Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

Title:  Dune Messiah

Author:  Frank Herbert

Paperback:  279 pages

Published: 1969

ISBN:  0425074986

“I prefer the cynical view,” Paul said, testing.  “You obviously are trained in all the lying tricks of statecraft, the double meanings and the power words.  Language is nothing more than a weapon to you and, thus, you test my armor.”

“The cynical view,” Edric said, a smile stretching his mouth.  “And rulers are notoriously cynical where religions are concerned.  Religion, too, is a weapon.  What manner of weapon is religion when it becomes the government?”

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert, pages 108-109

Earlier this year, I read and reviewed the first of the Dune novels by Frank Herbert, which is arguabley one of the greatest science fiction books ever written.  And while Dune Messiah isn’t as beloved as the original, it is, in my oppinion, every bit as good as the first.  It is intellectual, even philosophical, and the characters are tangible and relateable.  There is one caveat I’d warn you if you plan on reading it.  Dune Messiah is NOT brain candy.  It requires thinking as you read it.  At times, it gets a little deep in thought, but it’s well worth it.

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert picks up about 12 years later after Paul Muad’Dib has led the Fremen in a galactic jihad.  He has not only become the emporer, but also has become the religious central figure, along with his sister Alia.  Officially married to the Princess Irulan, she functions more as his ettiquette and political advisor, while Chani, his Fremen concubine, is his love and true wife.  He refuses to allow Irulan’s desire to be the mother of the imperial line, deferring that to Chani.  The trouble is, Irulan isn’t the only one who want his genetic material, but the Bene Gesserits and the Bene Tleilaxu do, as well.  The latter two want to make a kwisatz haderach that they can control.  Irulan seems to want it out of pride.

Also going on is the declining appoval of the new world Muad’Dib has brought to the planet Dune, also called Arrakis.  Fremen ways are passing, as water has become more abundant and the society is becoming more fragmented and people become more isolated.  Really, it’s no surprise ot me, considering a second term president can go from a 60%+ approval rating before being re-elected and plummet to a less than 30% rating before leaving office. 

Paul, too, has undergone change.  He has become more sullen and feels trapped by his own mythology.  He has known for a long time that no matter which way he turned, fanatics would take up his name as a banner in jihads, that they will worship him whether he is alive or dead, so he tried to pick the best of all the crap paths through his presience powers to lead them.  Unfortunately, however, he’s become a bit of a despot, and he hates what he’s become.

So he has to figure out how he’s going to manage to ensure his child lives to carry on the emire without being under the thumb of either of the Bene schools, that he can escape the weight of being a living god, and somehow return the Fremen to their ways while still having his contributions of planetary changes remain. 

I think one of the biggest reasons why those who loved Dune and hate Dune Messiah do so because this book shows Muad’Dib in a very human and flawed light.  Pride, arrogance, and even cruelty at times are all part of who Paul is and he shows it.  He goes on walks around the city after dark, despite council against it from Stilgar, his closest friend and advisor.  He take in Hayt, the ghola (a reanimated corpse, or a clone of a dead person, not sure which) of Duncan Idaho, despite his warning to get rid of him, as well as his own feelings that Hayt’s meant to be a weapon and every advisor telling  him it’s unnatural.  In this second book, Paul is a bit less likeable than in the first.

I do plan on re-reading both Dune and Dune Messiah, as well as read the third book in the series, Children of Dune.  There is a mini-series made that combined the second and third books, which I’ve watched just the part for this book.  Like most movies-from-books, it left a lot out and failed to completely capture the book, but I’m sure it was doomed from the start, given just how much is in the book.  I give Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for this great review! I really must get around to reading Dune one of these days.

  2. I want to read Frank Herbert, but I haven’t got to him yet. Maybe this year!

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