From Publishers Weekly
Longtime collaborators Herbert and Anderson set themselves a steep challenge—and, in the end, fail to meet it—in this much anticipated wrapup of the original Dune cycle (after 2006's Hunters of Dune
). A large cast scattered across the cosmos must be brought together so that the final, all-powerful Kwisatz Haderach may be revealed in the ultimate face-off between humankind and the machine empire ruled by the implacable Omnius. Though pacing is brisk and the infrequent action scenes crackle with tension, only two minor characters—gholas, who are young clones with restored memories, of Suk doctor Wellington Yueh and God-Emperor Leto II—acquire real depth. Everyone else is too busy reacting to mostly irrelevant subplots like sabotage aboard the no-ship Ithaca
, a plague devastating the planet of Chapterhouse and the genetic engineering of marine-dwelling sandworms. The lengthy climax relies on at least four consecutive deus ex machina bailouts, eventually devolving into sheer fairy tale optimism. Series fans will argue the novel's merits for years; others will be underwhelmed. (Aug.)
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By the time of this second volume of the third Dune prequel trilogy, battles and plagues have nearly destroyed humans and their planets. Sheanna revives the ghola cloning project to pit genius against numbers. Almost all the saga principals have been re-createdPaul, Jessica, Letos I and II, Chani, Stilgar, even Wellington Yueh and Baron Harkonnenand are hiding on the no-ship. The eleventh ghola of Duncan Idaho keeps an eye on things. Naturally, such a crew generates intrigue, dissension, and many actions unintentionally at cross-purposes. Some of the re-creations learn from the past, some don't. Meanwhile, Omnius and Erasmus, leaders of the thinking machines, search for the no-ship; failing to find it, they finish the destruction of any planet capable of supporting human life. When the clones and the thinking machines finally confront each other, the conflict proves pretty gripping. Its plot derived from Frank Herbert's notes, Sandworms should fascinate Dune fans. The series' long run by now begs the question of whether, since Sandworms ties up so many loose ends, more of what has been learned about the construction and destruction of ecologies, and about thinking machines, in the 42 years since Dune was first published couldn't figure in the promised ninth prequel volume, Paul of Dune. Murray, Frieda