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THE PRESTIGE by Christopher Priest

THE PRESTIGE

By Christopher Priest

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1996
ISBN: 0-312-14705-8
Publisher: St. Martin's

 After a ten-year hiatus, Priest (The Glamour, 1985, etc.) returns in strength with a taut, twisting, prize-winning story of two magicians and their fierce fin-de-siäcle rivalry that taints successive generations of their respective families. A London journalist is brought to an English manor house by a ruse, there to meet a young woman who claims to have known him as a child--and to have watched him die at her father's hands. Baffled by these memories, the two join forces to plumb the written records of their ancestors, Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier, talented magicians who bore each other tremendous ill will. Their first clash came in 1878, as Borden, in an excess of zeal for the purity of the magician's craft, attempted to expose Angier as a fraud during a sÇance he and his wife were conducting. The attempt failed, but in the process Angier's pregnant wife was hurt and lost their baby, thereby prompting an unending feud between the men. Many ruined performances later, with both men having risen to prominence in their work, Borden seems at last to have gained the upper hand with his use of then-novel electricity to transport himself, inexplicably and instantaneously, from one part of a stage to another. Not to be outdone, Angier visits Colorado to meet with the eccentric master of electricity, Nikola Tesla, commissioning him to build a transporting device that will top Borden's act. In time he learns that his rival's trick is only an illusion while his is the real thing, and this fact creates a catastrophe that will reverberate through several generations when Borden again disrupts Angier's act by pulling the plug on Tesla's device at the worst possible moment. Electrifying effects and a deft handling of mysteries and their explanations (some remaining tantalizingly incomplete) in an unexpectedly compelling fusion of weird science and legerdemain.