Sabriel by Garth Nix is one of my favorite fantasy novels. So when I found out that Garth Nix has a standalone sci-fi YA novel due to be released this year, I was immediately curious. I grabbed a copy of this when I saw the UK edition in a bookstore in Hong Kong. In his website, Garth Nix mentions that he doesn’t have time to answer all of the emails that he gets but that you can get a postcard from him if you send him an email asking for one. Right after reading the Abhorsen trilogy, I loved it so much that I sent him an email, asking for a postcard and yay, I got one. This is what it looks like:
Here’s the summary of A Confusion of Princes from Goodreads:
You’d think being a privileged Prince in a vast intergalactic Empire would be about as good as it gets. But it isn’t as great as it sounds. For one thing, Princes are always in danger. Their greatest threat? Other Princes. Khemri discovers that the moment he is proclaimed a Prince.
He also discovers mysteries within the hidden workings of the Empire. Dispatched on a secret mission, Khemri comes across the ruins of a space battle. In the midst of it all he meets a young woman named Raine, who will challenge his view of the Empire, of Princes, and of himself.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you’re aware that I’m not much of a sci-fi reader. I only pick up sci-fi titles when they come highly recommended (like Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold and Grimspace by Ann Aguirre) or when it’s written by a favorite author – like A Confusion of Princes. So it’s probably not surprising that I had a hard time getting into the first half of A Confusion of Princes. I really don’t know if it’s because I’m not as familiar with the genre or there was too much information at the start of the book. In any case, I was starting to feel bad that I wasn’t as into reading this book as I expected when the pacing suddenly picked up (or I’d become familiar with the terms by then so I didn’t find it confusing anymore). At the start of the novel, Khem was arrogant and clueless but that’s mostly caused by how he was brought up as a Prince of a powerful Empire. There are millions of Princes in the Empire and they’re brought up to be the leaders in their society. I found that kind of set-up intriguing. What’s also interesting is that Princes are constantly fighting one another, knowing that the next Emperor will be chosen from their ranks. Even though he was kind of annoying at first, I liked Khem’s character. He’s an intelligent person and learns to adapt and change his ways when he begins to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around him. I also liked his sense of humor and it was fun to see things from his point of view.
If the first few chapters were slow, the latter ones were really fast-paced – so much so that I felt like some parts of the novel weren’t developed as fully as I’d like. Sure, it made me happy that there’s romance in the novel but I wasn’t really invested in it because everything felt rushed. Khem meets the girl and then BAM, he starts caring for her immediately while he’s still in the process of learning what’s it like to be a normal human being who has feelings. He also goes through a huge transformation in the second half of the book and I had a hard time believing that something like that could happen so fast. Like I said, I liked Khem’s character but I did have problems with the pacing of A Confusion of Princes. Maybe there could have been a balance between how slow the first part is and how fast the last part is? Again, I’m not even sure if I had problems with this because it’s sci-fi instead of my usual fantasy or contemporary reads. As always, I still think you should give this a try if you feel like it’s something that you’d like. Recommended for sci-fi readers and Garth Nix fans. However, if it’s your first time to read a Garth Nix novel, I suggest that you start with Sabriel instead of this one.