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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » Review of "Strong Magic" by Darwin Ortiz (74 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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The Jersey Shore
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Profile of sethb
STRONG MAGIC (1994) by Darwin Ortiz, has been reprinted and is now available for about $45 from most major magic dealers.

This is not a book of tricks, but rather, how to perform and entertain with magic tricks. In fact, it is subtitled “Creative Showmanship for the CloseUp Magician.” Ortiz explains things that might otherwise take you a very long time to learn the hard way –- through trial and error while performing – if in fact you were lucky enough to learn them at all.

Darwin covers it all, from an abbreviated discussion of magic theory and psychology, to polishing and intensifying an effect for maximum impact, character development, routining, pacing, misdirection, audience management, choosing and using assistants, it’s all here. In fact, if you’re a careful and thoughtful reader, you will probably find that the book is best taken in small doses, because there’s so much to absorb and think about.

In my opinion, STRONG MAGIC easily surpasses most of the classics that cover this territory. Maskelyne & Devant’s OUR MAGIC, the essays in Ammar’s THE MAGIC OF Michael Ammar, Henning Nelm’s MAGIC AND SHOWMANSHIP, and more recently, Lamont’s MAGIC IN THEORY and Osterlind’s slim volume THE PRINCIPLES OF MAGIC, and are all helpful and interesting in their own ways. But for readability, clarity, scope and sheer ideas, it would be difficult to beat STRONG MAGIC. Even if you’re an amateur magician, you can and should still aspire to give a professional performance.

My only criticism of the book is that Ortiz sometimes seems to have a chip on his shoulder, which can be rather large at times. Ortiz does give good examples of things to avoid, and also provides the requisite constructive criticism, providing alternate suggestions and solutions. But there is often more than a hint of derision and sarcasm (at least I read it that way), which I believe has no place in what is essentially a textbook.

I realize that professional entertainers often have higher standards than amateurs -- they have to, because they’re getting paid for their services and had better deliver good value for the money. I also understand that pros don’t always have the time or inclination to sugarcoat their criticisms.

However, it’s also true that all pros were once amateurs; everyone has to learn somewhere and perform for someone. I also believe that most amateur performing mistakes are not deliberate, but the result of ignorance and inexperience. After all, nobody deliberately wants to give a bad show. So I think a little patience and empathy in this area could go a long way.

That thought aside, I believe that STRONG MAGIC will give you the “real work” in crafting and performing your magic. It’s not for raw beginners, because there are references to effects like the Ambitious Card, Chop Cup, and even the Hippity-Hop Rabbits that won’t make much sense if you’re not familiar with the specific trick. But anyone with at least one year of magic under their belt would benefit from this book, and so would many seasoned amateurs and some pros. In fact, for many magicians, this book could be the best $45 purchase you could ever make. SETHB
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
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Profile of doiron
Excellent book. It'll take you a long time to read it because there are so many thought-provoking snippets in it that you'll often put the book down to think about them.
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Alberta, Canada
158 Posts

Profile of landon
I had been putting off buying this book for a while but when I finally got it a few weeks ago, I literally could not put it down. I've read the book through once and am now going through it a second time very slowly. This book is very easy to read, but it will take a long time to take everything in as there is so much discussed. I am already giong through some of the exercises to improve specific effects.

This book is now my favorite magic book(with Carneycopia a close second)and has already changed much the way I think of magic.

I think anyone, regardless of experience can take something from this book, and to the amateur wanting to make his performances professional and get maximum audience reaction, it is especially useful. This book will improve you magic. Highly Recommended!
Patrick Differ
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Profile of Patrick Differ
Strong Magic is as good as it gets. There is a lot in there that will make you think.
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
Christopher Williams
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Profile of Christopher Williams
I looked at it, put it down and could be bothered to read it. That didn't last for long though, I just looked at it and thought 'You'd better read it, you paid for it!', so I did read it, and it was a brilliant read, it really does change the way you think about certain effects and the way you present. Add that to Mystery School and what a pairing on theories etc

Copies of the limited edition 'MindPlay' still available
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Nashville, TN
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Profile of geoffa
I purchased this book after reading the many great reviews on this site. For someone getting back into magic after a 10 year absence, I have to say it has really made me look at magic in a totally different light. I'm still trying to absorb everything from the first reading. I'm sure I'll be re-reading this one in the years to come.
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Profile of Pharaoh
I am currently working my way through it at the moment and it is certainly a great read. Someone bought it me as a Christmas present last year and I started reading it then but only had a chance to read a few chapters before starting back at work. I started it again last week and I'm glad I did. It is the sort of book that I think I should be making notes from.
Larry Davidson
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Potomac, MD
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Profile of Larry Davidson
I believe that there's not a magician in the world who can't learn something from this book. Buy it.
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Profile of Piers
I bought it, on the back of reviews and comments like this.

Excellent book !

WELL, worth the money.

I also say, buy it.


Finished my 4 months of Chemotherapy in 2009. 3 monthly checks since... and into 2016!

As seen on the QE2 and QM2.

Author of Salem's Cornucopia - SUC Book
Mark Ennis
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Profile of Mark Ennis
I am rereading it for the umpteenth time as we speak. There is something for everyone in this book. I honestly believe that this book will only benefit you.
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Profile of xformer7
For some interesting insight on this book, hop over to the visit by Eugene Burger (December's Special Guest of Honor). Check the thread, "Ortiz's Book" by Jason England.
Larry Davidson
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Potomac, MD
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Profile of Larry Davidson
That thread is here, and I'll repeat what I said above, "...I believe that there's not a magician in the world who can't learn something from this book...", even if what's learned is a question that the reader didn't think of regardless of whether or not the reader agrees with Darwin's particular answer to that question.
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Profile of forrestlim
Yeah if you learn nothing from it mean that you never read it before. Personally, I like this book so much, even though, I don't agree all the things in the book.
Dan LeFay
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Profile of Dan LeFay
The thread is very interesting indeed.
Having read Strong Magic over and over and over and...I have to admit this has been the most valuable book on magic I own. Jason Englands feelings toward it could not tell it better!

I think a book could offer a lot to learn IN SPITE of the reader disagreeing with the tone, style or content.
"Things need not have happened to be true.
Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths,
that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes,
and forgot."
Neil Gaiman
Logan Five
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Profile of Logan Five
This is the one book I constantly refer to..and have read many times over the years. I agree with all your comments about it.

Self concept is destiny..
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Profile of zhuanan
Great Book - no single doubt about it!
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Profile of paisa23
I heard a lot of mixed reviews on this. Not sure which one I want this one or Derren Browns Absolute Magic.
Silly Walter the Polar Bear
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Profile of Silly Walter the Polar Bear
I think Jamy Ian Swiss wrote a book similar to Darwin's but Darwin's had valuable information in it.
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Profile of Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse
Based on all these greattach reviews I'm going to buy it
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Profile of MorrisCH
Many years ago when I started reading books and books
I had trouble finding one book I like and stick with it,
Despite the fact that I own more than 30+ books from Vernon, Tamariz, Ascanio, Eugene, Giobbi. Marlo, Lorayne and so much more

it was really hard for me to concentrate on one book
I even had a habit of reading it half way, even just for one trick...
Maybe is becuase english is not my first langage, and myabe is because I was born in video generation, I don't know!
It was really just a collection habit…and quantity over quality

I have to say, Strong magic, is, the very first book I read it from page to page
Along with his Designing Miracle, I just simply cannot put it down

I can't believe I spend only 2 weeks reading it for the first time.
and the second time I read it, I took note, now I have a 40+ pages of notebook full of theory Idea

Somehow after reading Strong magic, I start reading my entire collection from cover from cover which include Apocalypse magazine, Essential Dai Vernon, Classic Collection all 4 Volume, The magic Way and so on

I really need to thank Darwin Ortiz, his writing style is what brings me into the world of magic book
With that been said, I can't recommend this book enough
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » Review of "Strong Magic" by Darwin Ortiz (74 Likes)
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