Reviews for this book have called it "heady" and "deep." I cannot concur more. Few books have mastered this combination of deep material with a hurtli...moreReviews for this book have called it "heady" and "deep." I cannot concur more. Few books have mastered this combination of deep material with a hurtling plot, and this is one of them.
Of the Dune Chronicles so far (this is book 4), God Emperor of Dune is my clear favorite. This profoundly philosophical installment in "the bestselling sci-fi series of all time" explores the now-verdant world of Arrakis thirty-five hundred years after the events in Children of Dune.
Leto, the nine-year old son of Paul "Muad'Dib" Atreides, has assumed control of the galaxy-spanning empire described in the first three books, and has transformed himself into a grotesque synthesis of worm and human in an effort to avert a terrible catastrophe which would render all of humanity extinct. To be sure, Leto's transformation is both disturbing and uncomfortable (and yes, the full physical ramifications of this transformation are explored thoroughly), yet it feels quite naturally based in the mythology that Frank Herbert has laid out thus far in the series. It is the logical conclusion of a mythology steeped in the surreal and otherworldly.
God Emperor of Dune explores nature of despotism, the conditions under which it's called for, and the attendant concerns that such a dictator would have (amongst them the nature of religion, government, trade, rebellions, mythology, armies, sexuality, war, family, duty, and sacrifice) and depicts Leto's difficult - near impossible - choices and the poignant destiny which results from them.
The portrait of Leto - God, Emperor, saint, tyrant, martyr, human, sandworm - is a portrait of one of the most complex, sympathetic, and lonely characters I have ever encountered. I loved, Loved, LOVED this book. Highly recommended.(less)
Chapterhouse: Dune marks the final installment in Frank Herbert's original Dune Chronicles (though the story continues through another six prequels an...moreChapterhouse: Dune marks the final installment in Frank Herbert's original Dune Chronicles (though the story continues through another six prequels and two final sequels written by his son, Brian Herbert).
Set twenty or so years after the events in Heretics of Dune, readers may now follow the final confrontation between hyper-sexualized and dominating "Honored Matres," vs. the Rasputian, scheming Bene Gesserit, for control of the old empire and the fate of humanity (though in this installment, the Bene Gesserit come out of the myopic distortions of the first five and into a clearer, cleaner focus).
As with the other books, this one is full of remarkable insights into government, politics, economic necessity and - in short - human behavior; and as with the first five books, right up until the very end the conclusion is shrouded in mystery: what is the plan of Mother Superior Odrade? Who are the Honored Matres and from whence did they come? How is humanity to survive in the face of a newer, scarier enemy from beyond the empire?
Herbert's style is brisk and driven by both character and psychology - most often while a character is on the page, we know what that character is thinking, and so the story (while on the surface moving slowly) actually quite rapidly advances us through the thoughts of the main players while leaving the endgame an insolvable conundrum. Not the satisfying ending I'd have hoped for, Chapterhouse: Dune nevertheless rings true to life - perhaps the only answer to mystery is more mystery.(less)
It speaks volumes of this book that up until the last six pages I had absolutely no idea what the endgame was; yet throughout, I was riveted to the pa...moreIt speaks volumes of this book that up until the last six pages I had absolutely no idea what the endgame was; yet throughout, I was riveted to the page. Herbert's ability to introduce you to a pre-existing world with all of its complexities and idiosyncrasies without telling you a damned thing is at its best in Heretics of Dune, which delineates the decline of the God Emperor's vast domain over which he reigned as a Tyrant for 3500 years.
Organizations at varying degrees of the grotesque, clandestine and corrupt compete for supremacy against each other as well as those returning from "the Scattering," a vast exodus of mankind after the Tyrant's fall. A young girl named Sheeana, who can control the Sandworms, comes to notice, and then power on Rakis. Duncan Idaho is reincarnated yet again. And still, the march of the Atreides family through history continues on, and the mankind continues to advance along along Leto II's "Golden Path," the enigmatic course of action by which he has safeguarded mankind from ultimate catastrophe and, thus, extinction. An excellent and worthy episode in the series.(less)