Emma's Reviews > A Confusion of Princes

A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix
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Oct 07, 14

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Read from May 21 to 25, 2012

"I have died three times, and three times been reborn, though I am not yet twenty in the old Earth years by which it is still the fashion to measure time.

"This is the story of my three deaths, and my life between."

Chosen as a baby to be molded into a Prince of the Empire, Khemri has always had a wealth of luxuries at his fingertips. Raised in his own temple with an assortment of priests, servants, and even mind-programmed companions, Khemri's early life as a initiate Prince is everything he would expect or want.

Unfortunately on the day Khemri becomes a proper Prince he also realizes everything he previously knew about Princes and the Empire was completely wrong.

As a Prince, Khemri is smarter, faster and stronger than regular humans.  Truly he is superior in every way. The only problem? So are the thousands of other Princes scattered throughout the Empire. Worse: All of those Princes are competing for a chance to become the next Emperor and most of them have no qualms about killing the competition  during duels or through plain and simple assassinations.

The more time Khemri spends as a Prince of the Empire the more he understands that the Empire can be a cruel, unsatisfying place. Being a Prince is all Khemri knows and all he has ever wanted. Until he dared to imagine having something more, even if Khemri isn't sure he will ever have the chance to choose a different life in A Confusion of Princes (2012) by Garth Nix.

A Confusion of Princes is a standalone Space Opera. It is also Nix's first book for older readers since his widely acclaimed Abhorsen trilogy.

Part of what marks Nix as an incredibly talented author is his richly detailed settings and well-realized characters. A Confusion of Princes is no exception with Khemri's story playing out not just on an entirely new world but in an entirely new galaxy. The worlds Nix created here are so compelling that A Confusion of Princes even inspired its own online game: Imperial Galaxy.

The downside to creating such a rich setting is that it often makes for very dense writing. This book starts off with full throttled action and very little time for backgrond. With so many facets to being a Prince, readers have almost as much to absorb as Khemri himself throughout the novel.*

Filled with minute details about the galaxy and Khemri's life as a Prince, A Confusion of Princes sometimes skips over opportunities to develop the plot in favor of developing the world as Khemri alternates between running around and standing still with very little introspection or enlightenment until the last third of the novel.

Though Nix has undoubtedly created a fine addition to the science fiction genre, A Confusion of Princes does not stand up well compared to Nix's other fantasy novels which combined expert world building with a depth that is lacking in the characters here.

*Other aspects of life in the Empire are painfully unexplained. A keystone of the Empire seems to be the use of mind-programmed servants and slaves but Nix never delves into the mechanics of this or the ethical implications. Though much of the story focuses on Khemri's shift in thinking more as a human and less as a Prince, this plot thread remains unexplored or explained.

Possible Pairings: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Legend by Marie Lu, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, Farscape (television series),Highlander (television series)

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Reading Progress

05/21/2012 page 18
5.0% "No one said being a prince would be fun."
05/24/2012 page 76
23.0% "I'm really glad the Princes are male and female though that and the unusual names makes it interesting to figure out the gender of some characters."
05/24/2012 page 191
57.0% "If a character shows up halfway through a book they should not be mentioned in the blurb. Sort of glad I went into this one blind save for the whole standalone space opera thing."
05/25/2012 page 238
71.0% "This book is really dense. Good. But dense."
05/25/2012 page 292
87.0% "Everyone has their eyes on Khemri."
05/25/2012 page 294
87.0% "Holy cow. Talk about a lousy job."
05/25/2012 page 308
91.0% "I feel like three books were mashed into this one book with all the dramatic plot and focal shifts."
05/25/2012 page 310
92.0% "We are what we are made to be."
05/25/2012 page 313
93.0% "Gotta love a space opera that includes words like gestalt."
05/25/2012 page 337
100.0% "I had forgotten how dense Nix books can be. Not the book I expected at the onset but quite entertaining."

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