on 11 May 2012
I am a big fan of Garth Nix's Old Kingdom Trilogy, and was very excited to see a new teen title from him at last. A Confusion of Princes is a very different kind of story - definitely more sci-fi than fantasy. There was a great deal of jargon to get used to at the beginning. Some aspects of the story were alienating; such as Prince Khemri's arrogance and lack of concern for others and all the mind-and-body altered beings etc. I still haven't quite got my head around all the see-through panels in the priests' heads. I was beginning to wonder whether the book was for me, despite the excellence of the writing. I'm the sort of reader who likes characters I can identify with. It's always a tricky task to present an initially unlikeable character.
However, as the book progressed, I was really, really glad I hadn't given up. I found I was drawn into the story more and more. The personal journey of Prince Khemri became fascinating and was so cleverly handled by the author. Ultimately this is a dark and complex tale of good and evil, instinct and learned motivation, family and love. And the gradual revelations about the running of the empire keep the reader guessing until the very end. I thought it was brilliant.
on 30 May 2012
If I could give this three and half stars I would. Its more than okay! I just wouldn't shout and scream about it. The trouble was I wanted to.
I was a great fan of the Abhorsen trilogy which I read many years ago now, as Nix has an excellent mind for creating worlds that are deep and creative. They suck you in, making you wonder how no one has ever thought of it before, and you'll be pleased to know he has done it again. The future setting and its possibilities are endless, so endless its almost a sin that the book was so few pages because the plot felt rushed and skipped about.
Before I go into detail of why this didn't hit the mark, anyone who likes a quick action filled sci fi read. Definitely read this. It has augmented princes (anyone a fan of deus ex knows how diverse and fun augmentations can be), assassin priests, and even a small romance for good measure. Generally all good ingredients to make an exciting book. It delivers this with battles, tension and the unknown, as you start off as oblivious as the main character about how everything works. This would have worked better if he wasn't up himself and full of angst. You do learn to like him but this is why it is a slow start.
The plot in itself wasn't terrible, it had its twists and turns however much of it is very predictable. There are parts of the book that really hit the mark as they are descriptive enough to help you gather exactly what is going on, even in a completely alien situation. You feel for the character and their desire allowing the book flow, making you turn page after page, then it jumps a huge expanse of time again. Completely disjointing you (except the couple of times its warranted). Leaving you with a sense of being cheated at potentially good reading material.
I could have understood these jumps in time and details if there was perhaps another character to follow, or some greater over arching plot that we were only supposed to catch glimmers of.
Though still even now I have faith. Garth Nix has created an amazing new universe with some unique combinations that work! I agree with others that this should definitely not be his last venture into this setting. He is only just finding his way with it. Look what he did after Sabriel. Now he has set the scene he may be able to weave a more complex story into one or two more books. (I personally thing it would be an amazing MMO - but lets keep to the books for now)
In conclusion -
Was it a good read - Yes
Did it hit the mark I expected after Abhorsen Trilogy - No
Was it complex enough for older readers - No
Would I recommend - Yes as I believe there will be others (and they will be much improved)
on 26 June 2012
I ADORE Garth Nix. I have read The Old Kingdom series several times a year, almost religiously, ever since I was 14 (I'm 22 now) and I have been very, very eagerly awaiting some new material from him. I read the Keys to the Kingdom series too, but his kids' books, while colourful and creative and fun, are just so much less convincing, less satisfying, than the rest of his work.
When I got my hands on this, I was slightly disappointed to see it's a pure Sci-Fi novel (I prefer his fantasy works, obviously), and only a few hundred pages long. I expected to launch through it and have it read in hours but, it took me three days in the end - and I savoured every word! It's such a complicated story, that it takes lots of thinking, imagining, and re-reading - this novel certainly exercises the brain!
"A Confusion of Princes" boasts a delightfully arrogant, ignorant, witty main character, lots of development and convincing, approachble scenarios, and a really heartwarming undercurrent of family values and the whole notion of humanity. It's also mind-blowingly cool Sci-Fi, something I've never enjoyed - I think I've been converted!
It's a wonderful, believable, deliciously complex book, with another incredible world to get completely and utterly lost in, and still so full of that absolutely lovely Nix charm.
I was not the slightest bit disappointed - you won't be either! :)
"The Empire extends across a vast swath of the galaxy, encompassing more than seventeen million systems, tens of millions of inhabited worlds, and trillions of sentient subjects, most of them humans of old Earth stock."
Khemri is one of ten million Princes of the Empire, but their apparently limitless power is circumscribed by boundaries that have been set for them. When he comes of age and has to find his way as one of those ten million Princes, he realises he really knows nothing at all. Can he stay alive long enough to find what his role in life is supposed to be, and what does the Imperial Mind want from him?
This is a great rollicking adventure - a naïve and rather too sure of himself young man who finds himself adrift in a rather nasty world where a brutal end is all too common. He has to come to terms not only with himself but with the world and its demands on him. The writing is great, the story rolls along at a great pace - there is a touch of humour, plenty of action, and strong characterisation. Definitely great stuff; although I had heard of the author, I had never read any of his works. I will definitely be looking for more of his books to read.
on 28 April 2014
I absolutely love the Abhorsen trilogy and it took me, oh, about three seconds to order this when I saw it was a non-children's book from Garth Nix. I have no idea how I missed its launch a couple of years ago.
It's definitely sci-fi, not fantasy (which I should have guessed from the socking great planet standing behind the man dressed as Adam Ant on the cover). Our prince is the most arrogant twit you can imagine, but in Nix's hands, is also utterly charming and full of humour. We quickly realise his better characteristics as he finds himself in unanticipated trouble, and true to his hero status, he starts to understand the true nature of the privileged, artificial world he lives in and defects to the right side.
In some ways it's lovely to read a stand-alone book for a change - I seem to be waiting for so many sequels to be published at the moment - but at the same time, I am sorry there are no more books set in this strange world.
I loved it.
The galaxy-spanning Empire is ruled primarily by the ten million Princes, young men and women enhanced by Bitek, Psitek and Mektek, and educated to rule. Psychically attached to the Imperial Mind, they can be reborn over and over.
But the Princes pretty much live in a gilded cage, and the protagonist of "A Confusion of Princes" takes awhile to discover that. Garth Nix's first sci-fi novel in fifteen years is an epic space opera, slowly following a young man through his lifetime as a Prince -- and while it's slow-moving at times, Nix's unique "teks" and society make it a delight.
The first days of Khemri's life as a Prince are less fun than he expected -- he's nearly assassinated twice, and his Master of Assassins Haddad whisks him off to join the Imperial Navy (which he doesn't want to do). And after he's connected to the Imperial Mind, Khemri begins to realize that unseen powers in the Empire have special plans for him... assuming he isn't permanently killed first.
But despite a rocky start (including a quiet feud with House Jerrazis), Khemri distinguishes himself when he dies defending a post from the alien Sad-Eyes. When he graduates, a mysterious priest offers him a special assignment as an "Adjuster."
However, the entry test for being an Adjuster involves months of living as a normal human, vulnerable to a permanent death. Khemri -- now renamed "Khem" and and without most of his tek abilities -- ends up living in the Kharalcha system, where he falls in love with a young woman named Raine. As his half-hidden destiny in the Empire approaches him, Khemri must figure out what he truly wants -- a life in the Empire, or a human life?
I'm not into most kinds of space opera, usually because the futuristic stuff just rips off "Star Trek," Heinlein, Asimov and so on. But "A Confusion of Princes" takes place in a truly brilliant world -- it has a race of psychic cyborg Princes, space mantas, ninjas, insectoid soldiers and space stations that can have anything from bamboo forests to deadly lakes to mountains in a BLIZZARD.
The writing is a little unusual for Nix, since it's entirely told from Khemri's POV. But it does give the prose a wry, clever quality, and the style is elaborate and vivid ("I felt a cold, loathsome touch, almost as if something had plunged its frozen fingers into my brain and was feeling around for something it had lost"). The story moves a little slowly at times, but the exotic sci-fi elements keep it from getting boring.
But the center of everything is Khemri. We see him evolve in a surprisingly natural way from an arrogant, naive brat into a selfless young man who... well, learns about family, love and free will, and discovers that he wants to be human. It sounds sappy, but it WORKS.
And Nix rounds it out with a solid cast, ranging from the strong-willed Raine to the insectoid warrior mekbi. The best is easily Haddad, a shadowy Master of Assassins who serves as a father/uncle figure to Khemri, but who has a bittersweet undercurrent to his tutelage. If there's a problem, it's that a few of the minor characters could have used a bit more fleshing out (Tyrtho, who seems significant but... isn't).
Garth Nix leaves behind a lot of space opera cliches in "A Confusion of Princes," a slow-moving, character-propelled sci-fi tale. Definitely a must-see.
on 14 August 2012
Will this be as good as Abhorsen is the question many readers have in mind, and in short, no it's not, but that was a high benchmark to excel really.
I really liked this book - it has all the usual great craftsmanship we expect from Garth Nix; convincing and instantly 'gettable' descriptions, even if they're about an alien world; a gloriously arrogant yet blundering and likeable main character in Prince Khemri; and the same quick witty dialogue which made Abhorsen such a glittering journey for readers.
Confusion of Princes has some great character development, and a series of space adventures, culminating in an end that I did not see coming. The skill involved in getting us to visualize and to understand the vast sci-fi world, with all its jargon was remarkable. There is also an element of sophistication in the 'evil' side. In Abhorsen the villains were perhaps a little 2D with no real desire other than to destroy for its own sake, but here we have more complex motives among the princes, and even the emperor, especially towards the end. So all-in-all it was well-worth reading.
Drawbacks? Well the book may suffer from having too few characters we can get close to. The 'servant class' of people/organisms are just drones. This is in contrast to Abhorsen where even the animals had anthropomorphic qualities and were human enough to mean a lot to us. The 1st person narrative in CoP is potent, but can be limiting at times.
Also if you notice the book's dedication page, it mentions how Nix has worked with software and video games programmers while the book was in progress. I have limited experience of videogames, but one can easily see how the different tasks and tests Khemri engages in correspond to zones or levels in a videogame. That is fine, and will likely make money, but it does sometimes show, making the 'tests' and adventures feel a little episodic perhaps? That may be wrong - it's just a feeling I got.
However, I am *so* glad Garth Nix has written another novel, and the bottom-line is that I raced through the book with the relish only a great writer like Nix gan fire up. A real recommended read!
on 28 June 2012
A Confusion of Princes is a confident well written Space Opera that rockets along from start to finish without giving the reader time to pause. Set in a universe that is dominated by a space empire ruled by genetically altered superhumans known as Princes ten million men and women selected at childhood and made near immortal to serve the emperor, in one of the novels coolest conceits no one knows who the emperor is and whether it is a he or she even hence the emperor being refered to as Hier, the never seen Omnipotent ruler. khemi has just turned seventeen officially becoming a prince in the most dangerous time in the empire just two years before the emperors Abdiction, shallow and self centered raised to believe that only him self matters this is a coming of age story set agaisnt a Sci Fi background.
following khemi as he navigates murderous politics, assaination attempts space battles and fights with aliens even a dash of romance this adventure is well worth the price of admission with my only problem is that this story could have easily been two or three books while i appricate the author doing a stand alone in this age of doorstop trilogies i do feel this story suffers for it hence so many comments from other readers about khemis unlikeablity, by the end of the story he is a likeable couragous man however this story is in such a rush to the finish line that it can be hard to adjust.
a good story that could have been great i have high hopes for this series if Nix chooses to revisit and takes his time, resevations aside this is one i heartily recommend.
on 3 June 2012
loved this book,as I have most of the others I have read from this author. The story was compelling, and the plot not easily worked out as I find it is in many other Authors books.
The story is about interplanetary politics and how the emperor is chosen to be ruler of the universe. But that is the undercurrent of the story of a young man finding his values and ideals. One to read more than once!
on 10 February 2013
The craft and talent Garth once again displays here is unbelievable. Here is a writer with unparalleled creative ability. Every idea is raw and original without being too "out there" that you would fail to relate to it, packed with a juicy sci-fi theme and steeped in technology but mixed with contemporary ideas of morality, humanity and the standard journey/change of the hero. Yet even this is done in such a way that sets it apart from other novels. Indeed if I was to complain I would say that this books limitation is that it is only one book, if it had been spread among two it would of been even more amazing. This book is on par with the Old Kingdom trilogy which are the best novels I've ever read.
This book will not let you down it is a work of brilliant creativity blended seamlessly with the emotional journey and development of the character. You will not be disappointed.