Confusion of Princes, A by Garth Nix

Nix, G. (2012). A Confusion of Princes. New York, NY: HarperCollins Children’s Books. 

ISBN-13: 978-0060096946

Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure

Reading level/ interest age: 15+

Plot summary:
Prince Khemri is one of ten million other Princes in line for the throne. With only one Emperor chosen every twenty years, the odds for ascension are slim. As Princes are selected at birth based on genetic information, they never have the ability to know their families. Princes are unlike other humans because of their combination of technological and biological augmentation and training. These chosen children are raised in temples and taught the ways of the Empire by priests. Upon turning sixteen, a Prince must connect with the Imperial Mind to receive orders and reduce the chance of assassination. During Khemri’s ceremony to connect, he is ambushed and must flee his home planet with only one assistant to direct him to the next connecting station. Khemri quickly discovers that his life’s training is only partially useable and struggles to gain the knowledge he needs to survive. 

Forced to join the navy as a protection from further assassination attempts, Khemri connects with the Imperial Mind and begins to learn valuable skills. However, he dreams of piloting his own ship and seems to be missing something else important in his life. A surprise attack on the navy base earns Khemri honors which allows him to be appointed to a faraway asteroid. Once there, he learns that the Empire has secret plans for him and is cast out on a special mission. Khemri loses his augmentation abilities and finds himself stranded in the middle of space. He is able to make it to the remains of a nearby ship and finds the only survivor is a human named Raine. Khemri and Raine must work together to get off the ship and stop an imminent pirate attack. Quickly, the two become attached but with the Empire’s plans for him, can Khemri find happiness?

Reader’s annotation:

Being a Prince isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. With ten million others in line for the throne, what’s a guy to do?

Information about the author:        

“Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia, and spent his childhood in Canberra. Before attended the University of Canberra from 1984-1986 he spent time travelling in the UK. Emerging in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional writing, Nix soon became heavily involved in the publishing industry after moving to Sydney, working his way up the corporate ladder until finally becoming a senior editor in 1991 with HarperCollins Australia.

“He left to travel through Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia in 1993, returning to work in 1994 with an IT public relations and marketing firm which in 1996 led to him co-founding PR firm Gotley Nix Evans Pty Ltd. In 1999 he joined Curtis Brown, an Australian literary agency, as a part-time agent after a stint as a full-time writer in 1998.

“However, in 2002, Nix once more became a full-time writer. He has worked as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve, serving four years in an Assault Pioneer platoon, and as a bookseller, book sales representative, publicist, editor, marketing consultant and literary agent. His books are published around the world and have been translated into 36 languages….

"He currently lives in Coogee, Sydney, with his wife, Anna, and his sons, Thomas and Edward Nix” (

Curriculum ties: N/A

Booktalking ideas:

1.       In Khemri’s world, would you rather be a prince or a human?
2.       How do you think Khemri will adapt to life after the end of the book?

Critical evaluation:

Although this was a bit of a quick read, A Confusion of Princes was enjoyable. This is one of only a few novels in the Young Adult genre that appears to be focused on a male audience. The attraction that Khemri feels towards Raine has a very different flow from most other young adult novels and is focused more on his desire to protect her than on their relationship. Khemri’s story is easy to follow and the reader may not be able to pick the book down once it is begun. A Confusion of Princes has quite a few action scenes and most flow easily from one to another. The pace of the book is fast which keeps readers entertained and interested to learn more about Khemri’s quest.

The only fault is that in the beginning of the book, the descriptions of the different types of technology are difficult to sort out and only start to make sense later on in the story. Mektek refers to mechanical technology, Biteck refers to biological technology, and Psitek refers to psychological technology. The combination of all these forms of technology help the reader feel more disconnected from their reality and are interesting to read about due to their relation to the plot. The book also contains alien races but these are not focused on in detail and leave the reader wanting more information on them. 

Challenge issues: N/A

Why included:
As there are few books tailored for the male audience in the Young Adult genre, I wanted to include A Confusion of Princes as an attempt to reach this neglected half of the population. I found the book interesting and hope that it would appeal to young adult males.

Reference: (2014). Garth Nix biography. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from

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