Prestige Paperback – Feb 10 2005
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
What other reviewers have not really pointed out yet, however, is the following: the story doesn't make sense. Most importantly, there seems to be no real reason for the magician's feud. Okay, there're reasons it started - good ones, in fact - but no explanation is given as to why it continued (and, indeed, got quite out of hand). In fact, in their respective accounts, both magicians repeatedly mention wishing it to end.
So why didn't it?
Well, there would seem to be two explanations. Firstly, Priest may have purposefully left out essential ingredients in the two magicians' tales, leaving us to figure out their real motives for ourselves. If so, it might well be that "The Prestige" is not just a stylised (if somewhat stilted) exercise in pseudo Victorian romance, but also a well thought-out and intelligent story. In that case, though, I have to admit Priest has set me a challenge I could not meet. Simply put, I read a book I didn't understand.Read more ›
What drives the book forward is its interesting characters. Throughout the book, the reader encounters four (possibly five, depending on how you look at it) narrators, all told in the first person, be it standard first person narration or from diary entries. On top of this, two of the narrators live in the late 19th century while the other two are from the present day, which serves to heighten the central mystery. Priest does an excellent job of giving each character their own voice and motivations.
As the feud between the two characters living in the 1880s escalates, the reader feels directly involved in the rising tensions and the desparate race of each man to uncover the other's secrets. We also see how this affects the narrators in the present day who happen to be descendants of the earlier two.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
So far, this book is a great read. Can't put it down, except to write this review. Would recommend to anyone!Published on April 2 2014 by Robert Fratila
Granted, I come to this as a result of having seen the film adaptation. (In fact, the very act of adaptation is what compelled me to read it, not the novel itself in a standalone... Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2008 by Schmadrian
Christopher Priest's _the Prestige_ is an entertaining read; well written fantasy without asking us to view the world in any particular new way. Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2002 by David M. Mayeux
I have no fault with the author's imagination. The plot outline (a generations-long magicians' feud laced with hints of the fantastic) is compelling, and I also don't fault Mr. Read morePublished on April 24 2002 by James Clark
...As you can see, my hands are empty...
Have you noticed that people either loved this book or they hated it? And I mean, they either LUUUUVED it or they H-A-T-E-D it. Read more
I read this book in a group setting, a book club where I and about 7 of my friends all read the book and discussed it. Read morePublished on Aug. 3 2001 by ProsaicParadise
Christopher Priest must be one of the most decorated but unread authors around. In 1983 he was named one of the Best of Young British Novelists. Read morePublished on Nov. 25 2000 by Orrin C. Judd
"The Prestige" starts off brilliantly enough--some of the ideas on the nature of illusion gave me shivers (particularly the story of another magician feigning an illness... Read morePublished on Nov. 21 2000 by Fred Kepler
I read this book several years ago and still can't get it out of my mind. In fact, I recommend it all the time to friends who are looking for a great read that's also totally... Read morePublished on Sept. 18 2000 by Lectrice