Author: Garth Nix
Publication: HarperCollins (May 15, 2012)
Description: You'd think being a Prince in a vast intergalactic empire would be about as good as it gets. Particularly when Princes are faster, smarter, and stronger than normal humans. Not to mention being mostly immortal.
But it isn't as great as it sounds. Princes need to be hard to kill—as Khemri learns the minute he becomes one—for they are always in danger. Their greatest threat? Other Princes. Every Prince wants to become Emperor, and the surest way to do so is to kill, dishonor, or sideline any potential competitor. There are rules, but as Khemri discovers, rules can be bent and even broken.
Soon Khemri is drawn into the hidden workings of the Empire and dispatched on a secret mission. In the ruins of space battle he meets a young woman called Raine, who challenges his view of the Empire, of Princes, and of himself.
But Khemri is a Prince, and even if he wanted to leave the Empire behind, there are forces that have very definite plans for his future. . . .
My Thoughts: This was a great coming of age story (or, maybe, a becoming human) story that takes place in the far future when mankind has spread out to innumerable planets. All of the planets are controlled by an Emperor and his chosen Princes. Khemri is taken from his parents as a small child and made into a Prince. He is engineered to be faster, stronger, smarter than the ordinary humans. He is also taught that humans who are not Princes are not real people and can be moved around like pawn's in a chess game. He is raised by priests who foster his sense of entitlement and arrogance.
When he is sixteen, he is given a Master of Assassins and forced to go out into the world the begin his career as a Prince. He has to quickly learn to deal with the complex politics around him. He also learns that he has been targeted for special things. Life becomes a series of learning experiences for Khemri. He has been programmed to want to become Emperor though no one knows who the Emperor is or how one becomes Emperor. The Princes are connected to the Imperial Mind which witnesses what they do and which sets paths for the Princes.
It isn't until Khemri is sent on a test and has to interact with normal humans that he begins to question his role. Meeting a young woman named Raine and watching her with her family and her world shows him that something might have been missing from his life. But Khemri is still determined to pass his test and get back to his real life as a Prince.
This story has duels, space battles, and adventures with dangerous creatures but it also lets us watch a young man develop his own sense of humanity. My one disappointment with the story was Khemri's conclusion that the only way he could win the game that he was set up to play was to leave the game. I was disappointed because I believe that nothing can improve if all those who could make changes for the better opt out of the game. The story will certainly give readers a lot to think about and talk about.
There were some situations in the story (mind-programmed courtesans, for one) that would have me targeting this book for older young adults or new adults rather than the younger readers served in my media center. I also think the central idea would be better suited to older readers. I liked the book and thought it had a lot to offer those readers.
Then, rather surprisingly, I found myself wondering what would happen to Haddad and the rest of the household. Would they be reassigned if I didn't make it back from the training, or my test afterward?I received this one in exchange for an honest review through the Amazon Vine program. You can buy your copy here.
It was an odd feeling, thinking about servants and their potential fate. Fortunately, it passed fairly quickly and I resumed concentrating on myself. After all, I was the one in the life-threatening situation.