Review of A CONFUSION OF PRINCES by Garth Nix
HarperCollins, May 2012
Trainee Prince Khemri thinks he's ready for adventure. Once he graduates, he'll find himself a spaceship and head off into space... along with some concubines and whatever cannon-fodder troops he needs. It turns out, though, that nobody told him the biggest danger to a prince comes from other princes... and a brand new prince not yet connected to the Imperial Mind, is everyone's target. Together with his master of assassins, Khemri has to make choices he really would have preferred to avoid. And when he does connect with the Imperial Mind, he gets orders that put him in even more trouble.
Something else that nobody had told Khemri, the Emperor is due to abdicate only two years after Khemri graduates... which means that every prince in the Empire is scheming and making plans to become the one successor to the Emperor's awesome power over most of the galaxy. Khemri may be young, but he's either a vote or someone to eliminate, which means he's constantly in trouble.
To prepare him for a career as an Imperial auditor, Khemri is stripped of his princely powers and sent to a more primative planet outside the Empire. There, for the first time, he learns to appreciate people, and comes to understand that incredible power and practically eternal life are not the only goals. He also learns that a prince doesn't have all the control over his future that he, in his youth, had believed.
Author Garth Nix delivers a charming story of a young man coming of age in a strange world. Khemri must learn to become human because none of his training allowed for that possibility. It's a difficult task... occasionally I found myself disliking Khemri for his arrogance and his dismissal of the unmodified humans who make up the bulk of the subjects of the Empire. Which, I guess is the point. Although in many ways he's a superman, Khemri must still change to become human. Unfortunately for Khemri, the institutions of the Empire are not set up to allow a prince to become human... and if he's chosen to become Emperor, his situation becomes impossible.Reviewed 5/09/12
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