Saturday, January 24, 2009

Book Review: Frank Herbert – Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)

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Being closely related to the previous book, Chapterhouse: Dune should be read right after Heretics of Dune, otherwise neither of them will make much sense. As it happens, up to this day Chapterhouse: Dune is the only book that is still missing from my Dune collection. When it was first published here it had taken a while since Heretics of Dune had appeared in the stores and I was so anxious to read it that as soon as I discovered that my cousin had it I couldn’t wait any longer and borrowed it from her. After that, the way it happens with most good things, I neglected acquiring it and I still regret that. Whenever I happen to enter into an used book store I look for it, I want one with the first edition cover to fit my collection and none of the new covers because I don’t like them, but so far no luck.

The story picks up right from where the last book left off, the same conflict being at the order of the day and led by the same major players. Again most action is taking place in the Bene Gesserit world of which we get a pretty good insight. The two rival Sister clans, Bene Gesserit and Honoured Matres, lead a ferocious fight for supremacy, determined to extinct one another and become the supreme leader in their field.

With the Bene Tleilaxu taken out of the equation for the time being, two new groups are introduced to join the conflict. First are the Jews, descendants of the original Jews from Earth, who had survived in hiding over the millenniums. It’s a bit puzzling that exactly they had made it that long, or maybe not. The others are the Futars, half-man half-cat people, and their handlers. The reasons behind their actions aren’t exactly clear but they are brought together by a common cause, fighting against the Honoured Matres who are like a plague for what is left of the Empire.

The key character is a Honoured Matre captured by the Bene Gesserit and rehabilitated and trained in their way. Duncan Idaho and Sheena aren’t missing from the scene either, and of course the sandworms.

The story ends with a major battle worthy of an Oscar special effects award, which reminds us in some way of the ending in Dune. The big difference is that, once again, there is no real ending. It becomes clear that Frank Herbert was saving the answers and part of the plot for future novels that he didn’t have time to write anymore.

If you want to know how the saga ends you have to read Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune. It’s a shame that Nemira didn’t get the rights to publish these two books. They aren’t better than the original books in the series but the way it is it feels unfinished. And maybe, just maybe, if it had acquired the rights they might have gotten published sooner. It would have been worth it even if it was just for that one great final closing line. But that's not the subject I'm writing about here so I’m not gonna tell you what that was.

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Written for Nemira Fan SF campaign:
“Aceasta recenzie face parte din campania Fan SF”

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