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Children of Dune (Dune Chronicles #3)
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Buddy Reads > Children of Dune, Book 3 by Frank Herbert

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) Hello, reading buddies.

As promised, I am opening a thread for book 3. As the book has only small chapters without numbers (like in the previous one), the schedule is a little bit of a challenge.

I am using this edition Children of Dune, so mine has 408 pages. I propose to split the book into three parts , roughly 130 pages per part in my edition. Yours, are obviously different, so the first part for the next ten days ends with the words 'Tleilaxu eyes were not immune to tears'. The next chapter that starts with the refrain from TheHabbanya Lament belongs to the next section. These are the words that signal the next section.

You have loved Caladan
And lamented its lost host -
But pain discovers
New Lovers cannot erase
Those forever ghost.

The second sections starts with the above quoted words and ends with the words '... only a local trap which he build for himself.'

Part three starts with the words

O Paul, thou Muad'Dib,
Mahdi of all men,
Thy breath exhaled
Sent forth the huricen.

Songs of Muad'Dib

Let us begin.

1. Again a lapse of several years takes place between book 2 and book 3. Do you think it is important for the story in general to give readers a certain sense of perspective or the lapse reflects the actual time period when the books were written?

2. How do you define the term 'Abomination' for yourself? Is Alia truly an Abomination?

3. Why is Jessica so cold to her daughter? Do you think it is the lack of maternal love that spurred Alia to succumb to the voices in her state of prescience?

3. Is Alia the only one who is hungry for power?

4. The idea of incest is quite pervasive. First, it is only implied by emotional closeness between the twins, but then it is directly stated that the Bene Gesserit want to interbreed the twins because they are the heirs who share their father's prescience before he lost in in book two. Do you think the B G have gone too far in their plans and turned into Abominations themselves?

5. Leto confronts his grandmother and accuses her of subjecting Paul, her son, to the torturous experiment to clarify if he is Kwisatz Haderach; he also confronts her saying that she is partly responsible for Alia's her current state of Abomination. Do you agree with her? Was he rude during this dispute? Was it necessary for him to be brusque and firm? Do you think Jessica was too distracted by her own personal life and world?

Please let me know what you think about the schedule and the way the book is divided into three sections.

Happy reading, everyone. Hopefully, my life will be less hectic these coming weeks, and I will not only read your comments, but will also be able to post.

message 2: by John (last edited Jul 29, 2014 10:55AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (johnred) | 364 comments I am on page 90 at the moment...I really should have finished this section, but have been busy the past few days :) I am very much continuing to enjoy this series. I know a lot of readers seem to feel that the quality declines after the first book, but I have not thought this to be the case at all; if anything I think the opposite so far.

Here are some random thoughts from reading over the questions. I'm avoiding looking at number 5 because I haven't gotten there yet :)

The definition of "Abomination" -- and the reasons for the Bene Gesserit's hatred of them -- is something that I think probably should have been made clear earlier. In light of what we now know about Alia, an Abomination seems to be a person who has lost or diluted their own personality in the mix of other personalities within them. Knowing this, it makes sense that the B.G. would fear them, and that they would assume all "Pre-Born" children would be predisposed to becoming Abominations, as they have the genetic memory but without the discipline and training to temper it.

I would certainly think Jessica's absence was a factor. Alia desperately needed guidance, and Jessica was pretty much the only one who possibly could have provided it. I don't think we have truly learned yet why Jessica left, and looking at it this way, I wonder if abandoning Alia wasn't deliberate for some reason?

As a side note, I really love Alia as a character -- she reminds me of Fuchsia from Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast: Romantic in a weird way, doomed to be a victim of her internal tempest.

In the first book, I didn't really like (view spoiler) (spoiler for events around page 75ish)

I think the B.G. have suffered some huge losses in the past 20 years, and their desire to interbreed the Atreides betrays their desperation to recover from these setbacks. One thing I enjoy is how Herbert has handled these long-term shifts in power...basically, all of the B.G.'s problems stem from the fact that they slightly miscalculated the arrival of their Kwizatz Haderach.

I don't think the inscestuous plans are really any more morally objectionable than the Bene Gesserit have always been. I mean, once you've accepted a centuries-long tradition of eugenics, a little brother-sister action doesn't seem like too terrible a thing. (Although of course it would be a terrible thing from the twins' personal viewpoint...maybe. They are some weird kids.)

Becky Going to pick this up at the library after work now that we're on to 3. I'm probably going to have to read through the last two threads and wiki it to see what all happened in book 2. Its been a while...

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Becky, I hope you will enjoy the discussion.

John, I agree - Harkonnen is much ,ore interesting through Alia - more manipulative, more plotting, more visionary than he was in book 1.

I know many people say that after book 1, the series deteriorated, but I humbly dissent - actually I really liked book two and Duncan's awakening, but book 3 so far is a wonderful read - a meditation on politics, religion, royalty, temptation, sibling love, and of course, the class of cultures and even terraforming and planetology. What a visionary series!

Esther I'm only a couple of chapters into Book 3. But I have to say that the overwhelming sense of predestination in the books bothers me. Years ago (more than a decade), I only read the first book, enjoyed it, but stopped reading because of the BG.

This time round the sense of predestination and futility bothers me. It's not necessarily a bad thing because it's interesting from a philosophical perspective, but for me, it does create a level of unease when I read the books and I struggle to read them at my normal pace.

I also find the portrayal of children quite disturbing. I keep wondering if Herbert struggled to write normal children, so he made all of them disturbing ancients...

But that's probably not why. I really enjoy how authors like Orson Scott Card can write from a child's perspective and they feel like a child (like in Ender's Game). Whereas mini-adults do disturb me - which may be deliberate given this is the effect that have on the surrounding characters.

I suppose because I read a lot of sci-fi, I don't find the world-building that astounding and I keep having to remind myself that Herbert was one of the earliest writers and inspired those that came later. The editions I've been reading have intros from Brian Herbert, which are helpful for putting the books into historical context.

message 6: by Zulfiya (last edited Aug 03, 2014 10:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Esther wrote: "I also find the portrayal of children quite disturbing. I keep wondering if Herbert struggled to write normal children, so he made all of them disturbing ancients... "

They are indeed disturbing. In this case, they often remind me of Stephen King's children - too mature, too wise, too knowledgeable, too omniscient trapped in their tiny puny bodies.

A good point, Esther!

Becky I am so far about 100 pages in. The world building is as astounding as I remember Herbert being the first time around.

I'm not particularly disturbed by the children, but then, I'm terrible with children and would rather just assume that they are tiny adults.

I find myself sometimes frustrated by the inability of the characters to get full sentences out of their mouth before their "meaning is understood" by their conversant. Ha. I want a real discussion! I feel like it stunts my reading, but I understand that Herbert wants the reader to feel like they are "keeping up" rather than getting ahead of the half meanings, etc.

I found myself somewhat bored with the syntax discussion of the children's ancient language. I was having problems committing to read that bit.

And I am disappointed by Jessica. I really loved her in the first book, and couldn't believe that she abandoned her children in the second book, no matter how hard things were for her to remain. She really is what set them upon this path by her fight for survival. Still, I am interested to see how all these characters come around.

John (johnred) | 364 comments Becky wrote: "And I am disappointed by Jessica. I really loved her in the first book, and couldn't believe that she abandoned her children in the second book, no matter how hard things were for her to remain."

I totally agree -- I am still hoping she has a redemption at some point.

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Becky wrote: "And I am disappointed by Jessica. I really loved her in the first book, and couldn't believe that she abandoned her children in the second book, no matter how hard things were for her to remain. She really is what set them upon this path by her fight for survival. Still, I am interested to see how all these characters come around. "

I am also commenting on this passage in your post, Becky. Jessica is indeed a disappointment. It is hard to believe that she was that woman who fell in love with Leto and gave birth to a boy, Paul, against the wishes of the BG.

Now it seems like she is strongly influenced by her religious and cultural background and is acting as if the background is the strongest influence in her conscience.

It seems that if Alia has succumbed to the voice of her grandfather, Jessica has succumbed to the voice of the collective Bene Gessirit.

message 10: by John (last edited Aug 05, 2014 06:24PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (johnred) | 364 comments I also want to clarify; although I find Jessica's development disappointing and unfortunate, I do think it is believable for the character. She had lost her Leto, and saw her son turning into something terrible...her daughter as well...IMO it is totally plausible that she would immerse herself in the dogma of her upbringing, looking for stability.

Stilgar even says something of the sort when thinking about the changing Fremen world: "To what can we anchor our lives, if not tradition?"

Zulfiya (ztrotter) That is what I like about the series - the transformations are plausible and look realistic.

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Guys, if it is o'k with you, I will post some more questions for the discussion on Monday (part II)

Becky I think I'm nearly ready, go ahead and post.

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Now part II and the new questions.

(view spoiler)

I hope these questions will help, but again, they are not must-answer questions, and you may post whatever you want to post and share with your fellow-readers.

message 15: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (johnred) | 364 comments I am catching up! Will comment on part 2 next week. I have been on vacation - for most people that means MORE reading time, but unfortunately not for me :D

Becky As far as Irulan is concerned she is quite an enigma to me. I don't trust any Bene Gesserit, as Leto II says they are trained so subconsciously that even when they think they are acting out, they are still performing within the character and nature of their training. What I want to know is, how does Irulan not see what Alia has become? Nearly everyone else of any sort of training has been able to see it and Irulan is a BG, it should be very apparent to her! That's what makes me think that she is playing her own game, and that, at this time, we and the characters in the book aren't giving her the conniving credit that she is due.

I never really felt my loyalties split. The twins are really quite sad figures.Their bodies are the ultimate prison. They are almost like a Schrodinger's Cat. THey, themselves, cannot exist outside of a body. If their mortal corpses were to die, they and the burden of the lives before them, would cease to exist in a functioning manner. They would either need to be passed on to a child, or simply pass on to nothingness. Yet they cannot exist alone as themselves inside their own body. They are like an entire universe confined.

But Stilgar should have been teaching them to appreciate life, the feel of the sand and the wind on their face, how to interact with the world for themselves. They have this knowledge, but they've not truly experienced the memories for themselves. There are multiple illusions to how its not the same, this knowledge, and true knowing. Its quite the gnostic discussion you could have about the twins.

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Becky wrote: "Yet they cannot exist alone as themselves inside their own body. They are like an entire universe confined."

A brilliant simile!

As far as Irulan is concerned, I agree with her - she is an enigma but again because her loyalties are split between her BG past, her love for her ostensibly dead husband, her family clan Corino, and the twins were a permanent reminder that her marriage had never been sublimated.

Becky I finished last night. I think that the climax came a little late in the book but once I got there I just couldn't put it down... plus I was home sick, so I had plenty of time to read.

I definitely think the first one was the strongest, and I didn't really care for the second one that much, but I did enjoy the third one quite a bit. I don't think the series became as terrible as I was lead to believe, but it was a lot more philosophically oriented than action oriented, and I suppose that could be off putting.

I will hold any further thoughts until later. There are some passages I want to specifically reference but I left the book at home. I also make sure to label them as spoilers for anyone else reading along.

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Becky, I also finished it last week. If you want, I can post discussion questions for part III tomorrow later today if I have time.

Becky You know what I was most astounded by in this book? It was that in so few pages Herbert could cover so many different subjects, political theories, discussions on Machiavelli versus benevolent reading, governmental/institutional relationships to subjects, thoughts on authority and power, how humans react culturally and extra-culturally at times to their world, philosophies on fulfillment, sacrifice, and knowledge. Its really quite extraordinary how he can cover the individual to universal powers in what amounts to a single breath.

message 21: by Renee (new) - added it

Renee M Sorry, All. I was in for the first two books, but then my Kindle died. I'm hoping to get some page time this weekend. Then I can treat myself to some uninterrupted reading and catch up on comments!

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Becky wrote: "It was that in so few pages Herbert could cover so many different subjects, political theories, discussions on Machiavelli versus benevolent reading, governmental/institutional relationships to subjects, thoughts on authority and power, how humans react culturally and extra-culturally at times to their world, philosophies on fulfillment, sacrifice, and knowledge."
It is obviously not a plot-driven book or books. The whole series is idea-driven and yes, slightly psychedelic, but as you said the sheer scope of his themes and the psychological depth is amazing.

(view spoiler)

Becky (view spoiler)

message 24: by John (last edited Aug 27, 2014 06:02AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (johnred) | 364 comments I think I'm almost to the third section finally -- Jessica and Duncan are being questioned by Farad'n.

I'm really interested to be getting a deeper peek into House Corrino now, although I keep wondering what happened to Shaddam IV - did he die? He must have, but I don't remember it being mentioned.

In any case, Farad'n seems to be a decent person and I'm glad that the Corrinos are more varied in character than the Harkonnens were.

I'm kind of sad that I only have time for the audiobooks, because I feel like the medium causes a lot of the philosophical themes to go undigested, or only partially digested. I will most definitely be rereading the series in a few years.

Looking forward to finishing so I can scroll up and click on all of your spoiler tags! :)

Becky Shaddam IV died, I believe naturally, after being exiled to Salusa Secundus (which I always read as Salsa Secundus because my brain apparently ignores vowels) after losing in the spice trade race to Paul and the Fremen

message 26: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (johnred) | 364 comments Ah I see, thanks :) ...I remember Paul exiling him to S.S. at the end of the first book, and of course that's why his family is still there -- but I missed where they mentioned his fate.

Esther I really struggled to keep up with this one, but I have finally finished it!

(view spoiler)

message 28: by Zulfiya (last edited Sep 01, 2014 01:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Good comments, Esther.

There indeed some gripping scenes, but to be fair, some scenes are underwhelming.

I am also going to post a question about book IV. Are we up to it in a week or two? Is there still a steady interest to continue with the series. I am all for it, but it might be different for you, guys.

Let me know and if the answer is positive, I will open a thread in a couple of weeks.

Esther If we can have a couple of weeks' rest between now and the next one, I think I can manage it. But I need a bit of a break from Herbert.

Zulfiya (ztrotter) Let's wait and see how many people would like to continue with the series.

Becky I'll have to see if its even at the library, I know the original trilogy was.

message 32: by John (last edited Sep 03, 2014 10:25AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (johnred) | 364 comments I'm finally into the third section now! Now that school has begun, I think I will get more reading time in. This summer was a beast.

I'm definitely planning on continuing. However, I agree w/ Esther that a couple weeks off would be good!

Zulfiya (ztrotter) All right, guys. I will post a schedule in two-three weeks' time to let everyone get some reading breath and then we will continue again.

John, please post when you finish with book III. It seems like everyone likes the book but also dislikes the book, and this is what I feel about it - the scope of questions that are discussed in the novel is amazing, and some of them are very thoroughly discussed while others are just cursorily mentioned.

Besides, that foreknowledge thing is quite disturbing when it comes to character development because those twins know so much, and it is hard to show what they are actually thinking, how much afraid or hesitant they are. A reader is also expected to be on par with them, and obviously it is not possible :-)

Becky Personally I felt that the third book too long to get somewhere. The climax was set too far back towards the end of the book.

The structure is partially what made the first Dune so excellent. There were these huge philosophical and political debates being batted around, but meanwhile the reader was always stressed with the characters, there was a true sense of danger for Paul- the gom jabbar, the attempted bedroom assassination, the growing threat against the family from the Harkonnens- that it never ever felt plodding.

Sometimes the third one felt plodding to me. It actually makes me nervous to read the next few because they seem from their plot snippets to become increasingly just philosophical without much plot movement. It was the balance that I loved in the first. Still, I am willing to give the a try because once we reached the climax in the third book I couldn't put it down.

Esther I've been reflecting on these books in light of an online literature course that I've been taking. They talked about the whole "oedipal complex" and the fact that Oedipus was essentially blind to the inevitability of killing his father and sleeping with his mother. Also, there is this theme of inter-generational conflict.

And I was thinking that Dune seems to reflect some of these themes. There is a strong sense of inevitability throughout. Paul tries to escape the worst of this by disappearing into the desert. But his son re-lives his life and reverses his decision. The two confront each other and the son triumphs. And as a kind of 'reward', Leto and Ghanima are to be married and obviously she is an odd blurring of her mother and all her fore-mothers.

Maybe this is a bit obtuse. But given all the depth to the books, I thought maybe Herbert might have been considering these kinds of themes when he wrote.

Becky I don't think you are wrong Esther. I think Herbert drew lustily from both Greek and Arab culture/mythology for not just political themes throughout the book, but also as ways to express the worlds in these futuristic settings.

message 37: by John (last edited Sep 08, 2014 09:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (johnred) | 364 comments I finally finished this one! I am definitely up for the next book, and am confident that I will keep pace better than I did this time.

The pacing of this book was definitely a bit off. The beginning was strong, but then I felt like it lost focus, and I didn't start to feel compelled again until the part where Leto (view spoiler). The climax was great however, and I agree that the various deaths were very affecting. (view spoiler)'s death caught me totally off-guard, but made sense in retrospect. (view spoiler)'s death was definitely no surprise, but it was an incredibly moving scene.

Also, it was interesting to find out that Farad'n is actually (view spoiler)

I will probably post more as I think about it...Later today I'll stop at my library and put in a request for the next audiobook :)

I agree with Becky about feeling a little nervous about the subsequent books, but I am too curious about how this universe develops to drop out of the series. I want to see where the Golden Path goes :) ...I was intrigued by Ghanima's suggestion that her brother (view spoiler) That's going to be some trippy stuff I bet :D

message 38: by John (last edited Sep 08, 2014 09:30AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (johnred) | 364 comments Question: Do you think Leto went to Jacurutu knowing what would happen to him there? He seemed surprised at (view spoiler), but later it seemed like it was all part of the twins' plan. Also, how did Alia know that Leto would go there?
I suppose she must have deduced it from the shared memories?

Becky I was very confused by that part as well! He did seem surprised, but perhaps it was because he wasn't expecting the kidnap to be a move on Jessica's part rather than Alia's? Or may that waylay of the kidnap wasn't his plan, and he had planned to move immediately on to the place where he eventually wrapped himself in the fish?

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