Jan 12, 2010

[Books] Children of Dune

Children of DuneEach book in the Dune series could have been many books given their length. Heck, the main book really was supposed to be several books but they opted to put them together as one. It's not just about length either - it's also about the complexity of the story lines and how much gets resolved within each title.

So it becomes even harder to try and compartmentalize the books into segments that people are most used to like duologies or trilogies or whatever. There's just so much ground that gets covered within Frank Herbert's pages that quite literally entire generations of time pass. But still, the forms must be obeyed.

Traditionally this title is known as the climax of the "original" trilogy and it does present an interesting "end" to things. And yet it's also a very grand beginning.

Children of Dune is the third book in the original Dune Chronicles and the last title where main cast members like Alia and the Princess Irulan appear. It does take the story into more interesting realms while exploring more extreme interpretations of things.

Alia Atreides from The Dune EncyclopediaImage via Wikipedia

By this time, Paul Muab'Dib is no longer ruler of the Known Universe given his blindness and the need to accept his death in the desert. His twin children are now in the care of their aunt Alia, sister to Muab'Dib who now acts as regent. However she has steadily lost her internal battle with her Other Memories and is practically in full control of the aspect of the Baron Harkonnen in her mind. Thus the twins, Leto and Ghanima, need to find their own path through the many dangers around them and ultimately decide if they are brave enough to face the Golden Path their father turned away from.

The story starts out oddly enough given you now longer have the familiar protagonists to rely on. The few remaining characters of prominence in the previous books are not quite as reliable as they used to be - the best example of this being the increasingly mad Alia. Plus there remain those external threats to the children of Muab'Dib plotting to kill them and more and more the children are left to fend for themselves, trusting in the abilities they inherited from their father.

Complicating things even further are tales of a blind Preacher that speaks against the current regime. At the same time, the rumors persist that this prophet of sorts may actually be Paul Muab'Dib himself, returned from his desert exile and now preaching against Alia and her Regency.

All these diverse elements come together somehow and one after the other the children manage to triumph against all odds, thus revealing how powerful they really are. The ending is one that is hard to predict in anyone's opinion but is the kind of dramatic and radical storytelling that has made the Dune series so compelling in the first place.

This book marks as a major transition point between the "old world" of Paul and his family extending off into the next generation of Dune heroes. Many fellow Dune readers have felt that the story ends well enough here and beyond this point things just get too weird. Personally I liked the transition that takes place and this book does an amazing job of bidding farewell to the characters that we've come to love and respect over the years while setting the stage for even grander storytelling and a much darker universe ahead. The Golden Path should never be confused for a shining utopia off in the future.

Children of Dune is one of my favorite books in the Dune Chronicles and it more than deserves 4 sand trout out of a possible 5.

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