Although this book was released many years ago in 1996, I could not have read it at that time since I was not even born. I recently ‘discovered’ this novel and found it exhilarating. I remember that I have not posted in the last few months so here I am to make some amends. So here is my review of the book.
A novel can be magical, satirical, enhancing, have the elements of romance and revenge but very few of them contain all of them which set them apart. Storytelling is not a matter of frivolous entertainment. It is an art crafted to perfection which reveals the imaginative storytelling power of its master and which takes their reader to their world of charms. The Prestige is one such novel. The Prestige by Christopher Priest is a chimerical triumph of storytelling magic, a fiercely compelling tale of revenge and illusion.
What began as a mere attempt to foil a fraudulent séance between two upcoming stage magicians turned into deep boil of professional rivalry. Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier’s life were tangled the day two met in the darkened salon. From that moment, both of their lives were spun into a web of deceit and exposure, each trying to outwit each other in their game. The rivalry took them to the peak of their careers but with some dark consequences. Their feud did not end with their deaths, it continued to generations.
At the heart of the story lies the creatively woven story around one of Nikola Tesla’s contraption. Borden’s New Transported Man Illusion drew both admiration and jealousy of his nemesis Angier, ‘The Great Danton’ who would do anything to steal that secret behind the act and make it his own in order to ruin Borden’s career. No story is complete without a beautiful dame and Christopher Priest introduces the Miss Oliver Wenscombe, a stage assistant in both of their lives. Wenscombe who works for Angier is compelled by him to go and work for Alfred Borden and steal his secret much against her wishes. After numerous attempts Angier learns the secret of Borden’s act – Tesla. This is a deceit in the parts of both Borden and Wenscombe to trap The Great Danton. The Great Danton catches the bait and goes all the way to America to meet Tesla and convince him to make for him a device which would enable him to move transport from one part of stage to another without any use of doubles.
Later with the Tesla’s device Danton’s In a Flash illusion makes him the richest and popular prestidigator in all England – a childhood dream which he was living. But every act came with huge price, a price which Angier pay for with his life. Borden sabotaged the illusion one evening when The Transportation was in progress. This act was the death knell for Angier’s happy dream. Afterwards one part of his was dying and his death is near but his another part, his prestige in the bloom of his heath was living in state of despair and beyond help.
A century later, the question whether Angier is really dead is still unanswered. Alfred Borden is dead and with him his legacy, but is Angier?
A masterpiece of storytelling, Christopher Priest beautifully explored and touched the worlds of Illusion and Deceit.
Verdict – A fictional piece which will take you to illusions, prestidigators and revenge and beyond. An Art crafted by a Master not to draw admiration but to draw applause.