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VINE VOICEon 24 November 2013
* Beware - this review contains spoilers * -

I underwent a bit of soul searching before I read this book, the first of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson's two sequels to the original Dune Chronicles.

"Chapterhouse: Dune", the last of Frank Herbert's own 6 Dune novels does answer a lot of questions, but it was fairly clearly not meant to be the end to the series. Frank Herbert leaves several loose ends. At the end of the novel the latest Duncan Idaho, Miles Teg who is one of the finest new characters in the later novels, Sheeana and a host of BG dissidents take a giant no-ship from Chapterhouse and steal away into uncharted space. Amongst the ship's passengers is the last surviving Tleilaxu master, a ghola of Scytale from "Messiah". Unbeknownst to the crew, he has within his skin a nullentropy capsule containing cells from Muad D'ib, Kessica, Chani, Stilgar, Hawat, Leto II and other characters from the original novel. Throughout the book there have been constant hints about a great enemy that drove the Honoured Matres into the old empire, who are doubtless closing in upon it themselves. The ending of the book also introduces us to Daniel and Marty, two enigmatic figures, in the shape of an old man and woman who bear resemblance to Face Dancers from the Scattering. They possess knowledge and power beyond that of other characters, and they seek to capture the no ship bearing Duncan Idaho and the others.

Frank Herbert died before writing what he had started to refer to as Dune 7. This is where his son Brian Herbert, and writing partner Kevin J. Anderson come in. Over a period of years beginning in 1999 they wrote a trilogy of novels based on events leading up to the events covered in the first book, collectively titled Prelude to Dune, and another entitled Legends of Dune in 2002. I can't comment on these prequels, never having read them. Then in the early Noughties they announced that while searching Frank Herbert's papers they had found his notes for Dune 7, some thirty pages of them, and that they were going to write the novel themselves. This actually became two novels, and this is where we finally get to "Hunters of Dune", the first of them.

Over the last couple of months I've read all 6 original books again consecutively. Before even ordering myself a copy of "Hunters" I read a large number of reviews of this, and the final novel "Sandworms of Dune" , and the vast majority have been extremely negative. Now, the best, in fact only valid reason for writing a bad review of a novel is that you genuinely didn't like the book and didn't think it was well written. However this is a sequel to one of the best loved series of novels ever written in the genre, and when people have the extreme devotion to a set of books that many of the fans have to the chronicles of Dune, then they don't always think rationally or consider the new work on its own merits in a fair and reasonable fashion. With this in mind I promised myself that if I was going to read "Hunters" I was going to judge it fairly, and try to judge it by a few simple criteria, namely : -
Did it pick up the loose ends from "Chapterhouse" in a way that seems at all consistent with what has gone before?
Did it develop in ways that seem plausible with the overall direction of the previous novels?
Was the prose style readable or not?
Did it make me want to read "Sandworms" or not?

Now that I've read "Hunters" I have to say that in all honesty I think that a lot of the criticism of the book in the reviews that I've read is unfair, and some of it, grossly unfair. I've read a lot of criticism of the creation of the gholas of Paul, Chani , Thufir, Leto et al upon the no-ship Ithaca. Personally I thought that this was an interesting plot device, and it's difficult to argue that if Frank Herbert had not at least been thinking about the possibility of this, then he wouldn't have introduced Scytale's nullentropy capsule full of cells in "Chapterhouse". Likewise, if Scytale had such a capsule, then it's not unreasonable to suggest that other capsules might have been made by the Tleilaxu, and one of these falling into Honored Matre hands on Tleilax is perfectly plausible.

The majority of reviewers I've read were disappointed at the revelation of the true identities of Daniel and Marty, the great Enemy. They turn out to be Omnium and Erasmus, thinking machines exiled to the edges of the Universe following the Butlerian Jihad. Now, in a way I can understand the disappointment. If there's one thing that the Dune novels aren't really about, it's technology, which when you come to think about it is quite unusual for Science Fiction. But reading Heretics and especially Chapterhouse I can't say that this wasn't what Frank Herbert was hinting. It does make some kind of sense that the greatest threat to the organic universe comes from the inorganic. The Butlerian Jihad has been there in the background since the first great novel that started it all. So while it wasn't what I expected - I don't know what I expected - I can't say that it wasn't right. Yes, the machines Omnium and Erasmus were created in the authors' own prequel novels, but so what? Maybe it wasn't what Frank Herbert intended, but then unfortunately he isn't around any more to tell us exactly what he did intend. Which incidentally leads us to an interesting digression.

Conspiracy theorists point to the lapse in time between Frank Herbert's death, and the discovery of his Dune 7 notes. Shades of Leto II's hoard at Dar es Balat! All I can say about the theory is that if this was a fabrication designed to gain acceptance for "Hunters" and "Sandworms" , then it didn't work very well. But Kevin Anderson has gone on record to say that the original notes were shown to their publishers, and I'll be honest, you don't bring more people in on the secret if you're trying to preserve a lie, especially if it's a lie you didn't need to make in the first place. Besides, the question mark over the existence of the Dune 7 notes is, at best, an irrelevance. If the novel is plausible and enjoyable then it makes little difference whether it was based on notes by Frank Herbert or not. Likewise, if it's a turkey, then it's still a turkey whatever its origin.

So much for the loose ends from Chapterhouse. I can't agree with criticisms of Herbert Jr.'s and Anderson's prose as `turgid' either. Granted that their style is not as rich nor quite as compelling as Frank Herbert's, but neither does it demand quite as much of the reader. It's certainly more than adequate for the task in hand, and if it is, therefore, a slightly easier read than some of the original 5 sequels then that's not necessarily a drawback. If there are times when the novel seems to be taking a long time to get where it's going, it's not the fault of the prose style.

In saying that I think some of the criticism made of the novel is unfair, I'm not saying that there are not criticisms to be made. The structure of the book becomes rather predictable. It is organized in sections that take place three years after the escape from Chapterhouse, then the next five years, and so on. Within each section there's a bit on the ship, Ithaca, probably with Duncan and Miles combining just in time to get the ship to jump in space and escape Daniel's and Marty's tachyon net. Then there's a bit on Chapterhouse with Murbella organizing another raid against another renegade Honored Matres stronghold, or carrying it out. Then there's a bit with the renegade Honored Matres and their axolotl tank projects on Tleilax. Then another bit on the Ithaca, then back to Murbella, and so on and so forth. It leads one to come to the conclusion that a fair amount of the novel is padding. You could probably cut the book to two thirds of its current length, and it wouldn't be any the worse for it. But, and this is a crucial point to consider, you can say that about some of Frank Herbert's own sequels - "God Emperor" comes irresistibly to mind.

While I'm making my own criticisms I did find that the chapter heading quotations didn't ring true for me in this novel. Maybe Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson just don't have the level of philosophical understanding to deliver on this level. I can't say that this greatly reduced my enjoyment of the book, though.

Did "Hunters of Dune" make me want to read "Sandworms of Dune", then? Yes, it did, and it's already on order. I don't say that "Hunters" is necessarily quite as good as the two novels that it immediately follows, "Heretics" and Chapterhouse". It lacks a little in characterization compared with those, although I have to say that I found the captured Lost Tleilaxu Master Uxtal interesting, and the Harkonnen ghola was drawn with some verve and wit. However, and this is important, I don't see that it is hugely inferior in quality when compared with Herbert's last two Dune sequels. All of which begs the question - why has it earned such opprobrium from legions of the series' fans?

Well, this is just my opinion, and by all means feel free to disagree. When a novel, or a series of novels or films acquires this kind of cult following, then the fans come to feel a strange kind of ownership of the works in question. They cannot be rational and dispassionate about it. They feel that the legacy of the work is to be jealously guarded. The words `cult following' are appropriate, since they conjure up images of religion, and the way that I read a lot of the criticism of "Hunters" is that many of the reviewers seem to regard it as `sacrilege'. Not that many of them use that word to describe it. The original author is allowed - sometimes grudgingly - to take the work in directions that the acolyte reader would not have imagined, expected or wanted, but nobody else is. Thus we see Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson being treated as true heretics of Dune, since few acknowledge that a lot of the plot elements they dislike so much in "Hunters" are at least alluded to in "Heretics" and/or "Chapterhouse", and in fact in a number of cases it goes beyond mere allusion. I respectfully suggest that many of those who so actively disliked "Hunters" maybe didn't really like the two predecessors either, but to admit that, even to themselves, really would be sacrilege.

So we come to the crux. If you didn't like "Heretics of Dune" and "Chapterhouse: Dune" then do not read "Hunters of Dune" because you won't like it either. If you did enjoy these last two original sequels, then by all means read "Hunters of Dune", but do it as a reader, not a disciple. Try to forget the received wisdom that says,
a) each sequel in a series is inferior to the book that preceded it
b) any sequel by someone other than the original writer is vastly inferior to the work of the original writer,
and give it a fair trial. You never know, you might find that you rather enjoy it.
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on 8 September 2010
The Dune prequels by Brian Herbert and KJ Anderson are, unfortunately, bloated, bland, overblown and unbelievable. However they are fairly entertaining in their own right, and you can appreciate the bit of imagination that's gone into tying these books in with the original Dune series by Frank Herbert. They are acceptable - because they are decidedly separate from the originals by character, setting and thousands of years.

My biggest fear for these first true sequels was that the authors would attempt to corrupt the brilliance of the original series with the outlandish and unoriginal elements from the prequels. Without spoiling too much, they do this. Sadly this dilutes and weakens the whole Dune mythos and is actually a little offensive.

The good news is that the authors have actually thought about the natural progression of the stories and some, though not all, of the characters behave in a way very fitting for their established personalities. Scytale in particular, at the start of the book, is used to good advantage until his character becomes superfluous and practically disappears after a few chapters. Some of the characters, through weak writing, become faded versions of their former glory, Duncan Idaho being one of the most upsetting, and Miles Teg almost as much.

One problem is that there are too many characters in Frank Herbert's last official book to begin with, and rather than dealing with this the new authors can't resist infecting the storyline with their own inventions. Not only is a fairly pointless scientist character introduced, but there is in addition his Honoured Matre and Face Dancer masters, who are equally insipid and unnecessary. They take up over half the book.

The major error, apart from poisoning the established 'canon' timeline with their prequel elements, is the introduction of (SPOILERS) gholas/clones of all the famed characters from the fictional history, i.e. the first few original book. It becomes a horrible type of 'Dune Babies' storyline, with infant version of all the best characters - the Atreides, Harkonnens etc. - sitting around in a playpen. I kid you not. Not only is it disgusting, but clearly sets up a ridiculous and horrifically clichéd 'Good Muad'Dib vs. Evil Muad'Dib' storyline for the second official sequel, 'Sandworms of Dune'. I haven't read this yet and I'm not sure I will.

In itself, it's not terrible. In fact, those who liked the prequels as much as the 'proper' books will probably like this a great deal - the plain writing style, the drawn-out narrative that goes nowhere, the irritating repetition of scenes that serve no purpose in the story. Those who revere the Frank Herbert novels, even the slightly less impressive 'post-Atreides' books, will most likely be more disappointed with each chapter.

Begins well, ends with a touch of excitement, all of which drowned in resentment and disappointment.

5 / 10

David Brookes
Author of 'Half Discovered Wings'
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on 30 December 2007
A truly awful book. For those who loved Dune, don't even attempt to read this, as it will just leave you wishing you hadn't.

The writing style is weak, and far from the excellent prose that Herbert used in the original 6 Dune novels. The storyline meanders throughout the entire book but nothing is actually accomplished, other than the authors managing to tie the poor "prequel" novels into the cumulation of the Dune series. The characters act nonsensically, and all the delicate balance of power and logic that made Dune brilliant is gone, leaving a cast of characters who blindly lash out and act seemingly without purpose or reason, with holes so large in their reasoning you could pilot a guild liner through it. Avoid this book, avoid the prequels, and buy the Enclycopedia off Amazon second hand.
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on 21 February 2008
It is sad, to the point of being distressing, to see a son attempt to measure up to the works of his father and fall so very short. The prequels were appalling; the writing was shallow, and the plot traipsed through every elderly sci-fi cliché ever minted.

Sadly it hasn't improved in these sequels. I recall reading an interview in which these two authors said they weren't planning to strip-mine Frank Herbert's original universe, they were simply trying to round it off. If only that had turned out to be true. Because as it is, they are bleeding the very soul out of it with every new novel released.

Frank Herbert's Dune novels were soaring achievements of sharp, rich writing, steeped in politics and philosophy -- Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson would rather give you cackling killer robots, endless clones of the original characters, and "ultra spice".

Much as everyone wished for a competent continuation of the Dune saga, this novel and its sequel are not it; I hope they find it in themselves to step back and acknowledge that they are doing more harm than good to the Dune universe, and stop releasing these disappointing cash-ins. As much as a son may wish to measure up to his father, sometimes it simply cannot be.
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on 17 June 2015
This review should start with a large sigh. I KNEW I shouldn’t have read “Dune 7”….
The authors have used EVERY angle to “cash in” on Dune and Frank Herbert’s Sci-Fi masterpiece – this started years ago when Herbert’s son announced he’d found his father’s notes detailing “Dune 7” in his safe. (Probably just the word “DUNE” on a blank sheet of paper judging by this “work”.)
Of course, he wasn’t ready to roll out THAT cash-cow first. No – he gave us “prequels” which largely “filled in” parts of the story that didn’t need filling in at all – they did not add a single thing to the Dune universe and well, were such pale imitations of Frank Herbert’s work, they were practically transparent.
It’s like trying to replace Freddie Mercury of Queen with a man in a vest with a moustache.
This book, like the tedious and flat prequels is a hefty tome – many words to say very little. These are not characters, these are caricatures. The story rambles on like someone trying to spin out a single anecdote into “An Evening With….”. Every character is two-dimensional, and the narrative is clumsy beyond belief. Frank Herbert gave us phrases like “thinking machines” which now become “The robot”. THE ROBOT?! This isn’t 1930s pulp! Also, how many times is the word “whores” used? Easily more in a single book than in the six Frank wrote.
Oh, and get used to plenty of “product placement” – trying to tie in THEIR prequels as canon into the story as much as possible. There are more “mini-recaps” than in an American TV show while the people they bring back (and the order in which they do it!) is just beyond belief. (Of course a couple of characters from THEIR prequels…)
If you loved the way Frank Herbert wrote and the way he described such things as the minutiae that the Bene Gesserit observed or the profound and rich “schemes within schemes” of the original Dune books – reading this, your heart will weep – it’s like that art “restoration” done by that Spanish grandmother…
This book has more in common with pantomime than anything Herbert Snr. wrote – it’s the Jar Jar Binks of Dune – Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson have destroyed Dune more profoundly than any Honored Matre armed with a stack of obliterators!
Some things are best left unsaid, and this book certainly could have done with being unwritten….
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on 20 January 2011
When I first heard that BH/KJA were writing Dune 7 based off some notes they claim to have found, I was all excited. Like any Dune fan after reading 'Chapterhouse Dune', I was left wanting more. I patiently read the Butlerian Jihad and Royal House trilogies, feeling disappointed in both and impatient for them to write Dune 7 already.

Alas, this book was better off not written at all. I slogged through it, patiently reading about the struggle between the Bene Gesserit and the Honored Matres, the drama between the gholas on the Ithaca, Duncan Idaho struggling with his addiction, Sheeana trying to figure out her destiny, some drama from the Face Dancers, and a whole bunch of other junk. And then I came to the end of this book. What? After all that drama and meaningless action I have to wait for another book? I was hoping that Dune 7 would be better than the two trilogies penned by Brian and Kevin, but alas. This book holds NOTHING of the essence of Frank Herbert's Dune.
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on 2 May 2007
In general, I am very suspicious of sequels of famous books written by sons, daughters or other authors. In most cases they tend to capitalise on the fame of the originals, with their sole aim to gain sales and money. For this reason, as well as for the mostly negative reviews of other readers, I have avoided all prequels to the original Dune series written by Brian Herbert & Kevin Anderson. However, when I read that Hunters of Dune was a sequel to the original Dune series based on notes of Frank Herbert himself, I decided to take the risk and buy it.

Unfortunately, Hunters of Dune only proved that my misgivings were justified. First disappointment came from the foreword: the book brings no closure to the Dune Universe, because it is the first of a two-volumes series, since, according to the authors, Frank Herbert's notes gave material for over 1600 pages.

From then on, one disappointment followed the other. First of all, the writing style is indifferent, having nothing to do with FH's compact and distinctive style.

Furthermore, the story is meandering and repetitive, rehashing the same points again & again, repeating events of the previous books or even of the previous chapters, something that FH never did. The authors should understand that once inside the Dune Universe you need not hear again and again how, for example, the Bene Gesserit were afraid of a new Kwisatch Haderash or how Duncan Idaho has been killed in his previous ghola incarnations or even how Honored Matres viciously destroyed one planet after the other.

In addition, nothing significant is added to the overall storyline. No new characters are introduced, no new ethical or political issues are discussed, no moral or metaphysical questions are posed. Nothing to enrich or enliven this post - FH storyline. In fact, to revive interest the authors found it necessary to revive Muad'Dib and Leto II, instead of bringing in something or someone new.

Finally, the efforts to link this book with the prequels written by Brian Herbert & Anderson are pathetic and infuriating. To mention only one point, how can Serena Butler, of the Butlerian Jihad, be in the Other Memory of Sheeana, since her only child was murdered? The explanation given in this book is inadequate at best.

In just a few words, I do not recommend this book. If you absolutely need to know what happens next, borrow it or buy it used, but don't expect much.
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on 17 July 2013
As a big fan of Frank Herbert's Dune series, I had always wanted to know more about that universe. When I started reading the Brian Herbert/Kevin Anderson prequels, I was disappointed but hoped that perhaps they would get the hang of it, and capture at least some of the subtlety, complexity and intelligence of Frank Herbert's books. I persisted through the "House..." trilogy and the Legends of Dune trilogy, by which time I was completely disheartened at the simplistic and juvenile style, plot holes you could fly a Guild heighliner through sideways, and twee happy endings and swore I would never read another. But this summer, having re-read the 6 Frank Herbert books again, I thought I'd give Brian/Kevin one last chance when I saw that they had written a sequel rather than another prequel.

As you can tell, I wasn't feeling particularly optimistic. On that basis, I have to admit I was relatively pleasantly surprised to find that it was better than my low expectations. The book is still nowhere near the quality of the original books, but I found it much less annoying than the other Brian/Kevin books. Perhaps there was slightly less repetition than their earlier efforts, perhaps there was a little more subtlety, or perhaps it was just that I came in expecting so little. I thought there were some good ideas, fairly well executed, and some elements of the ghola plotline were well done - but overused massively.

Overall I enjoyed it enough and was sufficiently interested in knowing what happened next to go on to read Sandworms of Dune - which I found to be back to their usual simplistic and repetitive style. The ending of Sandworms of Dune was excruciatingly poor. So while I would recommend Hunters of Dune so long as you don't go in expecting too much, I would avoid Sandworms at all costs.
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on 1 September 2006
If you've read all the Herbert/Anderson prequels, then this will have nothing new for you. The basic story line is good (but is based on Herbert Snr.'s notes). The dialogue and chacterisation is fairly basic, but there are a few good action sequences. There is nothing of the complexity or interaction between characters of the original 6 books.

However, having read and re-read these original novels many times, I had to buy this book, as I will the final one.

I have to know how the story finally ends.
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on 19 January 2010
I really wish I had never read this book. I think that the original Dune novels are wonderfully written books, with deep characterisation, complex and rich plots, well-thought out and believable world-building, fascinating ideas on religion and society, and beautiful language.

I wish I had NEVER been tempted to read this book. Herbert Jnr and Anderson have a dreadful writing style, they produced bland, cardboard cutout characters, their chapters are ridiculously short, everything feels shallow and skimmed over; there is no soul or depth to these books! In other reviews by Amazon customers their writing has been described as fanfic given official sanction, I think that could be seen as an insult to fanfic, because fanfic authors can produce a better standard of work than this book.

As far as I'm concerned, the Dune universe ended with Chapterhouse Dune and that was a bloody good ending in comparison to the drivel these two authors have foisted on Dune fans.

I read this book for completeness sake, because I wanted to have an idea of where Frank Herbert was heading with the plot - I refuse to believe that he was heading down a road this mediocre, cliched, and boring. If it was possible to give this book a minus number of stars, I would.
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