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House Corrino (Prelude to Dune)
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2001
Of course, we were sceptical about the merits of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson in taking on the mantle of Frank Herbert, but we needn't have been.
I didn't think the the last two prequels were absolute classics, but they were extremely entertaining to read. This one is the best out of the bunch, and the one I felt I had to give 5 stars. Not only in commendation of the excellent work both autors put in, but I honestly thought I was reading a book by Frank at some points.
The books feel like one long story, and in a way, they are. But this one was the most action packed and the most un-put downable (is that a word?). The set pieces involving Ajidica are fantastic, and you just know that they are setting the scene for the long-awaited 'Chapterhouse: Dune' follow-up, 'Dune 7'. Even though it is set 5,000 years before the events in that book, you get an idea of just where Frank Herbert was heading. Don't forget, these guys actually found Frank's notes for 'Dune 7' and said they adjusted the story accordingly. Look for the clues, they are there.
The story simply thunders along. For a long portion in the middle, you simply cannot stop reading; the Heighliner accidents and struggle for Ix are great sci-fi. In fact, and this must sound funny in a way, when the parts on Dune itself kept cropping up, they didn't match the imagination of the authors' vision elsewhere. I found this quite refreshing after so many Herbert books set on the dusty planet.
The finale is great, if (obviously) a tad predictable. But the way you GET there is the great high point of this book; even a few surprises and twists crop up. Although he had a bit-part in Dune, the part of Count Fenring has been fleshed out to produce one of the best characters in the whole series. The parts involving him were very entertaining to read indeed.
Overall, a magnificent achievement. You can't make any protest now about these two talented authors finishing off Frank's original masterpiece now. I myself can't wait.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2003
I had a hard time getting through "House Corrino," Book 3 of the "Dune: House Trilogy" by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. On the one hand, the brevity of most of the sections was nice, because I could easily read a section or two or any and all opportunities. But, more importantly, the book has an inherent problem in that the sense of suspense is extremely limited. Is Emperor Shaddam IV going to succeed in his secret program to create a synthetic substitute for melange? No. Will someone succeed in stopping the Lady Jessica from bearing a son for her beloved Duke Leto? No. Is Gurney Halleck going to be stuck forever on a lost highliner? No. The reason I know all these answers is not because I am giving away spoilers to the book but because we know all the answers from having read Frank Hebert's original epic novel "Dune." So the surprises here are few and minor, and there is no real sense of suspense. This may be a problem inherent to most prequels, as George Lucas is certainly proving over and over again on the big screen.
Towards the end, as the various scenarios played out to their conclusions, things did got a bit more interesting. This was where Herbert and Anderson were able to fill in some gaps in the "Dune" backstory; my favorite would probably be the whole bit with the Bene Gesserit breeding program for producing the Kwisatz Haderach and the continuing ecological plan of Leit-Kynes for Arakkis (although less so with the latter than in previous volumes). I was even rethinking the rating I was planning on giving this book, but then Duke Leto announced the middle name for his son Paul and I went directly to my "Give me a break" mantra: how do you think the Lady Jessica would feel about Paul having that middle name? Especially when you take into account how Leto feels about his own mothers. Then again, clearly the goal here is to show what Frank Herbert's giant cast of characters were doing before the
Obviously, your decision to read "House Corrino" should already have been made. No one is going to read the third volume in a trilogy if they have not read the first two volumes. My general observation about the entire trilogy would be the closer the trilogy gets to the events of "Dune," the weaker the narrative; the converse would apply as well. I certainly enjoyed "House Atreides" the best of the three, but I think "House Harkonnen" and "House Corrino" are a toss-up down on the next level. Of the trio of titular characters the authors do the most fleshing out with Shaddam, who is certainly a lesser figure in Dune than Duke Leto or the Baron Harkonnen. The next time I re-read "Dune" I will be interested in seeing how well this trilogy fills in the book's massive backstory. For fans of the Dune series this is something you should probably read once, but my prediction (done without the use of melagne) is that you will not be going back and rereading it again.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2002
...Review by Matthew Hughes, Sandbach, Cheshire (UK)
This trilogy acts as a prequel to the classic Sci-Fi saga written by Frank Herbert (Brian Herbert's late father).
So what's the verdict? Is this trilogy merely a money-spinning potboiler, designed to fleece the devotees of Herbert senior's amazing invention, or does it have merit in it's own right?
Well - simply - yes it DOES have a great deal of intrinsic worth, and there's certainly a lot more life in the Dune universe yet!
Frank Herbert completed 6 Dune novels before his untimely death in 1986: 'Dune', 'Dune Messiah', 'Children of Dune', 'God Emperor of Dune', 'Heretics of Dune', and 'Chapter House: Dune'. That saga (as anyone who has read them will know) was left incomplete. 'Heretics..' and 'Chapter House..' were the first two parts of a trilogy that was meant to be completed by a book that was, at the time of Herbert's death, still only tentatively titled 'Dune 7'. This book would have answered the question of what it was the terrifying 'Honoured Matres' were running from, and would have revealed the true relationship between the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood and the Matres.
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson discovered the preliminary notes, not only for 'Dune 7', but also for a proposed 'prequel' trilogy that would have chronicled events surrounding the Butlerian Jihad - the war of Humankind against the machines that took place thousands of years before the first 'Dune' book.
Brian and Kevin originally formulated plans to execute this 'Butlerian Jihad' prequel trilogy first, following on with 'Dune 7', but as they researched the books it became clear to them that without another prequel trilogy, (one that took place closer to the original Dune series in chronological terms), the Butlerian Jihad Trilogy would not make enough sense.
So 'Prelude to Dune' was born, and released at a time when interest in the 'Dune' universe was at an all time high; with the Sci-Fi channel's mini-series based on the first 'Dune' book (which they will follow up later this year with another mini-series based on 'Dune Messiah' and 'Children of Dune'), and countless computer games becoming available.
The trilogy cannot fail to please fans of 'Dune'. Events hinted at and referred to as history by the characters in Frank Herbert's saga are detailed as current affairs in the 'Prelude' books: Leto Atreides' father's death on the horns of the Salusan Bull, how Gurney Halleck got his scar, how Leto met Jessica, why Glossu Rabban took the name 'Beast'... it's all detailed here for your delight. Each page is custom designed to answer all the little things that - if you're even half as sad as I am - you MUST have wondered!
There are one or two things that jar slightly for those of us who are familiar with the original books - the David Lynch perpetrated conceit that Mentats require chemical stimulation to attain their peak performance, for example, (a substance called Sapho Juice that had, previously, only appeared in Lynch's stylish yet unsatisfying big screen version of 'Dune' has also, somehow, made it's way into Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's version of the 'Dune' Universe).
If I were in a mood to defend the books (not, I hasten to add, that they need defending!), I would say that the addition of Sapho Juice to the books could be dismissed as a recognition that the 'Dune' universe is now bigger than its original creator; it now has a number of contributors (including Lynch) who, all in all, make 'Dune's' vision richer.
The only other gripe I have is - unusually - with the sub-editing of the trilogy, particularly with the first book 'House Atreides'.
To explain: The greatest joy, in my opinion, in reading entertaining and fantastical novels of this nature is that the reader can totally immerse him/ herself in the story. When reading 'House Atreides' I was, several times, shocked out of the story - and into the realisation that I was reading - by spelling mistakes and misused words.
This served to give me the impression that, although the book was undoubtedly enjoyable, it had been put together hurriedly and to a strict deadline.
So, to fully answer the questions I posed in the first paragraph of this review: "Is this trilogy merely a money-spinning potboiler, designed to fleece the devotees of Herbert senior's amazing invention, or does it have merit in it's own right?"
Answer: "Yes, on both counts, but because of the trilogy's intrinsic worth, we shouldn't resent the fact that it is a cash cow that is being milked by the authors and their publishing company".
Final Verdict: Buy it, read it, enjoy it - there are bound to be more to come!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2002
This is the third of the Dune: House books, which as a group make up a major 'prequel' to where the action starts in the original classic Dune. Readers who have not read the original should definitely read that first, else much of this book and its two predecessors will either not make sense or lose their emotional freighting due to absence of knowledge of what happens later to the main characters.
The prime focus of this book is the Emperor Shaddam Corrino, flexing his ambitious, if not greatly intellectual, muscle, in an attempt to become the sole ruler of the empire, without the limitations imposed by the noble houses, the Guild, the Bene Gesserit, and the CHOAM regulation of the spice flow. Opposing him in this complex weave of multiple story lines are the Baron Harkonnen, with his own desires on power; Duke Leto, finding his ground as leader and a man of honor; Prince Rhombur Vernius, finally finding his courage and attempting to take back his home world; a world occupied by the Tleilaxu, who are trying to develop a synthetic form of spice. And it is Corrino's dependence on the success of the synthetic spice project that gives him the confidence to take action to consolidate his power.
In terms of sheer complexity of story line, this book is as rich as the original. But as the goal of the major character is power for its own sake, without grounding in any higher 'human' goals, without the rich interplay between philosophy, ecology, politics and action of the original, it cannot achieve the so easily scaled original's heights. Instead what we end up with is a very good action/adventure story, that does a decent job of filling in the some of the historical and character background for the main story line of Dune, but does no more. In sheer complexity, its very short chapters, and constant point-of-view shifts, it is very similar to some of A. E. van Vogt's better re-complicated stories.
Characterization is reasonably well done, but none of the characters is explored in extreme depth, a pity in the case of Duke Leto, as his character is only briefly sketched in Dune, and yet he obviously had a great influence in molding Paul's character, and knowing him in much greater detail than shown here would have been very nice.
This is the best of the three 'prequel' books, a definite page turner (which is hard to achieve when you start off already knowing what the eventual outcome will be), and makes a nice addition to the Dune universe. A must for Dune addicts, others can keep this one for a rainy afternoon's entertainment.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2001
House Corrino is the best of the preludes, but still not good. The writers keep on making dumb mistakes.
The biggest problem is the fact the writers wrote this book in an easy-to-read soap-style, while the Dune Chronicles are much harder to read.
If you have read the Dune Chronicles this books don't add much to the story, while it has some interesting points. When you have never read Dune and see these books as a stand-alone it is nice. But nice is not enough.
Paul is born on Caladan, not on Kaitan!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2002
Considering the difficulty in following in the footsteps of a writer as brilliant as Frank Herbert, the authors have done an excellent job. House Corrino is certainly readable stuff and eminently enjoyable. Sadly though - perhaps inevitably - the work lacks Frank Herbert's magic. Everything is just too familiar, too ordinary. Herbert was always careful to keep the details of the world he created in the background, creating subtle nuances by light brush-strokes. The Spacing-Guild Navigators, for example, were always shrouded in mystery. Who or what were they? Where did they come from? Nobody really knew. In the Prelude Trilogy, though, we learn that they are just regular middle-class kids who passed a test, rather like university-entrance.
Frank Herbert actually told us very little about the details of the Guild or the Heighliners. In the Prelude books, though, travel through foldspace doesn't sound any more exciting or awe-inspiring than a modern intercontinental flight, what with baggage-lockers, flight attendants, souvenirs and spaceports. Surely something has to have changed in ten thousand years.
Frank Herbert managed to preserve that frisson of strangeness which really pitched us into a world ten millennia hence - in Prelude only the nouns and the distances seem to have changed.
In Herbert's original books there was a great deal else that wasn't common knowledge - the size of the Fremen population, the origin of the spice, who the Saudaukar were, the origin of thee devastation on Salusa Secundus, to name but a few. It was the unveiling of these mysteries little by little that added to the thrill.
Familiarity breeds contempt - personally I didn't want to step into a Guild Navigator's cabin as we do in House Corrino - I wanted the Spacing Guild there, eery and mysterious in the background.
Or take the Fremen. In the original Herbert they are true primitives, living by their own traditions and legends - their only real contact with the universe has been through the Missionaria Protectiva. Herbert obviously based them on the Bedouin warriors of T.E.Lawrence, and he got it just right. In House Corrino, though, they have become tame - again nice 'regular' people next door who seem perfectly au fait with the workings of the Imperium outside.
The list could go on and on, but perhaps it's unfair. Given that Frank himself won't be writing any more Dune books, I accept that the Prelude series are better than nothing, and I personally will keep on reading them (if there are any more.) But for me it will never be quite the same.
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I would imagine that the vast majority of people who come to read the Prelude to Dune trilogy have already read at least "Dune" if not all 6 of Frank Herbert's Dune novels. To say that Prelude to Dune has got a hard act to follow - er - precede is something of an understatement. In all honesty I think you'd be lying if you said that this trilogy is as good as Frank Herbert's original novel, but then none of his own sequels were either.

So let's discuss Prelude, then. I originally read Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's "Hunters of Dune" and "Sandworms of Dune", the two novels which are meant to come after Frank Herbert's last Dune - "Chapterhouse: Dune". Let's be honest, the huge majority of the most vocal fans absolutely hate these books. Which I think is rather unfair. Taken on their own merits they are decent, readable and intelligent attempts to bring the series to a conclusion, based on Frank Herbert's own notes for his unwritten Dune 7. I enjoyed these enough to decide to give "House Atreides" a try. I liked it enough that I wanted to read the whole trilogy, and here I am, having just read all three.

So what can I say? If anything I thought that these three were better than Hunters and Sandworms. While I enjoyed these two, I did think they suffered from having a little bit of padding, a criticism that I wouldn't make about Prelude to Dune. The characters in Prelude are more confidently drawn as well. Yes, there are times when you're a little surprised at what one of the characters in the original novel does or says in these, but for me it didn't happen all that often. It didn't really detract from my enjoyment knowing that whatever happened certain characters such as Duke Leto - Baron Harkonnen - Thufir Hawat - Gurney Halleck - Duncan Idaho etc. etc. they can't die because they have to feature in "Dune". I enjoyed learning more about some of these characters' backgrounds too, albeit that I read The Dune Encyclopedia some time ago, and these books present things very differently from that particular magnificent work of fan fiction.

As with Hunters and Sandworms it seems to me that the writers are far more interested in technology than Frank Herbert ever was, and not so interested in the psychological and philosophical themes which are so important to his works. Frank Herbert's novels are introspective. Every major character has depth and complexity, which is explored in some detail, and at the risk of alienating Frank Herbert's fedaykin, to me this gets in the way of the narrative thrust in the last three books. Nothing and nobody in Prelude is quite as deep or complex, and at times the novels do veer towards space opera. I'm irresistibly reminded of the idea that George Lucas plundered settings and ideas from "Dune" and the Duniverse when he was making the original Star Wars trilogy, and I dare say that Prelude is a lot closer in tone and subject matter to Star Wars than anything that Frank Herbert ever wrote was.

I suppose that those are the negatives. What you get for your money, though, is a good adventure yarn which rattles along well and doesn't let up from the start of "House Atreides" to the conclusion of "House Corrino". The three books read as if they were planned and written as one consistent whole, and this is another point in their favour. There are some interesting new characters, and some of the old ones who were very much supporting characters, for example Shaddam IV, Count Hasimir Fenring, even Glossu `Beast' Rabban take a far more prominent role in the trilogy than the original novel. A large amount of the action takes place on other worlds than Arrakis, indeed Kaitain, Ix and Caladan are every bit as important to the trilogy as Arrakis itself.

Without wishing to give away too much of the developing narrative of Prelude, it centres on the events in the old Empire leading up to and including the birth of Paul Atreides, the main protagonist of "Dune". This involves the Tleilaxu invasion of Ix, Emperor Shaddam IV's coming to ppwer, and his intrigues to extend it, and the developing feud between the new Duke Leto Atreides, and Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Diverse stuff, I think you'll agree, and it's a testament to Brian Herbert's and Kevin J. Anderson's storytelling power that the disparate strands never unravel or fragment from the consistent whole they have been woven into.

Did I enjoy Prelude as much as I enjoyed "Dune"? No, of course not. There are very, very few books I ever enjoyed quite as much as I enjoyed "Dune" the first time that I read it, and even fewer in this genre. But enjoy Prelude I did, and I know this will be viewed as heresy by some, on a level of pure enjoyment I enjoyed Prelude quite a lot more than I enjoyed some of Frank Herbert's own sequels, even though I concede Prelude lacks the depth of these. Does that mean I'm shallow? I'll get over it.

My gut feeling is that you could quite comfortably read this trilogy before you read "Dune". Having read a number of comments about Prelude, it's interesting to note that people who read Prelude before their first ever reading of "Dune" are a lot more positive about Prelude than others. To an extent I feel that it has to contend with the obstacle that any sequel to a beloved work such as "Dune" faces. A very significant proportion of the readership approach the books with the perspective that sequels tend to be inferior to the original - an understandable attitude - and sequels/prequels that are not by the original author tend to be inferior to those that were by the original author. "Dune" has such a fanatical following, and a significant section of its readership are so fanatical about it that nothing, and I repeat nothing set in the Duniverse written by anybody other than Frank Herbert could possibly find acceptance. Their attitude is one of almost religious fervor, and when you view it in this light then you can understand the viewpoint that works like Prelude are somehow heretical or sacrilegious. You can understand this point of view, although this doesn't mean that you sympathise with it.

To conclude, then, Prelude won't change your view of life, the universe and everything, and it won't force you to answer deep and meaningful questions. It will however provide you with an interesting and entertaining tale, set in a universe clearly recognizable as that created by Frank Herbert in the original book, a universe that I for one find very interesting. I have to be honest, I wasn't really looking for anything more than that.
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on 6 July 2003
As an avid Sci-Fi reader and having not read the original Dune books or to that matter even seen the film version of Dune I was very surprised to find myself getting right into the Dune prequel series. Alot of Sci-Fi books can be a little difficult to get into at the start but this series wasn't at all like the wading into that some trilogies can be. I personally found that by the time I arrived at this book I just could not get enough. There aren't many books I just can't put down but this one was one of them, considering the fact that I read this book slap bang in the middle of the 2nd gulf war with missiles going off around me I can vouch for its ability to absorb your mind. Having read the other reviews they read a lot like the sort of reviews I'm hearing about the new star wars films, not quite as good as the original! If you haven't read the original Dune series, or you can be objective enough to put that work to one side and see the books in their own light then I'm sure you will find them as much of a joy as I have. All I have to do now is read the original works and if they are better than these books then I'm very much looking forwards to it.
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on 28 January 2015
If you are a fan of the Dune series I would be surprised if you didn't get hooked by this new wave of books. They are written in a similar style to the originals and bring a whole new dimension to the Atreides/Harkonnen stories. Compelling characters and connected contexts - buy them all and get immersed!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I have beeen a fan of Frank Herberts Dune series since forever. 18 years later, I still pick up the books and read them again, picking up details i missed the first time or rediscovering one of his subtle ideas. I remember getting through the last book and realising that there would never be another because he had passed on.. that was a very disapointing moment. I was somewhat excited to see the new series on the shelves and bought them and devoured them just to get a taste of dune again. Good story line, many stolen ideas from the far future of the Dune timeline which was annoying and for the most part, it was a credible telling of events before Paul's birth. BUT its not a patch on Frank Herberts writing. It was'nt merely good science fiction which sold the original series. I could smell flint in the air and hear ornithopters fly by when I picked up a Dune book. The new series on the other hand reads like a historical report.
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