I have read only the first four books of the Dune series so far, having started 'Heretics' a short while ago. This one however was the one i least enjoyed. The book essenetially revolves around Leto Atredies (the 'tyrant') and seems very flat as a result. In the other books there was at least a sense of conflict whereby Herbert would tell the story from different perspectives, but some of the philosophical ramblings of Leto leave The characters constantly asking questions that are never answered, leaving the reader's mind in tangles. Too many scenes leave the talking to Leto and they seem to disappear up his backside completely while the rest of the characters are repeatedly forced to accept how 'marvellous' he is.
However, having said that it does still contain some excellent parts: the ending, the test of Siona, and the whole Ixian 'no-room' concept are fantastic, but the book has too many flaws to be as good as the others. The fact that Dune itself is no longer Dune, but an earthlike planet destroys the majesty of the place Herbert created in the first place. But the most frustrating thing is that fantastic characters like Harq Al-Ada and Ghani from the last (best) book Children Of Dune were crying out for a book of their own. These just disappear as the story skips 3000 odd years to this date, leaving a feeling of frustration as new characters enter the fray who are, lets face it, not a patch on the first 3 books'.
A good, but -not- great offering. Writer's block, perhaps?