Oct 20, 2009

[Books] Paul of Dune

Paul of DuneDespite the fact that books (like movies, comic books, toys and other geeky things of interest) will always be primarily commercial ventures whose intentions are affected by business decisions, marketing directions and the like, no fan ever likes having this concept rubbed in our faces. Yes, we understand that money is important and that sales drives the production of all the geeky things that we love, but it certainly doesn't mean that Hollywood or book publishers or toy manufacturers need to throw away all pretenses of the creative process by totally embracing the commercialism of everything.

Sadly, I can't shake that particular feeling whenever I pick up any of Brian Herbert's Dune-related novels. It's one thing to try and honor the memory of Frank Herbert by presenting his notes in a creative format that fans might appreciate, but it's another to seemingly rape and pillage the estate, create self-serving novels within the original Dune universe just for commercial gain.

Sorry, if I haven't stressed it enough across my various entries here, allow me to say again just how important Dune is to me.

Paul of Dune is a novel that Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson are positioning as the direct sequel to Dune. It takes place between Dune and Dune Messiah and attempts to flesh out the actual time of Paul Muad'dib's holy jihad across the known universe in order to unite all planets under his reign as emperor.

Miroslav Táborský as Count Fenring in the 2000...Image via Wikipedia

The story follows several paths in order to convey this story. The main arc of course is around the newly crowned Emperor Paul, his concubine and true love Chani along with his legal wife and path to the throne, the Princess Irulan. The three work on establishing the new empire in their own respective ways while fores like the deposed emperor Shaddam Corrino IV or the elusive Count Hasimir Fenring and his wife Lady Margot Fenring hiding elsewhere in the universe. Various plots and schemes all come together as different enemies try to bring down the tyrant Emperor.

The other arc talks about Paul's youth and the on-going war between House Ecaz and House Moritani and the involvement of both House Atreides and House Harkonnen in the conflict. This storyline takes place sometime during Brian Herbert's Prelude to Dune trilogy but still before the original Dune.

My biggest issue with this story is how the authors made sure to create a sort of closed-loop universe that essentially focused on making references to the various prequel novels they had written for the series. In the same way that I didn't appreciate how Sandworms of Dune and Hunters of Dune could only be fully understood if one also read Brian Herbert's Legends of Dune trilogy, all the more I hated how this book felt so self-serving and made a sickening amount of references to their own prequel novels. This was a story that was meant to take place right after the original Dune when Paul or any of the other characters never made these kinds of references in the original book or even in the sequel, Dune Messiah. It felt so out of character for the particular events crafted in Brian Herbert's novels to suddenly become so important if only for a single title.

The story as a whole just felt...wrong. Beyond the change in writing style, which in unavoidable since they are completely different people from Frank Herbert after all, but a lot of the things that the characters did felt so...unreal and just plain wrong when brought into context with the original Dune Saga. Duke Leto Atreides I had supposedly gotten himself engaged for marriage without even telling Jessica? Paul had already been subjected to the rigors of war and conflict and yet somehow never managed to kill anyone before? Count Hasimir Fenring and Lady Margot Fenring have somehow become these master schemers determined to change the path of the Empire entirely? Sure, many of these things remain theoretically plausible for the universe, but that doesn't make them the best courses of action or the greatest of plot points to explore.

This book just feels so far away from the rest of the Dune universe, it's almost scary. I don't even know what sick part of me still presses me to buy them - perhaps something like the morbid curiosity of a guy slowing down his car without stopping to see the car accident on the side of the road or something. We don't necessarily know why we do these painful things but we still do them.

This book is a cheap ripoff of the Dune universe and yet another meager attempt at reviving the storyline while ultimately just raping the estate and potentially marring the legacy of the original novels. One can only hope that Brian Herbert gets visited by the ghost of his dead father who will somehow convince him to stop coming out with these cheap imitation Dune novels.

Paul of Dune gets 2 blade-spewing flower pot death traps out of a possible 5.

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1 comment:

  1. arrrh. You should read (or not) the utterly forgettable Memorymakers. Ugh. Mix Dune with tweenybooks. seriously. It ended up having a half-baked Battlefield Earth feel.