Aug 22, 2007

[Books] Hunters of Dune

Hunters of DuneThe death of Frank Herbert in 1986 also marked a premature end to the epic Dune universe with the sixth book in the series, Chapterhouse: Dune.

In recent years, his son Brian Herbert along with Kevin J. Anderson have teamed up to flesh out the rest of the Dune universe based on Frank Herbert's old notes. This resulted in two prequel trilogies dealing with the time leading up to the core six books of the Dune Chronicles, which have been greeted with mixed opinions. Personally I don't think the books really helped the universe all that much.

In the course of their research they came across a safety deposit box with a draft and accompanying notes for Dune 7, which has become the basis for this book Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune.

For the most part, Hunters remains to be an interesting read, although not a terribly gripping or compelling one. While I have to admit that Brian and Kevin have gotten more of a feel for the series after writing 7 other books and are closer in terms of Frank Herbert's original tone and writing style, it still feels fairly distinct from the rest of the series. On another point, the chapters seem strangely short, as if the two can't seem to manage sticking to a single line of development for two long and thus forcing the reader to constantly switch between plot lines whether they be about the New Sisterhood formed by the merging of the Bene Gesserit and the Honored Matres, the refugees aboard the Ithaca including Duncan Idaho and Sheeana or the pseudo villains of the series whether they are the old couple behind the tachyon net or the Face Dancers.

You almost get this feeling that the two writers divided the book between them and thus depending on the plot thread, you get a different writing style and feel for things. I feel that the New Sisterhood storyline was fairly in-step with how they were originally meant to progress while the Ithaca storyline seems a bit forced and sloppy, as if the writer(s) wasn't quite sure where to go. Certainly the notes only go so far and a lot of the story resulted in guesswork and speculation, some of it being somewhat wild and not what everyone was expecting out of the unverse. It's really hard to say if this impression is valid or not.

With so many plot lines to maintain, I felt that the writers weren't able to keep tabs on character development in the same way Frank Herbert had in the original books. Despite how complicated the story became, he never lost sight of how things should go and every character fulfilled their role completely. In this book I felt that several characters were introduced then largely discarded most of the time, chief among them the Tleilaxu Master Scytale, who served as little more than window dressing most of the time.

I'm not sure if I appreciated the ending - it's not that it's bad it's just that in these days it seems overdone and given the two trilogies they had worked on, the ending in this one seemed like a natural conclusion. Just think about what they decided to devote energies to first before getting to Dune 7 and you'll understand what I mean.

I'm bound to pick up Sandworms despite this book getting barely passing marks in my opinion. I'm too much of a Dune fan and just the thought that even a glimmer of all this remains directly inspired by Frank Herbert's original vision for the series has me wanting to see if I can figure out how much came from how and how much was added in by his son and Kevin J. Anderson.

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