Exuberant and insightful, this science-fiction bildungsroman grapples with the essential question: "Who am I?"
After 16 years of intensive training and superhuman augmentation, Khemri is ready to take his place as Prince of the mighty intergalactic Empire. Alas, he immediately finds out that his status isn't quite as exalted as he had always thought. To start with, there are tens of millions of Princes, and most of them are out to kill him. Khem must negotiate a deadly maze of military training, priestly recruitment and even Imperial interest, never knowing whom he can trust. He can rely only on himself—and all the mechanical, biological and psionic enhancements that far-future science can provide, until the day even that is stripped from him….From the riveting opening sentence to the final elegiac ruminations, this is rip-roaring space opera in the classic mold. Add a perfect protagonist: Overprivileged, arrogant and not nearly as clever as he thinks, Khemri's first-person narration is also endearingly witty, rueful and infinitely likable. Perhaps his account relies a bit too much on "had I but known" foreshadowing, and the secondary characters are thinly sketched accessories to the hero's personal journey. But the rocket-powered pace and epic worldbuilding (with just the right amount of gee-whiz technobabble) provide an ideal vehicle for what is, at heart, a sweet paean to what it means to be human.
Space battles! Political intrigue! Engineered warriors! Techno-wizardry! Assassins! Pirates! Rebels! Duels! Secrets, lies, sex and True Love! What more can anybody ask for? (Science fiction. 14 & up)