Feb 2, 2010

[Books] Heretics of Dune

Heretics of DuneIt's ironic when longtime readers of a particular series of books start to get bored when things are repetitive and thus they demand that the author change things and bring the series into a new direction. The irony lies in when the series does finally take that fateful twist, those same fans end up complaining that too much has changed and the series is no longer quite what it used to be.

For many Dune fans, the shift in the on-going Dune Chronicles that Frank Herbert brought about in this fifth book of the series was very hard to stomach. It was the kind of change that you either loved or hated and not much else in-between. Personally, I really liked where the story went in the next two books especially when it came down to the characters introduced here.

Yeah, Frank Herbert was always amazingly good with creating very strong and inspiring characters.

Heretics of DuneImage via Wikipedia

Heretics of Dune is the fifth book of Frank Herbert's Dune Chronicles and it takes place more than 1,500 years after the events of God Emperor of Dune. The God Emperor Leto II is long dead and humankind has spread beyond the Known Universe in a massive wave of expansion known as The Scattering. The old Imperium is no longer the absolute power of the universe and remains corrupted by its own priesthood. The Noble Houses remain, but not quite as powerful as they used to be.

And now mysterious forces have begun to invade the Known Universe from the dark reaches of The Scattering. At the forefront are a group of feral warrior women known as the Honored Matres who conquer with massive armies, mutant slaves and sexual prowess. The only force that can now truly oppose them are the stewards of the Atreides genetic legacy - the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood. The similarities between the Honored Matres and the Bene Gesserit are too obvious to ignore but that just leaves far too many questions more to be answered. Thus the stage is set for a new final act in the Dune legacy.

With a major shift in dramatic focus, Heretics of Dune brought the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood to the forefront with them as the protagonists of sorts in this story. For far too long Herbert had conditioned us readers to distrust the "witches" given their skilled manipulation of political and religious forces plus their full mastery of nerves and bodies making them some of the most formidable fighters in the Known Universe. And naturally having them as the "heroes" of this tale required an equally devious foe, one they found in the form of the Honored Matres.

This book also continued the strange mystery of the seemingly never-ending Duncan Idaho Gholas, brought to light more of the strange practices of the Bene Tleilax and introduced new heroic characters like the aging military genius Miles Teg or the wild sandworm rider Sheeana. There's just so much to explore and enjoy in this one book that sometimes I just can't understand why more people didn't enjoy it as much as I did.

Admittedly, it's a lot of changes to accept in a short span of time and I can understand why not everyone took well to the story right off the bat. This is not to say it's not a good book and I'd always encourage more Dune fans out there to give this book a fair chance. For non-Dune readers, you definitely don't want to start your Dune adventure here - go back to Start for the best experience. Herbert relies a lot on knowledge of the chronological history of the series to enjoy the latter books and this is truly felt in these last two parts of the series.

Heretics of Dune gets 4 invisible no-ships out of 5.

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