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The Prestige (S.F. MASTERWORKS) [Paperback]

Christopher Priest
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

10 Feb 2011 S.F. MASTERWORKS

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, they 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.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (10 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575099410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575099418
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 364,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Stylish, enigmatic and enthralling ... Highly recommended. (SFFworld.com)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, complex, gripping, haunting. 16 July 2006
By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic! 4 Sep 2005
By Jane Aland VINE VOICE
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent stuff! 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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Prestige: Priest's finest work to date. 3 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Prestige is both a tragedy, and an emotionally engaging and tragic chronicle of one man's discovery of his origins, self and substance. The bulk of the story is set around the turn of the 20th century, focusing on two magicians - Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier - who, due to youthful naivety, tragic coincidences, misunderstandings and mutual pride, begin a feud early on in their careers, which then continues for the rest of their lives. They become obsessed with each other, and the desire of each to outdo the other consumes them both.
The Prestige is one of the subtlest, most satisfying novels published in a very long time. Priest has written with supreme skill and restraint, creating a backdrop which remains exactly that whilst enhancing the story line, and beautifully illustrating the social rituals of the period setting. We feel saddened to lose the characters in his story at the turn of the last page, and genuinely moved by the ultimate conclusion. Absolutely stunning.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Is this Priest's worst?
I'm afraid I really do think so. That's so hard for me to write because Christopher Priest is easily one of my favourite authors: why, I practically live in the Dream... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Russell O'Callaghan
3.0 out of 5 stars Very different from the film...good, but harder work and darker
When I watched The Prestige film, I thought it was brilliant - beautifully produced and very clever. Read more
Published 7 months ago by StephanieIsReading
4.0 out of 5 stars Good story
I can't really comment on this book as it was a present for someone that I haven't seen in a while. But hopefully he enjoyed reading it!
Published 7 months ago by Mrs J
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
It was a great book!!!
After seeing the film, i wanted to see on what it was based on.
The story is a lot different, but is also amazing! Read more
Published 12 months ago by Perseus Arkomanis
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story.
A slightly unusual novel for the genre of science-fiction, but fascinating and well-written. Perhaps not quite as stylistically accomplished, but a superior story in my opinion is... Read more
Published 13 months ago by S. J. Fisher
5.0 out of 5 stars Miles better than the film
Really very good.
I had seen the film first, but the extra layers in the book make it a fantastic read.
Published 13 months ago by Chris Brearton
5.0 out of 5 stars Review said The Prestige
I love the film having being amazed when I first saw it and then following the clues as I watched it again. I had seen the book and nearly bought it but for some reason didn't. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Kevin Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars Read before seeing the film
I saw the film first, usually not the best way round. Very different to the book.

I liked the events unfolding from both magicians' perspectives in their diaries. Read more
Published 16 months ago by K. J. Noyes
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow
Hard to get into, i loved the film so wanted to read the book , very disappointing, though I haven't finished it as I just couldn't get into it.
Published 16 months ago by jo
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favourite author
This caught my eye because I love SF set in Victorian or Edwardian periods.A brilliant plot and easy to read I very easily get bored with alot of SF gene books but this kept me... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Sr Sawyer
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