Savvy, thoughtful, and well-rounded, it's the book you wish ha'd been your first or second magic book. However, it assumes prior knowledge, if not prior bad habits. Full of advice - both philosophical and practical -- culled from both the author's experience and from the writings and repertoire of an extensive array of masters (largely past). You learn much of Carney's way of thinking as he conducts a close examination of numerous classic effects and variations, and with an entertaining and affable voice, provides an extensive explanation of the reasoning behind every move (and every move that's considered and discarded). The chapters, referred to as Lessons, end with calls to action, often a list of questions to think about in relation to either your own effects or the effect just taught, sometimes actual roll-up-the-sleeves assignments. The book's manufacture, design and illustratation are handsome and stylistically classical about to the point of whimsy.