Jeremy Compton's Reviews > Sisterhood of Dune

Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert
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Feb 07, 2012

Recommended to Jeremy by: New York Times
Recommended for: Canon-minded Dune fans
Read from February 01 to 04, 2012 , read count: Once

Since there are only glowing endorsements of 'Sisterhood' here, I would like to mark some points of objective criticism. As a DUNE purist and fanatic, I've been watching the title come dislodged from the stars of Sci-Fi, and plummet to Earth. Many complaints have been made against Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson for the direction they've taken Frank Herbert's opus. Terms like "Dune dumbed-down" and "McDune" are commonly batted around. Where the original works were thought provoking, and insisted that the reader use their imagination, the latter day productions come with the content already chewed and partially digested for the consumer. Like a weary streetwalker, who's forced by her 'manager' to stay out past 4AM, Herbert and Anderson are milking the franchise for every opportunity for a buck.

The plot and theme to 'Sisterhood' is fine for the most part. This is the story of the beginnings of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood and the controlled introduction of Reverend Mothers; the development of Guild Navigators; seeds of Corrino corruption on Salusa Secundus. Another sub-plot in 'Sisterhood' is centered around the Atreides-Harkonnen feud. It's there that the art of storytelling devolves suddenly. Like Thufir Hawat's assessment of the Baron in the original novel, it's plain that the authors babble too much. Anderson is chiefly noted for being a Young Adult writer. He's also known for the glut of books he's churned out in his nearly 40 years as a writer (an average of one book every 6.4 months), making him the modern personification of a pulp fiction contributor. The majority of his titles are in conjunction with another, primary writer; this being the reason why he is widely regarded as a literary lamprey.

Brian Herbert penned ten works of his own since 1981, and several more with others, including his father, Frank. So, while he has firsthand experience with Frank's writing style, there are many portions of 'Sisterhood' that are KJA's rambling, over-explained plot lines. At times, the actual grammar is poorly thought out, and an over-use of the same, repetitive adjectives is common.

Several new characters are introduced into the Dune universe in 'Sisterhood'. Unfortunately, while there are some enduring cast members, many of the people who are involved in crucial story arcs are entirely forgettable. A common theme in the 'Latter Day Dune' novels is for the authors to fill up page after page with rehashed back stories. Whereas Frank Herbert relied on his readers' intelligence to retain the basics of his previous works.

We're introduced to a bumbling and temperamental Emperor Salvador Corrino, who is under the thumb of the anti-technology Butlerian movement, headed by Manford Torondo. An ancestor to Duncan Idaho, Anari is also part of the updated Cultist movement (and, what a coincidence, she's also a Swordmaster). Gilbertus Albans has founded an academy for Mentats, and walks a fine line between supporting man and machine. The Guild is in it's fourth generation of management, while the Bene Gesserit still have their founder at the helm. Vorian Atreides was a principal player in all three 'Legends of Dune' books. In 'Sisterhood', he's pulled out of history's dustbin to fill the most plodding and anticlimactic role of the story. Opposite Vor is Griffin Harkonnen, who's eventually badgered into taking his vendetta against the Atreides seriously.

Not to worry though. All the major issues are resolved by the end of the book. The only way anybody is left hanging here is with the conclusion of the book: Plenty More Where This Came From!
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