Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles #2) ★★★★ ½

dunemessiah-review (Custom)

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Title:       Dune Messiah
Series:    Dune Chronicles #2
Author:   Frank Herbert
Rating:    4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre:     SF
Pages:     340
Format:   Digital Edition


Paul Atreides is Emperor of the Galaxy. His Fremen have swept planets under his rule and nobody can stop him. For Paul can see the future and how do you fight a man who can see THAT? The answer appears to be, very carefully and with layers upon layers of plots.

The Bene Gesserit, the Spacing Guild, the Bene Tleilax and Princess Irulan are all in to bring the downfall of Paul Atreides, who seems to be on the cusp of attaining godhood. They attack his family through Chani. They subvert his Quizarate. They foment rebellion amongst the Naibs who cannot deal with the rapid change of climate on Dune. They tempt Paul himself with the gola of Duncan Idaho, the man who gave his life to save Paul.

And Paul sees this all and knows this all and he doesn’t know how to stop seeing the future. He is walking a path of least resistance, the smallest amount of chaos but as the Navigators found out in Dune, that eventually leads to Stagnation. So Paul lets the future happen and hopes that his children can somehow change things.

And as a blind Fremen, he walks out into the desert to die.

My Thoughts:

Some seriously wicked crazy plotting going on here. Not everyone is happy with Emperor Paul. In fact, most of the power groups aren’t. We get introduced to the Bene Tleilax, a group/race of people that are, in essence, shapechangers. They can also mimic those they change into. The Bene Gesserit are upset because their little breeding program is off the rails; what’s the point of creating a superman if you can’t control him? The Spacing Guild, CHOAM and the Landsraad are all pretty put out as Paul exercises supreme authority and they have to do what they’re told.

I really liked how Herbert figures out a way to make it possible to blind someone who can see the future. If nothing else in this book impresses you, the fact that Herbert doesn’t make Paul unassailable should make you re-read Dune with new eyes.

There was a lot of philosophy talk being thrown around. There was a lot of political machinations going on. This had nuances and creases and folds that were not only not apparent in Dune, but were pretty much unthinkable. Herbert completely throws Paul under the bus because that is the only place he can go.

Alia plays the second biggest role here, in my opinion. She’s not quite as powerful as Paul and is constantly trying to catch up to her big brother. That isn’t very ominous until you’re doing a Re-Read. Then it becomes the scary music in the background. In many ways it seems that Paul does nothing to try to stop her. But that is a “thing” for him. He is hemmed in by prophecy of future sight and so he is so afraid of meddling with others and somehow damaging their free will.

Free will is about having the choice. Not all the choices, not clearly spelled out, not with all the knowledge of the consequences. Free Will means being able to say “yes” or “no” to something. Even while bemoaning the future sight, Paul still had Free Will. He just didn’t want to face the consequences of taking a different path and so he didn’t.

And so like in our world, one generation of heroes must make way for another.

★★★★ ½


  1. Dune
  2. Dune Messiah Review from 2012

11 thoughts on “Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles #2) ★★★★ ½

    1. Dune Messiah is much more of a “Herbert” book in tone than Dune was. If you read a lot of Herbert’s other works, you’ll realize just how much of an aberration Dune was. In a good way.

      But I still like the whole Chronicles. The scope is awesome…

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I remember discussing this in the ‘book club’ section of the old CompuServe SFLIT forum more than a decade ago. The sysop in charge of the discussion hated it with a passion, and patronisingly dismissed anyone who dared to point out the book’s merits. She appeared to prefer SF&F novels which were basically soap operas or romances with an SF background as mere window-dressing. She appeared totally incapable of getting her head round the concept of the planet itself being a major actor in the story.

    As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t recognise Dune as a classic of the genre despite it’s flaws, even if it’s not to your personal taste, then you’re a fool.

    Sequels are definitely patchy, though. “God-Awful of Dune” gets that nickname for a reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, the more I re-read the sequels, the more I like them. They have depth and heft and explore things that Dune didn’t. I still like Dune the best, mind you, but the rest keep growing on me…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read all of the prequels as well, seduced by Brian and Kevin’s BS claims of having found a trove of Frank’s notes, but once I got to Dune 7 and read the hack, trite garbage they had coming out of my beloved characters’ mouths I realize I had been royally buggered. Literately speaking.

        Liked by 2 people

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