Thus week, I returned to the desert planet of Arrakis, also known as Dune. The third book in the series picks up some nine to ten years after the last novel, Dune Messiah. The last novel ended with Paul Atreides, Maud’Dib, wandering into the deep desert in the Fremen tradition of discarding the old and the blind.
There are rumours now of a Preacher that has come from the desert, preaching against Maud’Dib, and the religious government he established, and now overseen by his sister, Alia.
Alia has problems of her own, she is one of the pre-born, filled with memories of all those who came before her, and may in fact be Abomination – possessed by one of the memory-spirits within her.
Maud’Dib’s children Leto and Ghanima are also pre-born, and will have to confront their own destinies as the Atreides family tries to discover humanity’s Golden Path. But even that arduous task will not be easy, and will require countless sacrifices.
The Bene Gesserit sisterhood, of which their own grandmother, Jessica, is a member, has plans for them, There are wheels within wheels, plans and schemes, point and counterpoint flowing through the plot.
The story deals in religion, family, politics, scheming, and even a healthy dose of ecology. We see shifting loyalties and morality, the fall of those we saw as heroes and a long reaching plan for humanity.
The story is smart, and interesting, but I found that like in the previous books, there’s a lack of emotional connection with the characters. I’m interested in seeing how the story plays out, what the Golden Path means for Leto, the reveal of the Preacher’s identity and the fate of Dune, but there’s no real emotional investment for me.
That doesn’t mean that I am not enjoying my visits to this far distant future, but I wish that I had cared more about the characters. Alia’s fate could have been more distressing. Thinking of it is terrifying, but the text doesn’t conjure it for you.
The Dune novels tend to be hefty reads, with stories that weave across a couple of planets and families, and this one is no different, even as we catch up with familiar faces like Gurney and Duncan.
There are some great sequences in the story, and I like all the stuff with young Leto, even as he goes far beyond his father’s plans for humanity, tearing down the religion Maud’Dib created, and building a new rule, new religion, for all of humanity, even as the all important spice melange, the most important substance in the Dune universe is running short.
A solid read, and I’ll have to continue my journey through the remaining Herbert books soon.