A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix, Prince Khemri has been trained, enhanced, and programmed since infancy to become one of the elite rulers of the galaxy. He dreams of someday becoming Emperor. When he leaves his secure training area to take his place among other Princes, however, he learns that the world is not at all what he expected. Competition between princes is cut-throat, he has to work for the luxuries he expected to come with his station, and not all Princes are just and honorable. The biggest challenge comes when he is sent on a top-secret training mission where e has to live as a normal human, among other normal humans. Will he be able to function without the technologies that have surrounded him his entire life? Will he be able to complete his mission and return to the world of privilege he's always longed for -- or does a different destiny await him?
This novel is pure sci-fi, so a change of pace from
what I've been reading for a while. There's plenty of action as Khemri
moves from one challenging situation to another. The heart of the story,
though, is Khemri's character development -- and that character
development is masterfully done. Khemri goes from believing everything
he's ever been told about the nature of the Empire, to learning to think
for himself. He retains some of his cold analytical thinking skills,
but he also slowly learns how to relate to other human beings. Some
readers may feel that he doesn't change enough, but it felt entirely
believable and natural to me. I'd recommend this to any reader who
enjoys character-driven sci-fi.
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)