A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix

A Confusion of Princes coverKhemri knows his place in the galaxy. Selected as a toddler, augmented and groomed for Princedom in the years since, Khemri embarks on his career not only prepared to join 9,999,999 other Princes as co-ruler of the Empire, but convinced that he is the best and brightest of the pack. After a few years of doing what he pleases and, of course, demonstrating his superiority, he expects to be selected as the next Emperor: the powerful mind that oversees all of the Princes and everything they command. The current Imperial Mind does indeed have something special planned for Prince Khemri. However, the road meant to take him there also reveals, bit by bit, the flaws in Khemri’s understanding of the role for which he has been remade.

Two criticisms have been pretty consistently levelled against A Confusion of Princes (though most reviewers quite like it just the same): 1) the pacing of the novel doesn’t leave much space for the development of its deeper themes, especially toward the end, and 2) Khemri’s relationship with Raine is too quick and too influential to be believable. I’m going to go out on a limb and disagree – at least to some extent – with both, for basically the same reason. It’s true that Nix spends a lot of time on world building early in the novel, and then packs the majority of the story’s events, and Khemri’s development, into the relatively small space remaining. However, that early world building lays the necessary groundwork to make the rest of the story both believable and meaningful. And while the majority of the novel moves quickly, there are plenty of signs throughout that Khemri not only can, but has already started to diverge from the norm. Raine is a contributor to Khemri’s change, but only that.

Read the book? What did you think of Nix’s choices?

A Confusion of Princes has been compared to a lot of past science fiction that I’m woefully behind on reading for myself, so I’ve linked extra reviews to give you better coverage of that aspect of the book. Enjoy!
Check out School Library Journal, Tor, io9, and The Book Smugglers.

Take a look at the online game created to go with the book: Imperial Galaxy

Read an interview with Garth Nix about A Confusion of Princes and his varied work in the book world.


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