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on October 16, 2002
First things first let's level with each other. The fact that you're reading reviews probably means you're like me: You loved the original series, want to know about the Dune Universe pre-Great House Era, but are unsure if you really want to wade through this book.
OK, so let's level.
1. No, this in no way compares to Herbert the elder. Sorry.
The style of writing is much more short and episodic, it lacks that sort of motif based symphony Frank used. This is much more for a generation of Tv watchers and writers. Mini episodes cut between points of action (The Free Worlds, Earth, on a Ship, Arrakis, rinse repeat).
As such you don't have that feeling you had in dune where rising actions continued and then reached a few critical climaxes and faded away.
2. You really want to know what the Butlerian Jihad is. It's a great complling force in Frank's books and you want to know what happened. This book definitely moves in the direction of filling in those gaps.
In all truth, however, i think that most of us would have been satified with a Princess Irulan book: "The history of Pre-Great House Dune." I mean, had it narrated the facts of this book, it would have been *equally* as entertaining. In fact, this book is really a high school science fair 'play-dress-up' of actual interesting events.
3. It does cater to stereotypes and safe political waters. Urge for freedom, that humans are creative an passionate while machines are cold, etc. is familiar ground. Some interesting points were brought up: where do a mechanized human's loyalies lie - man or machine, body mind dichotomies. While Frank H. would have explored these interesting issues, the more pulp style of this series goes the safe route.
A few thoughts I have about Dune and allegory on my web site draws a steady stream of hits day in and day out. There is no possible allegory here. Furthermore, Frank wrote a great deal about the power of numbers, how fanaticism and fundamentalism can be harnessed -- things that made one think months afterward -- I'm not going to think about this book again (likely).
Consider how many sci-fi books have been written about when the machines take over. The authors of the Butlerian Jihad could have written one as well. Frank Herbert had the amazing vision to ask -- OK what would happen /after that/. That's the difference between just a couple of guys who wrote a story and a master.
So in sum. Wait for paperback, don't think that this is going to greatly enrich your experience of the Dune universe, simply view it as a pulp story that will give you a bit of back history on the great houses. That said, the House books were a sight better and this series, should it maintain its present course, will merely be an interesting backstory to them.
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on October 4, 2002
While many readers poo-pooed the Dune prequel trilogy, I really enjoyed it. The stories and characterisations were interesting and they opened up the background to me as well. With this experience in mind, I was happy to treat myself to The Butlerian Jihad. This event, dropped into the original Dune story in dribs and drabs, has always spoken to me because of it's epochal effect on the Dune universe. Dune's characters all suffered from the same interesting prejudice in that they hated machines due to the Butlerian Jihad. Their very piousness was rooted in blind prejudice and this made them extremely interesting because they were so obviously flawed. A sci-fi universe with no thinking machines was ground breaking stuff and I'd been looking forward to reading about it and the great figures of the time (Tio Holtzman etc) for many years.
I've nearly finished the book and have to say so far I'm disappointed because it's just too one dimensional. The book for starters begins at the beginning of the end. The old empire has already fallen and Human planets face off against the robot ones (the Synchronised Worlds). The humans are clearly goodies and the robots (and their lackeys) are obvious baddies with very few shades of grey inbetween the characters at all.
Likewise, the storyline offers very few genuine surprises. Many plot threads and facts are explained in depth by the authors as they happen. This happens enough times that the reader recognises a pattern and can easily notice the instances where a plot thread is introduced and the authors then fail to immediately explain it (eg the 2nd transmission towers on Giedi Prime). You just know why it will come up later on and this precognition effect destroys the suspense.
The hardest task for the authors has been to create robot characters (would robots be individuals?) who are alien - the human brained cymeks making a good exception. An easy quandry to understand becasue if the robots are too alien, they will be too hard for a reader to understand and connect with. This seems to be the reason why the authors create characters like Erasmus, an independantly minded robot who aims to study human-ness. However Erasmus is inconsistantly portrayed and the authors slip up at times. For example Erasmus tries to create art but cannot comprehend the creative process and **in frustration** tears the canvas apart.
The robots act inexplicably human despite all the assertions to their machine intellect. Instead of a machine mind (such as the Borg or in the Matrix) they act surprisingly dumb and fail to utilise their machine advantages that we so often read about (longevity, lack of emotion, productivity etc). Instead, they keep human slaves for menial tasks when machines would be far more efficient and much logistically cheaper, they allow human slaves to work in extremely critical areas, they limit themselves to worlds that support human life, they do not outstrip the humans in productivity, the machine overmind (Omnius) often communicates verbally rather than via any machine link, the machine minds to not actively seek to gain information other than a paltry few spy drones and the machines make tactical decisions that are worse than unimaginative because they aren't even based on cold logic. For example on Giedi Prime they open their assault with a "brilliant tactic" by using a sacrifical kamikaze cruiser to destroy a ground target. Asteroids (as used in Niven and Pournelle's "Footfall") would be far more effective (and efficient).
I really wanted to enjoy this book. So far I'm singularly unimpressed with the threat of the robots because they aren't much worse than the one dimensional mechanical badguys found in the Transformers cartoons.
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on December 30, 2002
I grew up on Dune. I actually loved all the books, up to Chapterhouse: Dune.
What I've always liked about the Dune series is it's sheer believability and consistency. The complexity of it's storyline and characters made the books a challenge to read and understand - but well worth the effort.
Enter Brian Herbert. I had read "Man of Two Worlds", which was a collaboration he did with his dad - and was amazed at the difference. It [was very bad]. The story was a joke. It had some interesting ideas, but I have a feeling they came from Herbert Sr.
Now - I just read the 3 Dune "House" novels. The series had some promise in the beginning, but it quickly decayed into typical and mediocre mass-market space opera for which Kevin J. Anderson is well known. Now - if you like the innumerable Star Trek and Star Wars series out there - you'll probably love this. But to me, franchise stories lack any kind of real passion and creativity. Being a fan of the originals - I stuck it out. Read the 3 books, and tried to like them. But the awful truth is that they're [garbage] - filled with transparent plots, one dimensional characters, and a complete disregard when convenient for Frank Herbert's original ideas.
So - with some trepidation, I approached the new book. It covered one of the most intriguing periods of the Dune timeline.
I could not begin to comprehend how this book got released. Why would a publisher have a complete hack ghost-write an incompetent wanna-be, when there is so much excellent writing talent out there?
What would Gregory Benford or Stephen Baxter (or anyone of the numerous writers of their caliber) have made of this project?
The characterization of the Titans is laughable. And the sentient machines should be called "Artificial Sort-of Roman Hedonist Bad Guys". There are some solid ideas which obviously came from Frank Herbert in there - but the rest is fluff.
"Oh the machines are soooo bad, and they're kicking the humans' collective [butt]... I wonder how the humans will triumph?!?!?!".
I'd say skip it unless you're a devoted Dune fan, or like the first three in the series. But then again, if you liked those books you probably thought "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones" were good.
If you want to read some good books about humans struggling against machines, I'd recomend William Barton's "When Heaven Fell", Dan Simmon's "Hyperion" series, and Brian Stableford's "The Omega Expedition". Or for a slightly different take, Karl Schroeder's "Ventus" - and of course, the originator of the idea: Fred Saberhagen's "Berzerker" series.
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VINE VOICEon November 21, 2002
When the first installment of Dune appeared in Analog magazine way back in 1963, I was immediately captivated. I remained enthralled through all the succeeding seven installments, fascinated by the complex interplay of science, politics, religion, economics, ecology and their manipulation by all the various sharply realized characters. As the sequels came out over the years, I found some good, some not so good, but all, including the recent three 'prequels' written by the two authors of this book, at least deserving of existing in the same universe as the original work. Not so with this book.

The idea of this book is to bring to life that period in the history of man when machine intelligences ruled most of the human occupied worlds, a period referenced multiple times in the original book, and the supposed origin of both the Bene Geserit and Mentat schools as a reaction to such machine domination. Unfortunately, this book fails miserably at its chosen task for multiple reasons.

The first major problem with this book is the characterization. Everyone here is a paper-thin caricature of a human being, from Xavier Harkonnen to Vorian Atreides and everyone in-between. Most of these people are introduced with a short physical description, perhaps a couple sentences to describe their pasts, and are given 'tasks' that pretty much totally define what they are, from Xavier as a military commander to Tio Holtzman as the fading scientist. There is little or no growth of these characters, other than the totally predictable change of heart that Vorian goes through. Dialogue between these people is almost totally limited to the task at hand, with few if any things that would convince me that these were humans talking rather than machines.

Then there is the depiction of the machine intelligences Erasmus and the Omnius. Supposedly their great problem is that they can often be defeated by mere humans because they can neither understand nor predict human behavior. But they've had more than a thousand years in control to observe humans, and as one of the definitions of intelligence is the ability to learn from experience, I found this whole scenario impossible to believe. Some of the 'experiments' that Erasmus performs to help him understand human behavior I found both gross and pointless, coming across very much like the gratuitous violence of a bad movie attempting to hide its failings.

The story is told in very short chapters, shifting viewpoint character with each chapter. This technique can be effective, as A. E. van Vogt showed so many years ago with his massively re-complicated stories, but to make it work you need either very strong characters or a very complicated, non-obvious plot that can be built in layers, neither of which applies here.

The 'science' here is on par with the rest of this book. I thought lines like 'the ship threaded a narrow course through the asteroid belt' and spaceships performing U-turns went out with 1930's pulp science fiction. In fact, this whole book reads as if it was written specifically for a no-brainer Hollywood SF special effects spectacular, and to heck with anything approaching reality or literary depth.

This book doesn't deserve to have 'Dune' in the title.

--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
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on January 25, 2003
The influence of Frank Herbert's inspiration is obvious in the plot and characters of this novel. The intellectual challenge and philosophical ramifications of cymeks and intelligent machines are set up with the same Herbert believability that challenged our preconceptions with the Tleilaxu (descendants of the the Raelian's, perhaps?).
The delivery, however, lacks some of the spiritual detail which it seems Herbert's son, Brian, cannnot provide the way his father did. The original novels were artfully connected to history, literature, and both western and eastern thought in a way that was alive. The philosophy contained in the prequeles lacks such life, and is more often than not just material from the original novels shoe-horned awkwardly into place. Brian Herbert has been able to present the conflict set up by his father, to reproduce the sound of the original, but not the feeling. I find myself wishing he had spent a little more time with the writings of the great minds of the ages before taking up his pen.
All in all, for fans of the original novels, it is still well worth the read, but don't expect an intellectual challenge on a par with what one would expect from Frank Herbert.
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on January 13, 2004
I'll just start by saying that I'm glad other Dune readers are not treating the material from the prequels as 'canon'. Despite the fact that Brian Herbert shares the blood of Frank Herbert, it was Herbert Senior who had the true vision and the philosophical mindset to write the books in a meaningful, thought provoking way.
This review is not to disparage Brian Herbert's writing ability. I merely noticed that while reading Herbert Senior's Dune, humans were at the center of the story. It was a story about human society and human abilities.
Somehow, the image F. Herbert painted of the Butlerian Jihad was something more akin to a religious explosion. B. Herbert's vision seems to be the 'typical' sci-fi fare of evil machine villains, like Terminator II..with one difference. Arguably, the Terminator series would be a better precursor to the original Dune than the Butlerian Jihad is. Mainly because the creators of the Terminators were human, and the Terminator programs were created by technological increases in mechanical logic. Thus, Terminators are 'thinking' robots. Even the Borg from Star Trek would serve as a better precursor to Dune-the combination of human and technological for 'perfection' at the loss of human qualities would state the story better.
However, B. Herbert's take of evil robotic supervillains seems more like a typical science fiction ploy. Not to give the story away, but some scenes in which the robotic villains take part seem like those scenes in Saturday morning cartoons where all the supervillains stand together and laugh evilly for no reason at all while they plan a plan that makes no sense except to show how evil they are.
I would consider 'A Brave New World' or '1984' MUCH better examples of the way to set up Dune. Dune has never been about 'traditional' science fiction plot points. It seems almost a shame that the prequels seem to wallow in the sort of typical 'hero' vs. 'villain' storylines that Frank Herbert said he wanted to dispute with his series. I remember the brief essay F. Herbert wrote at the start of his branch of the series, regarding setting up heroes for worship.
There is a central weakness to the prequels that perpetuate 'conventional' plot lines and character types at the expense of the greater coherence of the story. The main differences I've noted I will list here:
EG: If Gaius Helen Mohiam was Jessica's mother, Jessica, Paul, Alia, Ghanima and Leto II would have had her in their Other Memory. This is not the case. I don't have my book with me, but I recall in God Emperor, F. Herbert made a big point in showing Letos' knowledge of the Bene Gesserit breeding lines when he said: "Tertius Eileen Anteac, you descendant of Gaius Helen Mohiam..." in the throne room scene. This shows that Mohiam is clearly NOT related to the Atreides, but belongs to a parrallel breeding line.
EG: Baron Harkonnen was disposed to fat, and lived a life of excess. Thus, the prequel explanation for how this came to be goes against the evidence in Dune and Children of Dune. Lady Margot, the BG Breeding Mistress, remarked that the Baron 'let himself go to fat', while Alia put on extra weight after being possessed by the Baron.
EG: Mohiam in the original series was one of the few Reverend Mothers with the Sight. Don't forget that a specific point made in book I of the series, was that she HAD to interview Paul Atreides because at this time in the books, not every Reverend Mother had access to some of her Other Memories. This distinction would call attention to the possibility that access to ancestral memories was no common among all RMs until God Emperor, when Leto II took control of the breeding program, leaving the bene Gesserit to refine their reflexes, sexual imprinting and memory abilities. So, if Mohiam was Jessica's mother, in the Paul/Gaius Helen scene in book 1, she would have noted that they were related; all Reverend Mothers with the Sight knew whom they were related to. They just could not always see the entirety of the Bene Gesserit design. You could argue that Helen Gaius was killed on Arrakis without being able to pass on her Other Memories...however, you would be arguing for this point rather than against it: you only had to Share other memories with people not related to you; if there was a genetic relationship, that person would already be a part of your ancestral memories. I'm sure that when Jessica confronted all of her female relatives, she would have seen Gaius Helen sitting there. Even Paul did not see Gaius among his ancestors, and he had a more complete access to Other Memory than Jessica did.
I think B. Herbert's prequels are a good, typical 'sci fi' read. But it is merely interesting to point out that many hard core 'sci fi' readers don't enjoy the original Dune series because of the human-centric storylines.
This book, and the prequels gets two stars. This book in particular could have been improved if the story was crafted in a way that the Jihad seemed more religious than a typical war. Perhaps if spaceship life support had developed into mechanized city and planet terraforming, eventually turning into artificial life constructs typical of nine to five jobs, arbitrary assignments, and big-brother sort of acitivity (Imagine the possibilities if B. Herbert had written the machines as a supercomputer created by humans to take away the problem of untrustworthy humans in government? - I envision a potential in my vision that would explain the Bene Gesserit's origins...machine made instructions as to population control and breeding lost the male Bene Gesserat powers of ancestral awareness, while the Guild developed because spaceships 'autopilot' functions would not travel unless the central computer accepted the risk).
I think the main problem with this story is that the robots are more super-villain than creation. B. Herbert should have showed why a religious term ('jihad') was used to describe the uprising rather than treating it as typical sci-fi fare a la The Phantom Menace/Attack of the Clones.
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on November 22, 2012
Jesus only hung on the cross for three days. I have read four hundred and fifty-four PAGES of Dune: The Butlerian Jihad.

And I did it to save your soul.

...

When I was ten years old I was quite precocious. I read and loved Asimov's Foundation trilogy, and had a voracious appetite for new books. So I picked up Frank Herbert's Dune without a second thought.

I never saw it coming.

A hundred pages later I was startled to feel tears pouring down my young face; tears of pure frustration. The book was hard, too hard and complex for my ten-year-old mind to cope with. In a fit of fury, I threw the book across the room.

I hated Dune for years. Herbert, too. But my reading speed is way too fast, so by the time I was sixteen or so I couldn't avoid reading some other Herbert books. Not in the Dune series, of course - the memory of those tears still stung - but Whipping Star. It was also hard, quite complex, but not (I thought) as hard as Dune had been. It certainly made me think.

And more and more I came to realize that it was a damned impressive book, one worth reading again and again. The concepts were difficult to grasp, but each re-reading brought something new, a fuller understanding; and it was a really good book. So I looked up the sequel (also good, although not quite as endearing). I looked up other short stories that Herbert had set in the same universe. Excellent, and all too rare. From there it was natural to move into Herbert's other short science fiction; the early stuff was a little bit clunky and formulaic, but the later stories were masterful and quite deep.

And so of course I found myself moving, step by step, back to Dune.

And it was good.

Not perfect, but very very good indeed; it could easily even be called "great". Over the years my mind had developed enough to be able to take on Frank Herbert's vision and comprehend it. I went on to read all the books in the series, and while some of the later ones were uneven, I enjoyed them all.

Cut to 2003. I am desperately poor, struggling to pay the mortgage and support my family (including our toddler) on a single income. This is a deadly situation. Where once I went to Avenue Victor Hugo and other great used bookstores at least two or three times a week and bought a dozen books at a time, now I haven't picked up even ONE new book - new or used - in months.

Thank Shai-Halud for the public library! I hadn't been to the library in years, but I started taking Sebastian (my son) there on Saturday mornings. He loved it. While the Woonsocket library is comparatively small and poorly-stocked, it still has a number of books worth reading - and of course far more are available through inter-library loan.

Since I spend two hours a day on the train, I need lots of reading material...so I've been taking out a lot of books. I'll write about most of them later, but right now there's one that is crying, screaming, howling for treatment.

The Son Is Not The Father

Oh dear god. I cannot express the horror. The sheer... stupidity that is Dune: The Butlerian Jihad. Frank Herbert wrote with incredible depth and complexity, giving hints of a world far deeper than the portion he showed in his books. It gave a feeling of magic, a sensation of thousands of years of unknown (and unknowable) history underlying every paragraph. At the same time he took elements of modern culture and extrapolated from them brilliantly.

I will be kind to Brian Herbert, Frank's son. His hands should not be cut off. He simply commited the sin of cashing in on his famous father's talent, and prostituting his family name - which is unforgivable, since he isn't a writer. But he should never have been allowed to "write" a book, particularly not a Dune book.

Good god, he sucks. The writing is dreadful; where his father's prose was complex, Brian's is not just simplistic, but downright childish - even moronic. Where Frank used hidden depths to intrigue and add luster, Brian has taken many of those elements and simply ruined them, directly tying them to modern Earth issues and repeating them over and over. Frank had the gift of names, occasionally tying them in with ancient Earth history; Brian names ALL of his characters after famous historical figures from Earth history, for NO &^%#ing REASON.

Ah yes. Over and over. The degree of repetition in this hellish book is more extreme than anything I have ever seen in my life. EVERY point is hammered home with astonishingly dull and lifeless prose, and then repeated again every twenty pages or so. EVERY moral point (cretinous as they are) is made so clear that a vegetable couldn't help but get it, and then repeated again a few dozen times for good measure.

Let me give you a taste of what I went through:

PARODY:

The mighty robot Evil Badd entered the room. As he did, his mekkano-taste-probe tasted the brain of the baby human child he was gnawing on. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed tot had died in Evil Badd's cruel mekkano-claw with scarcely a whimper. The lovely human slave Beauty Goode looked up listlessly at the entry of the mighty and evil robot.

"Ah-ha, Beauty Goode, I see you have awoken from what you humans call "unconsciousness", said Evil Badd. "I am Evil Badd, your new master. I am a robot. I like to eat babies. Some think that I am evil and bad. But I am a robot of pure logic."

"Yes, Master", said Beauty Goode submissively. Secretly she thought "I must find a way to resist the evil Evil Badd. He is evil, and that could be...bad!"

"Mind if I rip your uterus out for no reason, and eat your baby?" asked Evil Badd, ripping out Beauty Goode's uterus with his rapacious mekkano-claw.

Sorry to inflict that on you. But what you have just read is ONE THOUSAND TIMES BETTER than the hundreds pages of fetid so-called writing that I had to wade through.

Ah, but nothing could prepare me for the horror of

3. 2. 4.

Page 324, not a parody this time but the ACTUAL TEXT:
[There has been a huge accident, and a number of slaves have been killed. The nobles look on at the carnage.]

"In a wry voice, Bludd said, "Not one of your most successful efforts, Tio."

"But you must admit, the concept shows promise, Lord Bludd. Look at the destructive potential," Holtzman said, looking at the unruffled nobles without even considering the dead and injured slaves. "We can be thankful that no one was hurt."

Get it? There were lots of dead slaves, but the nobles were saying that no one was hurt! That's irony! Get it? Don't you GET IT, you moron?

I'll give Brian Herbert this: he certainly knows his audience.

Okay. Now, apart from the fact that any book with a character named "Lord Bludd" should automatically earn the death penalty for its authors, please note that the authors nonetheless feel it necessary to point out the TOTALLY OBVIOUS. "without even considering the dead and injured slaves" - gosh, thanks for pointing out that irony, because we readers are SO STUPID that we'd have missed it, yes sirree!

I don't know if the authors assumed that the readers were total morons, or if they're just so incredibly stupid themselves that they didn't realize that hammering the irony breaks it.

Enough. I've tortured myself enough with this astonishingly inept and painful book. Let it be noted that some moron named Kevin J. Anderson co-wrote it, and that since he is NOT related to Frank Herbert, there is no reason that his hands shouldn't be cut off. Supposedly he has written 29 national bestsellers. If that's the case, it only justifies my belief that virtually all modern genre fiction is utter garbage.

Speaking of which, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Oregonian, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly all apparently have had rave reviews of the new "Dune" books, according to excerpts printed on the back cover. Unless these have been taken wildly out of context or out-and-out fabricated, they merit the death penalty for every one of these publications and everyone associated with them. It need not be painful; I am not vengeful by nature. As long as they never kill a single tree or brain cell with their so-called "writing" ever again.

That is all.
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on August 23, 2003
Having read Frank Herbert's original Dune series, I was interested to see what the authors of Dune: The Butlerian Jihad would have to contribute to this sprawling saga. The plot is engaging enough, providing detailed accounts of things only hinted at in FH's books (such as why Earth is spoken of in the past tense in those works), and there is much scope for wrestling with any number of issues in such a story.
Unfortunately, this is where the good news ends. The prose style is banal and irritating, riddled with gloss* and laced with far too many adjectives; worse yet, Messrs. Herbert and Anderson seem to be overly fond of abstract adjectives, such as "ethereal" and "great", as if they believe that merely tossing such terms out can evoke what the words denote. The result is that it reads more like a Batman comic than like the kind of work the authors presumably intended it to be.
Also, with the ironic exception of the evil robot Erasmus, almost none of the characters really came alive for me, despite all the adjectives the authors toss at them; I got frustrated at how little we are really allowed to understand the main characters' motivations and emotions as individuals.
Moreover, the book has lots of the kind of beginning-of-chapter epigraphs that were a hallmark of the original Dune. This is a treacherous thing to attempt, and if a writer is going to attempt it, he or she had better really have something important and relevant to say. The elder Herbert did in fact have something of a knack for this, whereas the epigraphs in DTBJ strike me, for the most part, as fatuous and sophomoric, and would best have been omitted.
In summary, what could have been a three- or four-star effort ended up as mere two-star pulp entertainment.If you are a hard-core Dune fan, and are interested in the plot for its own sake, then you might be interested in reading DTBJ; otherwise, you won't miss a great deal by giving it a pass.
*Gloss: a hack literary device wherein the author either breaks out of narrative to deliver the reader a synopsis-like block of information, or else transparently and artifically manipulates dialogue to a similar end.
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on October 13, 2002
I was waiting patiently for this book to come out after having read the House trilogy. When I got it, I finished it pretty quick because there is a lot of action and some interesting ideas. It was extremely easy to read and follow. However, I cannot help feeling that they did not hit the mark with this book. They were supposed to be taking us back in time in the Dune Universe to that pivotal time 10 000 years prior to the events of Dune. Somehow, they did not capture the mysticism of this legendary time. Truthfully, this book could have been written to stand on its own just by changing the characters' names and getting rid of the sandworms. It almost seems like they wrote it so that they could fill in the important preceding events with another series. Despite its grandiose title, The Butlerian Jihad, which was alluded to tantalizingly in Frank Herbert's novels, this book did not live up to my expectations in terms of developing the mythology and legends of Dune. But, being a die hard Dune fan, I did not regret buying it and will buy the upcoming novels in the series.
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on October 24, 2003
This is a fantasy story with spaceships. By itself, that label might not be a condemnation, but this entry into the Dune saga is one of the sorriest attempts to milk a series that I've ever seen.
The designated evil in the book, Omnius the cybernetic evermind and its cronies are complete cretins that provide no credibility at all. A troop of developmentally challenged boy scouts could outwit these cardboard creations.
The way each of the planets in the book is presented, it seems to have a total population of about 200. Science Fiction normally doesn't deal well with realistic populations, but this is worse then the way Star Trek does it.
Of the three main characters, only Serena Butler seems to have any depth. The Harkonen and Atreides representatives have about as much substance as Shakespeare's Rosencrantz and Guidenstern.
The authors display a complete lack of understanding of spatial relationships, science, technology, and all matters military. In the past some of this didn't matter, because the earlier books used the Guild to instantly transit from one planet to another. But since in this book they have to travel in the real Universe, they trip all over themselves with inconsistencies and improbabilities. Frank Herbert himself wisely avoided trying to explain the technologies he introduced, and never tried to handle conventional military maneuvers. But Anderson and the younger Herbert try and make a complete hash of both.
This book unfortunately fills a critical place in the Dune chronology. That is does it so badly is a crime. Can I give it less than one star?
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