Bryan's Reviews > Children of Dune

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
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M 50x66
's review
Jul 03, 2010

A Masterpiece Revisited: ---
Why review a book in 2007 which originally came out nearly a half-century ago?

Because I just reread it this week, and now I remember why it has always been my favorite of all the Dune books.

In the unlikely event that you don't already know the story, herewith a very brief plot summary: About ten thousand years from now, on a planet that used to be an almost-uninhabitable desert but which is now slowly turning green, two nine-year-old children, a boy and a girl-- twins-- set about to rescue this world from the well-intentioned but disastrous consequences of their father's changes to its climate and government. Aided and abetted by that father himself, in disguise, this attempt at reworking history and changing the future, by in some sense changing the past, surmounts nearly countless pitfalls to set humanity on a Golden Path which will hopefully result in a philosophical paradise for meaningful growth and life.

It's a far-from-perfect book, just as the entire series contains some dreadful flaws, but the series has become so classic, in spite of its flaws, that the only possible rating is the full five stars. Especially since, as stated, this is my favorite of the whole pile.

The titular youngsters are Pre-Born. That is, they have almost since the moment of conception and long before birth come to full awareness not only of their own personalities but of every ancestor who ever preceded them, all the way back to ancient Greece on the original home planet. It's a real struggle to keep from going insane with all of that consciousness swimming around inside their heads constantly, and in fact their dad's sister, also Pre-Born, has succumbed to the lure of madness.

But that's the least of their worries. The primary concern they have to face is the fact that in order to carry out their plan for the Golden Path, one of them is going to have to give up their humanity, to become something alien, nearly immortal, nearly all-powerful, without forgetting all of that humanity they carry around inside them all the time. Quite a daunting task! In the fourth book [God Emperor of Dune] we will learn that the transformation doesn't go quite as planned, but for now, here in the third book, it goes pretty nearly as intended, and the results are riveting.

One of the many problems of this book is the inability of most readers to picture nine-year-old children with the insights, knowledge, and power that these two have. [When this book was turned into the final two thirds of an extended miniseries of the same title on the SciFi channel, this issue was circumvented by making the kids nearly-adult teenagers, played by adult actors, which made it much more palatable to most of the audience.] If you're willing to suspend disbelief in that regard, which I have always been, the story line works remarkably well, especially if you have already read the first two books in the series where you can see a foreshadowing of at least half of the plot of this one coming at you through the sands like a gigantic worm, ready to devour you. But wait, he won't eat you if you're related to him!

And thereby hangs a fantastic tale.
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Peter 1976 is nearly half a century before 2007? We must live in different time-frames.

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