The Prestige, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (5 ratings)


Two 19th century stage illusionists, the aristocratic Rupert Angier 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, they prowl edgily in the background of each other's shadowy life, driven to the extremes by a deadly combination of obsessive secrecy and insatiable curiosity. At the heart of the row is an amazing illusion they both perform during their stage acts.

The secret of the magic is simple, and the reader is in on it almost from the start, but to the antagonists the real mystery lies deeper.

Both have something more to hide than the mere workings of a trick.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Fantasy
  • ISBN: 9780575075801



Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by

After being nearly bored to death by the movie, I had some apprehension about this book, but it turned out to be unfounded. What a great read! I really like the format when a story is told in full, and then repeated from the perspective of another character. There's probably a name for that, but I'm unaware. I like Priest's writing. The story was interesting and it certainly kept me turning pages.It wasn't all bunnies and puppies, though. The ending was terrible. It seems to get cut off abruptly at the climactic point. It's as if the author just didn't know how to bring it to a close.

Review by

In a bizarre twist, I think I actually prefer the film. Although the plots aren't exactly the same, the main twists pretty much are, and I guess not having to figure those out kind of spoiled the fun of a lot of the book. However, I still think the film was a lot more tightly-plotted and, although the relatively slow pace of the book made sense because of the setting, it felt a bit waffly to read. Also, I could really have done without the whole great-grandchildren subplot, which didn't do a whole lot for me.

Review by

Mixed feelings about that one. Well-written, wonderful recreation of an era and a peculiar profession, the slightest smidge of fantastical and steampunk (yum!), but the characters failed to engage me.

Review by

(listened to the audio book) Also set partly in the latter part of the 19th century, partly in the present, The Prestige follows two rivaling magicians and the consequences of their feud for their families. Actually more science-fiction happens in this novel, where one of the illusions is not an illusion but an actual scientific phenomena via a machine invented by Nikola Tesla. Did you get that? An illusion that is not an illusion but whose illusion is in the pretending it is magic.Yeah. Confusing. Still interesting. The Prestige takes us through the world of illusionists in the 19th century, from the frauds who do seances to the stage entertainers. In fact, teh rivalry between the two magicians begins when on of the magicians attends a seance at hi aunts and recognises the tricks of his trade. He is incensed that his craft is being used for such a nefarious purpose and vows to expose the fraud. When he does, he begins a feud that lasts for generations.I enjoyed reading about the magic tricks and especially the parts with Nikola Tesla, but I have to say the reveal at the end, where we find out the big secret of the one magic act was a little confusing. Perhaps it was because I was listening to it and could not go reread it (oh, I could have rewinded it but I didn't care that much) but the book suddenly ended without me feeling there was a good enough closure.

Review by

It really doesn't matter if you've seen the film - the book adds to the dark tale of 2 feuding Victorian illusionists with a modern-day wrapper revealing how the feud has trickled down into subsequent generations. In fact, there was enough additional depth and variation in the Victorian sections that I actually felt that I could be 'spoilt' in spite of The Prestige being one of my favourite films - the end of the book and the fates of pretty much all the key characters is different here. Told largely through the diaries of the two magicians, this is a study of obsession and animosity. All is fair in magic and war - they disrupt one another's performances, interfere (if not always intentionally) with love lives and ultimately threaten each other's lives. With asides on the cost of living a life of lies, what is considered acceptable to sacrifice for your art, and magic as both illusion and as science we haven't discovered yet, this is heady stuff, told with Gothic glee. I'm not particularly interested in stage magic; it really didn't matter - I was hooked from start to finish, in spite of my niggling annoyance with the way both magicians' treat their wives and lovers.

Also by Christopher Priest   |  View all

Also in the Gollancz S.F. series   |  View all