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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old Fashioned Space Opera
The Machine Crusade is the second novel in the Legends of Dune trilogy, following The Butlerian Jihad. In the previous volume, the slaves on Earth revolted against their machine masters. Amidst the confusion, Vorian Atreides escaped from Earth in the Dream Voyager, carrying Serena Butler, the body of her murdered child Manion, and Iblis Ginjo back to Salusa Secundus...
Published on February 22, 2004 by Arthur W. Jordin

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The writing seems...lacking
It's not the plot lines or the scenes or the dialogues that I have trouble with - it's the depth of character and abbreviated format. If the chapters get any smaller we'll be having one / page soon.
I think the real problem is that Herbert II tries to do too much in one book, spreads himself thin, and thereby hurts the overall work. This tale could potentially have...
Published on October 16, 2003 by Avid Reader


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The writing seems...lacking, October 16, 2003
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It's not the plot lines or the scenes or the dialogues that I have trouble with - it's the depth of character and abbreviated format. If the chapters get any smaller we'll be having one / page soon.
I think the real problem is that Herbert II tries to do too much in one book, spreads himself thin, and thereby hurts the overall work. This tale could potentially have had it all: Political intrigue (Serena & Ginjo), Machine life, Norma (my fave!), the beginnings of the Guild, the Bene Geserit, the start of the mysterious bloodline, the rebirth of the human race, the Worm Rider, the Fremen, the Body Snatchers....in the end, it becomes a jumble despite the very sparse prose and strict structure.
If the author was soliciting advice, I would tell him to reduced the number of characters, focus on fewer events and plunge deeper into the remaining narrative and characters. I truly wanted to enjoy this book but the "awe" and "mystery" one felt while engaged in the original series is missing. The "House" trio was - despite the paucity of plot and characters - actually better due to a concentrated focus. Here's hoping for the better results next time.
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34 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sad little ghost of Dune, October 2, 2003
Most people who read these prequels are most likely acquainted with the original works of Dune by Brian's father Frank. And if you aren't yet familiar with the originals then I suggest you start your reading there where it was originally meant to be. As it is, the prequels--started with the three "House" books and later moving back 10,000 years to the Butlerian Jihad--are sad little shades of Frank Herbert's visions.
As Dune fans know, the Machine Crusade is the second book of a trilogy about a war between people and machines. Cliche? Very! That is why Frank Herbert began his Dune novels 10,000 years afterwards, to show the ramifications of such a war. He moved past the cliche and developed a universe that existed without machines.
Here in the Machine Crusade we see the same typical writing of Kevin J. Anderson, whose writing style has very little eloquence compared to Frank Herbert. Frank Herbert's originals are a grand mishmash of intricate plotting that combines many aspects of human society: politics, religion, philosophy, ecology and family interaction. His books were all internal; he created characters that you cared about, that took on a life of their own even when they had such minor parts in the storyline. All these points are lost in the Machine Crusade where Anderson is mostly concerned with the external conflict of the Butlerian Jihad. Think Star Wars or Terminator. Lots of fighting. Lots of dying. No plot except for yet more fighting.
For anyone who has read the originals, you know that telling stories of battle was not Frank Herbert's purpose in these books. It was to tell chilling tales of of tragic characters whose every move impacted all of human society. The wars that took place in the original series rarely happened within the very pages of those books, but mostly happened between books or before the books. They were irrelevant except for the fact to know that they happened and people died. His purpose was to show the ramifications of those very wars.
The book fails in many aspects. Primarily, the Machine Crusade reads like a history book. In many cases its chapters just sum up what one character is thinking when it might be best to provide some much needed dialogue to give it a sense of immediacy. It's such a shame, because many of the characters have such potential, yet there is so very little interaction between the numerous main characters that you just want to yell at the book and make it DO something besides blow up robots.
I have very little doubt that if it wasn't for the name "Dune" attached to the prequels, these books would never sell. They are cliche, poorly written, have flimsy characters and numerous plotlines that rarely come together to form an ever greater story. The book's only redeeming quality is that it provides a curious glimpse at the history of the Dune universe, and that is all. Whereas the Dune originals can be reread over and over again for greater understanding and enjoyment, these books will probably gather dust or wind up on ebay.
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well thought out and plotted sequel to series 3 1/2 stars, September 17, 2003
First, let's get the obvious out of the way; Dune: The Machine Crusade is another prequel to Dune and a sequel to The Butlerian Jihad. It has all the drawbacks and bonuses of a sequel; if you haven't read the first in this series of prequels devised by Frank Herbert's son Brian and Kevin J. Anderson, you may feel a little lost at first. The good news is that Herbert and Anderson manage to fill in the blanks early on with a nicely written recap in the prologue (much as the Frank Herbert did with each sequel to his classic Dune novel).
I imagine that Herbert does much of the plotting based on Frank's original background notes and that Anderson does more of the hands on writing. At least it seems that way. In terms of style The Machine Crusades reminds me more of Anderson's novels than Brian Herbert's novels. But both had complimentary, similar styles so it's possible they rewrite each other.
Either way, the plot continues. With the destruction of the Omnius on one of the settled worlds, humanity managed to strike a blow against the computer that created hope. The Cymeks led by Agamemnon struggle to regain their lost power against Omnius all the while fighting humanity as well. Time doesn't matter to Omnius or the Cymeks but it does to Serena Butler. Nearly a quarter century has passed since the computer's henchrobot murdered her son as part of an "experiment" to discover humanity's emotional movitation to fight even when they are clearly defeated. She and the others struggle on in battle against Omnius.
Agamemnon's son Vorian Atriedes and Xavier Harkonnen continue their uneasy alliance in fighting Omnius. We also get our first glimpse of humanity's discover of "folding" space and the impact it will have. On Arrakis the Fremen come into their own as fierce fighters led by Selim Wormrider. We begin to understand how this distant, remote and poor dust speck in the cosmos comes to occupy center stage in Frank Herbert's original novel.
This sprawling epic sets the stage for what's to come later in Herbert's original trilogy. Although it's uneven and the plotting is a bit more awkward here than in the some of the previous novels in this series, The Machine Crusade accomplishes most of its goal. It also sets up another potential sequel. To give Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson credit, the series they've created does credit to the original novel and Frank Herbert's memory. There are a number of interesting philosphical questions examined here. To the author's credit, they don't let the philosphical questions bog down the action. Both attributes contributes to the strengths and the flaws of the novel; the questions linger on too long and the battles are drawn out a bit too much. At times it seems as if the authors are struggling with the epic tale they are trying to tell; it's as if they are trying to come to grips with the size of the story they need to tell and control it. Even when it veers out of control, The Machine Crusade is still better than most of what passes for science fiction today.
Nevertheless, like its immediate predecessor, The Machine Crusade has an epic, vast scale that the story and characters deserve. It's clear that Brian Herbert in continuing on his father's story chose to do so in a fashion that wouldn't just cash in on (and hence dilute)the original novels. Instead, he and co-author Anderson have tried to come up with a series of space operas as rich in character and scope as the original series. While the dialog can be frequently clunky and the characterizations a bit too sketchy for some, these are minor flaws on this large canvas. They boldly move forward using all the colors of language that they can to describe this epic tale. If words occasionally fail them, it's because the story, like much of Herbert's original epic, can be overwhelming in its vast embrace of science, religion and politics.
If Brian Herbert and Anderson can continue to create novels this complex, the Dune series has a future as more than a cookie cutter space opera series. If they occasionally borrow from some of the sf films that have come out since Frank wrote the original novel, it's only fair; George Lucas and many other film directors borrowed liberally for Frank's imagination, integrating into their own projects and calling it their own.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Depressing Precursor to the Dune Series, October 3, 2003
By 
D. Quist (Santa Fe, NM USA) - See all my reviews
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Unfortunately Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson have taken the Dune series and turned them into pulp science fiction. There is the same heartless story telling and lack of depth that is endemic of science fiction lately. The authors go to great efforts to make the series an epic battle, a struggle between good and evil, etc. There are so many predictable turns of plot and story that I find myself rooting for computer overlords to win, if for nothing than to kill the more annoying human characters.
After finishing the Machine Crusade, I pulled out my trusty Dune Encyclopedia and read about the Butlerian Jihad. I consider the encyclopedia to be somewhat authoritative on the series. ... I also looked at the lineages of Atreides and Harkonnen families. There is no corroboration with the stories that are told there.
I would wait for the paperback, or borrow a copy from the library.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only read it for completeness sake., May 26, 2005
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I can only recommend this book (or in fact the whole series of prequels) to die-hard Dune fans who don't want to miss anything.

There are 3 major points that bother me:

1) The machines (especially Omnius) are incredibly stupid. How is it possible that a machine manages to master language and logical thought, but yet not understand the concept of a lie? It is really not that hard. Look it up in a dictionary. The same goes for a number of other concepts Omnius finds difficult to understand (martyr, bluff, ...). Yet, Omnius has no problem in understanding concepts like suspicion, vindictiveness, revenge, ...

2) The book is incredibly repetitive. Granted, I do not have the best of memories, but I do not have to be reminded every 20 pages that Iblis is charismatic, Vorian is impulsive and Xavier is straightlaced.

3) The writing is pretty poor. Good writers make a person exhibit a character trait. Bad writers explain which character trait a person is exhibiting at the moment. For example, if Iblis is supposed to be charismatic, then make him charismatic. Don't write: "Using his charismatic personality Iblis did ..."

There are a number of other things that bother me about the book, but these are the big three.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a very well constructed book, January 28, 2004
By 
Richard W. Gombert (Sagamore Hills, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
I am a big fan of the FH's Dune (and sequels). I also enjoyed the 'House' prequel trilogy. But, I have big issues with this second book of the 'Jihad' trilogy. It is quite obvious that the authors cobbled this together from bits and pieces that each had written. It is also quite evident that none of the authors, editors, etc. read this book in it's entirety. In the first 100 pages they bludgeon you with events from the first book. Yes many people might need to be reminded of what happened in the preceeding book, but we don't have to be told about the event three or four time with int three or four pages. This got so bad that I started to keep track of them. By the time I got to page 300 I stopped, there were just too many. Examples: On Pg 106 & Pg 108 repeated references to Cogitor Eklo. We are constantly reminded why Iblis married Camie. I got that the first time. On page 310 & 311 Vorian volunteered to do the foot work for Serena's new plans. It says 'Even before Xavier returned from Ix.' But in the previous chapter Xaview is sitting and the Jihad council table when Serena outlines her plans. I suggest that the authors pay more attention to what they're doing in the third book (which I intend to read) and the two post FH books there working on. The other book Dune books BH & KJA have written have been much better than this. I agree with the comment about the 'Encycopeadia Dune', but I don't know the full detail of licensing, copyrights, etc. that may have nesseccitated changes. I hope the authors do a better job on the next books, at least produce something up to there usual standards.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars more uneven than the first, November 5, 2003
As everyone knows by now, this isn't Dune. The first prequel wasn't nor will this one be. The problem isn't that this book doesn't match up well against Dune, it's that it doesn't match up well against its predecessor, the Butlerian Jihad, which itself was mostly solid rather than excellent. The Machine Crusade is a bit of a step backward for this series.
As in Butlerian Jihad, characterization continues to be pretty shallow, with several characters once again making transitions of behavior that really haven't been earned by the story. And some characters are simply skimped on.
The prequel problem of predictability due to simply filling in the design you're aiming at is more on display here than in book one, and while I can understand the need at some point for that last line (no spoilers here), making it the last line emphasizes the dangers in writing prequels--the sense your reader has that the story is being uncovered rather than growing.
The plot remains the strong point, but here too it is weaker than the first book. Some of it is too contrived while some of it takes turns more for the plot's sake than for any natural development. And the structure, which remains cutting back and forth between multiple characters and plotlines, in this book does a disservice to several characters and storylines while in the first book it served to create tension and suspense. We leave one story and when we come back to it too much has happened in the meantime that would be better shown than told or simply assumed. And I have to confess that some of the plot I just didn't get the necessity of. Some sections reinforced ideas that were pretty clear already. Some were simply repetitive, both from this book and the previous one. And some simply dwelled on characters because it seemed the authors felt it was time to get back there for a while. I thought this book needed much more editing than the first. Not necessarily to cut the length so much as to redistribute it. There was a lot that could have been freely excised which in turn could have freed up some space to do some better characterization or more sophisticated plot development.
Because of the weak characterization and the overweight plot, many of the set "emotional" scenes are anti-climatic and fall pretty lightly on the heart. Rather than bring a tear (ok, they probably weren't aiming at tears but at least some sadness) they mostly elicit a shrug of the shoulders or a "yeah, that had to happen" sort of feeling, as opposed to any sense of loss.
Overall, this work suffers from a common middle book syndrome--it serves its purpose as a bridge to book three and that's about it. There is little spark here, just a lot of concrete. You'll have to read it to get to Book three I'm sure, but don't feel bad if you decide to skim a bit here and there.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Love-Hate Relationship, July 21, 2004
By 
B. B Noel "Regular Joe" (Lowell, MA United States) - See all my reviews
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This series of Novels has really torn me up inside. I'm a fan of the entire Dune series, and I really enjoy the premise of these novels. I'm very interested in seeing where the story is going, and how the characters will develop. At the same time, these novels are an absolute chore to read. Some character/place descriptions are extremely, EXTREMELY repetitive. When I'm on the 400th page of a second novel in a series, I don't need to hear about how ironic it was that one of the characters couldn't get pregnant, even though her husband was a pharmaceutical whiz who made fertility enhancing drugs. You've said that already! It's been covered! Move on!

I'm not sure if the blame falls on the editors, but I'm surprised by this. I'd expect more from two highly experienced authors.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If it weren't for plot, February 25, 2004
By 
Ziya V. Dikman (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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Crappy writing and craft are barely disguised in this "episode" of the Dune series. I find myself actually wincing from time to time at the poorly constructed narrative, but given my fondness for the original series, my pompous desire to feel holier-than-Herbert's-Son, and my almost juvenile desire to "see what happens" I keep reading. Maybe the book will spontaneously combust - I can only hope.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tediously Boringly Simple, May 14, 2004
By 
Daniel Ong (Urbana, IL, USA) - See all my reviews
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What Frank Herbert Left to us was a classic with many subtle and deep insights, albeit with some annoyingly deep. This book insults most of its reader's intelligence (Assuming it's aimed at mature readers). I'm not too concerned with the destruction of mythical heroes like Holtzman...but if he must be slammed, he should at least be slammed masterfully and not be treated like a near brainless scientist with little passion for science. Just for the authours' sake, scientists do read DUNE and it just seems like an uninformed attempt at slaming a great inventor.
Up till now, I'm still having trouble grasping the "Brilliance" of Iblis Ginjo, or his immense lack of scheme. He is the most unfantastic pseudo-villian I've ever read of. How he could have risen to such greatness is beyond me. (Unexplored and unexplained "special charisma" doesn't count.)
To end it all, Hecate was introduced in a spectacular fashion with great potential for plot development, only to be killed off in what can be said to be a most idiotic freak accident involving two other heroes. It really seemed to me that the authors were in a hurry to finish everyone off.
I really really hope to continue supporting dune...please give me a reason to.
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Dune: The Machine Crusade
Dune: The Machine Crusade by Kevin J. Anderson (Mass Market Paperback - August 1, 2004)
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