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Dune: House Harkonnen Hardcover – October 3, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Don't even think about reading House Harkonnen without reading its predecessor Dune: House Atreides; anyone who does so risks sinking in the sands between Frank Herbert's original Dune and this prequel trilogy by Herbert's son, Brian, and Kevin J. Anderson. The purist argument that had Frank Herbert wanted to go backwards he would have done so is, at least in part, negated by the sheer narrative verve, and by the fact that Anderson and Brian Herbert manage to pull some genuine surprises out of this long-running space-opera. House Harkonnen is a massive book, and there are places where it becomes plot heavy, but in following the story of Duke Leto Atreides and the conflicts with House Harkonnen, the authors succeed in spinning a gripping adventure while going off in some unexpected directions. Anderson, who has written many successful Star Wars novels, has noted his particular admiration for The Empire Strikes Back, and his desire to emulate that film's dark take on the genre. In House Harkonnen, the conflict encompasses the tragedy of nuclear war, marked by grief and horror, vengeance and torment, and all while the complex intrigues continue to unfold. As one character puts it:

Everything has its cost. We pay to create our future, we pay for the mistakes of the past. We pay for every change we make--and we pay just as dearly if we refuse to change.

Ultimately this is the theme of a compelling game of consequences, choices, and responsibility, a study of Leto's growth into power and the price of politics and love. --Gary S. Dalkin, Amazon.co.uk

From Library Journal

As the young Duke Leto Atreides seeks to live up to his late father's expectations, his rivals plot to bring about the downfall of House Atreides. Plots and counterplots involving the debauched Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, his Bene Gesserit enemies, and the treacherous schemers of the enigmatic Bene Tleilax escalate the tension among factions of a fragile galactic empire. Though power seems to reside in the hands of the emperor and his elite armies, the fate of many worlds hinges on the destiny of a single planetDthe desert world known as Arrakis, or Dune. Continuing the story begun in Dune: House Atreides (LJ 10/15/99), coauthors Herbert and Anderson reveal the prehistory of the late Frank Herbert's classic Dune novels. Strong characterizations, consistent plotting, and rich detail provide this second of a trilogy of prequels with the same evocative power of the original novels. Libraries should anticipate a demand from old series fans as well as newcomers to the world of Dune. Highly recommended.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 603 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; 1st edition (October 3, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553110721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553110722
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (217 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

109 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Spann on October 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Perusing the reviews for both House Atreides and House Harkonnen it is easy to find a common current of disatisfaction. It has in fact been noted by all of the great Frank Herbert's readership that with his passing, so to went the genius behind the most imaginative and captivating science fiction series of all time. But isn't it lovely that Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson have accepted the all but impossible task of finishing the story? While neither H.A. or H.H. approach the mastery of the original Dune (deserving of 10 stars) or the philisophical complexity of God Emperor Dune (simply brilliant), they serve the story and the readers admirably by simply giving us a window into the Pre-Paul world of Arrakis. With familiar characters, explained mysteries, and a fast paced, entertaining gait, House Harkonnen is cause for the true Dune afficianado to give cheer. What's more, I recently read Dune again, and found that my further understadning of the characters gave the original series an additional depth which certainly isn't necessary, but nonetheless entirely pleasing. Naysayers will paint this book and H.A. as borrowed and simple, but in truth they reframe and carry on with all the reverenance and stylistic approximation they could possibly muster.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Thomas on December 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The biggest problem with the Dune prequels is that they do not have the engaging writing style of the originals. Of course, Frank Herbert is dead, but his son is not completely incompetant. He knows how to tell a story, and that's what "House Harkonnen" does well. You have to read "House Atreides" to understand what's going on. This book ties up some loose ends left by that book, but leaves just as many. These, I presume, will be tied up in the third prequel "House Corrino". The plot is very complicated and jumps around from character to character, but it is also engaging. You get to find out some interesting history about some of the best characters from the original series, such as the Emporer's aide Count Fenring.
"House Harkonnen" reads like one of those Star Wars novels. This makes sense, because co-author Kevin Anderson has written several Star Wars novels. His writing style (along with Brian Herbert) just doesn't fit in well with the other Dune novels, which were known for their rich style. My other big complaint with this book is that it is chock-full of torture scenes. Why? I mean, we get it - the Harkonnens are evil. Is it necessary to give all the grisly details? Frank Herbert was far more subtle and effective in portraying good vs. evil. He did not have to resort to shock value.
Still, this book is interesting, at least for its storyline and its insights into Dune's history. I think it's a worthy read for hardcore Dune fans
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 19, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm a big fan of the Dune series, like most folks seem to be who've written reviews here. I was prepared to like this trilogy by Herbert's son, and really gave it the old college try.
I didn't expect the writing to be up to Herbert's standard, but even with that said, the whole book is in serious need of a firm editor's hand.
What killed it for me was finding the word "muscular" used three times on a single page to describe the same person. I suddenly realized that I couldn't waste any more time on something written this badly.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John C. Snider on March 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Dune: House Harkonnen is the second installment in the much-anticipated trilogy which serves as prequel to Frank Herbert's all-time classic SF novel Dune. Written by the late Herbert's son Brian Herbert (a successful author in his own right) and Kevin J. Anderson (who has written roughly 70 books in the last ten years - half of them in media-fiction realms like Star Wars and the X-Files), the trilogy covers the decades leading up to the opening events of Dune.
Having accelerated the demise of his father, Emperor Shaddam IV now sits on the throne of a vast galactic empire. A few years ago, the Tlielaxu (a mysteriously religious race who are masters of genetic engineering) subjugated the planet of the Ixians (famous for their advanced machines). The Tleilaxu, in league with the Emperor, are running a huge, secret program on Ix to create an artificial substitute for the spice melange - the most valuable substance in the universe due to its life-extending properties and ability to enhance mental capabilities. Melange can only be found on the desert planet Dune, ruled by Imperial edict by House Harkonnen. The cruel Baron Vladimir Harkonnen seeks to tighten his control over the spice, while at the same time gaining vengeance against his blood enemies House Atreides, and an all-female cult called the Bene Gesserit (who blackmailed the Baron into cooperating in their secret breeding program to create a super-being known as the Kwisatz Haderach, and later infected him with a slowly debilitating illness). The Baron's rival, the young, popular Duke Leto Atreides, having befriended the exiled Prince and Princess of Ix, hopes to help them regain control of their world.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Travis Kavulla on October 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It's almost infinitely hard to match the talent of Herbert the elder; however, Brian Herbert does a good job in trying. "House Harkonnen" fills in some of those missing gaps and provides additional info that you're left wondering about if you truly love the book "Dune." It provides additional traits about the Atreides impending rise to power and offers an intensely in-depth look at some of the main characters, and also the smaller ones, like Hasimir Fenring, which are never entirely explained in the original Frank Herbert series. The series is about as addictive as melange. Although true Dune fans will certainly be disappointed, they should recognize that nothing comes close to the Elder Herbert. It's still a stimulating fast read for those that want to be labeled as true addicts.
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