Tag: magicians

The Prestige

The Prestige by Christopher Priest (Simon & Schuster, 1995); audiobook read by Simon Vance (Blackstone, 2006) The intertwined life stories of two feuding magicians, told by way of their respective reminiscences. The overlapping viewpoints allow for an exploration of narrative felicity and also, dramatically, an almost Shakespearean tragedy; concomitantly, there’s no denying the book sags in the middle.    

Broken Homes

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz, 2013); audiobook read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Isis, 2013) Aaronovitch weaves an intriguing scenario around covert magic use and modern-day policing, but then continually dilutes it with unrelated (if laudable enough) class activism. Holdbrook-Smith tries hard to build impetus and make the extraneous detail sound compelling, but can’t quite manage it.    

The Illusionist

The Illusionist dir. Neil Burger (2006) Superbly acted by Jessica Biel (Duchess von Teschen), Ed Norton (the magician Eisenheim), Rufus Sewell (Crown Prince Leopold) and Paul Giamatti (Chief Inspector Uhl), The Illusionist makes magic from the constant, conflicting pulls of love, class, power and duty in Austro-Hungarian Vienna.      

The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception

The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception by John Mulholland (Unpublished, 1953) ed. H. Keith Melton and Robert Wallace (Hardie Grant, 2010) Although the editors try to spruik the significance of two instructional manuals commissioned from magician John Mulholland by the CIA during the Cold War, closer inspection reveals the most interesting facet of these works to be that…

Hiding the Elephant

Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible by Jim Steinmeyer (Heinemann, 2004) Even for the reader with no prior interest in magicians and their world, Steinmeyer’s history of the golden age of magic makes for an engrossing read. A book rich in passion, written by an expert who keeps his subject matter refreshingly accessible.