Dec 29, 2009

[Books] Dune Messiah

Dune MessiahI can't imagine what it must be like once you've written your first ever best-selling novel. I mean let's face it - years of writing in obscurity and then suddenly BOOM, you're all famous and everyone knows who you are. Everyone reads your book and then comes the expectation of the future - what do you do next? How you do top your previous masterpiece?

Or should you even try? Should you claim to be loyal to the core story that you've written and just focus on that? Should you try to not care about all the fan mail that you get now and just hope that things will revert back to normal and you can just keep writing the stories you want to write and not the stories that the publishers and the fans are now clamoring for you to write?

This is why sequels are always very interesting to me. It's the test of the resolve of the writer whether to stick to what he was doing in the beginning before the fame hit and all that.

Dune Messiah is the sequel to Frank Herbert's initial landmark work, Dune. It's a rather short novel when you look at it compared to the others in the series, but then you can also consider that the first book was actually three books combined into one, probably of similar length. So I guess the length is just about right?

Princess Irulan from Frank Herbert's 1985 work...Image via Wikipedia

Dune Messiah takes place in a period well after Paul Muab'dib's armies have raged across the Known Universe as part of the jihad raging in his name. He is now Emperor of the Known Universe with the Irulan as his trophy wife and Chani as the true mistress of his soul. He dreams of having a son but Chani is unable to become pregnant for reasons unknown and the jihad rages on. Now a conspiracy aims to bring down the God amongst men in order to restore the old order.

The universe presented in this book is a lot darker than you'd expect. Sure, at the end of Dune the "heroes" win. But now they're the ruling order - the controlling power in the Known Universe. They've gone from being the rebels fighting against the authority and have become that institution that is bogged down by bureaucracy and politics. Our heroes of the first book have become the statesmen and priests of the new order. Paul, his mother Jessica and her daughter Alia have become a Holy Triumvirate of sorts. It's a very strange world indeed.

The book builds on the existing world of the Bene Gesserit and the Guild and explore further the insidious Tleilaxu and their Face Dancers and the Masters. And best of all, we are introduced to the Dune Universe's concept of clones - the gholas. Now THAT's a story that will get told and told over and over again. We have even more plots and schemes and personal ambitions and the list goes on and on. It's a very short book but it's a very meaty one indeed.

Dune Messiah gets 4 Tleilaxu metallic eyes out of a possible 5.

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