Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Book Review: Frank Herbert – Dune Messiah (1969)

Published by www.nemira.ro

First impression regarding the second book in the Dune series is that Dune Messiah is an epilogue gone wrong. Remember how Dune ends rather abruptly with everything being quickly settled in the last chapter after the big conflagration in the end? We aren’t given the slightest hint about the future concerning Paul. We know what the others think but we don’t know anything for certain, not what the author himself foresees for him. That leaves us a little disappointed and disconcerted. It makes up want to be a sequel out there so we can continue our trip into that arid world accompanied by the characters we have become fond of. And, yes, there is a sequel. Brilliant marketing to sell another book? Who knows.

Most people I discussed the book with either love it or hate it. My mind is set something in between. I usually don’t care for epilogues, most of the time I feel they’re useless and not more than a filler. This time I strongly felt the need for one. Maybe the writer did too, and once he started writing he realized there is a whole story to say and he just couldn’t stop, until another novel-like story saw the light of day. Well, not quite.

As a stand alone novel Dune Messiah, while loaded with interesting concepts and analysis, is not as solid and powerful as Dune. Further more, it misses the intricate background masterly portrayed in Dune and, a personal objection, it’s rather short. If the fan fiction concept had existed at the time, I would have said that someone had taken only the needed element from the original work and used them to play at will. Of course, Herbert’s wisdom and personal views are recognizable although the book and no aspiring writer would have been able to produce such a finite work.

As a sequel, it comes with a slightly different vibe, familiar characters are left unused and contrary to the escalation known tendency for sequels it focuses predominantly on Arrakis and on a single person, Paul. In a way this can be considered a biography of a fictional hero, only that, again, the covered period of time is too short. The hero gets discarded way too soon, or so we’re left to believe, and frankly who would want to shoot the cashing cow?

So neither concept really works. For me though, I like to consider it an intermission, a bridge between the main body of work called Dune and the real sequel Children of Dune. From this perspective the whole array of books works for me. Each one is different in its own way having its particularities and you don’t have to love them all as long as you don’t skip any of it.

And what is it about? Oh, just Paul’s life on Arrakis, torn between the loved one and the path he has to take. But don’t let me get into details, read it for yourself!

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

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