Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Review: Frank Herbert – Heretics of Dune (1984)

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Things are speeding up again in Heretics of Dune, book five from the Dune saga. This was a breath of fresh air after the tedious and somewhat depressing God Emperor of Dune. A new era, new generation, and lots of action.

We’re a millennium and a half after Leto II’s death. The Empire has collapsed due to the God Emperor’s reign. Famine took over making the humans leave in an extended Scattering beyond the limits of the known universe. The created situation has allowed the Bene Gesserit order, Bene Tleilax and Ixians to take over the control becoming the highest power in the hierarchy. Dune is under their control, the desert is spreading again and sandworms have reappeared. They control the spice.

Sounds familiar? At least we’re in the same universe as in the first few books. Of course something has to happen. This time the main focus is on the Bene Gesserit clan and a new threat, the Honoured Matres, presumed wild Sisters gone rogue during the Scattering who are now returning intending to take over everything. They’re more violent and base their tactics on sexual enslavement of men. Yes, sex is becoming an important issue in this book receiving quite a bit of attention. Apparently Frank Herbert had learned that sex sells and was catching up with his time. I wonder how much the book’s appeal has increased because of this aspect as far as some of the readers are concerned, it would make for an interesting matter to study.

Things seem a little strange at first in the absence of any familiar character and having just known concepts laying around, but then a ghola of Duncan Idaho, or at least one of them, shows up and we feel at home again. So on one hand we have Duncan, and on the other hand we have Sheena, the last in the Atreides line, a child who can control the sandworms. These two are the real heroes of the story, the ones who make the action move forward being less inclined to let themselves be controlled by it. Another interesting character is Bashar Miles Teg who pretty much saves the day and their behinds several times.

The main problem with this book is that, unlike the others in the series, it has no proper ending, not the slightest feeling of completion. Too many plots are left unfinished, too many questions still need answers. After reading the next book, Chapterouse: Dune, it feels like they are both volumes of the same novel split in two. From a reader’s point of view that was very disappointing, especially since it took a while until the next book was published here at the time.

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

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