Book Review: A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix

a confusion of princes cover

View from the window seat:
Being a Prince of a massive intergalactic Empire has its perks: immortality, a faster and stronger body, practically limitless resources and power. But as Prince Khemri discovers, being a Prince means constantly looking out for other Princes to kill or dishonor you in their quests to become Emperor. Khemri gets a glimpse into the workings of the Empire when he’s sent on a secret mission. There he meets Raine, a woman who makes him question his entire upbringing.

I really wanted to love A Confusion of Princes. I mean, Garth Nix wrote the Abhorsen trilogy, one of my favorite series of all time. This standalone novel failed to wow me, though. The Empire and its Princes are well-drawn and complex. Every action of the Princes, who control the workings of the Empire, is dictated by the Imperial Mind. The Emperor is in charge of the Imperial Mind. This rigid chain of command influences everything that happens in this world. The role of a Prince is both powerful and powerless, with the Mind determining what every Prince believes about him- or herself and about the Empire. This obviously causes tension between Princes, all of whom believe that they are superior to everyone else. I loved the interactions between Prince Khemri and the other Princes he comes in contact with.

The complexity of the world was both a pro and a con for me. With all of the different political entities and advanced technology, there was a lot of exposition explaining how things work. This made the narration feel bogged down at times, and I found myself wanted to skip ahead to the action.

I also found Khemri’s character arc hard to believe. As a Prince, Khemri has been raised to not only think that he should undeniably become Emperor, but also that he is far superior to his peers and to ordinary humans. Predictably, he possesses a terrible selfishness that makes him view all other beings as objects to aid him in becoming Emperor or else to be destroyed if in his way. This is so ingrained that he doesn’t question it at all…until he leaves the Empire and meets a girl, after which he immediately undergoes a complete idealogical transformation in which he questions his importance as a Prince and the morality of his Empire. This transformation happened way too quickly to be believable.

Overall impression:
A Confusion of Princes just didn’t have the appeal I was expecting from a Garth Nix book.


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