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The Prestige | [Christopher Priest]

The Prestige

In 1878, two young stage magicians clash in the dark during the course of a fraudulent séance. From this moment on, their lives become webs of deceit and revelation as they vie to outwit and expose each other. In the course of pursuing each other's ruin, they will deploy all the deception their magician's craft can command. Their rivalry will take them to the peaks of their careers, but with terrible consequences.
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Publisher's Summary

In 1878, two young stage magicians clash in the dark during the course of a fraudulent séance. From this moment on, their lives become webs of deceit and revelation as they vie to outwit and expose each other. In the course of pursuing each other's ruin, they will deploy all the deception their magician's craft can command. Their rivalry will take them to the peaks of their careers, but with terrible consequences. In the end, their legacy will be passed on for generations to descendants who must, for their sanity's sake, untangle the puzzle left to them.

©1995 Christopher Priest; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Winner of the World Fantasy Award, 1996
  • Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, Unabridged, 2007

"Extraordinary, like a dazzling magic act!" (Entertainment Weekly)
"A brilliant conjuring act by one of the master illusionists of our time." (Wired)
"A taut, twisting, prize-winning story of two magicians and their fierce fin-de-siècle rivalry that taints successive generations of their respective families....An unexpectedly compelling fusion of weird science and legerdemain." (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1055 )
5 star
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Story
4.3 (492 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Andrew mORRINSVILLENew Zealand 06-22-07
    Andrew mORRINSVILLENew Zealand 06-22-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of a Kind."

    Christopher Priest is primarily considered a science fiction writer, but his scope his much broader and I think it would be reasonable to say that he more an explorer of the human psyche. His main themes are perception, truth and reality, his canvas a kind of Jungian dreamscape. With the “Prestige” he has combined the elements he most favors and presented them in a story that rises above any simple categorization. In short this novel is a revelation. The story concerns with two Victorian era magicians, each blaming the other for the circumstances which have led them into a growing cycle of revenge and retribution. Here we are confronted by two versions of one story as each man makes his case against the other. But it is an illusion called “The new transformed man” which becomes the main focus as both men become obsessed with unraveling each others professional secrets. But the story does not end here, the consequences of their actions resound through the generations to the present day where we are introduced to two of their descendents who are both struggling to confront the “truth” of their own situations. He is haunted by a voice he cannot define, she is the keeper of secrets that have consumed her life. Throughout this story the writer involves the reader, respecting our intelligence and challenging our perceptions. But putting all this aside, Priest certainly knows how to write a good rip roaring yarn one that quietly builds to a crescendo, mesmerizing the reader until we are desperate for some kind of resolution, but be warned, Priest does not do straightforward endings. If you have seen the screen adaptation do not forgo the book, for while the film is faithful to the tone of the story, the book is more complete and thorough entity. The narrator is superb, the story – one of a kind.

    24 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DMHVetSurveyor Western Wisconsin 09-13-06
    DMHVetSurveyor Western Wisconsin 09-13-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The writer pulls one out of his hat!!!"

    Great story line, fast paced, great narrator!! one of my top 20 out of 230+ listens mostly in this genre. I even enjoyed the switching between the past and present, which usually becomes a pain to keep track of. A well researched study on the history of late 19th to early 20th century magicians. Anyone who likes a good mystery will love this one. Buy it and enjoy. Great ending.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith Alexandria, VA, USA 05-02-07
    Keith Alexandria, VA, USA 05-02-07 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved the movie, Love the book even more!"

    After seeing the movie last year and enjoying it thoroughly, I was surprised to find I had missed reading the book some how while making my monthly selections.

    While most movies quite frequently differ greatly from the original novel, I was happy to find a deeper, richer story filled with more twists and turns, guile and intrigue than the movie.

    The beginning and ending of the novel, obviously edited out of the movie since it would detract from the story of the two competing prestidigitators, greatly enhance the story and shows how the actions of a man can impact on the generations that follow him. I will go no further in explaining the story. It would spoil it.

    My advice is if you liked the movie, you will love this book! Enjoy!

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Jones Sebring, FL 05-16-07
    S. Jones Sebring, FL 05-16-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Prestige"

    "The Prestige" is the basis for an excellent movie that was released in 2006. The movie and the book are more dissimilar than alike, but each one is fascinating and has its own pleasures. The book is long, sometimes convoluted, and packed with details that do not always advance the plot. And then it stops, moreso than it ends. Still, the book was captivating and enjoyable, largely thanks to a lively, theatrical reading by Simon Vance. So, yes, I would recommend it.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Brown 09-17-07
    Dave Brown 09-17-07 Member Since 2002
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    "Surprised me"

    I did not see the film, but saw the press ooh and aah over it without reading a summary. I expected one type of book and came away with a very pleasant surprise in addition to what I expected. Now I'm looking forward to seeing the film, having received the full surprise and intended effect from the book.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Lebanon, India 10-30-09
    Laurie Lebanon, India 10-30-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    46
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    "Listen rather than watch!"

    What a revelation to hear the book after seeing the movie...so much richer.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    EVERETT New York, NY, United States 09-01-08
    EVERETT New York, NY, United States 09-01-08 Member Since 2004
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    "Highly suspenseful, highly recommended"

    This is not the typical kind of book I listen to, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story of these two late Victorian magicians is framed within a modern story about two of their descendents. Fascinating for the period details. Fascinating for the representation of art, performance, and secrecy of magical illusion. Although I personally found the science fiction aspect of it (the latter part of the book) to be less convincing and appealing than the earlier, more realistic parts, I found the book so intriguing that I could hardly put it down. The narration by Simon Vance is a superb performance.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tiffany Corona, CA, United States 11-09-06
    Tiffany Corona, CA, United States 11-09-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Captivating and Very Different!"

    I could not stop listening to this book. The narrator is wonderful, maybe the best since Jim Dale's audio version of the Harry Potter series (who is still my all time favorite narrator). I did have to go back and relisten to a few passages after I finished the whole thing because it all comes together at the end and some pieces that seemed a bit confusing make more sense once you know what happens. Most of the story is told through two separate diaries which keep coming back to the same events. It does take some getting used to, but in the end is a very interesting format. I found this book to be very different and a great change of pace.

    I highly recommend this book for those who like historical fiction mixed with a bit of the mysterious.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jo Green Cordova, TN, United States 11-06-06
    Jo Green Cordova, TN, United States 11-06-06 Member Since 2002

    Grandma bibliophile! Audible books make reading with an active life possible.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Weird"

    Wow, what a wild ride. This book is totally unexpected. I wanted to see the movie and had to have the book first of course, they are always better. The narrator is great, haven't had a chance to listen to him yet and have been an audio fan for years.

    As for the book itself, I have to listen again, may even have to buy it in print. By the end of the book I couldn't believe I missed some of the hints it talked about. Of course, I'm completely a pleasure listener and always just enjoy a good or different story - which this hit both categories in spades.

    This was just a fun book with a lot of historical information about magic/"spiritualism", ehem, in that era. If you like history and learning about new things, which I do (and did), you'll love this book.... It didn't have quite the ending I expected, it was kind of weak, or I would have given it 5 stars. I can't give it 4 1/2 so 4 will just have to do.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Rhoderick Frederick, MD USA 05-12-10
    J. Rhoderick Frederick, MD USA 05-12-10 Member Since 2010
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    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating story, a bit slow at times"

    Christopher Priest's The Prestige is a story about two feuding magicians set in turn of the century England. The novel is deeper than the film adaptation, but it also lacks its momentum. The novel's epistolary approach -- using diary entries to tell the story -- provided an intimate look into the feuding magicians' lives that gave the story depth and passion; but, at times, it was plain boring. In some cases, we witness events more than once from competing perspectives. This is a skillful approach to exposition but it doesn't always work perfectly.

    The most fascinating part of The Prestige was being thrust into the world of turn of the century England of stage magic and spiritualism. In additon to attending seances, stage shows, and period locales, we also meet Nikola Tesla during the early years of electricity. Priest did a wonderful job describing the hope and the promise that many felt during that time. Priest also deftly harnesses the fear that many felt about electricity and puts it to his own end.

    The frame story involving Alfred Borden's descendant, Nicholas, visiting the old Angier estate was unnecessary and added little to the story. The characters inhabiting this story, Nicholas and Kate, were mostly uninteresting and felt a bit contrived. The whole purpose of the frame story is to set up the ending, and it shows.

    The Prestige is an entertaining novel that is flush with imagination and intrigue. Its pacing can be quite slow at times, particularly in the second half of the novel where the perspective switches from Borden to Angier. Regardles, it is entertaining and memorable. The narrator does a fantastic job. His reading really adds another dimension to the story.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 53 results PREVIOUS126NEXT
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  • Anna
    GlasgowUnited Kingdom
    2/26/07
    Overall
    "Gripping"

    This is one of the first audio books that I have listened to, and I have been very pleasantly surprised by how caught up in the story I was. The quality of narration is excellent, and like any good book I had trouble putting it down.
    I would highly recommend this audio book to anyone.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Jacqueline
    Bolton, United Kingdom
    7/18/11
    Overall
    "Are you ready? Listen carefully ...."

    This story is a masterpiece a really exceptional multi layered intricate tale! The narration moves between past and present lives of two magician follow the narrator as they reveal the story. You must discover the truth about the rivalry, love and deception of both magicians and the impact of this on their families.This is one of my favourite audiobooks it is an exceptional story. I can guarantee you will return to this book again and again ..... listen carefully!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Anna
    Stafford, United Kingdom
    12/14/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enthralling and very clever"
    What did you like best about this story?

    If 'prestidigitation' (a new word I learnt from this book!) is about the art of deceit and sleight of hand, then so is this story. An untrustworthy/mysterious narrator is used from the start, which sets the tone for a gripping story of rivalry, ambition and desperation. You're never quite sure what exactly is 'true' or not, which makes it a very engaging read.


    Any additional comments?

    Having loved the film version with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in the starring roles, I expected to enjoy the book version, and was not disappointed. The level of detail about how the tricks were done, and what the art of stage magician was all about is fascinating.

    Gripping, memorable, disturbing story about what people are prepared to sacrifice in order to achieve their ambition, and the folly of human grudges. Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Helen
    United Kingdom
    11/11/12
    Overall
    "Magic Suspense and Excitement"

    Loved the way this book is written and that its nothing whatsoever like the movie adaptation. Thrilling in that the depth of character is all there for both the main characters, the supporting characters also, Simon Vance does a beautiful job with the voices too bringing the whole production to life. Murder, mystery and suspense, its all here.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • JANET
    CHESTER LE STREET, United Kingdom
    2/17/11
    Overall
    "Highly recommended"

    I listened to the clip of the audiobook before purchasing it. The narrative starts in the present day, as I expected, but then goes back to recount the intertwining stories of the two magicians in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. I came to this novel with no prior knowledge and there are parts when I had no idea where it was going to lead me and I was totally gripped. I tended to listen to this while I was travelling to and from work and I was most unhappy when I'd arrive at my destination and couldn't continue. I was taken aback by the ending and it left me puzzling about it for a while, but in a good way ... I THINK I know what happens now amd think it was entitely satisfactory. I highly recommend audiobook.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Tim
    Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    7/14/07
    Overall
    "Excellent Narration"

    This is the first unabridged audio book I have managed to get all the way through. The story is excellent (much better than the film version) and the quality of the narration is first class.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Tamsin
    PLYMOUTH, United Kingdom
    12/3/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Genius"
    What made the experience of listening to The Prestige the most enjoyable?

    Christopher Priest is an incredible storyteller, and this is one of his best. If you've seen the film, don't let it put you off. They really did not do the book any justice in the conversion, and the book is so well crafted and beautifully written that it is still worth a listen even if you think know the "twist" (you don't). A book about science, a book about magic, a book about people and history and family feuds. Delightful touches of meta-fiction add layers to the story as you travel backwards and forwards in time discovering secrets kept hidden for generations.

    What an absolutely stellar performance from the wonderful Simon Vance. He really does the characters justice, and his mellifluous tones made me want to keep listening and listening. I wasn't convinced to start with by his rendition of regional accents (I've only heard his "upper class English" up to now), but I acclimatized to it very quickly and ended up loving every minute.

    By far this is one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to, and I believe the Christopher Priest/Simon Vance combo is only surpassed by Susanna Clarke/Simon Prebble. Trust me, you will love this book, and if you don't then I have no respect for you, lol x


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Christine
    Coromandel Valley, Australia
    2/15/11
    Overall
    "Hmm"

    Wow, I was so disinterested in the magician's story. It bored me immensely.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
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