The Prestige

Christopher Priest
The Prestige Cover

The Prestige


The Prestige is a story about the rivalry between two stage magicians during the turn of the 20th century and especially around their obsession with a transportation illusion. For both, the rivalry and obsession will consume them and their progeny.

The book was a slow burn that I found quite rewarding. It was told primarily through the journals of the two magicians, but even this is less straightforward than I expected. The science-fantasy elements are brilliantly worked in and feature everyone's favorite electricity scientist, Nikola Tesla.

On the downside, and this is more of a metadownside, there are zero female characters. The wives, mistresses, and assistants in the book are cardboard set-pieces who the protagonists use to illustrate their domestic bliss or lust, when the woman merits more than a namecheck. I can only recall a couple of instances where specific interactions between a protagonist and a woman is even described, let alone where he bothered to record dialogue (in contrast to many specific and dialogued scenes between the protagonists and their male assistants/colleagues/acquaintances). This didn't make the story that was there less interesting, but certainly I get bored of reading books about men (and especially from the first person perspective of men) where they hardly notice that half the world is made of women and their "professional lives" have no space for them other than as decoration. Regardless of how "historically accurate" it is or not, a book that can't connect with me as a human who also happens to be a woman will probably never give me the five star tinglies.