And so ends the Dune saga. Although
this was a sequel to Heretics of Dune, taking place only a short time
later (relatively speaking), the book did nothing until the last hundred
pages, which is the opposite of the last book.
Through most of the book, the
characters talk, about a variety of things, and do absolutely nothing.
There are books that are mainly plot, and there are character novels.
This is neither. Instead, all the talk gives us insight into the
society, and how the Bene Gesserit think, and why they act the way they
do. But it makes for a really slow moving story.
There were a lot of unnecessary parts,
too. I wonder how much of it was setup for the next novel, which was
never written. There is Lucilla, for example, who was one of Duncan
Idaho's teachers in Heretics. She carries an entire world of Reverend
Mothers in her mind, Shared as the Honored Matres destroyed their world.
Lucilla is kept alive, but brought in front of Great Honored Matre, to
discuss politics and social values. Then, she is killed. Not only that,
but Great Honored Matre, who learned so much about the Bene Gesserit and
was very interested, is killed by her second in command near the climax
of the story. The knowledge is only for the readers, and never gets
passed to other characters, even in part. That is poor storytelling,
considering how much of it we got. Then there is the Rabbi, and his
daughter Rebecca, who gains Lucilla's Other Memories thus saving them.
But what happens to Rebecca? She remains on the no-ship when Sheeana and
Duncan hijack it at the end. There is no closure, but I assume that
would have come in the next book. Similarly the many conversations with
the Tleilaxu Master, who also stays on board the ship. I expect that
with his many hidden tissue samples of face dancers and special people
from history, such as Paul Atreides and others, that he is simply setup
for the next book, never published.
We learn more about the Honored Matres
through these conversations, and through Murbella, the one Duncan
captured, who strives to become a Reverend Mother. Apparently they came
back from the Scattering unwillingly, because they were chased back by
some unknown threat. The Honored Matres were slaves become masters,
derived from Fish Speakers and Reverend Mothers. Yet somebody
genetically created a human-animal cross-breed that hunted them, called
Futars. It is thought that the Futar Handlers created a biological
weapon against the Honored Matres.
The Honored Matres are conquering the
galaxy, creating slave populations, but do not care about repercussions.
Thus the Bene Gesserit, under the leadership of Darwi Odrade (last seen
in Heretics of Dune), are worried that their enemies will cause the
extinction of humanity, as their way leads to an evolutionary dead end.
Through the book, Murbella learns to
become a Bene Gesserit, and her mutual sexual addition to Duncan Idaho lessens
as she does so. Duncan becomes a Mentat. Sheeana is waiting for the
sandworms, as Odrade is turning Chapterhouse into another Dune, letting
desert take over, in the hopes of creating their own spice. So far, they
must rely on their stockpiles, as Rakis was destroyed in the last book,
and the Tleilaxu have been exterminated (except for the captive Master),
so they cannot produce spice. The worms finally appear near the end of
the book, so tiny, but destined to become much larger. There are
thousands of them. There is also the ten year old ghola of Miles Teg,
which Odrade hopes to use as his former self in a strategic attack on
the Honored Matre governing planet of Junction.
The attack was dull, but the
consequences interesting. The book could have started in the last
hundred and fifty pages. Murbella undergoes the spice agony, Teg's
memories are restored, Odrade goes to Junction to surrender the Bene
Gesserit, while providing Teg with information for his attack. Why use
Gammu as a feint? How did the survivors have time to fall back to
Junction? Regardless, the second in command kills Great Honored Matre,
Teg's forces secure Junction, only to fall victim to the bloodless
weapon the Honored Matres have hidden somewhere. Conveniently, they
could only use the weapon once, so it is spent. Even the Ixian
technologists cannot figure out how to reload.
So what was Odrade's plan? After the
stunning defeat of Teg's army, Murbella comes down to the planet and
takes control of the Honored Matres, pretending to be one of them, but
trained under the Bene Gesserit. Odrade is killed at that time, a wasted
moment. Then she
leads them to Chapterhouse, where she takes control of the Bene Gesserit
(she has Odrade's memories, so has every right to do so). Odrade's plan
was to teach all Honored Matres the Bene Gesserit ways, and thus marry
the incredible speed and sexual mastery of Honored Matre to the true
teachings of the Bene Gesserit. As with Murbella, the Honored Matres
(who desperately want Bene Gesserit skills) would see the folly of their
old ways, or would die in the Spice Agony.
This story begs for a sequel. As does
the last chapters with Duncan and Sheeana, who steal the no-ship they
have been virtually imprisoned on, going into foldspace as Duncan erases
their navigation banks. Sheeana and other Reverend Mothers don't want to
see the result of Murbella's attempt at merging the two cultures. Duncan has been seeing visions of some advanced
Face Dancers from the Scattering, and the only way to escape them was to
send the no-ship into nowhere. They were not the only ones, as Odrade
had sent out mini-scatterings of Bene Gesserit since the Honored Matre
I wonder how the next book would have
been shaped. I have no interest in reading the prequels and sequels by
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, even if they were written from
notes left by Frank Herbert. But there is a lot of mention here of
technology returning. They use computers and com-eyes to store data and
to spy. One of Odrade's staff becomes a cyborg, because he was too
invaluable to let die. There are many hints that another Butlerian Jihad
was coming soon. Add to that the potential threat from the Scattering,
worse than the Honored Matres, and the mysterious advanced Face Dancers
from Duncan's vision, and it would make for an interesting series.
As for the six Dune novels, this one
was only really interesting in the last hundred pages. That seems to be
the theme for most of these books: A hundred pages of interesting
material, with the exception of Dune and
Heretics of Dune.