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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » Review: "Tales of Enchantment" by Walt Anthony (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Jeb Sherrill
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Book Review:

Tales of Enchantment is not an easy book to review, or even to define for that matter. If your hope is a volume of the latest, cutting edge sleights and card maneuvers, or the most current version of cap in bottle, then you will be sorely disappointed because this is a book of far more bizarre nature. On the other hand, if you are hoping for a black book on the subject re-enacting ritual magic in groups of three to five around a small table with a candle on a moonlit night, then this may not be quite your cup of tea either.

What you will find within Walt Anthony’s “Tales of Enchantment” is quite possibly the closest thing to a real grimoir of magic that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It is obvious from page one, (page one of the actual book, as I have a habit of skipping most forwards and cutting straight to the meat) that Mr. Anthony is not merely a theoretical magician, though he obviously labours over his premise and gives great care to all that we would generally deem theory. Instead of the usual bizarrist effects that play well in small settings with a few people with which to share the effect, Walt’s routines are geared more to the parlour/stage size audiences. Perhaps the best description of the routines encapsulated here is Story Magic. By this I mean that the effect itself is there to facilitate the story, instead of the story being added after the fact in order to give an excuse for performing the trick, if you catch my meaning.

Many of the routines contained employ classic effects of which most of us are already familiar. Some are described, some not, but if one isn’t already aware of the method behind “The Professor’s Nightmare” then you probably won’t be buying this book anyway.

Certainly the bulk of the individual routines is dialogue, though I would be remiss to call it patter. Whimsical and phantastic, always magical, they are all a pleasure to read. Some will find the precise wording not to their own character, but few should find difficulty in shaping them to ones own persona.

The tome itself is laid out thus:

A variety of forwards: I’m sure they are all excellent, but forwards are usually written as a way to sell the book and indeed the author him/herself. Knowing Walt already, I skipped them.

Theory: there is often a page or so of theory preceding each routine. Walt shows great restraint here. Instead of attempting to write yet another “Showmanship for Magicians”, he limits himself mostly to practical theory that pertains to what he is talking about. There is little shotgun information and opinion, just the tips and advice he has picked up over his long career as a performing magician.

The routines: The routines themselves can be read like stories, because in fact most of them are. Instead of reading this book like a variety of effects I found myself reading it more like a book of short yarns. The entrenched bizarrist will enjoy the reading, but may find most of the subject matter too tame for the general bizarrist pallet. These routines are obviously composed with real audiences in mind and will play better to the mainstream. The themes are often those of magical whimsy, empowerment and wonder, instead of attempts to raise demons from the depths of Hell.

Props are treated as treasures and none is without purpose, or often without personal container to make them even more memorable. Ropes are the sashes of three friars. A scrap of fabric represents a piece of courage. A feather represents hope.
Of course, being me, I particularly appreciated the large section on floating ball effects. What can I say, I'm a sucker for gravity defying spheres of any kind and Walt covers them all (accept perhaps the Supreme Magic Zombie which few know about). I can't remember if he mentioned it or not.

Walt’s attention to detail, his research and classical attitude towards magic are evident throughout the book, as is his excellent advice. Few writers touch on the subject of a performer’s actual behaviour towards an audience member, but his opinions are such that I would like to see all performing magicians take note of it. He stresses gentle, respectful treatment of volunteers unlike the Vaudeville era style which is still in use today by many modern performers. Berating and making fun of spectators is strongly discouraged and indeed they are treated more like honoured guests in his performance philosophy, a philosophy I highly encourage as well.

Tales of Enchantment will not be for everyone to perform, but I think should be for everyone to read and own. Walt’s style is very much his own, and I wouldn’t even begin to attempt an impersonation of it, but there is a plethora of magical understanding to be gleaned from the pages. Not only is his style and persona enviable, but also his perspective on magic in general. Effects are not smothered in theatre in the hopes of covering the acrid taste of magic (as Fitskee might have you do), but it is instead treated as it should be. Magic is treated as magic.
I don't believe in reincarnation, but I may have in another life.
Dougini
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My thoughts here:

Walt is the true story-teller! This book far exceeds my expectations! I didn't know what to expect. I was hoping it wasn't a how-to, or a book of magic tricks. There are libraries full of those!

No, this is exactly what I was looking for! I have always been one to weave a tale about the magic I was about to do. Mine was more simple. Less artistic. This book teaches me how to transcend the ordinary. Into the Fantastic! The Magical! Walt has the ability to show you how to take an ordinary trick, and make an extraordinary effect out of it! Not just stage stuff either. Any close-up, stage or parlor effect can be woven into a real emotional story, that might leave your audience in tears, laughter, or seething anger, if you so wish!

By the time I finish it, I should be able to create enchanting tales, and do a better job of creating a "fantasy world" to play in. The thing I really like, is the "poetic", and visual setting he teaches you to create. For example: "...The Dark comes alive in ceremony, and the eerie twilight shimmers in fragile light!" and "The Enchanted Orb is granted freedom! It rises up, and becomes a thing alive and free!.”

I worked for horror author Stephen King for 6 years, and I learned a lot! He is also a story-teller, but his style is more direct, and sinister: "Hey, come with me...around this corner (hee hee hee!), I wanna SHOWWW you something..." (Evil grin and insane eyes) And then, GOTCHA!! (Women scream and faint, men have heart failure!)

This book is exactly what you need, if you are looking to really change the way you do magic! Café members, Tales Of Enchantment: The Art Of Magic can make your magic ascend to levels unheard of! Another thing Walt is doing, is he is working harder, better and smarter right along side us! He too, is learning as he writes this book! You will see why, when you get about halfway through. The ideas can be adapted from the largest to the smallest effect!

I was a guy that just did tricks. Just following the instructions, doing the sleights, reciting the same old patter. Now I see the potential! A simple trick like the Prayer Vase, or the Lota Bowl can have a story (true or not) spun around it! Walt gives you several ideas for the Lota that will blow you away!

Walt will teach you how do prepare and discipline yourself, to be creative and original! If your magic is darkly gothic, or whimsically humorous, you will find you be able to create enchanting tales, and build your magic around a theme. There are over 35 original routines here to inspire you to create your own "tales of enchantment"! Set your audience up ahead of time (pre-sell), by telling a story, and take them through YOUR world of enchantment!

This book shows you how to create “outside the box” original stories, preparing your audience’s minds, and letting them suspend disbelief for a few moments, and enter your World of Enchantment! I have been amazed at how willing people are to be taken into that "fantasy zone", by just spinning a tale around a rather mundane trick like a vanishing (flipstick) pencil! A whole routine could be created using Walt's techniques.

You can use his routines as templates. Take a common trick like the Sponge Balls or Professor’s Nightmare, and bring it to new levels! You are the Artist! Walt will show you! I am still going over the book, and I’m inspired! I have ideas already! I wish this book had been released back when I was first starting magic. No telling where I could have gone with this knowledge!

Who knows where this book will take me now? I am limited only by my imagination! I have truly been enchanted by this book! You will too! If you really want to bring your magic to "show" level, no matter if you are into intimate close-up, parlor or stage, this book is sure to give you many ideas, and teach you to make up your own stories, as well as give you a template to start from!

This is like being in Walt's private classroom, and learning directly from a master of showmanship, how to build a magic trick into a super showpiece, and even build a number of routines around a single theme! I recommend this book strongly!! You cannot lose. I'll tell ya, I could NEVER have done this on my own. And the price? Don't let that affect you! $35-40 doesn't seem like a lot compared to some books on magic, but this unique tome transcends magic to a new level and can help you turn a trick into a "bizarre", "romantic", "heartbreaking", "infuriating" or even "tragic" effect and presentation!

Wow, what more can I say about this book? I guess "just BUY it!" You have seen the other reviews. And when you do, we would love to hear your take on this amazing book! I believe this is just the beginning for Walt. I have a feeling this will turn into a whole series, if what I read is true. You will see what I mean. Create a magical world of your own design, and PLAY in it! What a concept! Smile

Doug
steve spill
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Tales of Enchantment is a scholarly work whose ideas are obviously gleaned from vast personal experience. Walt specializes in telling mythical stories with his magic, often using his props as metaphors. This is a narrow field, but Walt’s expertise is such, that his theory and experience are applicable to anyone who has something to say with their magic.

My own “stories” with magic fit more into the autobiographical, historical, or observational, as opposed to the tales of fantasy that Walt specializes in. Still, the knowledge he shares by example in regard to character, composition, performance; is sage advice that’s valuable and applicable to all.

It would be great if this book became a classic work that was required reading for all students of our craft. Digesting and implementing what Walt has to say could transform your tricks into magic.
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Of course, -all- I did was publish it, but it really is awesome to read these reviews- Thank you so much and I am glad you are enjoying the book. I myself found it very inspiring the first time I read it, and after it was done and off to the printer, reading it again once I got hard copies in hand. There are often months between when I first read a book sent for consideration and when I get to read it again, just to read. I found many of the words in this book inspiring not only for magicians or performers, but life in general. It got me excited about things again.

Thanks again.
Leaping Lizards!!! Who knew it was possible.
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SpellbinderEntertainment
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Thank you guys for your very detailed and positive reviews!

People have been asking for this kind of detail from someone other than the author for a while.

I am hoping for Holiday gift sales of the book, not because it brings in any cash to speak of,
because it was a labor of love and my only legacy to Magic, and because I want magic to flourish as an art-form.

I really appreciate feedback, in this section, the Bizarre section of one-on-on PM's to me.

Happy Holidays and a Magical New Year!
Walt

http://www.leapinglizardsmagic.com/csspa......ment.htm
Jeb Sherrill
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What can I say Walt, it's quite a piece of work. Thanks for bringing it to us.

Jeb
I don't believe in reincarnation, but I may have in another life.
sgrossberg
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Walt is easily the type of performer and advocate for our craft who deserves ALL the support we can provide. His ability to impart knowledge is quickly seen, while the level of his love of magic and storytelling is something we should all aspire to. Plus, he's just an all-around, nice guy.

This would be a PERFECT holiday gift to give to others and, indeed, to yourself.

All my best to you, Walt! You deserve all the success this book brings. - Scott
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Thank you again for the wonderful comments from a diverse and respected list of people!
I hope your kind words will induce more stockings to be stocked with the book,
and that it has value for the readers.
I'm always a PM away to answer questions.
Walt
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I got this book as a present for the holiday season.

I've never been a fan of "curiosity shop" magic. When I first read Walt's book, on the surface, it seemed like a whole book of "curiosity shop" magic...

However, the routines and the thinking behind this book are so beyond normal curiosity shop magic it almost made me ashamed that I thought the worst of it before I read it.

This book is a near GODSEND to anyone that wants to being REAL meaning behind their magic. I'm not saying that every magician needs to follow or use Walt's routines (though they are super duper).. I'm saying that once you read this book, you'll never think the same way about routining your magic ever again.

Even if you are not a Bizarre Magician, the information that Walt gives you in this book will lead you down the path of true magic enlightenment. His thought processes are so refreshing that even your average magician can take a birthday party magic trick and add Walt's thought process to it and make a normal magic effect and make it a show stopping spectacle that MEANS something.... to both the adults and children alike.

Also, it shows that the MAGICIAN can feel the wonder behind his magic. You're not just doing tricks, you're MAKING or ALLOWING the magic to happen through you, through your audience.

He's taken an age old sucker trick, The Die Box, and turns it into REAL MAGIC that makes sense.. with NO SUCKER ENDING.... so your audience doesn't feel stupid.

5 stars out of 5.. buy this and you won't regret it..
Dougini
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Well, I have finally finished reading the entire book. One might get the impression this is a book for "Bizarre" magicians, or as Makeupguy said, "curiosity shop" magic. Not so! Every magical situation you can think of can be improved by applying the thinking in this book!

By customizing the "standards" (Die Box, for example), you really make the magic your own! A great example is The Invisible Deck. That one really depends on a "hook", an interesting storyline to truly entertain an audience! Without giving you the line for line patter, Walt leads you to a wealth of ideas to create your own unique "Tale Of Enchantment"! Isn't that what we try to do as magicians? Aren't we all "Enchanters" in some way?

After reading this through once, you will see what I mean. Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Walt shows you how to apply this to your favorite magic effects. A true "tool of tools" for the creative magician, who needs an idea of HOW to build that unique story...

Doug
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Are You Reading This?!?

How do you perform your magic? What are you wanting to achieve when your show is over? Ever wonder what people are saying about you? Walt Anthony's book, Tales of Enchantment, will have you questioning no longer. ANY magician, young and old, amateur or professional, illusionist or close-up, will all profit from the pages of this book. When I read the advertisements from popular magazines for magicians I am bombarded with "New", "Hot Item", "Make your Magic Better", or even "High Quality". It turns out not to be what I was promised and I end up selling it at a magicians auction. It has me afraid to spend money on magic. This book truly is a great investment. Finally, that white elephant is exposed. Too many magicians within the community, trying to make friends, will tell others they did a "great job" performing when the performance gets a 'D' grade at best. This book is in your face and real about what it takes to be a true entertainer. Walt Anthony helps you to look at your magic with fresh eyes. I was convinced that my magic was top grade. After reading his book I realized I had my blinders on. His book helped me to really breakdown my show. Not act for act, but word for word. Think about it... would you rather buy a new effect or be given the opportunity to really develop your performance skills with the magic you already have? I call that a "win win investment". Thank you Walt for sharing your thoughts, love, and life for magic with your friends. I can only hope there are other magicians who have the same passion to enhance the art of magic, and if there are, they no doubt will be getting your book!!
David Facer

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Jeb Sherill wrote:

Quote:
A variety of forwards: I’m sure they are all excellent, but forwards are usually written as a way to sell the book and indeed the author him/herself. Knowing Walt already, I skipped them.


That's pretty silly. When I translated Hanussen's Mindreading and Telepathy there were also a variety of forewords.(spelling, Jeb, spelling) One was to give the historical framework of the book. One was to give the perspective of a German mentalist. One was to give the perspective of a German storyteller whose life had been irreparably changed by Hanussen. One was to give guidance in learning the material. That was a lot of material, but it enhanced the value and usefulness of the book immensely.

The author, being dead, did not profit by the sale of the book at all. Sometimes the introductions/forewords are necessary for a complete understanding of the material.

Granted, you might say, "Well if it is necessary for a complete understanding of the material, why didn't the author put it in there in the first place?" Maybe it's because the author did not know that it was necessary, and he had no opportunity to correct it.
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SpellbinderEntertainment
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Thanks for the two cents Bill, I think Jeb was being a bit facetious though.
I certainly did mean the front part of my book to be read, and read first,
like the menu before you move on to the rest of your dinner.

One reason for my requesting Bob Neale and Kostya Kimlat to comment on the book,
was to represent and get opinions from two generations of magicians,
then my intro catapults the reader into the content.

The book is selling very well, which is very gratifying, and while I'm still alive even better!
It would be an honor Bill to hear your thought on the book as you've worked on so many yourself and know the drill.

I understand there are about half-a-dozen of the limited signed/numbered edition left, Wow!

Magically,
Walt
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I snatched one of the limited ones!
Its a very inspiring book!

Get it while you can!
Believe me...nothing is trivial...
SpellbinderEntertainment
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FYI The limted edition hardcover is sold out!
The softbound edition is avaiable from your local dealer,
or Leaping Lizard's Magic.

The publisher will be adding our rave reviews to his site soon.

I'll also be in Chicago at Magic, Inc. on 2-19-11 with the Workshop.
Magically,
Walt
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I was very moved by this email to me and wanted to share it, I’ve left the name out for privacy:

Dear Walt,

Wanted you to know the considerable impact that performing my adaptation of The Shadow Death had at last weekend's Pride Houston Festival: http://pridehouston.org/ . I learned the presentation from your extraordinary book, Tales of Enchantment.

I initially seized the participants' attention with Jeff McBride's Magic Wishing Rainbow & followed with The Shadow Death.

At the least, participants told me with wonder, "I don't know what just happened". The strongest reaction was tears. We've all shed them due to the HIV/AIDS plague. Was pleased that not a soul asked, 'How did you do that?".

Thanks for all you do to by sharing of the art of magic. Look forward to seeing you perform in person someday.

Happy & safe 4th of July to you & yours.

Regards,
“A Reader”
----------------------

Dear Reader!

I was so happy you took the time to learn The Shadow Death, and then your kindness to share your experience with me. Magic authors and dealers tend to hear the negative things and rarely the wonderful ones.

You are the reason I wrote the book. The one in probably more than a thousand that have the interest and courage to perform an edgy (but effective) piece like this one!

It means a lot. The July issue of Genii has a long review by Jamy Ian Swiss, I am flattered he took time to read the book, think about the book, and write his thoughts up for Genii. Jamy and I sometimes look at magic from different angles, but that is why I wrote the book to.

I hope you’ll continue to perform the piece.

Magically,
Walt
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I wanted to take a moment to say a sincere -Thank You- to everyone who’s purchased, read, and commentated on “Tales of Enchantment!”

It’s really rare a book on Magic continues to sell some two-years after publication, but my publisher wrote me to say I’m still a steady seller in both Paperbound and Hardcover. Dealers have been reordering copies too.

Partially because of my “fans” this success was an inspiration to re-open the San Francisco Magic Parlor this Autumn, where the public and magicians can see some of the book’s work in action.

Magically, Walt
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Walt, I am happy to say my magic has taken a complete 180, due to your book. I don't even THINK like I used to! It's changed my life!

I have to say, it's YOU we should thank! You are the one who dared put it in print! Magic will never be the same...

Doug
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I just got this book and started reading it. This is one of the best books in magic! Just reading this book gets the creative juices flowing. Inspired by the book, I have redesigned a routine that I look to perform for the first time at the Magic Castle next month with my IBM ring. The routine is nothing like anything in the book, but the book inspired me to take something probably everyone experienced as a child and incorporate it into a mentalism routine involving several audience members. I can't wait!
Thanks, Walt!
KJ
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