Dec 27, 2007

[Books] Dune: The Machine Crusade (Legends of Dune - Book 2)

Dune: The Machine Crusade (Legends of Dune - Book 2)The Machine Crusade is the second book in Brian Herbert's and Kevin J. Anderson's second series of Dune prequel novels called the Legends of Dune, which aim to chronicle the events of the Butlerian Jihad and explain the origins of many of the key factions in the later books such as the Spacing Guild, the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood and the Fremen.

This second book was somewhat better than the first, perhaps because the characters have already been established so more of the time could be devoted to plot development and fairly interesting twists. I certainly liked it better than the first book.

The novel takes place a few decades after the first novel with the Butlerian Jihad, the great war against the thinking machines, pretty much in full swing. Little advances have been made on either side but already many lives have been lost in the name of freedom. Norma Cenva is still working on developing the equations that will lead to interstellar travel by folding space and of course the Vorian Atreides and Xavier Harkonnen continue to fight together in the war.

Admittedly, the geek in me found the Norma Cenva storyline to be one of the most interesting, if only to see how she came about creating the technology that would firmly establish the Spacing Guild, which ultimately became such an integral part of the Dune Universe later on. She's a fascinating character, although at times horribly one-dimensional.

This time around Brian and Kevin appear to be getting more comfortable with their writing and the chapters seem a lot more fleshed out as compared to the last book, although in general I still find their chapters a tad short, as if they believe that they constantly need to change the scenery in order to stimulate interest.

At times some of the book's "revelations" feel a tad corny given they seem to be playing up to the fans without really understanding the implications of their actions in the greater scheme of the Dune Universe. It's as if they just want to provide an answer to most of the classic fan questions and do so in a manner which is sometimes haphazard and clumsy.

Still, the book is a decent read and certainly helpful in providing some sort of idea of what happened so many years before. The main thing which keeps readers like me following the series is the hope of catching even a glimpse of Frank Herbert's original ideas for this period of time somehow hidden amidst the plot twists and threads presented by Brian and Kevin. It's like how the spirit of the story many be accurate based on Herbert's original vision but of course the actual implementation leaves something to be desired.

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