A Confusion of Princes
by Garth Nix
Middle School, High School Harper/HarperCollins 337 pp.
5/12 978-0-06-009694-6 $17.99
Library ed. 978-0-06-009695-3 $18.89 g
Nix’s gaming-inspired, sci-fi fantasy is a pleasing mix of high-adventure space drama, total bunkum (e.g., “it’s functioning on the tertiary backup level, without a holo…”), and wry, boyish charm. Khemri’s coming-of-age story begins with his emergence from years of genetic and technical “remaking” to take up his title of Prince. But he’s only one of millions of Princes in the Empire, and immediately finds that Princely life isn’t the easy, glamorous ride he’d imagined. Instead he has to join the Navy, suffer manifold humiliations, and, if he wants to live, heed his personal Master of Assassins. But Khemri’s telepathic intelligence is above average, and eventually he moves into a new sort of training that involves him becoming an almost normal human. That experience and his native intelligence cause him to reinterpret everything he’s been taught about the Empire. Nix’s fantasy has enough gadgets, escapes, battles, duels, deaths, and near-death experiences to keep die-hard adventure story readers enthralled. Happily, Khemri is also a thoughtful, winsome, and somewhat complex character, and his cheerfully self-deprecating tone and unpredictable choices make this romp entertaining on multiple levels.