Book review ‘Dune Chronicles 2: Dune Messiah’

  • Writer: Frank Herbert
  • Publishing Year: 1969 (first published)
  • Publisher: Ace Books (Penguin Random House)
  • Number of Pages: 285
  • My rating: 3.5/5

Story: (as per the back cover of the book)

Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Artreides, better known -and feared- as the man christened Muad’dib. As Emperor of the known universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremen, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne – and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence.

And even as House Artreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s dynasty.

My review: (and thoughts)

Whereas Frank Herbert gave us a heroic story in the first book of the Dune Chronicles, here he writes a completely different story. We have skipped twelve years in time and Paul, Muad’dib, has either usurped, overthrown or killed his enemies. So he is the ‘almighty’ Emperor and ruler of the only valuable source, spice melange. He seems to rule as a just Emperor but still enemies are lurking about and are combining forces to try and overthrow him. As a prescient Paul does see doom in his future but he sees different paths and not all is shown to him in his visions.

He is still married to Irulan, the princess he married to gain his power, but as she wants him to give her a child, he refuses and instead gives his true love, Chani, the gift of a child (again after their first one died in ‘Dune’, during the final battle)

All that happens in this book is orchestrated somehow, either by Paul’s enemies (among those is a ‘Face Dancer’ aka a shapeshifter and is the Mother Reverend from the Bene Gesserit) and is a psychological warfare between Paul, his family and the Fremen and those who are meaning to overthrow his power. The ultimate goal being the production of spice melange, either on Arrakis or on another planet, If necessary. But then they would have to be able to catch a sandworm!

And one other player in this story who will have a big role in the future, I’m sure, is his sister, Alia. She leads a church, a religion and becomes infatuated by Hayt, who is actually a reincarnation of the dead Duncan Idaho.

This book certainly has pros and cons, and if I read reviews by other readers, I see so many different opinions. Mine is somewhat in the middle of the good and the bad ones. I found the writing and the storyline a bit slow (certainly the first 150 pages) where there was a lot of talk, political and religious banter and at the same time I felt there was a build up to a seriously explosive finale. It might not really have been ‘explosive’ but it did carry a huge punch, that left me hanging with a hunger for more!

It took me longer than I expected to finish this book, simply because it was so slow, a bit lethargic even in times, but those final 130 pages made it worthwhile!

One thing’s for sure: this book will act as a glue between book 1 and 3 (Children of Dune)! This has set up some pawns on a chess board, ready to attack the king and queen! I’m really looking forward to set foot again on Arrakis, to feel the grains of sand, mixed with some spice, flow through my fingers. I wonder what role Alia and Hayt will play, how Paul’s heir(s?) will become key players and which enemies are left to try and seize Dune from the House Artreides!

3.5/5 (if only it were a bit faster in pace!)

Ace Books Dune Chronicles

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