Sunday, October 17, 2010

Book Review – Children of Dune

In an earlier post I mentioned I was not enjoying Children of Dune, the third in Frank Herbert's Dune trilogy. Only 40 percent into it at that time, I was determined to finish it and hope either it got better or I came to like the style. I finished it today, and here's the report: it didn't, and I didn't.

Dune, the original of the series, was a challenge due to its length and the large number of terms to learn. Dune Messiah was difficult due to introduction of situation that were never fully explained, as well as for some back story left out that would have been helpful. Children of Dune was difficult because of the seemingly unending internal thoughts/monologue and the under-explained "Golden Path" that is the obsession of Leto Atreides, child heir apparent to rule the empire.

I've no doubt that Frank Herbert knew exactly what he meant with all of the strange statements made by the various characters, but none of them did to me. Characters frequently interrupted the others during dialog, and the partial statements made no sense. Here's a couple of examples.

But a coward, even a coward, might die bravely with nothing but a gesture. Where was that gesture which could make him whole once more? How could he awaken from trance and vision into the universe which Gurney demanded? Without that turning, without an awakening from aimless visions, he knew he could die in a prison of his own choosing.
His vision-shrouded eyes saw her as a creature out of humankind's Terranic past: dark hair and pale skin, deep sockets which gave her blue-in-blue eyes a greenish cast. She possessed a small nose and a wide mouth above a sharp chin. And she was a living signal to him that the Bene Gessirit plan was known—or suspected—here in Jacurutu. So they hoped to revive Pharaonic Imperialism through him, did they?

The lack of context will make it difficult to appreciate these passages. They are representative of so much of the book. Lots of terms to understand. Lots of thoughts to process. Incomplete inferences to things you will never fully understand because they are never fully explained.

I could go on, but I think you will understand: I didn't like the book. I won't get rid of it. I'll keep it so that I have the complete trilogy in hand. But I can't recommend it. I'm sure Dune trilogy fans will regard this as sacrilege. But that's my honest opinion.

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