on 11 October 2008
Paul of Dune... where to start? At the beginning.
This book has a strong start. I enjoyed revisiting Dune after too long, getting re-acquainted with favourite characters and seeing first hand the battles of the Jihad that I had secretly wished to see in Dune Messiah. I can't fault the writing style in this first section, and any inconsistencies with FH's original master works are pretty minimal. I've read other reviews that have picked on them, but, although they were a little distracting, I didn't really take issue with them.
However it was not to last - near the end of the first section there is a big spiel about Irulan's role. I love Dune - it was THE formative book that I read all those years ago, and Dune is Science Fiction - a genre that uniquely relies on consistency. So imagine my thoughts when the authors of this book, plainly breaking the fourth wall through Irulan's character, declare FH's original masterpiece nul and void. They effectively de-canonise it and re-class the defining work of the series alongside the Dune Encyclopedia as an in-universe document with all the inherent flaws that go along with that.
Needless to say I never saw it this way.
This conveniently allows the authors to ignore what was previously laid down by FH and trample the original subtleties of Dune into the ground. And to make matters worse the writing style takes a nose dive.
Of course the writing style is "different" and I don't have a problem with the fact that the authors did not attempt to copy FH's style. Fair enough - some of my favourite books are not by FH... but to remind the reader that (for example) Alia is a Reverend Mother and not a child repeatedly again and again and again in a short chapter cannot be considered a positive stylistic quirk. Unfortunately this needless repetition is rife throughout the remainder of the book. It continually feels like the majority of this book has slipped through the editorial net. Given enough time and effort this story could have been passable, but the barely developed concepts simply don't add up. To make matters worse it is deathly predictable - you don't need Paul's decidedly rubbish prescience to work out EXACTLY where the latest throwaway plotline is headed.
Ultimately this book ineptly adds nothing to the Dune saga. It is true that FH hinted at things he did not write about, but while Paul of Dune may superficially "fill in the gaps" it does little more than to re-hash what FH has already told us with added stock scenery and cardboard characters who die as quickly as they are introduced.
I read this book because I believed, and I still believe, that there is a place for a good Jihad story. Unfortunately this is not it. The authors take one of the most pivotal moments in Dune history, where millennia old structures fall and a new order bloodily carves out a powerbase in an changed empire - and turn it into something utterly bland and un-interesting. Given that this is so close to FH's original setting there are some cool and interesting moments when I was swept up by the Dune universe once more - and for that reason I won't angrily try and give this ZERO stars... It definitely gets ONE star - firmly and fairly. The fact is that Paul of Dune owes EVERYTHING of any worth to Dune and Dune Messiah, and they contain pretty much everything in this volume and more, so much more.
This book is poor - not recommended. (Read some real DUNE instead!)
I promised myself that I would never read another Herbert/Anderson 'addendum' to the original Dune series after the disaster that was The Butlerian Jihad. However, due to forgetting to send in my negative desire for this book to the SF book club, it showed up on my doorstep, and obsessive reader that I am, I eventually cracked the covers of this book.
Surprisingly, it's not an unmitigated disaster, but rather a book that fills some holes between Dune and Dune Messiah, and almost managed to convince me that this extra material 'fit' with the original. However, there are some strong inconsistencies with the original, most notably in the portrayed actions and feelings of certain Fremen Maud'Dib worshipers, a rewriting of history to allow Paul to be offworld prior to the events of the original Dune, and a fleshing out of some the characters of the originals, most notably Irulan, that doesn't truly match Frank Herbert's portrayal.
While still having the short chapter/quick switch between scenes and characters that are now the hallmark of the Herbert/Anderson writing style, for this particular book such treatment actually works, as the plot threads are sufficiently many and convoluted enough to allow for such treatment. And the portrayals of the various characters weren't so obviously wrong as to cause me to throw this book away in disgust. However, this is very faint praise, merely an acknowledgement that the original characters of Frank Herbert were very powerful, real people, and as this book follows these original people, with only a few new persons thrown in, some of that power still permeates this book. This book also manages to avoid any ridiculously obvious scientific boners, mainly by not making any scientific statements of importance, but this is certainly preferable to the nonsense that has filled some of the other volumes.
However, the conclusion of this volume is an extreme letdown and is very poorly thought out, as it hinges on Paul and all of his close advisors willfully ignoring an obvious threat. But perhaps this is not surprising, as another threat earlier in the book is also completely ignored until it is sprung with deadly consequences, even though Paul has a prescient dream with clear significance - darn it, I caught the reference, even though it's been about five years since I last re-read the original Dune, and certainly someone who lived through that particular incident would see the relevance much more easily.
Better than some of the other works about Dune this pair has written, but that's not saying a great deal.
---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
To anyone familiar with the original DUNE universe, Frank Herbert's vision was so rich and majestic that as a reader I did not want the story to end. Well, at this point I very much wished it had.
PAUL OF DUNE had everything going for it: an interesting timeline, a detailed setting and unresolved cliffhangers. Yet it manages to fail.
This book picks up the action just after the first book (and movie) of the series (DUNE) and before the second (DUNE MESSIAH), a very interesting period of 12 years for which, so far, we only had hints and suggestive glimpses of. At the same time, a number of flashbacks flesh-out the details of the life of an adolescent Paul Atreides.
Wheels within wheels? No. Rather more like a lone, rusty wind-wheel turning in the soft breeze of decadent Kaitain. Let the good times roll...
According to Dorothy Parker, there are books "not to be tossed aside lightly, [but] thrown with great force". This is one of these books. My study coffee-table now has the indentation to prove it.
I received this book over a month ago. I tried to read it numerous times but was so discouraged that I kept giving up. The first 100 pages can be summarized in just one phrase: "Paul is devastated by the ongoing Jihad but it is inevitable as the lesser of many evils, according to his prescience". Paul says it. Irulan makes notes about it. Alia has inner voices echoing it. OK, we get it, please move on!
Which prescience, one must note, apparently is a very fickle commodity as we keep hearing of it but never actually seeing it action.
What has became of Paul, the leader of men and conqueror of worlds? THAT little man is the...Kwizats Haderach? THAT is what the Bene Gesserits were selectively mating people for, for thousands of years? THAT is what the Tleilaxu were trying to duplicate? Well, someone must tell both the witches and genetic abominations that they are not missing much!
To keep the new emperor human is one thing; to make him dull and cruel, spineless and indecisive is quite another.
This is a book of science fiction so, yes, suspending one's disbelief is a requirement from page one. Nevertheless, a basic logical scaffolding is required for the whole world not to collapse. Taking over entire planets with only a handful of unruly Fremen and some Sardakaur fresh from switching their allegiance? Paul having delegated almost every important decision to...Korba and his Qizarete priests? Where has the unstoppable momentum of Paul gone? If he had lost steam so soon, there is just no way that his vision would materialize by others.
And just how did Fremen become so bloodthirsty and lost all sense of honor in a few weeks?
The young Paul stories fair a bit better but are cursed with the readers'...prescience of the Dune future: every new storyline must serpentine and eat its own tail before the end. After all, the Golden Path future has been set by Frank. And Writing is not a hereditary ability.
It feels like a bad batch of semuta to be sold anyway only, once more, to take advantage of the hardened addicts.
on 22 December 2008
There were originally six Dune novels: DUNE, DUNE MESSIAH, CHILDREN OF DUNE, GOD EMPEROR OF DUNE, HERETICS OF DUNE, and CHAPTERHOUSE DUNE. The original Dune novel was written in the 1950's. Dune Messiah followed a number of years later. After Frank Herbert shuffled off his mortal coil, his son Brian Herbert and hack sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson were given the keys to the city of the Dune Universe and proceeded to turn it into a cash-cow.
They have so far written 8 spin-off novels. Two of them are sequels to Chapterhouse. Six of them are prequels: The Butlerian Jihad, The Machine Crusade, The Battle of Corrin - leading to the Prelude to Dune novels; House Atreides, House Harkonnen and House Corrino. This latest spin-off details two separate stories; one of them is set during the twelve years between the Original Dune and Dune Messiah, essaying the story of how Emperor Paul Muah'Dib (having deposed Shaddam IV to Salusa Secondus) spreads his Jihad out across the star systems. The other story is presented as extracts from Princess Irulan's diaries chronicling the early life of Paul Muah'Dib, i.e. `The Young Paul Atreides Adventures'. Whether it was the author's original intention to write these stories as part of dual prequel/sequel novel is unclear. The major problem with this publication is the presentation of these two stories in the same volume. You have two books in one, neither of which is properly developed or runs for any significant length. Maybe the authors ran out of material for the Young Paul Atreides sections and realised they had to `pad-things-out' with a pulp Dune 2 airport novel in order for it to pass as a satisfactory publication.
The writing of these spin-offs has always been a problem; they simply do not `feel' like DUNE. They are what they appear: Pulp Sci-Fi paperbacks given the unearned privilege of a run in hardback. They are well written on occasion; the finale to both House Corrino and The Battle of Corrin were genuinely exciting, but other than the odd interesting idea do not linger long in the memory. So what happens in this story? Paul Atreides, newly crowned as emperor, immediately sets about despatching legions of Fedaykin and Atreides battle companies to covet the surrounding star systems, while Paul himself travels to the capital world Kaitain and sacks the imperial palace. He calls a session of the Lansraad and asks them to support his emperorship. On route he pays a whistle-stop visit to Caladan but manages only to insult his former population by departing far too soon in the middle of a banquet in his honour. Shaddam Corrino meanwhile is stewing with rage in exile on Salusa Secondus trying to plot the overthrow of Muah'Dib, urgently requesting the presence of his former loyal assassin Count Hasimir Fenring to assist him. Fenring himself is lying low on the Tleilaxu home world with his wife Lady Margot of the Bene Gesserit and their potential Kwisatz Haderach daughter Marie of the deceased Feyd-Ruatha Harkonnen. Fenring's plan for Marie is to install her on the Golden Lion Throne with his own assassination plot. He also finds himself privy to the Tleilaxu's own Kwisatz Haderach candidate; a human clone known as Thallo, whom is eventually executed by the 7 year old Marie when he malfunctions. Stilgar meanwhile is occupied in battle campaigns on distant worlds and desperate to depart water-rich planets and return to Arrakis and serve by the side of Muah'Dib. Gurney Halleck is despatched to organise the remnants of Geidi Prime, former home world of House Harkonnen and the place where he was imprisoned as a boy. This is my point: it's all mildly diverting but hardly a revelation. The only really interesting idea is the brief section of the book where Paul goes undercover onto the battlefields of the Jihad to fight in the skirmishes himself, so as to experience the blood, filth and carnage that his followers are unleashing in his name, so he can justify to himself the sacrifice of others.
The extracts detailing his early adventures feature chapters from the War of Assassins between House Atreides/House Ecaz and their enemies House Moritani of Grumman headed by the treacherous Viscount Hundro Moritani - developing a plot line from the House Corrino Prelude novel that told of Viscount Moritani's violent attack on the Swordmaster school on Ginaz and his ongoing feud with Archduke Armand Ecaz. Ilesa Ecaz was betrothed to Duke Leto in an alliance between Houses Atreides and Ecaz, but is murdered during the wedding ceremony leading to a War of Assassins being declared against House Moritani. Paul is taken into hiding by Duncan Idaho into the wilderness of Caladan before joining his father and Archduke Ecaz in a ground assault against Viscount Moritani on the plains of Grumman. The Harkonnens are secretly allied with Moritani and send Rabban to the planet where he succeeds only in embarrassing himself and ruining the whole operation. Meanwhile Paul's gigantic Citadel is being constructed in the city of Arrakeen, it's designer revealing a treacherous side of himself during the final act. There is one moment where the book threatens to become epic: Paul foreseeing a great attack on Caladan by rebel forces. Paul immediately harasses the Spacing Guild and has the attack halted. You see? The book promises something epic and then fails to deliver. An orbital battle above Caladan would have been exciting to read. At page 498 you will be justifiably worried that this will end with a whimper. Fortunately the final 10 pages are expertly written and manage to save this book from a 1* star ignominy. The finale sees Count Fenring, Lady Margot and Marie staging an assassination attempt against Paul Muah'Dib. They are of course unsuccessful, and their fate will amuse the knowing dedicated reader of these spin-offs.
This novel will pass the time of day. However, when finished, you will experience the ominous sensation that Paul of Dune 2 and 3 are sure to follow.
on 8 December 2011
I'm a huge fan of the original series and can only really talk about Paul of Dune in that context.
The original set of books is adult, esoteric and challenging. This book is not. The originals describe strong characters who grow and develop consistently over the course of the story and who are done a cruel disservice here to the point where they are unrecognisable.
I don't know if it's down to the writers' limitations or whether they've cynically targeted a younger market but this feels like a kiddy's primer for Dune. The writing style is simplistic to the point of being downright childish at points. There's nothing inherently wrong with that of course, there's a huge a growing number of kids reading which is great. The problem lies in the fact that there's no earthly reason why the authors had to set the story in the Dune universe other than the fact that there's more likely to be a fat cheque in it than if they'd actually created something new. I hope the dollars in the bank act as some kind of anodyne for Brian Herbert to ease the pain of exploiting his father's work in such a shameful and disrespectful way.
For people who love Frank Herbert's novels I strongly suggest you give this a wide berth. For those that haven't read the originals you should. Then you should give this a wide berth too.
I used to enjoy a book on my journey into work. This was so horrible that I think it's actually put me off reading altogether for a while. I'd revisit some of the original series to cleanse my pallet were it not for the fact that my bookstore's shelves are full up with tat from Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson rather than stocking Frank Herbert's work.
Please don't buy this; it'd only encourage them to come out with more.
on 18 September 2010
I've enjoyed Brian Herbert & Kevin Anderson's expansion of the Dune universe. The six prequel books genuinely add something and if you read them in order, by the time you get on to the Frank Herbert's original masterpiece you have more of an understanding of the central characters and the universe the original inhabits.
I find Brian and Kevin's writing style a little easier to read than Frank's, even if they can be a little repetitive at times.
But Paul of Dune as little to add and much to annoy. It would have been a better piece at half the size with the entire 12yo Paul back story ripped out entirely. The back story is more annoying than the Dune/Dune Messiah interquel. A collection of events that bring nothing to the characters and precipitates some re-writing of the original story (Paul's first trip off Caladan is now age 12 to take part in a contrived battle).
The interquel story does add a bit and is more in the same vain as the previous six prequel stories. That said the characterisation seems to have gone off a bit. Characters now behave in ways, based on the 4 immediate previous stories, you wouldn't expect. Gurney and Stilgar feel like entirely different characters.
Most annoying of all though is the writers need to repeat story elements. I know who Marie's father is, I know what happens when someone fires lazers at shields, please stop padding your books with useless facts. Tell me once, twice if it's important enough a story element and enough pages have passed since the first telling. But please stop telling me these useless bits of trivia every time a particular character is mentioned or a particular type of event takes place. I am an intelligent reader of books and can remember the important facts.
Hell I can remember important facts from three books back in the series if it's relevant to the current plot without being spoon fed every turn of the page.
The previous books suffered from this, but Paul of Dune takes reader spoon feeding to a whole new and more annoying level. Especially with the useless backstory, I've nearly thrown this book through the nearest window on several occasions.
There is a story in the Dune Sequel that is worth reading, that adds a little to the universe between Dune and Dune Messiah if you can stomach the spoon feeding and off characters, just skip all the 12yo Paul back story segments and save yourself from a world of pain.
on 13 April 2014
This book details what happens between DUNE and DUNE MESSIAH, not as shown in the Amazon/Kindle title line.
A difficult read, but it does fill in some of the gaps between the first two Frank Herbert books.
on 5 February 2010
Being a fan of the Dune saga it pains me to read yeat another book that adds little to the original dune books. I don't have an issue with their writting per say. They freely admit they will never write in the rich vein of Frank but it must be said that since the House prequals the substance of their books as dropped off substantially.
This book has some promising plot lines but they are resolved in such a way as to make you think H&A gave up and looked for an easy way out. At one point my summation of one attempt to kill Paul was in my opinion a complete waste of time. The only saving grace was the final plot which was more in keeping with Frank, although it seemed to came out of nowhere, making it seem that it was very rushed.
If the winds of dune is the same I will stop buying these books and just keep the Frank & House books.
on 12 August 2015
Absolute top-class linking novel between Dune and Dune Messiah. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the further expires of Leto, Paul, Duncan, Thufir, Gurney and Jessica. Thankfully through these authors Frank Herberts' legacy continues!
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!