Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

Set nine years after the events of Dune Messiah, The ecological transformation of Arrakis has preceded far, bands of plant life encroach even further on the diminishing desert. Paul's children and heirs Leto and Ghanima see the empire's destruction in this as the giant spice-producing sand worms are beginning to die out. They also suspect that their aunt and regent Alia has succumb to one of her inner voices and his designs on cementing her own rule. This rule has steadily began to slip as dissidents are rising in the ranks of the Fremen , culminating in the emergence of a blind preacher leading sermons against the regime. A preacher who may or may not be Paul himself. Against this backdrop members of the displaced house Corrino have plans to snatch back power by assassinating the twins. Jessica, the twins grandmother, makes an unexpected return to Arrakis but whether she intends to protect the twins or is part of Bene Gesserit plot is unclear.

One of my main problems with the first two Dune books were the antagonists. The Barron Harkonen was far too cliched and the goals of the the antagonists in Messiah were very unclear and largely ineffective. No such problem exists this time around. Herbert brings in many competing groups with their own goals and there is much less emphasis on 'bad guys' versus 'good guys'. The pacing is a lot better than it was in Messiah and much more actually happens making for a much more satisfying read.

My only major issue with this one is that Herbert doesn't do a good job in explaining how the 'inner voices' work in Alia and the twins. Logically the memories of these voices should extend up to the point of procreation of the next generation. However the Barron's voice clearly has memories well beyond this. But if these memories are taken up until death as clearly implied there should be no question whether Paul is in fact the preacher as Alia and the twins would know courtesy of Paul's inner voice.

Overall despite this flaw I found Children of Dune to be hands down the best of the Dune books I've read to date. 8/10.

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