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Legends of Dune #1

The Butlerian Jihad

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Legends of Dune:The Butlerian Jihad It began in the Time of Tyrants, when ambitious men and women used high-powered computers to seize control of the heart of the Old Empire including Earth itself. The tyrants translated their brains into mobile mechanical bodies and created a new race, the immortal man-machine hybrids called cymeks. Then the cymeks' world-controlling planetary computers, each known as Omnius, seized control from their overlords and a thousand years of brutal rule by the thinking machines began.

The human race still clings to life. Some, like idealistic Serena Butler of the free planet Salusa Secundus and her betrothed, the soldier Xavier Harkonnen, even dream of overthrowing the machines and freeing their human slaves. Others, like Vorian Atreides, bastard son of the cymek Agamemnon, are proud to serve the machines. But their world faces disaster. Impatient with human beings' endless disobedience and the cymeks' continual plotting to regain their power, Omnius has decided that it no longer needs them. Only victory can save the human race from extermination.

Decades after Herbert’s original novels, the Dune saga was continued by Frank Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert, in collaboration with Kevin J. Anderson. Working from Frank Herbert’s own notes, the acclaimed authors reveal the chapter of the Dune saga most eagerly anticipated by readers: the Dune prequel...Legends of Dune: The Butlerian Jihad.

Throughout the Dune novels, Frank Herbert frequently referred to the war in which humans wrested their freedom from “thinking machines.” In Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson bring to life the story of that war, a tale previously seen only in tantalizing hints and clues.

Finally, we see how Serena Butler’s passionate grief ignites the struggle that will liberate humans from their machine masters; here is the amazing tale of the Zensunni Wanderers, who escape bondage to flee to the desert world where they will declare themselves the Free Men of Dune. And here is the backward, nearly forgotten planet of Arrakis, where traders have discovered the remarkable properties of the spice melange....

695 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published October 3, 2002

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About the author

Brian Herbert

162 books1,677 followers
Brian Patrick Herbert is an American author who lives in Washington state. He is the elder son of science fiction author Frank Patrick Herbert.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 742 reviews
9 reviews
December 14, 2007
The seven dollars I spent for this book would have been better used buying a cup of battery acid to pour into my eyes.

More detailed ranting here.
Profile Image for Markus.
470 reviews1,519 followers
June 2, 2015
Buddy read with Athena!

Princess Irulan writes:
Any true student must realize that History has no beginning. Regardless of where a story starts, there are always earlier heroes and earlier tragedies.
Before one can understand Muad'Dib or the current jihad that followed the overthrow of my father, Emperor Shaddam IV, one must understand what we fight against. Therefore, look more than ten thousand years into our past, ten millennia before the birth of Paul Atreides.
It is there that we see the founding of the Imperium, how an emperor rose from the ashes of the Battle of Corrin to unify the bruised remnants of humanity. We will delve into the most ancient records, into the very myths of Dune, into the time of the Great Revolt, more commonly known as the Butlerian Jihad.
The terrible war against thinking machines was the genesis of our political-commercial universe. Hear now, as I tell the story of free humans rebelling against the domination of robots, computers, and cymeks. Observe the basis of the great betrayal that made mortal enemies of House Atreides and House Harkonnen, a violent feud that continues to this day. Learn the roots of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, the Spacing Guild and their Navigators, the Swordmasters of Ginaz, the Suk Medical School, the Mentats. Witness the lives of oppressed Zensunni Wanderers who fled to the desert world of Arrakis, where they became our greatest soldiers, the Fremen.
Such events led to the birth and life of Muad'Dib.

If that passage doesn't make you extremely excited, then you've either not read all the Dune books that came before this, or you didn't enjoy them. Either way, this book isn't for you!

This is the stuff of legend. Virtually every single fantasy and sci-fi series has its great war in the distant past. The War of Wrath, the Battle for the Dawn, the Great Hyperspace War, The War of Power... Shaping events that made fictional universes what they are. And they all fade away before the mythic crusade that was the Butlerian Jihad. I cannot remember having read of an event so hallowed and revered and shrouded in mysteries and legends as this.

This book has plenty of flaws, is more of a dystopia than an epic sci-fi, and is far from the quality of the best Dune books. But if you’ve enjoyed Dune and its sequels, then you will definitely want to read this.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,852 reviews16.4k followers
March 24, 2022
This is to Dune what the Silmarillion was to LOTR.

Taking place a hundred centuries before the events of Herbert’s 1965 masterpiece, 10,000 years of Corrino rule started somewhere and sometime and that’s what Brian and Kevin are describing for us in this 2002 deep prequel.

Generations of Dune fans have heard of the Butlerian Jihad that prohibited thinking machines in the galaxy and we get to know the origins of the bad times that necessitated the war against the machines. We are also introduced to a population of new characters in the Dune Universe – Serena Butler, Xavier Harkonnen, Vors Atreides – and also an introduction to some of the origins of the groups we grew to love or hate down the road.

Most notable, we find out about the introduction of the spice mélange into the rest to the universe, first discovered on an out the way planet called – checks notes – Arrakis … Arrakis? Am I saying that right?

Also, to the writers’ credit, they add in lots of complications to the story that make it all the more compelling. The machines have factions, most notably the Cymeks, ancient human brains plugged into machines that are sadistic and cruel. Also, the humans themselves are in need of some reforms as many planets allow slavery and the question is asked, in a memorable scene, “what’s the difference if I’m ruled by the machines or human slave owners?” Also, SHOW STEALER!, Erasmus – who reminded me of Klytus from the 1980 Mike Hodges film Flash Gordon.

As literature this is one of the most inconsistent I’ve read in the writings of Herbert / Herbert-Anderson. The first part had the tone of a legendary retelling but then it transitioned into shifting perspective narrative – which was all good, except for parts of the story just didn’t fit well together.

I know, I know – “So you can believe in all this science fiction and fantasy but you get hung up on a few details?” Well, yeah. It was lots of great backstory, but the devil is in the details as they say, in the parlance of our times, and so if there are elements of an otherwise good story that just don’t add up, it detracts from the overall quality.

That said, I’m a HUGE Dune fan, I like the writing and this was fun. Honestly, there were sections that were very, very good, some of the best writing I’ve seen since – well, since Frank was sitting in front of the dot matrix word processor. Blending elements of horror with the cool Sci-Fi, Brian and Kevin put together a damn fine entry into the Dune story and – to my mind at least – a demonstration of the narrative fecundity of this world building; there seems to be a deep well from which stories can be drawn.

Probably just for Dune fans, but for us, it’s a must read.

Profile Image for Matthew Williams.
Author 22 books125 followers
October 28, 2020
Addendum: It's been a few years since I posted this review and the franchise continues to grow in the hands of Brian Herbert and KJA. I thought I might update my review accordingly. I also thought it would be good to let people see exactly what they're NOT missing by refusing to read this.

As a major fan of the elder Herbert, I was quite intrigued to see his son (Brian Herbert) and Kevin J Anderson (KJA) pick up the franchise. I was also curious to see how the elder Herbert's hints about a holy war against thinking machines would be portrayed. I also hoped that it would provide some insight into Dune's conclusion, which was still in the works at the time.

Unfortunately, what we all got was this book, a clumsy interpretation of Frank Herbert's deep background to Dune that read like pulp sci-fi fan fiction. Aside from thinking I'd wasted good money on it, I began to seriously worry about the direction these two were taking with the Dune franchise. Between the plot, the characters, the themes, and the resolution, there was nothing admirable about this novel. To break it down succinctly...

The story begins with an epilogue that tells us that millennia before the main story of the Dune universe began, a group of humans in the Old Imperium were turned off by humanity's laziness, decadence, and dependence on machines. So they reprogramed the "thinking machines" to obey them and take over the human race. But of course, the machines turned on them!

Well, actually, when they say "thinking machines," they actually mean some massive AI named "Omnius" who has many copies across different worlds. All the rest of the machines, save one, are automatons that blindly kill and follow orders. The one exception to this is "Erasmus," a former automaton who got stuck in a crevasse (or something, I don't care) and developed sentience. Yeah, more on that later...

Anyhoo, Omnius took over everything but kept the "Titans" (as they called themselves) alive because of their shared hatred for humans. The Titans, each of which is named after some ancient god, then cheated death by having their brains placed inside big robotic bodies called "Cymecks" (an amalgamation of cyborg and mech). In these monster bodies, they pillaged the known universe, killing any and all humans who resisted.

But a "League of Nobles" effectively rebelled, creating an alliance of free worlds (though they keep slaves to compensate for their lack of machines) that continue to wage war against the "Synchronized Worlds" - i.e. Omnius and Cymecks' domain. The stage is set and this is where the first book in the series opens...

Thread One: The story begins with Selusa Secundus, capital of the League of Nobles, being attacked by a fleet led by Tlaloc (leader of the Titans). They are repulsed by Xavier Harkonnen, a heroic commander with the Nobles' fleet and great ancestor of the Barron Harkonnen, who assumes control and saves the day!

Meanwhile, prominent politician Serena Butler advises bold action to bring the "Unallied Planets" into the League. She opts to begin with Geidi Prime, which was conquered around the same time Selusa Secundus was attacked and is sure they can liberate it. But of course, the League opposes this because they are complacent bureaucrats who don't like to do things.

Despite being pregnant with Xavier's baby, she defies them and mounts the mission, but is captured. She's then sent to Earth where she's given to Erasmus and eventually has her baby (named Manion). Erasmus arranged this since he likes studying humans, which usually consists of cutting them to pieces and trying to understand emotions and creativity (spoiler: he can't, he's a robot!)

While on Earth, Serena meets Tlaloc's loyal son and heir, Vorian Atreides. She convinces him that his father's evil by telling him to learn his history - not his father's memoirs, the machines' own records. He obliges her, and decides to turn against his father (just like that).

Serena has her baby, Erasmus gets jealous that Manion is taking up all of Serena's time. He kills the child and forces her to have a hysterectomy. The humans on Earth begin to revolt in response, and Xavier decides the time is ripe for an attack.

The League once again reluctant, especially when Xavier recommends they use their nukes. Apparently, they've avoided this until now because they didn't want to be "as bad as Omnius," to which Xavier says they should aspire to be "worse than Omnius." They also decide that this MUST be a holy war, so they call it a jihad.

They nuke Earth, Serena, Iblis Ginjo, and Vorian are picked up, and they all fly back to Selusa Secundus to celebrate. Serena tells Xavier and Vorian (both of whom love her) she's going celibate so she can become a figurehead for the holy war and they support that decision. The Butlerian Jihad is on!

Thread Two: Erasmus makes a bet with Omnius that humans will revolt is given half a chance. Erasmus feeds the myth that there's a resistance on Earth by sending around fake messages to human trustees, which encourages a trustee named Iblis Ginjo to start plotting a revolt. To be sure, he visits the Cogitors, humans who have also removed their brains and keep them in a solution to become immortal.

The Cogitor he meets tells him "anything's possible," to all his questions. But somehow, Ginjo feels that there is special significance when he asks directly about the possible existence of resistance on Earth. Ginjo begins stockpiling weapons without the machines noticing (somehow) and then launches the revolt when the people rise up in anger over the death of Manion.

Thread Three: On Arrakis, a young boy named Selim is exiled to the desert after being wrongfully-accused. He begins eating spice and experiencing visions that foretell of outsiders coming to his world to take the spice. He also forms a bond with the worm, Shai-Hulud, and learns to ride it - earning the name "Selim Wormrider."

Aurelius Venport, who lives on Rossak and is stepfather to Norma Cenva (who he'll eventually marry) runs a pharmaceutical company that makes drugs from all of Rossak's wild flora. He meets an enterprising Tlulaxa who introduces him to the spice, which he begins to market.

Thread Four: Norma Cenva is introduced, a young woman stunted of body, but brilliant of mind. Her mother is Zufa Cenva, leader of the matriarchal "Sorceress of Rossak" (the ancestors of the Bene Gesserit). They have psychic powers, can shoot lightning from their fingertips, hover in place, summon electromagnetic storms, and have a breeding program designed to create more powerful telepaths.

Cenva, who's mother resents her for being physically imperfect, goes off to study under Tio Holtzmann (who's less brilliant than her and a total asshole) on Poritrin. Together, they invent glow globes, suspensor fields, Holtzmann shields, and just about very other invention that has become commonplace in the Dune series. She also begins work on jump drives, which will eventually lead to foldships.

Cliches and Contrivances:
If you're starting to get the feeling that this story is not at all like the original Dune novels, or is bad fan fiction, then you're on the right track! From start to finish, this whole book feels like an abortive exercise in trying to get the entire Duniverse and its main characters to their starting positions.

Overall, they interpret the entire Butlerian Jihad as a war between free humans and evil thinking machines. The good guys are saccharine and pure, the bad guys are evil for evil's sake, and the plot is packed full of deus ex machina twists and obvious turns. For starters, the reason for the war itself was ridiculous. After generations of stalemate and billions killed, all of humanity decides to go to war because of one murdered child?

Second, the entire key to the war is unleashing nukes? These are the trump card humanity finally deployed to take on a race of networked artificial intelligence that every advantage over them? The only reason they didn't think to do that so far was that they were trying to preserve some moral high ground?

Third, the rebellion that inspired the Jihad, this all began as a bet between Erasmus and Omnius? And the thing that clinched it for Ginjo, it was a brain in a jar telling him "anything's possible" (which is how they answer everything, apparently) in some special, meaningful way? And he managed to stockpile guns, missiles, and explosives without anyone noticing a thing?

Fourth, Vorian Atreides, the son and golden boy of Tlaloc. Are we to believe that all it takes for him to turn against his own father and everything he's ever known is to read an account about his father that's accurate for a change? Even more ridiculous is the fact that he finds it so easy to believe because "hey, machines don't lie."

Fifth, the Bene Gesserit, a matriarchal order that specializes in unlocking ancestral memory, reading people perfectly, commanding them with the Voice, manipulating their biochemistry, glimpsing the future, and fighting all fancy-like, they evolved from a bunch of telekinetic, telepathic women who shot lightning from their fingers and could summon EM bursts? These are supposed to be priestesses, not freaking Jedi!

Sixth, the whole thing suffers from a terrible sense of duty. It was like watching the Star Wars prequels, where every character and aspect of the original films has to be previewed and packed into three movies. And like those same prequels, the way it's done feels so very forced and unnatural.

As a sidenote, what the hell is with all the disembodied brains? Do bad sci-fi writers think that becoming a brain in a tank hooked up to hoses makes you immortal, because it totally doesn't! All it does is make for a much smaller corpse when your brain inevitably dies.

Did I mention yet how awful the characters are? Because that is one of the worst things about this book and the series in general. To a person, all are one-dimensional cliches, the kind of cardboard cut-out heroes and villains you'd expect to see in children's cartoons. The bad guys are too bad, the good guys too good, and there's no sense of motivation to any of them.

Xavier Harkonnen is a wooden hero, the guy who does everything and sacrifices all for the sake of protecting others and doing what's right. Serena, she's the same, a cross between Joan of Arc and the Virgin Mary, whose character arc is destined to end in martyrdom! And of course, they both have to fight uphill against people who refuse to believe them or back them. How else would they distinguish themselves as selfless heroes, if not by going it alone?

Then you got Vorian, a hapless follower one moment, then a poor man's Han Solo the next, being all brash, dashing, and derring-do. Iblis Ginjo, lastly, is a perfect cliche of the "neutral good" character. He's fast-talking, slick, and starts out working for the bad guys, but joins the good guys. He's the Lando of the group, but with way less character or depth.

As for the bad guys, their motivation is even weaker. Why, for example, do the "Titans" hate humanity so much? Why did they reprogram the Imperium's machines to take over the universe and murder billions? Are they Evil the Cat or something? Because, if as alleged, they were so disgusted by reliance on machinery, why the hell did they go the "Cymeck" route?

Erasmus and Omnius are no better. Their names (like all names in the book) are uninspired, they are both doddering and stupid, and the only reason they seem to do anything is that these "emotionless" robots hate humanity so much. It's like The Machines and Skynet had a terrible child with way less personality or intellect.

Totally Missed the Point:
Worse than all that, this story and the series itself feels like they completely misread what Frank Herbert had intended. Was this an amateur mistake, or were they going for the cheap and easy?

Putting aside for a second the fact that we don't get "thinking machines" in the Legends of Dune series - we get an overmind AI that commands an army of automatons with one that's able to think for itself - there's also the way it totally misses the subtlety and nuance Frank Herbert was known for.

Here's how the elder Herbert described the jihad in the Terminology of the Imperium:

"the crusade against computers, thinking machines, and conscious robots begun in 201 B.G. and concluded in 108 B.G. Its chief commandment remains in the O.C. Bible as 'Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.'"

In God Emperor of Dune, Leto II explained the Jihad further:

"'The target of the Jihad was a machine-attitude as much as the machines,' Leto said. 'Humans had set those machines to usurp our sense of beauty, our necessary selfdom out of which we make living judgments. Naturally, the machines were destroyed.'"

Somehow, Brian and KJA interpreted this "crusade" and "enslaved" in the most literal sense possible. And as they note in the preamble to this series, writing it was a challenge compared to the Houses of Dune series since Frank left no descriptions or notes about The Butlerian Jihad beyond a few snippets and mentions (like those above).

There are those who speculated that the name of the revolt was inspired by British author James Butler and his 1863 essay "Darwin among the Machines" and his satirical novel Erewhon. In both, Butler predicted the evolution of conscious machines and advocated the destruction of all advanced machines before it could happen.

Whether this is true or not, Frank made no indication whatsoever that this important event in his fictional universe had anything to do with evil robots or a titanic struggle between good and evil. If anything, he seemed to suggest that the Jihad was a sort of Luddite rebellion that happened on a galactic scale, which had ambiguous motivations and ambiguous consequences.

The way these two went about it, I wish I could say it was like two adoring fans picking up their idol's franchise and trying to carry it on. But in reality, it seems that commercialism and exploitation played a pivotal role in the whole enterprise. Also, the reason I've made repeated allusions to popular sci-fi franchises is that I'm convinced that's where Brian and KJA got most of their ideas from.

This makes sense since KJA is known for his fan-fiction and spin-off novels for popular sci-fi franchises. That's all fine and good when dealing with Star Wars, X-Files, or Starcraft, but this is Dune! Frank Herbert LITERALLY wrote the book that taught readers to take science fiction seriously!

To see his beloved franchise end up here, in the aisle next to fan fiction novels, was a major disappointment! Save your money, avoid these books at all costs! And that goes double for those horrible sequels (which I also reviewed).
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
1 review
October 5, 2011
Just Remember: It's NOT Dune

This book is such a guilty pleasure.
Naturally it lacks the depth, sophistication, poetry, philosophy, genius, etc., etc., of DUNE. But still it manages to provide something else quite unexpected:
Good old fashioned Space Opera FUN!

Just overlook the (mostly) 2-dimensional characters and you'll find yourself immersed in a huge, sprawling, edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure like the classic serial adventures of old.

Those old serials were well before my time, but this (3 book series) evokes that era to great effect and is just a plain fun ride -- particularly after the Robot/AI Character 'Erasmus' is introduced.

He is easily the most entertaining, fascinating and fully developed character in the entire series, and he is a major reason why the book is such a thrill; along with the Authors' breakneck paced plotting.

If you enjoy Space-Opera, and don't approach the novel expecting DUNE, you may also find a lot to enjoy in this series.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.5k followers
Shelved as 'not-to-read'
August 11, 2015
Thou shalt not make a book in the likeness of a Dune.

Didn't any enterprising Iranian cleric even consider a fatwa? And, by the way, "to-read" actually means "not to read, unless threatened with waterboarding, stress positions, dogs and sleep deprivation". Even then, I'd try to hold out a bit.

Profile Image for Gerard.
9 reviews6 followers
November 12, 2008
An abomination that should never have been written - which is true of all that Herbert Jnr and Anderson have contributed to the Dune series. Putting aside the pedestrian writing, the authors have failed entirely to capture the complexity of Frank Herbert's universe, characters and ideas. They seem incapable of subtlety. Nothing is implied. Everything is stated. They do tell a story but with none of the sophistication of the original.
Life is far too short to be wasted reading this money-spinning insult to the memory of Frank Herbert.
Profile Image for Kevin Xu.
272 reviews96 followers
February 21, 2016
The only reason this book is so good is because this is the ORIGIN of the whole DUNE universe! Without this story, there would be no DUNE! This is the only prequel novel that needed to be written at all!
Profile Image for Jon.
56 reviews13 followers
January 14, 2018
This book was Action Packed! A real page turner, full of cliff hangers. Amazing characters to root for or hiss at. I loved it!
17 reviews
February 12, 2008
Seems to have major continuity issues with the original novels. Much more shallow and less intellectually rewarding than the books written by Frank Herbert.
Profile Image for Lena.
1,139 reviews237 followers
September 13, 2020

"Humans, with such fragile physical forms, are easily crushed."

Dune is my favorite work of science fiction in large part because of its staggering sense of history. I still have yet to read any story that goes so far into the future. The Butlarian Jihad is the first story of the history of Dune and gives us glimpses into the far past, but still not far enough to touch our time. Let me break it down:

There once was an Old Empire, it was peaceful and good and spanned many planets. People had enough resources and technology to live comfortably.
But not everyone was satisfied.

Some teenagers with high IQs, aspirations, and no empathy found each other online. They would take over the old empire with a violence that was unknown and shocking. Ruling under the names of old gods they were known as the Titans.

Unwilling to loose their power, even to death, the Titans transferred their minds into cymeks. The Age of the Titans lasted a long time.

But eventually they too grew complacent and had their worlds taken over by the artificial intelligence known as Omnius.

Some worlds had successfully fought for their freedom and retained it since the age of the Titans. But some humans chose to run instead of fighting and settled on remote worlds under rustic circumstances, like on Arrakis. Sometimes these people are hunted down and sold as slaves on free worlds. But whether or not a world allows slavery no one likes, or respects, the cowards that ran or their descendants.

Got it all? Good because this is where the story starts. I've read many negative reviews criticizing this book for not having Dune’s depth. This is where the story starts people! This is the shallow water, the fountainhead of great ideas, of galactic revolution.

My favorite characters were Zufa Cenva the Sorceress of Rossak, her daughter Norma, and her lover Aurelius Venport. I could have read a book this size on just them.

Now for what I didn't like, which is petty and spoilery so feel free to skip.

I'm going to go with a weak four stars here. Yesterday I was pissed enough to give it two stars so I might be overcompensating...
Profile Image for Ivana Books Are Magic.
523 reviews184 followers
April 20, 2019
When it comes to Butlerian Jihad, my reading experience was pretty o.k. Sure, it failed to impress me, but to be honest, I wasn't expecting it to be anything like the Dune series written by Frank Herbert. If I did, I would have probably been gravely disappointed. I didn't hated the book while I was reading it, it held my interest most of it the time. Some parts of this book I enjoyed more than others, but generally speaking, I didn't enjoy it fully. I managed to finish it without thinking too much, and that is not really what I aim for in a novel. So, I guess it wasn't such a great read. The writing is unsophisticated and slightly predictive, but it is certainly readable. That is how I remember it. To be completely honest, it's been a while since I read it.

The Buterian Jihad has some good points. For instance, some readers might like a strong female character like Serena. The Sorceress of Rossak are an interesting lot too. Seeing them develop their paranormal powers and use them against the machines was interesting. Some familiar last names appear, such as Harkonnens and Atreids, but this time a Harkonnen is a positive (but alas boring) character. Speaking of pros of this novel, I found the Titans (machines with human brains) somewhat interesting. However, generally speaking, the characters didn't really get under my skin. I found that the machines were a bit predictable, and I didn't find their actions logical at all. Somehow I imagine thinking machines as more logical. Erasmus was such a cardboard villain, this robot was very disappointing character for me and he ruined my reading experience many times.

What kind of novel is Butlerian Jihad? It is a soap opera that aims to be a page turner, whereas Frank Herbert's book were philosophical SF masterpieces. That being said, I didn't hate the Butlerian Jihad. It is an eventful novel, and if you look at it for what it is- a somewhat trashy read, you could say that what it lacks in finesse, it makes for in being very dynamic. If you're expecting to be entertained a little bit, you might not be disappointed. If you're hoping to be find the kind of quality present in Frank Herbert's work, don't bother. Legends of Dune series has nothing on the real Dune.
1 review1 follower
October 27, 2008
If I could give a negative star I would. It read like bad fanfiction.
Profile Image for retroj.
87 reviews14 followers
April 8, 2012
I can't remember ever having read a worse book.

I was optimistic about this Brian Herbert / Kevin Anderson Dune prequel, and though I knew full well going in how controversial their Dune books have been, it proved difficult to sort through the controversy to see whether I should read the Legends trilogy or pass it by. Weighing in favor of reading it was mild curiosity about Hunters & Sandworms, which I understand to have some dependency on having read Legends. I consider myself a fairly forgiving reader, and am willing to put a certain amount of effort into appreciating a book for its better qualities, so I don't automatically trust the bad reviews. For example, Paul of Dune and Winds of Dune have both had their share of criticism, but I enjoyed both of those books (with caveats on the former), and House Atreides was campy, but I felt that it added meaningfully to the series. With those things in mind, I picked up Butlerian Jihad to give fair witness and find out for myself. What a disappointment.

The only part I enjoyed was the story of Selim, which actually had nothing to do with the Butlerian Jihad, and would have been better presented as a separate novella. It was the only part that felt like it fit naturally into the Dune universe as I have come to understand it. I am considering cutting the Selim chapters out of my copy, and throwing the rest of the book away.

The rest of this book is an odious heap of stupidity and contradiction, a thorough demonstration by the authors of their own lack of creativity, research, rational thinking, and understanding of Frank Herbert's Dune universe. The protagonists were cardboard (par for these writers); the villains were cookie-cutter evildoers whose only defining characteristic as artificial intelligence machines was being labeled so by the authors; battle tactics were brain-dead stupid on all sides; technology was inconsistent, often uncharacteristic of Dune, and universally poorly thought-through; I believe the book itself says it best in the epigraph on page 622: "The Butlerian Jihad arose from just such stupidity." Yes. Yes, it did.

Chief among the problems with this book was the authors' use of faster than light travel as a crutch when they couldn't use space folding, thus allowing them to reuse their campy space-opera formulas while at the same time missing the point completely that Dune is futurist, not fantasy, undercutting the importance of space folding to the depicted social order of the chronologically later books, and undermining the idea of a Guild monopoly on space travel in Dune. The differences between the civilization depicted in Dune, and the civilization depicted in The Butlerian Jihad are shown to be superficial, as if the span were 200 years instead of 6000. Instead of telling what could have been a fascinating tale of how civilization changed leading to the strange feudalistic social order of Dune, the question has merely been pushed back by another couple thousand years. That further implications of FTL are never once treated or considered in this book proves it for the plot hack it is.

Machine intelligence is also never considered seriously or rationally in this book, which is odd for a book ostensibly about the perils of machine intelligence. The book does spend a great many words babbling on about the superiority of compassionate humans over cold machines, and expounding on the virtues of the human capacity for irrationality, but these topics have been covered in much greater depth by Star Trek (Spock and Data), which isn't saying much.

Finally, and without wishing to detract focus from the broad, general problems outlined above, here is my complete list of FAIL:

Profile Image for JBradford.
230 reviews3 followers
February 20, 2012
When I was young and foolish, I was as taken with Frank Herbert’s Dune at the rest of the world, but I found myself significantly less enchanted with his sequels. I subsequently became aware that his son and another writer were continuing the series, but I stuck my nose in one of the books at a book store and decided I was not interested. Last summer, however, I purchased one of them at a library book sale, only to discover that the very thick book I had purchased was in fact the sequel to a book that was a prequel to another set of prequels to Dune, so I set it aside until such time as I might find the first of the two. This is that first book, and I find it troubling. What can I say? Brian Herbert collaborated with his father on at least one novel, and he has published several prize-winning science-fiction novels in his own right, and Kevin Anderson has published some thirty-odd science-fiction novels; there can be no doubt that they are professionals, well learned in the craft. But this book reads largely as though it were written by a high school kid with a big vocabulary--big because it is filled with made-up words. The characters are more two-dimensional than Dickens’s much denigrated characters were, and their dialog (what little there is of it) is so stilted that it seems almost Elizabethan. There is plot aplenty--a sweeping plot that covers the cultures of a 41 different planets, 68 different characters (all with difficult names, and several of whom have two different names at various times), and a variety of spaceships and weapons and places and creeds that are named but never really described or defined. This is 612 pages of pure drudgery, much of it seeming to be foolish. And yet …

And yet I have sat herein my kitchen chair late into the night for too many nights, unable to stop turning the pages, to go on for one more chapter and then another and then another, even when I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open. How are we to measure the value of a book other than to say it had to be finished? There was never any question of putting it down uncompleted. As silly as the young lovers were, I had to find out what happened to them. As inane as the various subplots were (and there are many), I had to see how they worked out. And did I? No! This 612-page book is merely the first half of the story, and now I must go find and read the book I purchased last summer … hoping all the way that I will find the story to end there, and not be continued in some other successive installments I have not yet been made aware of.

The time is some ten thousand years before the advent of the Dune episode … and a thousand years after 20 teenagers took over Earth’s empire, which had grown complacent and dumb, which at that time consisted of some 14-odd planets. Those 20 hooligans employed unexplained life-extending techniques and then followed that up by transferring their brains into robotic bodies, in which they continue to enslaved and terrorize the rest of humanity. Along the way, however, one of them got careless and let the robots with artificial intelligence take on too much power, until one of the latter developed so much self-awareness that it took over the empire itself, which thus became known as the Synchronized Worlds, with the “evermind” now ruling the 20 conquerors. Aside from these there are some 18 planets which have managed not to become synchronized (that is, maintaining an unexplained independence from the “evermind” that is the central AI intelligence), called the League of Worlds, along with nine other planets that belong to neither side and are called the Unallied Planets. On one of the League worlds there is an incredibly accomplished and beautiful young woman named Serena Butler, the daughter of her planet’s Viceroy to the League, who falls in love with an equally incredibly accomplished and handsome young soldier. He wants to fight the evil robotic empire; she wants to incorporate the Unallied Planets into the League (even though most of them seem to be backwater societies that would not be of much use). Then the evil robotic empire strikes, and the story begins.

There are numerous subplots that never get resolved; I have to presume that they will be continued in the sequel, which I seem to remember to be as thick as this one. I can hardly wait …but first I think I’ll go cleanse myself by reading a couple biographies of real people.
Profile Image for Matt.
434 reviews
February 20, 2022
After re-reading the original Dune, it was recommended to me to start in chronological order of the events in the series rather than continue on with Frank Herbert’s original series as published. So I stumbled backward in Dune-time to the Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s reimagining of the start of the Butlerian Jihad.

Yeah, don’t do that.

If it was a stand-alone, sic-fi, old-fashioned space opera kind of book, it would be satisfactory. It has the robots and the fights and the spaceships and love interests. It’s solid stuff to make a made-for-TV movie to watch on Sunday afternoons. But it’s not just that book. It’s overshadowed by the imagination of the original. Dune had it’s standard sci-fi worldbuilding elements to it, but it was also infused with subtleties regarding power and compromises. I may be looking at this prequel through mélange-colored eyes, but I will revisit the son’s complimenting futuristic prehistory after I am done with Frank Herbert’s original writings.
Profile Image for Exparrot.
4 reviews
October 12, 2007
To be fair Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson do an okay job in continuing with Frank Herbert's Dune legacy. When I mean okay, I mean sure the book doesn't have the same philosophical flow and continuity, it also lacks finesse and would appeal to the younger generation X crowd who's more action and less thought BUT again, if you've been aching to know history behind Dune, then read this book. It gives the origins of the Bene Gesserit, the reason behind the kanly between House Atreides and Harkonnen, and foremost it gives the explanation behind the whole man versus the machine backdrop prevalent in the original Dune series. A lot more of Dune can be understood when reading this book.
Profile Image for vonblubba.
223 reviews3 followers
July 29, 2018
I'm only halfway through this book but I already feel the urge to write a review. Because it's that bad.
Premise: I'm a huge Frank Herbert fan. His "Dune" is one of the handful of books that shaped me as a reader, opening my (then) young mind to the infinite wonders literature had to offer.
But, having already read the first prequel trilogy from Herbert Jr. and Anderson, I knew I needed to keep my expectations low. So I did. And still, I was disappointed.
What irritates me the most is the complete shallowness and lack of effort of the whole. Whoever read anything about Herbert (and I mean Frank) knows that he was perfectly capable of hitting you with entire paragraphs of philosophical musings that left your brain gasping for air (in a good way, usually).
What do we have in this novel instead? A story without a hint of an original idea. Mono-dimensional characters you can barely remember the names of. Empty dialogues. Oh, the dialogues! I want the verbal duels from the original "Dune" back!
And don't get me started about writing style. Completely flat. They don't even try to rise above the flatness. Flatness as a lifestyle. Not a single sentence or paragraph stayed on my mind for more than 2 seconds after reading it.
I probably should not get this heated up about a novel, but seeing what is probably the best crafted universe in the history of sci-fi wasted this way is something that really pisses me off. I can only hope that Villenuve will do it justice in his upcoming movie(s). The man knows his trade when it comes to sci-fi.
Profile Image for Phillip Lozano.
31 reviews5 followers
January 4, 2013
Honestly, I couldn't get very far in this book. None of the Brian Herbert/Kevin Anderson collaborations are very good, but this one is staggeringly, mind-blowingly awful. It reads like super-shitty fan-fiction, except than fan fic usually takes a moment to remember what universe it is set in. It's unbelievable that even two writers could churn out over 600 pages of this utterly pointless garbage - and it's only the beginning of a three-volume story arc! Holy cow. Money actually changed hands for this atrocity.
Profile Image for Donster.
20 reviews2 followers
July 22, 2008
Fans of Frank Herbert and his excellent Dune novels should avoid the dreck produced by his offspring at all costs. You're better off buying sci-fi comic books.
Profile Image for John Shumway.
102 reviews2 followers
November 8, 2009
*Same review for the Dune Universe*
GREAT books! VERY time consuming! Worth the time!

Ok here is the deal. If your not sure about starting a series this big, here is what I would do.
1. -- Read the 1st one by Frank Herbert "Dune" if you like it...

2. -- Read the "Legends Of Dune" series. Its 3 books written by Frank's son Brian and a author I really like by the name of Keven J. Anderson. Its a prequel that is so far in the past that it doesn't spoil the Original Dune series in any way, and you could stop after that series and be done with Dune.. but if your not done....

3. -- Go and read the "House Trilogy" series its also 3 books and is a prequel to the original dune series but just prior so you will learn about some of the characters in the 1st book you read "Dune".

4. -- By now you have committed enough time in the series that you probably NEED to finish it. Go back and re-read Dune, (trust me you will want to) then go on and read the rest of the original Dune series (Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, Chapterhouse Dune) Your devotion to the series will help push you through some of the parts that I think are slightly. Its worth it though!

4. -- You will notice the series ends up in the AIR! Frank Herbert died before finishing the series. The authors of the prequel series (his son Bryan Herbert and Keven J. Anderson) finished the series from compiled notes from Frank, Brian's experience talking to his father about the series and both Brian and Kevin's love of the Dune universe. It is very well done. Its two books (Hunters of Dune, and Sandworms of Dune.)

OK so sum up here is the order I would do the series. (which ends up being chronological except for the 1st book, even though it wasn't published this way.
Dune (to make sure you like it.)
Legends of Dune (series of 3 books)
House Trilogy (series of 3 books)
Dune (again since your restarting the original series)
The rest of the Dune series
Hunters of Dune
Sandworms of Dune

Ok have fun.
2 reviews
October 27, 2008
I've noticed that most of these reviews are pretty evenly split. I think I know why. (Note that I gave it two stars. It's not bad enough to deserve one star, but if *this* had been the introduction to the Dune universe, that universe would have crashed and burned.)

The biggest problem is that, frankly, Brian Herbert doesn't know why Dune was so successful. Probably the most intriguing thing about the world-building in Dune was how it started in median res. The characters all acted and behaved as though they were used to the world they lived in, which of course they would be. The reader is introduced to the world slowly and naturally, with little hints in the chapter bumps. As commonplace things (to them, not us) become important, we get to see them finally developed. Slowly and naturally, we get immersed in the meaning of what we are seeing. It's the "Show, don't tell" attitude. Dune showed. Jihad tells. It tells way too much. And the difference is quite jarring.

In addition, the clever and interesting ideas and politics are just missing. The "This could really happen" feeling is completely gone. It's all sci-fi tropes taken out of bad B-movies and pulp fiction.

Thus I suspect that to people to whom the sci-fi ideas are new and fresh or who don't appreciate the subtlety of the original series, this book will be OK reading. To me, however, it is simply an attempt to cash in on the original.
Profile Image for Donovan.
192 reviews18 followers
February 6, 2012
The Legends of Dune series goes back to the time when thinking machines were a common part of life and tells the tale of woe that lead to the edict "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man's mind". The series consists of:-
The Butlerian Jihad
The Machine Crusade
The Battle of Corrin

Plot ***Spoilers***
The Butlerian Jihad
The Butlerian Jihad introduces a generation of characters whose families will later become the most significant in the universe: the Atreides, the Corrinos and the Harkonnens. Serena Butler, daughter of the viceroy of the League of Nobles, is a strong voice for the human rebellion. Her paramour Xavier Harkonnen leads the military force on the current League capital world of Salusa Secundus. As the story begins, Xavier is repelling an attack on the planet by Omnius' army of cymeks. The cymeks are former humans whose brains have been implanted in preservation canisters, which in turn can be installed into a variety of fearsome mechanical bodies, to extend their lives indefinitely and make them nearly unstoppable. The original twenty cymeks (calling themselves the Titans) had conquered the complacent universe by exploiting humanity's reliance and dependency on machines, yet the Titans were later overthrown themselves by Omnius, an artificial intelligence of their design. Seeking to replace human chaos with machine order, Omnius thus ignited the war between machine and humanity. Vorian Atreides is, ironically, the son and subordinate of the leading cymek Titan Agamemnon (whose last name, Atreides, originates with House Atreus, from the ancient Greek epic the Iliad).

Meanwhile, the Sorceresses of Rossak, a matriarchal order, are perfecting their destructive psychic powers for use against the machines, and maintaining a breeding program to create more powerful telepaths. Pharmaceutical magnate Aurelius Venport is about to discover an interesting new substance, the spice melange, and the famous inventor Tio Holtzman accepts the dimunitive genius Norma Cenva into his employ.

Serena is captured by the Titan Barbarossa and put under the watch of Erasmus, an independent robot who seeks to understand humans completely so that the thinking machines may be truly superior. His methods of study often entail human vivisection and torture in his slave pens. Erasmus takes a liking to Serena, as does the young Vorian Atreides. Serena realizes she is pregnant with Xavier's child, and later gives birth to a baby boy whom she names Manion (after her father). Erasmus finds this distraction inconvenient, and not only removes Serena's uterus but kills her young son in front of her.

This single event incites the entire Jihad, and young Manion is soon labelled the first martyr, Manion the Innocent. Vorian, learning about the murder and realizing the lie he lives as a machine trustee, betrays his machine masters and flees with Serena. They are joined by another trustee, Iblis Ginjo, a slave leader who masterminds the rebellion on Synchronized Earth.

The first human victory of the so-called Butlerian Jihad is the destruction of Earth and the Earth Omnius using atomics. Iblis (now Grand Patriarch of the Holy Jihad) and Serena (Priestess of the Jihad) are the religious leaders of the human rebellion, and Xavier and Vorian its two generals. The brutal Titans are desperate to break free of their machine masters and wage their own techno-misanthropic war, and Omnius and Erasmus are determined to conquer and destroy all of mankind once and for all.

And on a lonely desert planet known as Arrakis, the seeds of legend are sown with Selim Wormrider, an outcast from his tribe, who sees the future of Shai-Hulud and makes it his mission to save his God from those who would wish to take the spice.

The Machine Crusade
Dune: The Machine Crusade moves forward into the center of the Butlerian Jihad, described in the first book of the trilogy, Dune: The Butlerian Jihad. Leading the movement is the ex-slave and ex-machine trustee Grand Patriarch Iblis Ginjo. However, Iblis appears more interested in politics and his own personal legacy than in the Jihad.

Vorian Atreides, despite the long life given to him by his father, the Titan Agamemnon, begins to show the vestiges of wanting to settle down after visiting the planet Caladan, and meeting Leronica Tergiet, who is to become his long-term concubine.

Xavier Harkonnen manages to free Ix from the thinking machines and must eventually make the ultimate sacrifice that will tarnish his name.

The robot Erasmus continues with his enlightening human experimentation, and makes a curious bet with the Omnius entity on Corrin, where he claims he can raise a human being to be orderly and civilized like a machine. This child is Gilbertus Albans, the first true Mentat.

Omnius himself suffers badly from a computer virus created by Vorian and spread unwittingly by his old companion Seurat.

On Ginaz, the aging Zon Noret is killed in a training accident by a mek called Chirox, a captured and reprogrammed fighting machine. Though Noret did not live to pass on his skills to the other Ginaz mercenaries, Chirox remained to train them into the greatest of all mercenaries, the Swordmasters, who will be the ultimate fighting force against the thinking machines.

On the planet of Poritrin, Norma Cenva leaves the world just in time to avoid a slave uprising during which a slave, unaware of the consequences, fires a lasgun into a Holtzman personal shield. The resulting explosion wipes out Tio Holtzman's labs; the slave revolt is eventually brutally crushed. Meanwhile Norma, due to her heritage as daughter of the main Sorceress of Rossak Zufa Cenva, finally taps into her latent powers under great pressure (precipitated by her capture and subsequent torture by the Titan Xerxes) to become the spearhead of humanity. She envisions a future in which massive ships transport goods and humans instantaneously across the universe, using the Holtzman effect to fold space. Norma's ships are the first of what will later be known as heighliners, and her family uses their monopoly on such travel to found the Spacing Guild.

As for the slaves on Poritrin, a small band of Zensunnis steal the first space-folding ship and flee to a lonely desert planet called Arrakis, where they will join the followers of Selim, and become the Free Men of Arrakis.

Finally, the remaining Titans take their chance becoming independent from their machine master Omnius on the planet of Bela Tegeuse.

The Battle of Corrin
The machine evermind Omnius is continuing with his plans to eradicate all humans in the universe. After first being suggested by the traitor Yorek Thurr, an RNA retrovirus is designed by the captured Tlulaxa Rekur Van and the independent robot Erasmus. Omnius then launches capsules containing the retrovirus to infect the planets inhabited by the hapless humans. With a 43% direct-mortality rate, the virus succeeds in effectively crippling the League of Nobles, leaving them vulnerable to attack.

It is discovered that consumption of the spice melange has the effect of both bolstering immunity to the retrovirus and stopping its progression in some of those already infected. Omnius, unaware that the virus has been effectively stopped, prepares for the second phase of its attack. Gathering the bulk of the machine armies stationed at the different synchronized planets, the evermind launches the massive fleet towards the League capital Salusa Secundus. After learning of the imminent destruction headed their way in the form of the machine fleet, Vorian Atreides formulates a plan whereby the humans can launch pulse-atomic attacks on all of the undefended Synchronized Worlds, ridding the universe of Omnius altogether. However, this plan called for the use of the still unreliable space-folding technology in order to carry out the attacks before the machines have a chance to recall the fleet en route to Salusa. The Great Purge is successful in destroying Omnius on all but one planet, albeit with an appalling cost in human lives because each planet was turned into slag, and while all the machines were obliterated, all the captured humans and slaves on these planets were also killed. Each time the human armies fold space to a new location there is a 10% attrition rate due to the undependable space-folders because of the uncertainty principle. In all, it amounted to billions of lives lost. The humans are also unable to destroy Omnius on the primary synchronized world, Corrin. While the other Evermind incarnations are being attacked, the cogitor Vidad travels to Corrin and warns Corrin-Omnius of the human counter-offensive. The machine fleet is recalled to defend their last remaining stronghold. Despite this, Serena Butler’s Jihad is declared over. The Great Purge ended with an impasse between humans and thinking machines on the planet Corrin. While unable to destroy the machines, the human army is able to trap them on Corrin by surrounding the planet with a net of scrambler satellites, so that any thinking machine attempting to leave would have its gelcircuitry mind destroyed. This situation continues for almost 20 years with the machines unable to escape, and most humans unwilling to enter another battle. Omnius, again at the suggestion of Thurr, sends machines with primitive minds that can evade the scrambler network to attack Salusa Secundus and Rossak. These attacks have a limited effect, but are enough to remind the humans that the machines are still a threat. Touting his victory over the Titans (see below), Vorian Atreides convinces the League to attack Corrin. Facing robots using human shields and unable to use their main tactical weapons due to treachery by Abulurd Harkkonen, the Army of Humanity is bogged down around Corrin. They are forced to use most of their atomics to destroy the robot defenders. There is a ground offensive by Ginaz mercenaries that finally destroys Omnius, but not before he sends out an unknown radio message into space. Following the Battle of Corrin, Viceroy Faykan Butler renames himself Faykan Corrino in commemoration.
Profile Image for M.L..
Author 10 books45 followers
June 25, 2011
Long, long from now in a galaxy too close for comfort, humanity (fondly called "feral humans" by the thinking machines) is struggling for existence. Besieged as they are, the humans themselves are of course not entirely blameless and many of them have not discovered the concept of "human rights" and "equality."
Bravery, treachery, deceit, galactic battles - it's all there - lots of fun. Seen through the long glass of our future prospects, based on where we are now, the concepts are believable.
It's a good read, has good pacing, with each chapter having a nice arc to it, and the characters are colorful/interesting/flawed, many having great obstacles to overcome. The perspective has a certain distance, being not as far as historical reading, but not as close as first-person or day-to-day following one person through various doings. I like the perspective very much and think the authors did a great job managing the parallel threads of the story. I plunged right into the next one, The Machine Crusade.
Profile Image for Dori.
18 reviews
December 27, 2007
I listened to this on audiobook and it was dreadful. I couldn't even finish it. I made it about 3/4 of the way through and had to stop torturing myself.
Profile Image for Chris Gager.
1,948 reviews76 followers
July 25, 2018
My brother-in-law gave me the pre-"Dune" trilogy to read. Started last night. OK so far as the action starts right off the bat after a bit of set-up.

Moving along as the pace of events is brisk. So far I have to say that this seems like pretty boilerplate space opera stuff, and a bit lacking in the creative originality that made "Dune" such a big hit. Still, I'm up for a reasonably well-told space opera so I'll stick with it. One does wonder about the logic of things which get kind of glossed over. One just has to go with the flow of it I guess.

- WHY!!! weren't Salusa's defenders better prepared? The flaw in their defenses seems pretty obvious, logically ... On the other hand I liked how the Titans overcame the defenses of Ghiedi Prime - unsubtle, but devastatingly effective.

- As mentioned before, the Jack Vance doesn't need to worry about competition from this series of books and its authors.

- The multiple stories thing actually helps as one is prevented from getting bored too easily. On the other hand, the romantic stuff is a waste of space.

Action galore as things move along. The writing continues to be no more that functional. Some G'reads reviewers are pretty harsh about this book, but I think that's because they're comparing it with the original. That's a bit unfair. This will likely wind up as 2.75* rounding up to 3,* i. e. no big deal. It occupies the lower half of that vast pile of middling-but-not-bad sci-fi space operas. Unlike "Dune," which focused so creatively on the ecology and history of Arrakis, this one hops around from story to story and has little depth. When I read "Dune" back in the day I was blown away by the originality and creativity. But even "Dune" isn't "Dune" when you re-read it nowadays. In context it seems a bit less than awesome. Cordwainer Smith's novella "The Planet Buyer,"(1964) which became the first half of "Norstrilia"(1975) contains some curiously spot-on similarities to Frank Herbert's saga, which came out a year later - 1965. Just sayin' ...

Grinding away as the battles rage with no clear outcome in sight. Some of the later Dune "stuff" is having its origin story told here: the promulgation of spice is beginning, and one assumes that the Sorceresses are the antecedents of the Bene Gesserit. The term "witch" has come up a couple of times. And now the individual shielding device is beginning to take shape in the inventor's mind. And ... sandworm's are being ridden for the first time. Cool! The authors have taken care in using some ideas from cultural anthropology and culture and technology change. Frank Herbert did the same. still ...

- The dialogue(and more) can get a bit juvenile at times.

- Too many of those cliched dramatic one-sentence paragraphs. A lame prose device IMHO.

- The triangle of Xavier and Octa and Serena(sisters) comes from Theseus and Phaedra and Ariadne(also sisters), though in this tale Serena seems to be a combo of Hippolyta and Ariadne.-

- Serena's "death" is too-easily assumed w/o confirmation. A convenient device for the plot to move onward. I'm predicting doom for Octa ...

- Arrakis is the most compelling setting so far is because of our fondness for "Dune." So far, however, Selim's story is about at the Y/A level ...

Although they overdo it a bit the authors do present a picture of the moral differences between man and machine. Erasmus is the closest thing to a "human" in the machine world and he yearns to "understand" the difference between him and them. It's all about the programming, which the authors don't really go into. If a machine can be programmed with human emotion then it will act/think more like a human - DUH! The idea that a machine intelligence will somehow develop an emotional life as some sort of byproduct of it's intellectual activity is bogus. Erasmus is not programmed to feel "compassion" so he behaves cruelly(in human terms). He truly doesn't get it, though he does have a sort of minimal emotional life. He gets "annoyed" when things don't go as he wishes them to go.

Finished a couple of days ago. I looked up Brian Herbert(looks a LOT like his dad, BTW) in G'reads and saw that he and his writing partner have written DOZENS of Dune books. OMG! I suppose I'll read the two my bro-in-law gave me just because, but there are too many other, better sci-fi books out there to be read. My time is relatively short now(71 yrs old). Still, I suppose I can understand why a committed Dune fan might read them all. Just because they're there and are readable, if not great, sci-fi. All of these books "end" with a cliffhanger feel ... "to be continued."
Profile Image for Du4.
285 reviews21 followers
February 7, 2008
OK, so after the critical phenom success of Herbert & Anderson's first DUNE prequel trilogy...they decide to cash in their chips and do another one. Jesus wept. This series chronicles the Butlerian Jihad hinted at in Frank Herbert's original books, the war by man to cast of the shackles put on them by thinking machines. However...you don't really get an appreciation for humanity's suffering here. There's plenty of free humans living on Salusa Secundus even though Omnius and his machine hordes have taken over Earth. And worse, the humans on Salusa are assholes. They could give a shit less about all the humans living in (semi) bondage on Earth. Worse STILL, is that humans themselves still enslave other humans as in the case of the Zensunni and Zenshiite slaves.

BUTLERIAN is tremendously sci-fi compared to the original DUNE novels. There's machines, machine brutality and torture, life-extension, explosions, planet busting, blah blah blah. ALL your general sci-fi conventions are present here. Again with Herbert & Anderson, there's the "oh cool" factor of seeing how the spice was discovered, how Holtzman developed folding technology, how the Atreides/Harkonnen feud began. But ultimately, this is a book (nay, a TRILOGY!) of PLOT VOMIT. That's right, it's just one thing happening after the other, melodramatic moment piled on top of meodramatic moment in the vain hopes of eliciting sympathy for any of the characters. The only sympathy I had for any character was for the Cogitors, the disembodied brains that just sit in tanks and think all day. Gee, that must be nice. Go fuck a sandworm, Anderson!

The worse crime is that these books get WORSE AND WORSE. At least this one's a passably OK sci-fi read if you ignore the larger narrative it's supposed to be contributing to.
Profile Image for Steve.
962 reviews97 followers
March 11, 2019
Not written at the level I would have expected with the names of "Dune" and "Herbert" attached to it. I felt like I was listening to bad fanfic.

Someone please tell me that this series gets better!
Profile Image for Phillip III.
Author 32 books172 followers
November 4, 2021
I saw Dune 1984, and just last week, Dune (2021) -- but had never read the book. So when I looked into it -- I see Frank's son, and one of my favorite Star Wars writers from the 90s, Kevin J. Anderson wrote like - 13 prequels? C'mon man! I am in book heaven!!

Despite Dune-fanatic protests, I had to start with book #1. That is just me.

What a crazy ride the Butlerian Jihad is! So many characters, and planets, and things to keep track of. I used a notebook. (About 150 pages in though, we are about done meeting new people, and then the plot races forward).

I absolutely loved it. Like I said, crazy! The minute I finished, I picked up Book #2, The Machine Crusade.
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