September 19, 2011

Heretics of Dune [review time]

The fifth in Herbert's Dune series, Heretics sums up the shortcomings and accomplishments of the series. Long-winded and large scope, it misses the mark in creating tension for the reader, but we'll give it a break out of love. Heretics delivers on the promises made by Book 1, but do we really care anymore? Our hero Paul Atreides is long dead and his descendants are involved in a power struggle between the Bene Gesserit and the Tleilaxu. The problem is, either we don't have all of the pieces of the puzzle, or this puzzle is not complex enough to be worthy of settling the matter of universal domination.

If it comes out of nowhere that planet Rakis (formerly Arrakis or Dune) is destroyed in part of the Mother Superior's plans, it's because the solution was unforeseeable in its over-simplicity. We were looking too hard for something really clever and the simple answer went right under the radar.

I did enjoy the book in that it delivers on promises made in Dune. Paul Maud'dib has become a name of legend and we can finally understand the timelessness of that legend and the grand scope of his effect on the known universe. Dune is similar to A New Hope in that while it has an excellent stand-alone plot, it is part of a greater whole and has to be appreciated as such. Even if we agree that these introductory pieces are superior to all sequels, one is not complete without the other. That's the only merit I can see to reading Heretics of Dune - that and completing what you've started. The Golden Path is long, but once you start down it, you might as well stay through to the end.

Or you can save yourself the time and effort by reading the Wikipedia plot summary instead. Your choice.

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