Tfitoby's Reviews > The Prestige

The Prestige by Christopher Priest
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Nov 14, 12

bookshelves: lit, sci-fi
Read from September 15 to 17, 2012



The Prestige by Christopher Priest

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not even close to what I was expecting, thankfully.

Blurb: Turn of the 20th Century London, two stage magicians embark on a feud of a lifetime propelling both of them to fame and fortune, pain and despair and a couple of shocking discoveries along the way, also framed by the meeting of their great grandchildren still living with the aftermath of the feud.

Thoughts: At its core Christopher Priest's The Prestige (completely different entity to the Christopher Nolan movie adaptation) is an alternative history piece of science fiction but it is rendered in such a way that the reader is misdirected by all the literature that is happening around it.

Told in five and a half parts from five different points of view Priest treats the story as if it too is an illusion or a magic trick, carefully crafting The Setup with three fascinating sections that leave you asking many questions about the content before moving on to the main body of The Performance in which your questions are largely answered, your confusion explained and preparing you for the expected yet still surprising Prestige in the final one and a half parts.

Part of the pleasure in the novel is the way Priest carefully shows you his methods, drawing your attention to the illusion he is creating for you, and then after reaching the conclusion looking back at all of his machinations in wonder.

As a reader I came to this one via two Goodreads friends recently reading it, I remember enjoying Christopher Nolans movie and upon belatedly realising it was a novel first I knew I had to read it. And I really enjoyed reading it, almost compulsively devouring it from the opening chapter, enamoured with the voice and atmosphere created and despite having a fair memory of the plot of the movie still excited by what I was reading.

I've recently been having some serious doubts about Christopher Nolan and his film making abilities and this novel did little to assuage them. Priest, much like Angier in the novel, has created something insurpassable and with his novel he makes Nolan look like a cheap imitator, dumbing down his trick for a wider audience. I'm going to return to the film once Leah has read this book but I can't imagine it will be for much more than to poke holes in the script.

Not that any serious reader will need this warning but I recommend reading the novel first as I felt I lost a little bit of pleasure in having the surprise held in The Prestige ruined for me by the movie. For those that have seen the movie I highly recommend reading this book to add a whole new level of wow to your experience.

Book vs movie, if you've done both what was your preference? Has anyone read any other Christopher Priest books? He seems to have written many books on many different subjects, it's hard to know where to start.

Additional viewing:
The Prestige (2006)
The Illusionist (2010)
The Magician (1958)




Additional reading:
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
Carter Beats The Devil by Glen David Gold
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene



Originally posted at Blahblahblahgay
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Reading Progress

09/15/2012 page 72
20.0% 5 comments
09/16/2012 page 155
43.0% 7 comments
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Franky (new)

Franky Way cool. I didn't even know that the film was based on a book. So, Tfitoby, are you liking this one so far? Did you see the film too?


Tfitoby Hey Franky, i was in the same boat as you on this one. But when i found out i HAD to read it. Seen the movie several times and wish i'd known about the book first. I'm really enjoying it, its compulsive reading. So far.


Jonathan I still think Nolan is a fine film maker (his Memento for instance while using a kind of gimmick is still quite clever on the whole) and I think he had to do something different for a film of this. I just liked the book better...


message 4: by Garima (new)

Garima Surprise was one of the main elements of this story and having watched the movie first and loving it too, I'm on the fence about reading this book now. Like you stated, reading it now won't prove to be that fulfilling experience, though I'm sure the writing must be great.


Jonathan Garima wrote: "Surprise was one of the main elements of this story and having watched the movie first and loving it too, I'm on the fence about reading this book now. Like you stated, reading it now won't prove t..."

I still recommend reading it. The story in the book is different and you can still enjoy the rich language Priest uses!


Tfitoby Jonathan wrote: "I still think Nolan is a fine film maker (his Memento for instance while using a kind of gimmick is still quite clever on the whole) and I think he had to do something different for a film of this...."

I agree actually Jonathan but after the third Batman movie I'm just not sure he's as good as people make out.


Tfitoby Garima wrote: "Surprise was one of the main elements of this story and having watched the movie first and loving it too, I'm on the fence about reading this book now. Like you stated, reading it now won't prove t..."

As Jonathan said this is definitely recommended reading, if only for the ability of Priest as a wordsmith.

I just got my copy back from my mother-in-law who doesn't usually read this kind of thing and she absolutely loved it for its use of words, its atmosphere and its structure.


Jonathan I've not seen the entire 2nd and 3rd Batman films (only snippets of the 2nd). I wasn't hugely into the 1st one like some people. I think he's a good director I just don't know whether he's the right guy to be doing comic book based films. Comic book films should be more like what happened with The Avengers in my mind. They can be 'smart' enough but still focus on having that slapstick humour element. Nolan seems to go too much for the slick, gritty and realistic elements.


Tfitoby Jonathan wrote: "I've not seen the entire 2nd and 3rd Batman films (only snippets of the 2nd). I wasn't hugely into the 1st one like some people. I think he's a good director I just don't know whether he's the righ..."

I think it suited Batman, his stories are quite dark and even noirish but then I can't say I've read many of the comics.


Jonathan They are dark and noirish but...there's something I missed in Nolan's film/s that wasn't the Batman I've read...


message 11: by Garima (new)

Garima Tfitoby wrote: "As Jonathan said this is definitely recommended reading, if only for the ability of Priest as a wordsmith.

I just got my copy back from my mother-in-law who doesn't usually read this kind of thing and she absolutely loved it for its use of words, its atmosphere and its structure. .."


Jonathan wrote: "I still recommend reading it. The story in the book is different and you can still enjoy the rich language Priest uses! ..."

Well I'm convinced. Will surely pick this one up soon. And agree with Tfitoby there..Nolan missed something with Dark Knight Rises. Perhaps there were too many characters that needed to be fit in and the end result was nothing short of a mess and moreover its predecessor set some real high standards for Nolan, but he's good nevertheless.


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