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Maelstrom Review

Official Review

May 9th, 2015 4:44pm
Reviewed by Dr. J. M. Ayala de Cedoz
Tom states that he rather dislikes being called a "genius", though being accused of being "creative" and "original" is easier for him to deal with. To that end, I will say that Tom Stone has learned the skill of being very creative and thinking outside of the proverbial box.

This book is a follow-up to his first book called "Vortex" which I reviewed earlier this year. It took me a while to write the review for this book because I wanted time to learn, practice and eventually perform some of the material in this book before reviewing any of it.

This book is a continuation of Vortex in a way but its contents seem to lean toward a lot of classic effects of magic (at least to me) and the way Tom handles and presents them - all of which is fantastic!

The same style of detailed and easy-to-understand line drawings as used in Vortex are used here. Also as with Vortex, Tom does an uber-fantastic job with crediting and referencing where appropriate.

Within the pages of this book, yet again, there is literally something for everyone from the beginner to the advanced performer and there are plenty of projects for the D.I.Y. magician. Some of the props shown and illustrated have never been built but would work equally well if the directions are followed, and many of them are very clever!

In his first book Tom set up little boxes here and there to give you a thought, idea or inspirational kick-starter. In this book those little boxes (called Thought Kickers) have made their return, but many have been expanded a bit more to give you a fuller idea or to better extend ideas/thoughts on a routine. If you already perform the routines/effects that these apply to, you will think to yourself, "Why did I not think of that?!"

In fact, that is a lot of this book in particular. As an example:

'Silver & Sorcery' is one of the best handlings I have seen to date for the classic Cylinder and Coins by John Ramsay. Being a coin specialist, Cylinder and Coins is one of my absolute favorite routines for which I have collected, practiced and performed many different variations and handlings. The version put forth by Tom cleans up a lot of unnecessary moves that is apparent in many other versions, and there are even more ideas for other ways in which to do it. If you have never done this effect before, this is a great place to begin.

There is a handling for the classic Passe/Passe Bottles and Multiplying Bottles. Besides adding some great ideas to the transportation of the props (more for the presentation part of it), he has added some handling ideas, prop modifications (some untested, others tried and successful) and some finesse on the handling of the props. There is also an idea which takes the routine even further than the old standard routine, but that is a surprise I will leave for the reader to discover! I have begun to apply this handling to my Multiplying Potato Chip cans.

For the D.I.Y. magician there are some interesting ideas for the Sefalalgia Box (uses the memory wire that most magicians are familiar with for card revelations, but in a very different way!), a stand for a Confabulation-type prediction nestled in a quiz show presentation and a very nice handling for a stage version of the Andy Nyman effect called "Diceman".

I also greatly appreciated (and have begun to construct) the 'Sentient Sands' prop which is a unique version of a marketed effect/prop called the Antonius Pius Box (including the 2.0 version) (Tom was unaware of its existence). It is easy and inexpensive to make and if you think about the way you construct it, it can even be a multipurpose box for carrying small props used in other effects (such as coins, cards, etc.

If you are one of those magicians who must find at least one card effect in every book you buy, this will not disappoint. There are some very nice card effects in here, some original and others am update on an old idea or effect. He presents the 9th version of his "Occhamman Card", two very clever utility card boxes: one is a switching device and the other is a multi-use utility box that can be used for various things. There is a fun version of a Jim Steinmeyer effect from his book 'Conjuring Anthology' as well as a section devoted to thoughts on signed card ideas.

What I really appreciated about this book was the inclusion of thoughts and ideas on performance theory. Tom talks more in depth about it here - even more than in Vortex. He tells you why it should be used and how to apply it to the things in the book and even further, how to apply certain principles to effects, routines, acts and shows you already do.

It is refreshing to see this in a book that is so full of magic - many books of this type just push the effects, giving you the methods and saying "have at it." Tom brings everything full circle by asking and answering questions like, "Why do I make this motion?" and "Why does 'this' idea work but 'that' one does not?" or "How can my magic be more effective?"

As with Vortex, this book contains effects and ideas you will most definitely use because as I previously said (something that bears repeating): there is something for everyone here.

This book should be on the shelves of every magician if not for the magic effects, then for the many inspirations and ideas and thoughts on theory that you will surely learn from it and put to good use.

I very highly recommend this book - a job well-done once again Mr. Stone!

Product info for Maelstrom

Author: Stone, Tom
Publisher: Hermetic Press
Average Rating:  (2)
Retail Price: $55.00
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Manufacturer's Description:


You are invited to collaborate in a creative experience with a day-and-night, seven-days-a-week professional, the inventive and always-thinking Tom Stone! You will need to bring with you...

  • Playing Cards
  • Coins
  • SilksMultiplying Bottles
  • Book Tests
  • Billiard Balls
  • Dancing Cane
  • Thimbles
  • Silk to Egg
  • Bananas
  • and Squirt Guns

And most important, your thinking cap! Tom will supply the tricks, routines, presentations and ideas—lots of them!

This book is your map to Tom's Realm, otherwise known as the Maelstrom. There is no firm land here. Things move and change with the tides of Tom Stone's mind. The compass is your only assurance that you will reach new lands of magical thought. Its four directions are Knowledge, Intelligence, Deception and Artistry. Unlike a normal journey, you will frequently be traveling in all four directions at once.

Maelstrom is a 277-page, densely illustrated hardcover book, full of the sort of magic that is seldom published…material from a full-time professional who performs both close up and on stage. Having passed through the Vortex, get ready to enter Tom's Realm…Maelstrom!

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