May 25th, 2010 11:36am
|So . . . I just got over a long visit with the white shining light at the end of the tunnel. I was bed-ridden for a full week with my entire chest and head infected (ear infections, bronchitis, strep, sinus infections . . . you name it, I had it). I had a lot of down time. My mind was going crazy with the need to do something, so I read. I read Etienne Pradier's book La Magie Des Cartes.
Let's examine the book on two levels:
- Production Quality
- Content Quality
Right off the bat, you'll notice the quality of the book is top notch. It's hard-bound, about 150 pages, thick glossy paper, and clearly professionally produced. There are few quirks, however:
- Quirk #1 - It appears to have been translated into English with quite a few "lost in translation" moments and typos, but it's bearable.
- Quirk #2 - This relates back to Quirk #1 . . . just remember that the word "treble" means "triple".
- Quirk #3 - The photography didn't fit the descriptions very well, and no labels (such as "fig.1") were used on the photos or in the text
- Quirk #4 - A really confusing 4 Ace trick explained with Ace, Two, Three and Four instead of Aces, for "clarity!"
- Quirk #5 - Most of the tricks don't explain the "effect." They just dive right into the set up and performance.
So those were the quirks. Let me expound on a couple of them; then we'll move to the Content Quality. Quirk #1 shows up right in the title of the book. The French title is La Magie des Cartes which I imagine means "The Magic of Cards" or "Card Magic." However, the title that shows up in the "official" database is "The Magic Card."
Quirk #2 was tough because some of the time he would use the word "triple" yet other times he would use "treble." It took me a while to realize what the heck he was talking about. Finally I figured it out, so if you decide to read the book (which I think you should), keep that quirk in mind.
Quirk #3 was a weird one. Many of the effects had no photographs at all and had very technical descriptions where I felt a photo or two would help. Then the few routines that did have photos (imagine how complex they must be to warrant photos) never once referenced the photos. They seemed to be placed somewhat sporadically throughout the text with no real sense of tying the photo to any particular part of the description. In many cases, I searched and searched for a place in the text that matched a photo and vice versa to no avail. A wee bit frustrating if you ask me, and apparently you do, since you're reading my review.
Quirk #4 really got me. The was a Four Ace Trick, but in the write up the author mentions that the photos will show Ace, Two, Three and Four so that it is easier to follow. That would have made perfect sense if the text also followed suit. However the text continued on referring to each Ace and completely ignored the fact that the photos were not showing Aces. This made the description rather complicated.
On to the content. This can be broken down into three major categories:
Sorry I was going for the whole alliteration thing.
There are 10 Effects and they are all card tricks. Without too much detail (this review's already long enough), I'll give you my rating out of 5 stars on each effect below:
Too convoluted of a plot for my taste (a back and forth aces-change-to-selection-and-back effect)
Charlier Palm (4/5):
A pretty clever utility move.
Princess plus (3/5):
A decent quickie prediction type of effect
Card in Envelope (2.5/5):
This might be better than I think, but some of the moments were hard to visualize and there were no photos. It's basically a card stab routine with the deck in an envelope.
Magic Castle Aces (3.5/5):
Extremely High-Tech Vanish and reproduction of the four aces. It's a bit over-complicated for my taste.
Kings Or Aces? (3.5/5):
This reminds me of an old Al Leech effect that I think is called Eight Card Surprise or something like that. My Card Man Stuff book is out on loan to Dan Paulus. With Newman-Like Disdain, Jeff shouts "Paulus!" I'd have to go back to my book and check for sure, but I think the original Leech effect is better.
Pablo Aces (4/5):
This is the one with the weird photos (see quirk #4). The trick, however, is pretty darn good if you can make it through the explanation.
Cavorting Aces Finale (2.5/5):
A "Finale" for the classic "Cavorting Aces" plot. To me it just feels like another phase of the effect. It doesn't really feel any different from the rest of a typical "Cavorting Aces" routine.
Red Hot Chili Pepper (4/5):
A pretty decent spin on the Al Leech's Red Hot Momma. The plot for this is slightly different. I like it.
Torn & Restored Flight (5/5):
Best trick in the book if you can pull it off. Think "Three-Fly" with a playing card. A full card is held in the left hand. Then suddenly one-fourth of the card vanishes and reappears in the other hand . . . etc., until you have the full card in the right hand and nothing in the left. This, to my knowledge up to this point, is an original plot that has not been done before.
Throughout the book, there are tons of great pieces of advice based on real-world experience. Nothing earth-shattering, but good advice nonetheless. The newbie would be well advised to check out the book just for these tips.
This, for the most part, was my favorite part of the book. Lots of great crazy stories of performances gone wrong. Everything from losing someone's ring during a ring flight to getting a fat bill from the venue for clean up of the cards he left stuck to the ceiling. There are some great stories for sure. The only complaint I have is that in an attempt to appear poetic and fatten the text of the stories, Mr. Pradier uses some pretty flowery and diluted language that makes some of the stories a bit tough to follow. However, work your way through them; they're worth reading for sure.
Overall I enjoyed the book. I read it from cover to cover. There were a few annoying moments, but I like the layout of the book . . . tips and tales laced throughout the the tricks. I like a lot of the effects, and I may even toy around with a few of them (The Charlier Palm and Red Hot Chili Pepper and maybe if I get spunky Torn and Restored Flight).
The average rating of the tricks is 3.45. Add to that the overall quality of the book minus a few annoyances, and a bit of hit due to the steep price, and I'd say we have a solid Gem with a 3.5 star rating.
Product info for The Magic Card
Author: Etienne PradierAverage Rating: (1)Retail Price: $38.00
La Magie des Cartes
French born Etienne Pradier is one of the UK's most successful professional magicians. In fact from London to Los Angeles people's jaws have literally dropped after witnessing him perform.
This is Etienne's first major book publication and contains many of the effects that have helped him achieve his success as a Magician plus a wealth of information and advice for working Magicians, be they professionals or new starters.
All of the effects are from Etienne's professional repertoire and all the tips hints and pieces of advice are from his experience of performing in the 'real world'. So here you get lots of great professional and highly commercial routines as well as some very sage advice and hilarious stories from the life of a very busy working Magician.
Included are effects such as a stunning take on the torn and restored card, a wonderful finale for the Cavorting Aces, a delightfully simple change effect of Kings to Aces, an amazing four Ace routine and so much more.
Pages 148 - Hardcover, Photo illustrated