A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Confusion of Princes is a far-future space adventure that also functions as a clever coming-of-age story. There's a fair amount of mostly bloodless violence -- teen protagonist Khemri engages in duels, starship battles, attacks by alien zombies, and other mayhem -- and a small amount of profanity ("s--t," "f--k"). Male and female courtesans are available to Khemri on his ship, but his encounters with them aren't detailed, nor are those with his with the young woman he falls in love with. There are passing references to smoking, drinking, and recreational drugs in some of the scenes featuring the princes, though Khemri doesn't indulge. The emphasis of the story is on his maturation from callow adventurer to caring adult.
What's the story?
Chosen to be a prince in the vast intergalactic Empire, teen Khemri figures that his life will be full of adventure, leisure, and acclaim. But he quickly discovers that he gets little respect from his peers and is in constant danger of being assassinated. Eventually, he's stripped of his princely powers, and that's when he really begins to discover his potential.
Is it any good?
Although action-packed, A CONFUSION OF PRINCES takes a little time to develop its true theme: that a life of wealth and privilege doesn't necessarily bring happiness. Readers of a less technical bent may be puzzled by the jargon used to describe future technology. But author Garth Nix keeps the suspense high and the tone light throughout, and the book builds to an exciting and affecting conclusion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how expectations about what constitutes a fulfilling life can change between adolescence and adulthood. Teens: What do you think would make you happy as an adult?
Does the thought of being nearly immortal seem appealing? If you knew you could die and be revived later, how might that change your philosophy and behavior?
Do governments, such as the Empire in A Confusion of Princes, always act with their subjects' best interests in mind? Is there ever a gap between what they say and what they do?
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