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Vortex Review

Official Review

February 13th, 2015 1:29pm
Rating:
Reviewed by Dr. J. M. Ayala de Cedoz
Since this has been out for a while, I am surprised nobody has reviewed it just yet.

This book has to be one of the best magic books that has ever been published. There is something in here for everyone and the material ranges from easy to advanced and there are even plenty of projects for the DIY performer.

I love the way Tom Stone thinks - it is so far outside the box and very ingenious! He has these little boxes of text that pop up every so often throughout the pages of the book that set up a possible situation. Their purpose is to challenge your mind and try to make you think in different ways. One example: "The magician places three decks in a row on the table; one miniature, one normal and the third a jumbo deck... What happens next"?

Many books in magic have instructions that are just okay and leave a lot to be desired. In my opinion, a good magic book should not detail every teeny little thing, but rather give you enough to do what it says and still leave you to work certain things out on your own, or in other words, challenge you to be a little creative. The instructions in this book are very clear and detailed and they still challenge you to think about certain things. The more difficult parts of some effects/moves/sleights are accompanied by helpful hints and tips to make sure you understand what should be happening.

Along with all of that, there are 504 line drawings to illustrate things where necessary. All of the drawings are detailed and very easy to understand.

The quality of the book is outstanding: hardcover book with a beautiful dust jacket and the paper is of heavier stock. In my opinion, the layout of the book is part of its quality and as far as progression in magic is concerned, I think this book achieves the accepted "norm" - it starts off with the simpler effects and routines and progresses toward the more complicated as you move through it.

Some of my favorite effects in this book include 'King Castling' (a very nice effect that is kind of a mix of a transposition and a sandwich effect with cards), 'A Toast for Charon', 'Silk and Silver' (two very clean coin effects) and 'Benson Burner' (a sensational and hard-hitting adaptation and re-working of the classic Benson Bowl routine).

There is a lot of material that I use from this book in my regular sets because even the items that are based on classic plots have been given a twist or newer look, so they are different in their own way while staying true to their origins. There are certain effects or routines which are not necessarily performance-ready, and Tom makes that point up front and then tells why he included it in the book. Those are the ones where it is up to the reader to take it to the finish line, so-to-speak. I like that: it forces you to think creatively!

Overall, the material in this book is very commercial and like most things in magic, it can all be changed to suit your style, your venue and your needs. It is a breath of fresh air in many ways. Hopefully we will see more of this kind of work from Tom Stone in the future. As a matter of fact, there is a second book that is a follow-up to this book, also written by Tom Stone, called 'Maelstrom', which is another must-have book!

I highly recommend this book for performers at any stage of skill level - you will find all sorts of very good material and inspiration in it!

Well done Mr. Stone!

*In December of 2014, Tom Stone released a download video companion to this book through Penguin Magic called 'Vortex: Off the Page'. It includes a small selection of effects from this book and you can read the review(s) here: http://www.mylovelyassistant.com/products/view/22145

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for Vortex

Author: Stone, Tom
Publisher: Hermetic Press
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $55.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

A whirlwind of routines, tricks, ideas and opinions--
Inspired and inspiring.

Open this book and you enter the mind of Tom Stone, one of Sweden's finest professional magicians and one of the world's most wildly innovative magical thinkers. Within a few pages you will be swept up and carried away by the creative whirlwind that is constantly blowing in Stone's brain. As you are whipped from idea to idea you will be exposed to a level of professional thinking that leaves no area of magic untouched, from close-up to stage, from manipulation to psychology, routining to prop construction, presentation to stagecraft.

Challenging ideas demanding thought and development vie for attention with routines honed over years of performance. Vortex is a chronicle of a full-time performer's creative journey, with its fruits and challenges, presented with the intent that every reader will continue the adventure.

Vortex cuts a swath across the entire map of magic, from close-up to platform and stage. While doing so, Stone shows how these boundaries can be crossed, taking effects from one venue and adapting them to play successfully in another. The material in Vortex displays a unique melding of artistic ideals with realistic professionalism, guided by many years of performing experience.

Explained is everything from card tricks designed for three or four persons to sleek manipulation routines devised for hundreds in a theater. Among the more than 70 ideas explained in Vortex are signature pieces from Tom Stone's repertoire, such as

  • Gold Wielder, a linking finger-ring handling that avoids all the usual weaknesses and difficulties
  • Ambivalent Travelers and Mr. Fogg, two brilliant and practical approaches to the "Ambidextrous Travellers"
  • A Toast for Charon, an elegant coin production finishing with the surprising appearance of a full bottle of wine
  • Benson Burner, which transforms "Benson's Bowl" into a striking stage piece with a visually stunning final production


Vortex is a record of artistic and creative quests, frustrations, triumphs and introspection, made by one of the most articulate
minds thinking in magic today.

270 pages, 504 illustrations, in hardcover.


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