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Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

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Submitted by Todd Kahle
(Mar 20, 2001)

Frank Herbert has done it again. "Dune Messiah" is more internal than the original book to the series, "Dune." For this, the second book has received a great deal of criticism from "Dune" fans. Most fans expect a repeat of the same atmosphere and theme that is delivered in the original text, so when they get to "Dune Messiah" they are disappointed. Personally, I'm glad Herbert made the second book so different. I've grown weary of trilogies that repeat the same monotonous themes and ideas in every publication to the point that nothing is a surprise, and you feel like you're buying the same book (or watching the same movie) over and over again (e.g., "Star Wars" and "Alien" sequels). Mainly, this happens because publishers demand authors to meet readers' expectations to boost sales; therefore, sequels become a bore to more intuitive fans. "Dune Messiah" is a new treat with the same great flavor. The elaborative elements, from mysterious prescience to Fremen customs, are repeated, but the struggle between the protagonist, Paul, his enemies, and his own powers, are primarily psychological and wrapped in persistant symbolism. This is a book you have to read twice to really appreciate. "Dune Messiah" keeps the reader entangled in provocative insight that would make a social worker scream, but presents enough down-to-earth humanity--such as romance, love, and sacrafice--to keep the book close to home. The ending is unexpected--the cream in the candy. What is expected in the book avoids the "I-knew-its" from readers by reaching every conclusion in a way that isn't predictable: Alia and Hayt? The Facedancer and the twins? The ending of an emperor? The true talent that is Frank Herbert all the way is the use of endings without really ending the story (oops, sounding like a mentat, now). Herbert writes enough to leave you satisfied at the end, but he also leaves a lot of questions that will send you driving to the nearest bookstore for the next sequel: What of Stilgar's involvement? What about Alia's future? The twins' powers? "Dune Messiah" is a book for the thinking fan (I'm still thinking about it). It is also one of the texts that primarily influenced the prequels created by Frank Herbert's son and Kevin J. Anderson. Although, the prequels reak of modern expectations for movie-like action and simplistic character psychology any shrink-pretend can figure out, they do carry on the Herbert talent of "wheels within wheels" plot structure. Frankly, I'm amazed by how Frank Herbert can create such a complex world and still walk out with his pants on. Amazing author; amazing book.

Submitted by CP
(Dec 28, 2000)

Dune Messiah is a wonderful parable about power. In this book Paul Atreides has become the most powerful ruler in human history. His Jihad (holy war) has conquered thousands of worlds and he is worshipped as the god Muadib. House Atreides now controls the spice flow. Melange is a spice which is created by the unique ecology of the desert planet Dune. It grants powers of expanded consciousness and longevity to the user but is highly addictive. Blue on blue eyes being the mark of a melange addict.Some other power groups, the Bene Gesserit, Space Guild and the Tleilaxu have formed a conspiracy to overthrow Muadib and regain control of the spice flow. Paul Atreides, through a Bene Gesserit breeding program, and a high dosage of pure melange, has the power to see into the future and direct the course of human history. He can in essense foresee the best path his empire should take to remain in power. However this comes with a cost. Paul struggles with himself over whether he should direct the fate of humankind or "disengage" and let human history run it's own course (freewill). This debate of fate versus freewill is fascinatingly mirrored in the ghola named Hayt, who is essentially a Tleilaxu clone of the character Duncan Idaho, the weapons master who was killed in the first book. Hayt has actually been programmed by the Tleilaxu to destroy Paul Atreides. Because Hayt was made with an exact replication of Idaho's genes there is some remembrance by Hayt of the person he was cloned from. By the end of the book there is an inner struggle between Hayt and Idaho. Hayt must destroy Paul Atreides, but Duncan Idaho was sworn to protect him. The book is a fascinating read. Frank Herbert had a vast intellect.

Submitted by Anonymous
(Sep 20, 1999)

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert. To be honest this book took me a bit by surprise. After reaing
Dune I was expecting the same type of book, and what I really got was something a bit different.
The characters are the same and it's not reall all that different from Dune, but whereas Dune was
action packed, this book is "playing games with your mind". With that I mean that the action in
this book is taken to another level, the battle between minds, who's the most intelligent and clever?

Well, enough of this rattling, it was a pleasant surprise and a truly great story. Writing literature
like this is not something just every author is able to do.

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