Jan 19, 2010

[Books] God Emperor of Dune

God Emperor of DuneIn my continuing series of reviews of my moved favorite series of all time, we're at the halfway mark when things get a little weird and some fans found themselves to continue easily if at all. There are many different opinions of the last three Dune books written by Frank Herbert himself with a larger part of the differences in opinion centering around this one book.

The first three books remained pretty much centered around the core family unit of Paul Muab'Dib. Children of Dune pretty much settled that and marked a shift in the story to the new generation of Atreides.

What a lot of people weren't expecting was that this next generation would last for thousands of years and we'd find ourselves in the far, far future with a radically different Atreides bloodline to follow around.

Leto II as God Emperor, from the cover of God ...Image via Wikipedia

God Emperor of Dune is the fourth book in Frank Herbert's Dune Chronicles and takes place more than 3,500 years after the events of Children of Dune. Because of his merging with the sand trout to become a new species all together, Leto II is now part human, part sandworm and appears to be practically immortal. He rules the Known Universe with an iron fist and is often referred to as the Tyrant given his highly oppressive rule. The old hierarchy of Landsraad, Bene Gesserit and Spacing Guild is no more, reduced to beggar's at Leto's heel given his rigid control of spice rations for the various groups. All this is part of some grander scheme, Leto's "Golden Path" that he follows with his oracular vision in order to ensure the future of humanity.

A whirlwind of plots continue to surround the God Emperor as the various forces try to find away to kill him despite his armorer body, which proves impervious even to lasgun fire. And on Dune itself, one of Leto's descendants, Siona, is part of a rebel group that is trying to topple the God Emperor's empire as best as they can despite his Fish Speaker army of warrior women defending his citadel.

God Emperor often proves to be one of the more difficult Dune books to get into since the central Atreides figure seems a lot more like the villain of the story. He appears to be cruel and callous in his executive of duties. Leto goes on and one throughout the book as some all-seeing know-it-all who speaks in quotations, lessons and platitudes. Many felt it was Herbert preaching to his readers of his philosophies and beliefs and that may not be too far from the truth. But there are some real gems in the words of the God Emperor plus the true meaning of his Golden Path will truly shake the foundations of what you thought to be true as far as the Dune series was concerned up until this point.

The God Emperor was such a fascinating character for me and the burdens of his duties defied all conventional reason when I first read this book. But of course, once I had read the other books in the series and re-read all of them a few times for good measure, only then did things make a lot more sense to me. The beauty of his grand plan and getting a better grasp of his motivations made all the difference for me.

To be fair, the book is rather hard to read and it took me longer than normal to get through, even given that this was a Dune book we're talking about here. The whole Siona angle didn't make all that much sense to me in the beginning and I can some readers may have tried to latch onto her as the "hero" of the story given she was the Atreides fighting the Tyrant. But then she's just not that compelling and that takes a lot away from that kind of a perspective.

But you have to get through this book to better appreciate the remaining two books in the Dune Chronicles and I assure you it's worth the effort. The brilliance of this title is not easily seen and you really need to keep an open mind when you tackle this title.

God Emperor of Dune gets 4 Duncan Idaho Gholas out of a possible 5.

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