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on 19 July 2017
Very good
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I have been a Sci Fi fan for years now.
Back when I was a callow youth I picked up a (second hand) copy of Dune and gave up after the first few chapters.
Only many years later, when I was more mature as a reader did I pick it up and read it.
I was mightily impressed Frank Herbert had succeeded in creating his own Universe and a wonderful planet – Dune.

I then tried the sequels and after the 3rd stopped dead.
Recently I picked up one of Brian Herberts and Kevin J Andersons
House Atreides (Prelude to Dune) .

It was like discovering an old friend.
The story set 40 odd years before the events of Dune explains and expands the Dune Universe.

The book is entertaining and well.. readable lighter than Brian’s Father Herbert but still intelligent and deep for it to be a satisfying story.
And my what a story it is.
The chapters flow from Kaitain and the aging Emperor of the known universe and the Crown Prince, to GeidiPrime with Vladimir Harkonnen still young, fit and virile (for same sex) for the moment to Ix the planet of the machines and Caladan the water world of the Atreides.
Then there is Arakis- Dune with the Emperor’s Planetologist supreme Pardot Kines.
Against that is the backdrop of the Spacing Guild, the witches of the Bene Gesirate and the machinations of the Imperium.

All in all a wonderful book.
Well don Messrs Herbert and Anderson.
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on 5 May 2004
I received House Harkonnen as a Christmas present in 2002 and two years later I finally got around to reading it. It is a brick of a book, which was the main reason for taking so long to get around to it. It looked uncomfortable and unwieldy. It turned out to be far less of a pain than I'd assumed though; and I haven't been working out since I got it.
I suppose you'd like to hear about the actual content now, right? Well. In many ways Brian Herbert is rather brave to consider writing the Dune Preludes series as he was bound to come in for a fair bit of criticism. I mean let's face it, Frank Herbert was a genius and the original Dune series are probably the finest Sci-Fi novels of the 20th Century.
The problem with writing prequels to such a masterwork is that surprises are going to be fairly few. You know that Leto, the Baron, Jessica, Idaho, Gurney etc can't die, because you know what happens to them a few years down the road before you even start.
To be honest, I found House Harkonnen to be fairly mundane and pedestrian. It failed to grip me and the writing is nowhere near the level of the originals. It isn't that it's a bad book or badly written really; it's more that it isn't written to the level of detail and intrigue as the originals. I find it hard to believe that the prequels are written to notes and synopses created by Frank Herbert. If this was the case, his notes were few and lacked of detail.
There's something about reading this novel that makes you feel the writers are losing momentum and the ideas aren't there anymore.
Having said all that, I did go through it pretty quickly. The pace is fast and the chapters fairly short, inviting you to read one more before turning out the light.
In summary: A readable book with no real surprises. I would have to say average, especially if you've read the originals.
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on 26 March 2005
Far be it for me, a young Dune reader, to object to the cries of dismay from diehard frank herbert fans, but I think the whole prelude series by his son Brian and Kevin J Anderson (of star wars, X files fame,) is excellent.
I'm no writer, and I'm certainly no literary critic, I can't even spell properly 99% of the time. But I loved the original series growing up, and I think these (along with the butlerian Jihad books) perfectly compliment them *as another author*
Keep in mind that this guy is frank herberts son, but he is not frank herbert. Would you even try to emulate your father with a shadow that big?
I think with that pressure they've both done a marvelous job.
As mentioned before, the chapters where quick and involved, forcing you to go that extra chapter before you put it down. It also adds a whole new flesh to characters that were not entirley backround motivated in the original series - duncan idaho (the original duncan idaho) being a noteworthy example, jessica, and the new characters of the mentioned but not explained industry world of Ix.
All in all, I have all of the series bar this one now, and they are all worth a look to appreciate these men and their effort in the presence of the overwhelming shadow of a great, great author.
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VINE VOICEon 27 December 2013
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 11 April 2001
All the characters and all the plots ( and sub-plots)!
The style of multiple story lines given in short sharp chapters often causes confusion and a lack of a real storyline, however with HH it works and works well. Perhaps its the fact that by now the 8th(?) book of the series, we know and empathise with the characters and the bloodlines so we are able to jump around with more surety.
If I was looking for one drawback it is with prequels in general, in that you can guess at the outcomes for characters depending on whether they feature in the future storylines.
This 500+ page book was finished in days not weeks and I'm already looking for the House Corrino sequel.
If you like your fantasy and science-fiction on a Universal stage this should be on the Top of your list. Be prepared to fork out for all the others in the series if you haven't already!
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on 27 July 2001
The partnership of Anderson and Herbert finally seems to be working. after a shaky start with 'House Atreides' the duo has finally managed some very respectable plot and character development (the Duncan Idaho character being paticularly fascinating.)
The main gripe is that the book does not have the philosophical punch of its predecessors and its scale is far less ambitious, indeed the entire style of writing is different. However once you overcome these hurdles the book is a pleasure to read and i found myself reading through the 600 pages or so in very little time.
This book has not the scale of its predecessors nor the intellectual weight, but it is a damn fine read and is a more than credible addition to the dune universe. I only hope that the hinted-at sequal to chapter house becomes a reality.
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on 23 August 2009
This book, and all of the other Herbert & Anderson penned prequels, serves only one purpose. It demonstrates amply that talent is no requirement in getting published. Would-be novelists take heart.
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on 17 August 2014
I found the book extremely satisfying in how the author creates new story-lines whilst marrying it to later books Most intriguing!
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on 12 March 2001
I enjoyed this immensely. The first book in the series (House Artreides) was quite good and it re-awakened my interest in Dune but this second book was difficult to put down. I dont usually like books skipping from character to character but this was so well done that the story line flowed smoothly. Only one slightly negative comment. The title was the House of Harkonnen but the book gave almost equal space to Artreides?? When is the next book out?
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