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The Prestige

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  14,944 Ratings  ·  1,633 Reviews
Two 19th-century stage illusionists, the aristocratic Rupert Angiers 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, both men prowl edgily in the background of each other's shadowy life, driven to th
Paperback, 360 pages
Published 2004 by Gollancz (first published 1995)
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Brenda Clough Think of the work as one of those candy Easter Eggs. The movie has several layers. The book has one more, a crunchy chocolate coating around the…moreThink of the work as one of those candy Easter Eggs. The movie has several layers. The book has one more, a crunchy chocolate coating around the entire outside of what you see in the movie. It is delicious.(less)
Amanda Lee This book is not a page turner. It simply isn't. The author does a good job of making you want to read the story, but it's a story meant to be read…moreThis book is not a page turner. It simply isn't. The author does a good job of making you want to read the story, but it's a story meant to be read slowly.(less)
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Glenn Russell
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"My error, at first, was to assume that the sheer brilliance of the effect would be enough to dazzle my audiences. What I was neglecting was one of the oldest axioms of magic, that the miracle of the trick must be made clear by the presentation. Audiences are not easily misled, so the magician must provoke their interest, hold it, then confound every expectation by performing the apparently impossible." - Christopher Priest, The Prestige

The Prestige - Christopher Priest’s highly inventive, maste
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016-shelf
Really amazing. I thought I knew the real story based on the movie, but I was WRONG.

I love the epistolary nature of the novel and how the story stretches through time, but my favorite bits were all between the two warring illusionists. I can't believe how far the two of them went to prolong their feud of pranks. It was kinda great seeing two professionals unwilling to harm their craft still work around all the little niceties to get at one another.

And then while I still remembered the whole Tesl
Jonathan Terrington
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy suspense, intrigue and delving deeper into books

"An illusion has three stages.

"First there is the setup, in which the nature of what might be attempted at is hinted at, or suggested, or explained. The apparatus is seen. volunteers from the audience sometimes participate in preparation. As the trick is being setup, the magician will make use of every possible use of misdirection.

"The performance is where the magician's lifetime of practice, and his innate skill as a performer, cojoin to produce the magical display.

"The third stage is sometimes
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jean by: Griffin
The Prestige is a novel by Christopher Priest, which was first published in 1995. It is a very imaginative and skilful novel about illusionists: two stage magicians in late 1800s England, who are deadly rivals, involved in a sustained and ongoing feud. They are mutually antagonistic throughout their lives and careers. The title comes from the idea that stage illusions have three parts: the setup, the performance, and the “prestige”, or effect. The novel is suggestive of the supernatural, and has ...more
Sep 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit, sci-fi

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
Like many readers, I came to this book after seeing the excellent 2006 film based on it. Like many other readers, I ended up preferring the film to the book as the film is a lot more tightly woven and provides better motivations for the characters' actions.

The story, for those of you who don't know, centres on two Victorian magicians who strike up a feud and spend the next twenty years sabotaging each other's shows and trying to outperform each other, each coming up with a spectacular disappeari
A. Dawes
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dueling illusionists' ongoing battle in the late Victorian era has consequences for future generations. This is a masterpiece of epistolary style writing. The reader is set up, mirroring the art of the illusionist. The Prestige explores issues relating to social class and gender, artistry vs science, one's perspective shaping the truth, and the dangers of limitless ambition. The illusionists' duel and their quest to be true masters provides for a couple of intriguing Faustian bargains in this tr ...more
Simon Fay
Let's get one thing out of the way: I preferred the movie. It was a tenser experience with much more compelling motivations to drive the characters forward. More importantly, the movie succeeded in obscuring plotholes where the novel did not.

Nevertheless, much like the magic trick at the centre of Christopher Priest's The Prestige, the original version is more inventive for having been the first and all the more enjoyable for not having technology as an aid to bolster the haunting tale.

It's a da
Marija Simić
Saw the movie not so recently, but I have to agree with almost everyone, when I say I prefer actually movie. This rarely happens! Of course, book has such a interesting story, and I liked it. And I like how Priest wrote about Nikola Tesla (who is (Tesla) my favourite historical figure, ever). At times confusing, both movie and the book. But, essentially- what is important is to see how every story has like, three sides, and how revenge blinds us. Makes us so so stupid. So, this book I will rate ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Oddly enough, not as good as the movie!
Scribble Orca
I saw the movie on the plane (where else) and was frantic to surf the 'net to find out more about it when we landed. I wanted to understand more about the book, its author, the concepts, and background. Big screen (well, in this case, the small screen on the back of a plane seat) is terrific but ephemeral, whereas with a book I have time for distractions, cogitation, re-reading (and checking things on the net!). You might argue that I can fiddle with 'Pause', 'Rewind', 'Forward' and (several ite ...more
Loved it. Certain subjects, in this case stage magic, hold a lot of appeal for me and a good book about those subjects is going to be well received by me. I loved the movie also, but this book is quite different in a lot of ways. It’s a great example of how a good screen writer can adopt and change the author’s ideas and emphasis and still come up with a good movie. BTW – I recall reading somewhere around the time that the movie came out that the term prestige , in the sense that it is used here ...more
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I prefer the movie, but I'm not sure if that's because I saw it first or because it condensed the confusion down to a lean story of obsession and one-upmanship. My reading was heavily influenced by knowing the major spoilers. Should've read the book first.

Dammit, what is with the Monday morning over-the-shoulder snoopers? Gotta make this fast. Unreliable narrators, stupid feuds with real consequences that made them impossible to let go, destroying your own life through choices. Each man had a ch
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
I saw this movie years ago. Loved it. Still love it. Top ten all-time favorites list. And I didn't know it was based on a book until a few years ago, but it automatically went on my TBR. Because it was going to be just as amazing.

Needless to say, it's difficult for me to extricate one from the other here. It's also difficult for me to explain the book to anyone who hasn't read it, because I'm next-to-positive most of us have seen the movie (if not, you may want to pick up the book first in this
Sarah Anne
Well holy freaking hell, that was seriously intense.

I actually watched the movie to this back in 2006 or 2007, and while I thought I remembered everything, either I didn't, or not everything from the book made it into the movie. Based on my memory of the movie I thought it was really odd that it won the World Fantasy Award. This is not a problem I'm having now! It was strange, intriguing, and highly suspenseful.

I need to go calm down now. Wow.
In 1998, a young woman lures a reporter to her family’s estate, where she tells him they are both descended from two stage magicians who carried on a feud for their entire careers from 1878 through 1903 -- and which she believes is still affecting the current generation. She first provides the young man with a memoir written by his great-grandfather, then tells him her memories of a childhood incident which directly involved both of them, and finally gives him her own great-grandfather’s account
3.5 Stars

This was... Hmm. This book was not anything I expected. Though, I'm not really sure just what I expected, to be honest. I alternated between thinking that this story was going to be dry and boring, or over the top "magicky", or all fluffadelic like what I expect The Night Circus would be like if I could bring myself to read it. I don't like circuses, or... well, parties or performances or celebrations or fairs or festivals or whatever authors write about to make their books "lively" or
BAM The Bibliomaniac
If one has a Reading Challenge with the category "serious grudge or vengeful competition", then this is the book.

I hate to say this, and friends don't beat me, but this is one of those few instances when I enjoyed the movie so much more than the book. I couldn't develop the right amount of interest in the game these men were playing with each other and the hate they felt for each other simply because he each wanted to be the accomplished magician. Each man had questionable habits and put himself
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to see a masterful writer at work and who doesn't mind a bit of weirdness
Not recommended for: anyone allergic to SF-elements or who demands a simple story told from beginning to end, or who can't cope with old-fashioned prose or a slow pace.

This book is quite simply a masterwork. From a slow beginning, it ratchets up the tension like an old-fashioned horror film, until it's truly thrilling. With relatively little in the way of overt psychological insight - particularly into Borden, one of the two main characters - it nonetheless constructs clear, sympathetic, underst
Arielle Walker
Having loved the film (but also been somewhat bewildered by it - never watch intricate films when you should be sleeping - they really won't make sense.) I was pretty excited to find that it was originally a book. This, I figured, would be my chance to actually understand the story!

Well, sort of.

The book is written in epistolary form, from the point of view of four main characters around 5 generations apart. Two characters write in diaries - these are the main characters, and the storyline that
I was first introduced to the book by seeing the movie. I found the movie to be creative and did not see the twist ending coming. I was thrilled that this was a book, and put on the long (long, long, God it's so long) TBR list. And then promptly forgot it.

Fast forward to 2017, and I stumble across a copy of the story. It was time to read the book and remove at least one more book from my TBR list.

Because I had seen the movie, the twist in the story was not the surprise it should have been. That
Jul 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
page 290: "It is difficult to deal with massy, inorganic compounds. Living tissue is not of the same order of problem."

page 291: " would be a simple matter with life organisms. The structure is so much simpler than that of the elements."


I threw the book (at a couch, and when it bounced and landed open I rescued it immediately). What the hell. And at the same time blithely saying that "energy and matter are but two manifestations of the same force" in 1900 (mass-energy equivalence wa
Olive (abookolive)
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who enjoy boring men doing boring magic
Recommended to Olive (abookolive) by: Liars who compared it to The Night Circus
Shelves: own, sff
I literally held off on reading this for YEARS because I "knew" I was going to love it.

Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must say that this was a sterling novel that absolutely kept me reading until the very end. But before I launch into it, here's my recommendation. The book thoroughly requires the reader's participation. It's not a wham-bam thank you ma'am kind of story and definitely NOT for readers who quickly become impatient with what they're reading. It is one of those books where you're going to be thinking about what's going constantly as you read, so don't pick it up if you think you're just going to ...more
I didn't rank this yet? Did my rating... disappear?

Much weirder and more complicated than the movie. Also a little stupider (ghosts?) and yet a lot smarter (nested storytelling -- letters within journals within flashbacks -- to create a compelling, complex structure).

The slight of hand also tends to play better in print when you don't have to see it acted out (hey, my magic trick requires a double of Hugh Jackman, let's cast Hugh Jackman!).

I read this years back, before the film, and it's hard
ashley c
Okay. Alright. Let me preface this by saying I've already watched the film a year back, and I read this with the intention of revisiting the story by reading it. That said, it was a mark of how good this book was that I was still able to be surprised by the ending. There were some differences in timeline and details between the book and the film, so I still enjoyed it as the mystery that it was supposed to be.

I was going to give this book 4 stars - great premise, but a rather 'tell' not 'show' s
4.0 stars. Christopher Priest can flat out write a good story and this is no exception. After reading (and thoroughly enjoying one of his science fiction novels, The Inverted World: A Novel, I was anxious to check out one of his other stories and chose this one.

While the plot and tone are completely different than The Inverted World: A Novel, the strength of the story-telling and the excellent writing are certainly evident. The story is a sort of historical mystery (with very subtle fantasy/sci
Oct 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 stars

I'm not going to write a synopsis - there are already enough.

I've had some real issues with this book, namely:

1.) The frame story. What was that cult thing about? Why do we get a named character with that religious cult, that never reappers? Why did Kat's father (view spoiler). (view spoiler). That frame story was the worst thing around this book - it just did
Aug 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: intrigue, spooky, mystery
Really more of a 4.5, but the very, very end left me enough at a loss that I rounded down instead of up. This is one page-turner of a debut novel. I was reading it concurrently with Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and needless to say, this one went much more quickly.

The main thing I want to say about this novel is that, if you've seen the movie based on it, you do NOT know the story of this novel. I did enjoy the film, but it stands on its own apart from the book, in many more ways than it
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gripping, eerie, hard to put down. Every time I thought I had a good sense of what was going on, Priest pulled the table out of from under his plot and I'm still not sure what actually happened. Demands a re-read.
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Mentor Texts: Mentor Texts 1 6 May 02, 2018 07:36AM  
So Many Questions (Spoilers) 1 25 Oct 14, 2016 06:02AM  
Bookworm Bitches : July 2015: The Prestige 16 74 Oct 29, 2015 12:32PM  
Ending of The Prestige - Any theories or thoughts? 6 132 Oct 22, 2015 04:45AM  
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Christopher Priest was born in Cheshire, England. He began writing soon after leaving school and has been a full-time freelance writer since 1968.

He has published eleven novels, four short story collections and a number of other books, including critical works, biographies, novelizations and children’s non-fiction.

He has written drama for radio (BBC Radio 4) and television (Thames TV and HTV). In
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“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige".” 213 likes
“The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you wont find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled.” 35 likes
More quotes…