Dec 08, 07
So let's start in a predictable way. Dune is awesome. Just really really cool. So much so that I don't bother to post a review saying that, because why bother repeating what everyone else is saying (a few inevitable naysayers excluded, of course). Now maybe it's helpful to consider why Dune was awesome. It wasn't exactly character development. I mean Dune had great characters, but they were kind of titanic, epic-sort of characters, driven by a Big Drives to do Big Things to Bad People and so forth. It wasn't exactly action, though there was a lot of that. It was as much as anything else the very intricate world and the very detailed plot that was laid out so extraordinarily.
So why bother with that intro? Well because all the rest of the books in the series will inevitably be set against that backdrop. And while I enjoyed Dune Messiah, it was not on the level of Dune. It had the same kinds of Big Characters doing their Big Things. In this case the emperor of 12 years finally trying to escape the bloodiest futures he has foreseen, and his prophetic and weird sister, and his former master at arms back from the dead. It had Big Enemies. Pretty cool ones. It was still set in that fascinating universe, but the universe was not as gripping this time, perhaps because you already knew it from the first book.
So what detracted, perhaps, is some of the other things it had and a lot it didn't have. It had almost no action. I mean like 2 scenes, both towards the end. It had a LOT of buildup towards that end, but the buildup was slow and at times plodding. It had no character development (which is not necessarily a failing, but perhaps would have made the ploddingness a bit less taxing). And it had a LOT of speculations about foretelling the future, fighting against inevitability, and so on. This isn't bad, it was just a LOT, and it got boring after a while.
So it was the kind of book that as I was reading it I wasn't liking it, but when I finished it I though "wow, that is kind of a cool story." If I had been able to think it was a cool story as I was reading it, well, it would have been even better.