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Children of Dune (Dune Chronicles, Book Three) Mass Market Paperback – May 15, 1987
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“A major event.”—Los Angeles Times
“Ranging from palace intrigue and desert chases to religious speculation and confrontations with the supreme intelligence of the universe, there is something here for all science fiction fans.”—Publishers Weekly
“Herbert adds enough new twists and turns to the ongoing saga that familiarity with the recurring elements brings pleasure.”—Challenging Destiny
Praise for Dune
“I know nothing comparable to it except Lord of the Rings.”—Arthur C. Clarke
“A portrayal of an alien society more complete and deeply detailed than any other author in the field has managed...a story absorbing equally for its action and philosophical vistas.”—The Washington Post Book World
“One of the monuments of modern science fiction.”—Chicago Tribune
“Powerful, convincing, and most ingenious.”—Robert A. Heinlein
“Herbert’s creation of this universe, with its intricate development and analysis of ecology, religion, politics and philosophy, remains one of the supreme and seminal achievements in science fiction.”—Louisville Times
From the Back Cover
The desert planet has begun to grow green and lush. The life-giving spice is abundant. The nine-year-old royal twins, possessing their father's supernormal powers, are being groomed as Messiahs.
But there are those who think the Imperium does not need Messiahs...
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- The text is blurry and blotchy, very difficult to read without very bright light. Normal text sometimes looks italicized, and it's hard to tell when certain passages were meant to be italicized or not
- The margins are terrible. The text goes almost all the way into the binding, so you have to really pull the pages apart to be able to read it. There is a lot of extra margin on the outside of the pages... if they just moved the text closer to the outside of the book, it would be fine...
- There are some bad typos. Normally a typo is not a big deal because you can tell what it was supposed to say, but Dune contains so much unique language and fantasy elements that it's impossible to know sometimes... it could be a typo or it could be a new word?
The ACE editions are incredible: perfectly kerned text, nice light font, good amount of whitespace on the page. This Gollancz printing is heavy, but not uniformly so, every other page is practically in bold text. The letters are spaced too close together for comfortable reading, especially when the printing appears heavier than usual.
And the typos, almost every 5th page is a glaring typo. We're talking misspellings of planet names and main character's names, a random period in the middle of a sentence typos. It's to the point where sometimes I'll see a word that is an actual English word but it doesn't quite fit in the context so I'm wondering if those are typos too.
If I wasn't already 120 pages into this edition, or if I had bought this at a brick and mortar store, I would have returned it immediately. As it is now I'll just power through it and it will make the ACE-published "God Emperor of Dune" all the easier to read.
Edit: It gets worse: on page 368 two paragraphs are repeated one after another. You read them both, and then here they come again and you start to doubt your own sanity.
I also forgot to mention before how on almost every page one line of type is randomly slanted. Not italicized, just slanted as if it were intended to all be italicized.
I have to change the rating to one star, no one should have to read this printing.
The second Dune book was also very good. Many negative reviews for it but I enjoyed.
Children of Dune is where the series took a turn for me and I was no longer interested in reading more about this world. I pushed through the last quarter of the book just to finish it.
What's the setup? Minimal spoilers. After the events of Dune Messiah, Paul-Muad'dib is missing and presumed dead. His sister Alia is effectively a religious emperor commanding the universe from Arrakis via Paul's church. Paul's Children Leto and Ghanima become the titular focus of the series. Their prophetic rise to power will define the shape of the universe to come. Children of Dune caps off the tale of Paul-Muad'dib, with the narrative clearly moving to follow other characters. Most fans therefore say that the first 3 books of the Dune series form their own, stand-alone trilogy. You may notice that I'm not really describing a villain or a plot here - I'm sure fans will argue, but there really isn't one. The central conflict of the book is Leto confronting his own future - and that of humanity at large. Can Leto stand up and confront his destiny, or will he take the easy path and doom the universe to a terrible fate?
Children of Dune starts to get weird. Not that the first two books were lacking in audacious concepts, but this one has a definite "jump the shark" moment toward the end. I won't spoil anything, but if you thought Paul-Muad'dib was overpowered, Leto takes quite literal leaps and bounds over him.
Should you read Children of Dune? It's been a long time since I've read the Dune series, and I'm rereading them now in preparation for the upcoming film. Right now I still stand firmly in the camp of saying it's okay to stop at Dune. Messiah and Children of Dune add a lot more philosophy than plot development, in my opinion. Not everyone who reads Dune is going to want to follow 4+ more books of philosophy and politics, as opposed to the more tech-heavy romp of the first book. It's definitely true that Children of Dune caps off the story of Paul-Muad'dib, so if you really want to see what happens to that character, you should read at least through the end of this book.
Should you keep reading past Children of Dune? The most divisive book of the series is up next - God Emperor of Dune. Some say it's impossible, some say it's the greatest book they've ever read. It's worth noting that the series continues much more in the vein of Messiah and Children. The dividing line is whether you're happy with the weird twists that the ending of Children takes. I'm buckled in, and I'll find out how I feel again. But so far my opinion is unchanged - Dune stands on its own, and its sequels are more interesting for people who enjoy thinking about politics and philosophy than for the narrative itself.
Top international reviews
It is 9 years since the blinded and heartbroken Paul Muad'dib walked off into the desert of Dune to die. His weird little children, Leto and Ghanima, take after their Auntie Alia in so many ways – prescient, gifted or cursed with the memories of all their ancestors, nuts. Until now I thought the horrid little kids who sing the duet in Polar Express were the creepiest children ever, but Leto and Ghani have them beat hands down! Alia, meantime, has overindulged so much in the spice drug melange that she has become what the Bene Gesserit feared – an Abomination! No longer able to control all the voices of her ancestors inside her head, she has fallen under the influence of the strongest of them – the evil Baron Harkonen. Leto and Ghani look on this as a warning and are assiduously avoiding doing the spice drug conversion thingy that Rev Mothers do, as they think this is what caused Alia to become Abominable.
Meantime Jessica has returned to the folds of the Bene Gesserit and has now been sent back to Arrakis (Dune) for reasons that remain somewhat hazy. Basically she appears to be trying to protect the genetic line by persuading Leto and Ghani (9-year-old twins, remember) to mate and breed. It's always good to have a supportive granny, isn't it? And has Paul really died in the desert? Who is the mysterious Preacher who keeps popping up and calling Alia names? If he is Paul, why is he trying to undermine his family's rule? Why do Leto and Ghani want to get to Jacurutu? How come Leto is having prescient dreams if he's not taking spice? What is the Golden Path that Leto keeps banging on about as the way to save something? Save what? Or who? Seriously – if you know the answers, do tell – personally I'm baffled!
The book starts off well, getting straight into the story. I was about to say that it's important to read these in order or you wouldn't have a clue what was going on but... I did read them in order and I still found this one almost completely incomprehensible! I can only assume that Mr Herbert too may have been sampling the delights of mind-altering substances while writing, and I wondered if perhaps it's necessary to be doped up to the eyeballs to follow the 'plot'. Unfortunately, having no illicit drugs to hand, I was forced to attempt it on wine only and that clearly wasn't strong enough. (I also tried sobriety – but that was so much worse!)
The thing is it seems as if it's going to be good. The writing is as good as usual and Herbert creates a nicely chilling atmosphere. The description of all the personalities within Alia trying to take control of her mind is brilliantly done, and Leto and Ghani channelling the thoughts of their dead parents is incredibly creepy. Herbert uses Leto's mullings on what he should do as a vehicle to indulge in a bit of philosophising about the Cold War concerns of his own time, concluding unsurprisingly that the American Way of Life is best. There are loads of conspiracies going on with everyone scheming against everyone else, and Herbert makes this a fascinating look at the loneliness and ultimate fragility of power.
But... Herbert forgets to tell us what's actually going on! Having a rotten memory, I usually jot down brief notes for review purposes – here's one of my notes... “About 2/3 now – haven't a clue what's going on, don't like anybody, don't care who wins (wins what?) and thoroughly bored with the psychedelic drugs, man! Lots of pseudo profundity that's supposed to be taken seriously and sooooo repetitive. Just want it to be over now.” You can tell I was really enjoying it!
The last third shows some brilliant imagination even if it's frankly weird to the point of laughable. I have to mention the sandtrouts...
(Spoiler!!! Spoiler!!! Spoiler!!!)
The bit where Leto and the sandtrouts merge is without a doubt one of the most inspired pieces of lunacy I've ever read, made beautifully squirmily disgusting by the quality of the writing. But when the process turns Leto into some kind of pint-sized superhero who can leap tall buildings in a single bound and destroy hardened warriors with one punch, I began to giggle. And, during the big dramatic finale, that giggling turned into uncontrollable, tears-running-down-the-face, hysteria when he picked up his Abominable Auntie Alia and swung her around his head! I'm not altogether convinced that was the effect Herbert was aiming for...
Great start, incomprehensible middle, unintentionally hysterical end. The last sentence of my notes reads “Right load of old tosh!” and I stand by that! Will I be reading more of the Dune books? Not for the foreseeable future... see? I'm prescient too...
2½ stars for me, so rounded up.
If you can get hold of any other version of the story I would do so. It is a very poor experience when you are having to squint at the page to try and figure out what you are trying to read.
Can you see love lies,
Where the sandtrout dance
And the children sing
And the water flows like wine.
I have run on sand
In a lifeless land
With the breath of Shai-Hulud.
And the eagle soars
From a cave of birds
To the moon called Muad’Dib.
To the moon called Muad’Dib.
Fragment from Song to Sabiha, attributed to Leto II after a ballad by Gurney Halleck
Don't support this kind of lazy practice - buy another edition.
Well written, as usual, with marvellous detailed attention to actions and main characters.
Ps. If you hate psycholgy, sociology or any other 'ology' you might find this book a tall order! hang on in there, it's still a good read.