Reviewed By: Emily
Garth Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia. A full-time writer since 2001, he has worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve. Garth’s books include the award-winning fantasy novels Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen; and the cult favourite YA SF novel Shade’s Children. His fantasy novels for children include The Ragwitch; the six books of The Seventh Tower sequence, and The Keys to the Kingdom series. More than five million copies of his books have been sold around the world, his books have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, The Guardian and The Australian, and his work has been translated into 37 languages. He lives in a Sydney beach suburb with his wife and two children. His website can be found here.
The Break Down:
This story follows the deaths of Prince Khemiri. Taken from his parents as a child, Khemri is now a Prince of the Empire, an enhanced human being equipped with biological and technological improvements that make him faster, stronger and smarter than the ‘average bear’. Not to mention the perks of (biased) immortality: should he die, and be deemed worthy, he will be reborn... A blessing for this Prince, for as soon as Khemri graduates to full Princehood he learns the terrible truth behind the Empire: there are ten million princes, and all of them want each other dead. Told in his own words we follow him as he discovers the hidden workings of the Empire. One day, given no choice, he is dispatched on a secret mission and comes across the ruins of a space battle. In the debris he meets a young woman named Raine, who challenges his view of the Empire, of Princes, and of himself.
Garth Nix is a genius of the multilayered world and this book does not disappoint. The culture Khemri is born into is fascinating, it takes about half the book to set the world up but it is done in such an engaging way that you don’t really mind the slow build up to the story’s main point. Seeing it from the eyes of one who is supposed to be at the top of the evolutionary chain was a good choice as we find out at the same time Khemri does that he has not been told the whole truth about the universe. At first Prince Khemri acts like an arrogant arse, convinced of his own superiority even though the first couple of assassinations should tell him otherwise.
But as we move into the second half of the book and meet Raine, a romance blooms that is completely alien to Khemri and turns his lifelong ideals on their head. Garth Nix skilfully shows the changing of Khemri’s values in a realistic way unlike some novels where love at first sight seems to always worm itself in. In the end, the main crux of the novel is an exploration of what it means to be human from a totally alien perspective. It has you asking yourself, if you could choose between humanity and a super human life, which would be more fulfilling? I would recommend it for an older YA audience (And of course the adults who don’t give a damn if it’s YA or not) due to the time it takes to get the technology and terminology right in your head.
For those of you who love Garth’s fantasy novels be aware, this is unabashedly a science fiction novel, if that doesn’t float your boat you may want to read the sample chapter on Amazon first. However, ACOP is written with Garth’s ever brilliant prose so if you haven’t read much sci-fi before now, this would be the perfect book in which to introduce yourself to the genre.
**** Four Galactic Battle Cruisers