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The Prestige (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 10 Feb 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (10 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575075805
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575075801
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The prestige is certainly at home in the presitgious SF masterworks series, You can't lose - and that's no illusion! (British Fantasy Society)

Book Description

'A brilliantly constructed entertainment, with a plot as simple and intricate as a nest of Chinese boxes . . . a dizzying magic show of a novel' WASHINGTON POST

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jane Aland VINE VOICE on 4 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
The Prestige tells the tale of a feud between two 19th Century stage magicians, and the secrets they jealously guard that end up dominating their lives. Each magician has an ingenious secret method of performing an illusion - one of these is explained away by normal means, the other is revealed to be pure science fiction. The novel is told predominantly through the selected diary entries of the two main protagonists - plus a very spooky framing sequence concerning the magicians modern day relatives - and while this does mean there is some repetition of material Priest skilfully shows how the same situation is seen differently by the two central characters, with even the reasons behind what sets off the initial conflict unknown by the other.
In terms of rationality the science fiction element isn't always wholly convincing - particularly the scientist who creates a device which would not only revolutionise society but lead to great personal wealth (and indeed does lead to great wealth for the magician he creates it for) inexplicitly being written out of the tale with an unconvincing case of illogical bankruptcy - but it does lead to a magnificently eerie climax as the revelations behind the 'prestiges' are finally revealed.
The Prestige contains some haunting images, and Priest creates two incredibly vivid lead characters while expertly examining the dangerous nature of secrets and obsession. A unique mixture of science fiction and mystery, this is a beguiling and highly original novel.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 July 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Prestige is the ninth novel by the British SF author Christopher Priest. It was first published in 1995 and won the World Fantasy Award for that year. It is Priest's best-known novel and apparently his most successful. It is currently being made into a film by Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, Memento) starring Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson, due for release in late 2006/early 2007.

The Prestige is the story of two feuding magicians from the late 19th Century, the aristocratic Rupert Angier and his working-class nemesis, Alfred Borden, and how that feud affects later generations of their families, personified in the mid-1990s by Borden's descendent Andrew Westley and Kate Angier. A strange mystery has haunted Andrew's life and his search for the answer leads him to Kate and the story of the feud.

From there the novel takes us back some 130 years and relates, in two separate sections, the life stories of Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier. Borden's story is told as a somewhat (deliberately) confused narrative, supposedly a commentary on a book on stage magic, but Borden's need to tell his story takes over and he goes into detail about his life and the feud with Angier. We learn that Borden develops an incredible magic trick which no-one can fathom, a trick which is then improved upon by Angier, to Borden's fury. The narrative then switches to Angier's more formal diary. Angier's story forms the bulk of the novel and takes us through his youth and his slow beginnings at the art of magic until his fateful meeting with Borden and the consequences of that meeting.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. Smurthwaite on 2 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
I wasn't expecting this to start in the present day, so that was a surprise. At first I thought I might be a little disappointed at not getting straight into the thick of the magic aspect (which I knew was set in the 19th Century), but it's written in such a way that I was hooked from the start. It then quickly switched to the past in the second part, going from being narrated by Andrew Westley, to the personal memoirs of Alfred Borden himself.

It was all rather tantalising. Every time Borden seemed on the verge of making a revelation, he drew back, focusing on the back story and just touching on the beginnings of the feud between Borden and Angier...

The further I read, the better it got! The world of stage magic and illusion is fascinating at the best of times, but this was chock-full of mystery on top of that. I loved how the author kept coming back to the fact that the story was being related through Borden's notebook, throughout which Borden left little notes to himself, and even used the standard tricks of the illusionist (stating the whole "nothing up my sleeve" gambit when making a revelation, in order to relate that he's not hiding anything in the retelling).

In part three, the narrative was continued by a third character - this time one of Rupert Angier's descendants - who was also trying to fill in the blanks where The Great Dante (Angier's stage name) was concerned and who is also intrigued by Borden's descendent and her contemporary.

A fourth part, a fourth voice - now Rupert Angier's side of the story was told from his own diaries, revealing the reasons behind the old enmity between him and Borden that caused them both harm and spanned generations of both the families.

The plot twisted and turned like a twisty-turny thing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By StephanieIsReading on 23 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I watched The Prestige film, I thought it was brilliant - beautifully produced and very clever. It had me gripped from beginning to end, and I spent the next few days unpicking the clues to the denouement that I'd missed, and the ways in which the production itself echoed the story. I'm usually a book-before-film girl, but I only realised afterwards that this was based on a novel. I downloaded it and started reading immediately.

It's hard to say too much about the story of The Prestige without giving away the plot. Essentially, this is the story of two stage magicians (Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier) in Victorian London, who fall out and become life-long enemies. They find ever more imaginative ways to sabotage each other's shows and they become obsessed with learning one another's secrets. This feud escalates over the years, hurting those around them whilst simultaneously spurring them both on in pursuit of the ultimate illusion.

To be honest, that's where the similarities between film and book finish. It became clear to me very quickly that Christopher Nolan's film, good as it is, is not particularly faithful to Christopher Priest's novel, and I struggled to keep the two separate in my mind.

The most significant differences between the book and the film include: the way Borden and Angier first meet; the cause of their feud; their families and personal lives; the workings of Angier's version of the illusion at the heart of the novel; and the way both characters' stories end. The murder trial, for example, is a creation of Nolan's specifically for the film. I found it hard to keep track of what I'd read in earlier chapters and what I was remembering from the film.
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