Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

Dune Messiah Book Cover

Frank Herbert continues his epic saga with Dune Messiah. Paul “Muad’Dib” Atreides has been Emperor for 12 years following the ending of the first novel when he took over. He has become a god figure, messiah, to the Fremen, which have ravaged the galaxy spreading their religion to countless worlds. Paul has not been able to prevent the jihad, but has been able to control it in a way.

I never wanted to be a god, he thought. I wanted only to disappear like a jewel of trace dew caught in the morning. I wanted to escape the angles and the damned—alone … as though by an oversight.

Princess Irulan continues to compile her histories, denied the physical attention of Paul. Chani and Paul have tried to conceive and heir, but have yet to be successful. It turns out that Irulan has been slipping a contraceptive into Chani’s food, hoping that Paul will give up and produce an heir with herself.

There is a conspiracy involving the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, Princess Irulan, a Tleilaxu Face Dancer of the Bene Tleilax (which has the ability to perfectly mimic the appearance, voice, and demeanor of others) named Scytale, and a guild navigator named Edric. They hope to destroy Paul and take back control of Dune and the spice trade. The reason they can conspire against Paul is that he cannot foresee events which involve guild navigators. They create a type of interference which Paul cannot penetrate with his skills as the kwisatz haderach.

An interesting trait of Scytale, as with all Tleilaxu, is that he is willing to help destroy Paul, but only if there is a chance of escape. The tool which they will use to destroy Paul is a ghola (essentially an advanced clone), grown from the remains of Duncan Idaho. This is a being with the mannerisms, skills, and demeanor of the old Duncan, but without his memories. The man, called Hayt, is presented as a gift to Paul by Edric. Paul could refuse the gift, but that would be very poor form in the realm of politics.

Paul accepts Hayt, with reservation, perceiving some sort of trickery. He asks Hayt if he is meant to destroy Paul, which he confirms. Paul, however, keeps Hayt by his side. This reminds me of the saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” Although Hayt knows that he is meant to destroy Paul, he’s unaware of the specific circumstances.

Hayt ends up being one of my favorite characters in this book. Those he interacts with are constantly comparing him to the original Duncan Idaho, prompting Hayt to question his own existence and purpose. One significant difference between Hayt and Duncan is that Hayt has been trained as a mentat and in Zensunni philosophy. Hayt/Duncan plays a pivotal role, constantly trying to ascertain how he will be used to destroy Paul. He truly has no desire to hurt Paul, and begs to be sent away.

Paul knows that he must pay a high price to end the jihad, as seen through one of his prescient visions. Throughout the novel Paul struggles with deciding whether or not he is willing to pay that price. The specific price is known to Paul, but not revealed to the reader. What is most interesting is how Frank Herbert unveils the scope of Paul’s power. Visions of the future and past converge, branching out into countless possibilities. Paul’s goal is to force events to follow the one path which will end the jihad.

Little stumbles here and there suggest that Paul isn’t as omnipotent as he hopes to be. Subtle differences pop up not quite matching his visions, then suddenly it seems that he locks on to the future he was searching for. Paul is a reluctant messiah, but the powers that he exhibits after this revelation only reinforce his god-like status with the Fremen.

From then on we see Paul bravely following the path he has foreseen to his own destruction. There are plenty of twists and turns, many of which caught me by surprise. Technology seems to be much more prevalent in this book, compared to the first one. The complex interactions are still there, with the welcome addition of the interesting Bene Tleilax. The pacing is much more consistent, with the entire events of the novel taking place at one after another, rather than over three distinct sections as in the first novel. Overall, I was very pleased with this sequel, and if anything, like it better than the original.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you are a human * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Post

Children of Dune by Frank HerbertChildren of Dune by Frank Herbert

Frank Herbert caps off his Dune Trilogy with Children of Dune. Paul “Muad’Dib” Atreides embraced his fate as a blind Fremen by walking into the desert approximately 9 years ago. His sister Alia oversees the religion of Muad’dib, and seems to be enjoying the power that comes with it as the de facto leader of the Empire. Paul’s twin children Leto II and Ghanima are being protected by Stilgar at Sietch Tabr. The main concern, which is well justified, is the fear that the Atreides twins will be assassinated. (more…)

Isaac Asimov’s Robots and Aliens Book 2: Renegade by Cordell ScottenIsaac Asimov’s Robots and Aliens Book 2: Renegade by Cordell Scotten

Robots and Aliens Volume 1 book cover

This review will most likely contain spoilers for any previous books in the series, read at your own risk.

In Renegade, Cordell Scotten describes an alien species far different than that of the wolf-like pack in Book1. I found it a bit hard to relate to this new species as well as I could with the wolf creatures. I think that Scotten might have been trying a bit too hard to come up with complex aliens. Most of the unique mannerisms that were described seemed like they came out of nowhere. One thing that I did like from this book was that the relationship between Derec and Ariel is developed a bit more. Also, we start to understand a bit more about the Key of Perihelion.

Isaac Asimov’s Robots and Aliens Book 3: Intruder by Robert ThurstonIsaac Asimov’s Robots and Aliens Book 3: Intruder by Robert Thurston

Robots and Aliens Volume 2 book cover

This review will most likely contain spoilers for any previous books in the series, read at your own risk.

Sometime after the end of Renegade, Derec has developed some problems using his chemfets to control Robot City. Derec, Ariel, Mandelbrot, Wolruf are on their way back to Robot City along with Adam & Eve (the changelings now referred to as Silversides). This book reminds me most of “Prodigy” from the Robot City series where we saw creative drives evolve in the robots. This volume is definitely more interesting than Renegade in my opinion. Amazingly, quite a bit of the main story plot is developed and we see some more information as to the purpose of the Silversides and their quest to define what is truly “human”.