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"A Confusion of Princes" by Garth Nix

Early in my reading of A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix, I said, oh, this is a poor man's version of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game--less violent, less anguishing, far simpler. And now that I've finished it, I'm going to stick to that assessment. Somewhat. That's not to say it isn't a good story or that it is a retelling of Ender's Game. It is a good story, for what it is. And it really isn't Ender's Game. For, alas, it lacks passion and dramatic conflict.

Prince Khemri is one of the chosen leaders for the empire and he has been raised in isolation under special circumstances: His body and his mind have been enhanced. He is, truly, faster, smarter, and stronger than other humans. Of course, there are thousands of other "princes" just like him, especially selected to rule the empire. Once Khemri is old enough, he's put into training with other princes (and here's where the book is similar to Ender's Game). But something happens to our Khemri. Seems he's even more special than even he's imagined and may be destined to be the next emperor. Then Khemri falls in love and, well, that's that. No more dreams of running the empire for him.

I like the idea that love can conquer an evil empire. But the empire actually helps him achieve what he wants. There's no conflict. And what little drama there is (near the end of the book, a bunch of top princes fight it out Hunger Games-style) isn't really all that exciting.

I'd probably recommend this book to kids who I don't think are ready for Ender's Game. The enhanced princes are a nice concept for science fiction. But I think they'll find Khemri a bit boring, like I did.

I also seem to be one of the only librarians in the county who bought it for the juvenile section and will move it to my library's YA section ASAP. The young hero doesn't not explicitly describe his sexual encounters, but does have them many of them with programmed courtesans and notes how different sex is with a real human woman.

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