George V. Reilly

Review: Sandworms of Dune

Sandworms of Dune
Title: Sandworms of Dune
Author: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: 2007
Pages: 493
Keywords: science fiction
Reading period: 13-17 August, 2007

Dune is Frank Herbert’s classic SF novel, dealing with such themes as a galactic messiah, ecology, politics, treachery, and space opera.

The teenaged Paul Atreides, the product of thousands of years of selective breeding by the Bene Gesserit sisters, arrives on the desert planet Dune, home of the drug melange (or ‘spice’). Spice is fun­da­men­tal to the galactic economy: the Guild navigators use it to ‘fold’ space and transport huge ships between star systems, and it confers longevity and health upon those who can afford it. Spice is a byproduct of the huge, dangerous sandworms, who can be found only on Dune. Paul overdoses on spice and after a near-death experience, emerges as a prescient superman who overthrows the old empire and sets up an Atreides dynasty lasting thousands of years.

Herbert wrote six novels in all, between 1965 and 1985, spanning five thousands years. Over the last decade, his son Brian and Kevin J. Anderson have picked up the mantle, writing two prequel trilogies, The House trilogy describes the forty years leading up to the events of Frank’s first novel. The Butlerian Jihad is set 10,000 years before, telling of the events that set humanity on its path, as they overthrew their machine masters. Their latest two books, Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune are sequels to Frank’s last two books, Heretics of Dune and Chap­ter­house: Dune, based on notes discovered after Frank’s death.

Frank’s original Dune novels are (largely) brilliant. (I refer to God Emperor of Dune as "God-Awful of Dune" because I found it wretchedly tedious.) Frank built a complex society, fas­ci­nat­ing characters, and subtle plots.

Brian and Kevin are not in the same league. Some hold that their work is little better than fanfic. I find their work pedestrian, lacking in Frank’s subtlety.

Sandworms ends the Dune saga, in the final battle between men and machines. Many of the characters from the original book have been reborn as gholas (clones with their original memories restored by great trauma), and it’s pleasing to see them get another chance. The book is reasonably sat­is­fac­to­ry, but does not stand alone. It ties up many of the loose ends of the preceding books.

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