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Topic: Totally Free Will Review
Message: Posted by: Mark_Chandaue (Jan 25, 2020 04:44AM)
Magic Orthodoxy have posted this Magic Book Review - Totally Free Will by Mark Chandaue
Message: Posted by: weirdwizardx (Jan 25, 2020 11:00PM)
Thanks for sharing this review Mark!

Keep it up!!
Message: Posted by: eteled (Feb 11, 2020 08:52PM)
Thanks for posting this. The book is now available @ Penguin. Ordering mine now!
Message: Posted by: Olympic Adam (Feb 16, 2020 05:24PM)
Awful reviewer. Literally hasn't a clue. I'm buying the book, but not because of the review.

It's like an 8 year old's book report.
Message: Posted by: Rachmaninov (Feb 16, 2020 06:13PM)
I would say itís a 8 years old review. But granted, he could have done the same thing in less than half the timeÖ
Message: Posted by: Mark_Chandaue (Feb 17, 2020 04:54PM)
At least the review shows the physical quality of the book and gives an idea of the content without exposing much.

Love the review or hate it at least David took the time to review it. Hundreds have been sold and people like it enough to keep it as I havenít seen any up for sale in any of the Facebook groups or on Magic Week and yet still not a single review. Plenty of positive comments and no negatives (and the negatives are usually the quickest to appear) but no actual reviews. Here are some examples of comments from people that have bought the book.

Your thinking is super-stealth, intelligent and SNEAKY brilliant, sir!👏👏👏👏

Great book .... congrats

Itís a masterpiece.

Brilliant book.

It's a great book.

I genuinely consider it a classic Mark, itís a really accomplished volume on such a practical performance tool.

Itís phenomenal. So much content 🔥

A joy to read.

Itís a thing of beauty.

Fantastic thinking and a great read.

Still though after 3 months still no actual reviews other than Davidís. Many people rightly wait for reviews before pulling the trigger so I am grateful to David for taking the time to review it. Steve Faulkner also has a copy so hopefully his review will be posted soon.

Message: Posted by: Olympic Adam (Feb 17, 2020 05:40PM)
It doesn't expose much because I'm sure most of it went over the reviewer's head.

I'm looking forward to getting my copy. I would like to get my old review blog up and running again but just can't commit to being consistent with it.

I'm not doubting the quality of the product, I'm going to buy it, I just think people listen to reviews without establishing any credentials other than the fact they have a camera and fingers.
Message: Posted by: Drtriage (Feb 19, 2020 01:11PM)
Hi Mark

You write "Hundreds have been sold" which seems very good for a magic book - how large was the print run? - seems to be doing well without reviews (to pull the trigger) so far.

It is difficult just now as a number of good books have been released - I have just received Interpreting Magic' (less than £50 postpaid from Penguin on pre-order with over 500 pages of art quality paper, colour photographs and a very wide range of material), today I received 'The Code' by Fenik and on the way is 'Second Thoughts' by Rioboo!

I am seriously tempted by 'Totally Free Will' (I already own 'Harpacrown') - I'm a sucker for a well produced book, which this undoubtedly is (the downsides for me was focussing on one type of effect I might only use a couple of items out of it and I already have some of the contribution eg Patrick Redford's 'Improbity' and another one in a Penguin Lecture - so less sure of the added value of me having the book but I am sure it was a labour of love with excellent contributions).

I am particularly intrigued by the extension of your envelope to 6 outs. I already use the existing one from 'Harpacrown' for 2 outs and was inspired to design my own for 4 (made with a template on A3 paper that fold to produce a very neat envelope - if I say so myself!)
Message: Posted by: Mark_Chandaue (Feb 20, 2020 06:56AM)
Hi Drtriage,
The original print run was 1000 and you are right that it has sold pretty well despite the lack of reviews with about 150 pre-orders which was a lot higher than I expected. A few days ago it was Penguinís best selling product and it is still their best selling product over $50 and most sparked by the review linked above. Yes it focusses on one type of effect which is reflected in the price. Many other free will versions retail for around £30 so the extra £20 for 15 versions and the envelope at this level of quality is quite reasonable.

There is a lot of extra applications for a lot of the ideas beyond the free will but as you point out if you have Harpacrown and Patrick Redfordís improbity which was in his lecture you already have a few of the effects. The Title effect Totally Free Will has many other applications beyond just Free Will and I am pretty sure that the way the dual outs is handled in Three Will has wider applications that I am yet to explore but it could certainly be applied to Rock Paper Scissors.

There are of course many unpublished versions in the book the stand outs being Free Will Rock You, Michael Murrayís over the phone effect, Steve Druryís stage effect and Totally Free Will. Those that have been published elsewhere such as Drew, Mark Elsdon and Patrickís contributions are fantastic too but if you are fans of their work you may already have them.

If you have an interest in the Free Will plot I think you would find value in the book even if you already have some of the included versions. You will also find some laughs in the book and possibly some ideas that will spark your creativity.

You will already be familiar with my writing style from Harpacrown, like that book I have done my best to make this one an enjoyable read as well as teaching effects. I think my writing style has improved since the first book.

Message: Posted by: Drtriage (Feb 20, 2020 07:11AM)
Thanks for your reply Mark - it is always good to have a balanced and civil discussion on a forum.

I have a fair amount of reading to do with books that I have just bought but may well be tempted to buy you're in the future.

Wishing you well for continuing sales.
Message: Posted by: Olympic Adam (Feb 26, 2020 05:31PM)
Mine is on the way from Penguin.

Cheaper to order from Penguin to the UK than from the other sites based in the UK. World seems a strange place sometimes! Works out £3-£7 cheaper.
Message: Posted by: Mark_Chandaue (Feb 27, 2020 12:47AM)
Yes penguin can afford to do free shipping to the U.K. because of the volume they sell. They can also get massive discounts on shipping because of those volumes. For a small independent it costs about $20 to ship a book from the US to the U.K. it costs me around £14 to ship a Totally Free Will to the USA and about £18 for a Harpacrown Collectors Edition. I did free shipping on the pre orders and that came to almost a grand.

Message: Posted by: Silversleights04 (Feb 28, 2020 11:59AM)

I'm so sorry to see that your people are keeping their feedback to themselves! It's one thing when people hate a product and don't say anything, but when people love a product and still refuse to share their thoughts, it can be seriously detrimental to the creator and their product. That said, I'm glad to see that the lack of reviews hasn't slowed the sale of your limited run, that's usually still a good indicator of quality (and a bit impressive really)!

It's still a shame that so many people don't want to step out on a limb to make their feelings known or only share their feedback privately. Consumers and creators need people to offer their reviews, it's how good products flourish and develop and bad ones are avoided.

To those that have purchased, read, and not reviewed: C'mon y'all, seriously?! Take a moment and help a creator out, share your feedback.

I just purchased my copy today and I absolutely promise to share my detailed review on here and on Penguin. You have my word Mark.

Message: Posted by: Silversleights04 (Feb 28, 2020 12:07PM)
I'm also very interested in Harpacrown, but the remaining current magic budget is now bookmarked for Penguin Maxx Southwest in April!
Message: Posted by: Rachmaninov (Feb 28, 2020 10:23PM)
When something is too good, people donít want to advertise itÖ
Message: Posted by: Silversleights04 (Feb 28, 2020 11:05PM)
[quote]On Feb 28, 2020, Rachmaninov wrote:
When something is too good, people donít want to advertise itÖ [/quote]

Fair point. That's valid. But this community should at least share a bit of praise for the stand out work so we can tell the gems from the junk.

We need a few reviews for support as well. Especially if the creator is asking for some open feedback, right? If someone liked it and benefited from it, it's the least they can do.
Message: Posted by: Mark_Chandaue (Mar 1, 2020 11:40AM)
Not technically a review but I received the following from the legend that is Ross Johnson (who bought his copy of Totally Free Will from Penguin). Ross has given his permission to share this.

Hello Mark:

The copy of Harpacrown that you kindly gifted me holds an important place on my bookshelf. I refer to it often.

TOTALLY FREE WILL now occupies a similar place of honor. I especially enjoy books that focus on a single effect and yours rivals Peter Tappanís THE IMPOSTRESS PRINCESS in its completeness and excellence.

Thank you for your dedication.


Message: Posted by: alexhui (Mar 2, 2020 09:36AM)
I will do a YouTube and blog reviews very soon.

I need to make sure that I have digested the material and am able to give meaningful feedbacks to readers. It should be available within a week.

Alex Hui
Hong Kong
Message: Posted by: Silversleights04 (Mar 4, 2020 03:45PM)
I read it over the course of a sleepless evening, here are my initial thoughts on the quality and content of this book:

I first fell in love with the Free Will premise after seeing something like it in Marc Paul's Alakazam Lecture and added it to my routine. After getting great responses and feedback I began looking into its different variations. It popped up again in Paul Vigil's Live Act, the version I currently carry for walkaround mentalism. All in all, I've been using free will plots for about 6 months now, but I'm not ashamed to say that I still didn't really know much about them, their origin, variations, and evolution. It was shortly after my exploration began that a trusted friend on here (The Unmasked Magician) tipped me off to Mark's book.

This is the first book by Mark that I've read and I can safely say it's a hit for me. He's an entertaining and intelligent author and clearly demonstrates a firm understanding of the fundamental concepts behind a free will plot such as scripting, timing, outs, equivoque, and other contingencies. It's worth noting that within the first effect he mentions that if the idea of "Out to Lunch" is unfamiliar to you, then it is possible you found this book "too soon" in your journey into mentalism. Initially, I thought it was a bit bold of him to set his own 'recommended level of entry' (so to speak), but it's a pretty fair level and a valid point, to be honest. It's certainly not meant to discourage anyone from reading. He plainly states that if you aren't familiar, it may be beneficial to go back and familiarize yourself with more classic material before revisiting his, but it isn't absolutely necessary and there is still much to be gained from reading this at any stage in your development. I think I discovered this book at exactly the right time in my own journey.

As for the content, there is some overlap here, but that's to be expected in a book examining variations on a single premise. The selected effects utilize a variety of presentations from a spectrum of quality creators. Despite all sharing the same premise, the material never felt repetitive or redundant; each variation brings something new to the premise or fleshes out ideas that were established in another. The referenced materials in this text will also give curious budding mentalists some homework for the near future.

I especially enjoyed Drew Backenstoss and Patrick Redford's contributions; I already knew Drew's from his outstanding book Architect of the Mind, but I was glad to see Patrick's material here as well (both of them are amazingly gifted creators that I've quickly come to respect and appreciate as guides on my own journey, the same can now be said for Mark). Both of their effects are previously published in projects by their respective creators, but they are excellent additions that certainly belong here.

That does mean some of the other featured routines are previously published, but that doesn't mean there's nothing new to be found here. Mark's own routines were some of the highlights for me. I loved his effect Free Balling; I actually got to try it out a couple of separate times this morning with my coworkers (my regular trial participants) and love the way it plays out. The colored papers also allow you to work in a bit of color reading if you're into that. There was also something fitting about using colored Post-It notes in an office setting :) I'm definitely adding it to my table/parlor set moving forward.

Another real bonus (for me at least) was the inclusion of a handful of flow charts of the possible outcomes in a few effects. As a visual learner, I get excited when I see a flow chart or infographic, so that was a nice touch. To clarify, the flow charts are not included with every effect, just the first few, but they really aren't necessary if you've got a handle on the basic premise.

For those that don't already have a favorite Free Will effect or perhaps aren't familiar with the premise, I highly recommend finding a copy of this book. If you already have a favorite presentation and are intimately familiar, I would still absolutely recommend this book to help evolve and polish your current Free Will effects or discover something new. Also, it's simply a gorgeous book worth collecting, love the green leather binding. Haresign Press is quickly becoming my favorite publishing house for quality content in a beautiful binding. This book fits perfectly on the shelf alongside Architect of the Mind and The Intrepid Young Rogue's Manual of Deception.

At its low price point of $65 on Penguin (with free shipping) and all of the quality content within, this book is an amazing value.

I'll try to post a follow-up review once I've had a chance to demo more of the other material, but on the quality of the book and Mark's material alone, it's a 5/5 for me :D

Mark Chandaue has easily cemented himself amongst my favorite modern mentalists with his outstanding work here! Now, I can't wait to pick up a copy of Harpacrown!... but it'll have to wait just a little while longer, at least until the budget recovers after Penguin Maxx SW next month :P
Message: Posted by: alexhui (Mar 8, 2020 12:35PM)
Hi all,

Please read other excellent reviews first.

If you had time, you are welcome to take a look at my in-depth review cos I did spend some efforts in making it helpful to readers.


Thank you!

Alex Hui
Hong Kong
Message: Posted by: Olympic Adam (Mar 14, 2020 06:30AM)
Just started mine (yet to get to the effects), but thought it was lovely that the original awful review just mentions the page count and there's a quote right at the start:

"... some people mistakenly equate page count with value."

Couldn't make it up. Probably didn't even read it.
Message: Posted by: Mark_Chandaue (Mar 14, 2020 07:27AM)
I think putting it in context the original reviewer simply said itís hard back, 176 pages, 15 effects etc. At that point he was simply summarising what you get and I donít think there is anything wrong with that. Sure the written reviews go into a lot more depth than the video review but I think this is partly the nature of the beast. Iíve seen very few video reviews on any channel that match the depth possible with a written review.