their story is told partially from the modern perspective of their great-grandchildren, but mainly through their own diary entries. The narrative framework is the first area in which the film is a vast improvement. The modern storyline serves almost no purpose and the filmmakers wisely jettisoned it. Similarly, the diary entries are entirely unconvincing as Victorian documents, and play a much-subdued role in the film.

However, the main problem of the book is that the feud is never given much of a basis -- in other word, there are no stakes. The one fairly egregious act early on is done by Borden to Angier, but when Angier eventually turns the other cheek, Borden keeps at it. Indeed, the feud seems to periodically die off, only to inexplicably flare up again over the course of twenty years! The filmmakers recognized this problem and came up with a much more convincing back story to explain the start of the feud, and then very carefully calibrated its escalation over time.
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