Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Download The Prestige

David Langford wrote in a 1996 review, "It seems entirely logical that Christopher Priest's latest novel should centre on stage magic and magicians. The particular brand of misdirection that lies at the heart of theatrical conjuring is also a favourite Priest literary ploy – the art of not so much fooling the audience as encouraging them to fool themselves... The final section is strange indeed, more Gothic than sf in flavour, heavy with metaphorical power. There are revelations, and more is implied about the peculiar nature of the Angier/Tesla effect's payoff or "prestige" – a term used in this sense by both magicians. The trick is done; before and after, Priest has rolled up both sleeves; his hands are empty and he fixes you with an honest look. And yet ... you realise that it is necessary to read The Prestige again. It's an extraordinary performance, his best book in years, perhaps his best ever. Highly recommended."[3]

Publishers Weekly said, "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."[4]

Elizabeth Hand wrote, "There is a certain amount of grim humor to The Prestige, the blatant Can-You-Top-This? careerism of dueling prestidigitators whose feud is carried out against the lush backdrop of fin-de-si├Ęcle London. And the novel provides the pleasures of a mystery as well, as the reader attempts to find the man (or men) behind the curtain, and discover the true parentage of Andrew Westley, who may or may not be related to Borden. But at its core The Prestige is a horror novel, and a particularly terrifying one because its secret is revealed so slowly, and in such splendid language... The Prestige is both disturbing and exhilarating – one closes the book shaken, wondering how it was done; and eager to see what the master illusionist will produce for his next trick."[5]

Adam Kirkman called the novel "vastly underrated... Priest weaves together a tale of two feuding stage magicians at the turn of the century, a dark but mesmerising story that sees two men become consumed with, and eventually destroyed by, obsession. While the film hammers you over the head with clues about the final twist, so much so that you feel embarrassed when re-watching it, Priest's novel is more subtle, although a smart reader is in on the trick from the start. The real beauty of this novel is the characters, who are fleshed out more fully here than on screen, and the magical elements of the story achieve a fantastical, creepy edge. If you enjoyed the film, then Priest's novel is grander in scope and more chilling in nature, and is a gem that should not be ignored."[6]

The Guardian review said, "Behind all the surface trickery lies an intelligent and thoughtful novel about the nature of illusion and secrecy, and about the damage done to those who appoint themselves keepers of such dangerous secrets."[7]

A review in Kliatt of the audiobook version narrated by Simon Vance described it as "a spellbinding and entirely original neo-gothic thriller that moves the listener adroitly from the world of staged illusion to the otherworldly, from the historical...to the horror-laden, with all sorts of strange and dazzling stops along the way. The plot is convoluted and occasionally technical, spanning generations and incorporating multiple narrators and a large cast of characters. A lesser audiobook narrator might inadvertently muddle the story, but, as usual, Vance displays a dramatic and vocal range that is more than equal to his task. He enhances Priest's novel with superb pacing and a host of highly convincing voices and accents."[8]

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