Selena's Reviews > The Prestige

The Prestige by Christopher Priest
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Nov 01, 2007

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The Setup
The Prestige is the story of two rival magicians Rupert Angier and Alfred Borden. The feud between them begins early on in their careers – but neither ever forgets. At the beginning, they do subtle things to mess up an act in the other person’s shows – but as time passes, the actions they take against each other are more and more dangerous. The reader experiences the story through Angier and Borden’s diary entries – and through the grand children, who, alongside the reader, are learning the full story of their ancestors.

The Performance
The format of the diary entries worked extremely well for this story. Seeing the same event through a different perspective really helps to show how this petty feud was pushed forward for so long and to such extremes. Near the end, their feud revolved around the magic trick called “The Transported Man.” In this trick, Borden somehow makes it from one wooden box into the next quickly enough to catch a ball that is bouncing on the floor. Angier, not knowing how he does it, sets out to make it work for himself. Their feud reaches its all-time high as they try to learn the other’s secret.

What is interesting about the performance is the grandiose personalities that come through in the diary entries as well as the human side of Angier and Borden. The intimate diary entries allow the reader to see the fears and insecurities as well as the strengths of the magicians.

The Prestige
The story incorporated spiritualism through the “seances” that Angier performs early on in his career and its importance to that culture and time period. It lent an authentic 19th century feel to the plot and eased the reader into the gothic ending.

The ending to The Prestige was quite a surprise. I loved the movie very much and was expecting a similar if not exact ending – which clearly didn’t happen. The secret of the “Transported Man” magic trick isn’t as important to either of them as they thought it would be. They’ve both ruined their own lives trying to one-up the other. In the end, it is their children who have to deal with the consequences and the mistakes their ancestors have made. And the set-up with the diaries lends to this ending perfectly.

The Prestige received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for best fiction and the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and was nominated for the British Fantasy Award as well as the Arthur C. Clarke Award.
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