It all begins in rapidly changing, turn-of-the-century London. At a time when magicians are idols and celebrities of the highest order, two young magicians set out to carve their own paths to fame. The flashy, sophisticated Robert Angier is a consummate entertainer, while the rough-edged purist Alfred Borden is a creative genius who lacks the panache to showcase his magical ideas. They start out as admiring friends and partners. But when their biggest trick goes terribly awry, they become enemies for life--each intent on outdoing and upending the other.
Trick by trick, show by show, their ferocious competition builds until it knows no bounds, even utilizing the fantastical new powers of electricity and the scientific brilliance of radical inventor Nikola Tesla--while the lives of everyone around them hang in the balance.