In this review, I’ll give you my honest opinion on The Royal Road To Card Magic, and let you know everything you need to know to make a decision on whether to pick it up…
If you’re in a hurry, here’s the short version:
The Royal Road to Card Magic is one of the most famous magic books of all time. And for good reason – it’s still an incredible introduction to the art to this day, and the material inside STILL fools even other magicians!
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Before I get into the full review, here’s something else you might want to know…
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1. What do you get?
The Royal Road to Card Magic is perhaps THE ‘go-to’ book recommended to beginners in card magic. That’s because, over the course of just over 300 pages, you get a complete ‘crash course’ in card magic.
The authors, Jean Hugard and Frederick Braué, were two of the best magicians of all time. The routines and ideas they published decades ago are still being studied and practiced by the world’s best magicians today.
In this book, they do something that has since become the model for many other books and magic training resources…
They start by giving you detailed instructions on a technique, and then they show you how that technique can be used to perform an incredible magic effect.
Then, they show you a new technique – slightly harder than the previous, but still very attainable. Then they show you a handful of effects that use either this technique or a combination of this technique and the first one.
They continue to do this throughout the entire book – each section slowly building on the progress of the previous. By the end of the book, you’ll have a firm grasp of the core techniques that make for powerful card magic. In addition, you’ll have a whole range of effects in your repertoire – and they’re GREAT effects, at that.
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That’s the short summary of this book. Let’s look at the pros and cons now…
- The authors really know their stuff – they were two of the most powerful creative forces we’ve ever seen in magic
- The way the book is structured is just excellent – the material gradually gets more and more challenging, but since you’re being coached step by step, it never FEELS like an impossible leap. By the end, you’ll be so much more skilled than you were at the start – and it’s been a totally ‘natural’ progression.
- The tricks are excellent and seriously fooling
- It’s a surprisingly easy read despite the fact it was published in 1949
Of course, this book isn’t perfect. Here are a couple of things to be aware of:
- There is a better alternative – the Card College series by Roberto Giobbi, which are far more in-depth than this book (but also more expensive)
- The style is a little outdated at times – especially when they suggest ‘patter’ (aka, what you should SAY during the presentation of the effect)
Now, what do I really think of this book?
4. My opinion
Let me give you a little context first:
So many magicians are approaching magic the wrong way…
They buy all the books that they’re supposed to and race through them, hoping to get to the real ‘good stuff’ as fast as they can.
Of course, what they don’t realise is this:
Often, the BEST stuff is the ‘simplest’ stuff. The kind of stuff you rush past in your eagerness to get to what you
In fact, nobody has told you that this is the case—you just assume that the further into the book it is, the better effect it is.
Which simply isn’t the case.
In fact, you see an interesting contrast at play in magic:
The amateurs are the ones that skip the ‘basic’ chapters to get to the complex stuff, while the experts are the ones that return time and time again to those basics.
They know that the basics ARE the best stuff. If you can master those, the true fundamentals of craft, you’ll be a better magician than 90% of the other guys out there.
One of my favorite magicians, Ben Earl, talks about this a lot. When you hear him talk about the ‘simple’ moves with such a deep level of insight, you realise that there is a lot more to discover than you thought.
Here’s something interesting as a way to highlight this.
Ben put out a release with Vanishing Inc titled ‘Ramjollock’
In this effect, the spectator cuts the deck to a single card, which they look at. They cut and shuffle the deck, then displace their card from its original position…and Ben is still able to find it.
That description really doesn’t do justice to the effect (watch it here for full performance) but that’s not really the point of this.
The point is this:
This effect fooled a LOT of magicians.
However, the principle it’s based on is contained within chapter 2 of The Royal Road to Card Magic—one of the most ‘beginner friendly’ magic books ever written!
In their eagerness to get to the kind of thing they THINK makes for the most powerful magic (so they can fool their magician friends), they completely skip over the stuff that is proven to ACTUALLY work (and DOES fool other magicians…because those other magicians skipped it too!)
The Royal Road is full of gems like this.
And that’s the real beauty of it, and what my opinion comes down to – it’s an absolutely incredible resource for beginner magicians, but it is also an incredible resource for some of the best magicians in the world!
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I hope this review was useful! Leave a comment if you have any thoughts you want to add to this review.
The Top 100 Magic Books: Of all time?
Don’t ask how long this took to write, it gives me headaches just thinking about it.
We’ve recently written an incredibly article on the top 100 magic books for magicians. It’s really informative and each book is amazing in it’s own right.
If you haven’t seen it yet I’m going to throttle it down your throat with a call to action link below…