Paul of Dune Review
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In the years since his death, Frank Herbert has proven to be a challenging act to follow. Paul of Dune is the ninth bookóset in the universe that Herbert created with the 1965 novel, Duneóthat his son, Brian Herbert, has written alongside prolific sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson. While each book has been a bestseller, critical and fan response has been divided. Their most recent work, the two-part conclusion to the Dune saga, based on Frank Herbertís original outline, drew both praise and condemnation from longtime readers. For my part, Iíve enjoyed most of what Iíve read, although it admittedly lacks some of the depth and sheer inventive power that characterized Frankís work on the series.

This new book is the first in a series set during the original Dune trilogy, which chronicled the rise of Paul MaudíDib to emperor of the known universe, his subsequent fall, and the emergence of his son, Leto II, as a powerful force in his own right. Each book in the new series will focus on one of the principal characters from that trilogy and fill in the gaps between Dune, Dune Messiah, and Children of Dune. The first entry takes place shortly after Paul has led his primitive Fremen warriors to victory over the Emperor and is consolidating his rule through a bloody, galaxy-wide jihad. Interspersed with this story is a parallel tale drawn, from Paulís youth as a dukeís son during a feud between noble houses of the Imperium.

Perhaps because the original trilogy is the best-known and the most strongly defined of Frank Herbertís saga, the Herbert-Anderson books that tie in closely to that material have also been the strongest. Theyíve also drawn noticeable inspirations from the various films and miniseries that have adapted that material.

One of the strongest thematic underpinnings of the entire Dune saga is the tension between the necessities of violence and the toll it takes on all those involved. It would be easy to read only the original novel, Dune, and come away with a thrilling story of an exiled prince who avenges his fatherís death and, in the process, gains an intergalactic empire. But even that first book subtly hints at Frank Herbertís distrust of messiahs, and by the time Dune Messiah begins, Paul MaudíDibís jihad has already begun spinning out of his control. Paul of Dune fills in some of that missing time, and it helps flesh out the portrait of a reluctant emperor who abhors the violence done in his name while recognizing, through his unique power of prescience, the absolute necessity of it.

As with their other books in the saga, Herbert and Anderson are most successful with the characters and tone of the book. Characters that didnít get much stage time in the original trilogy, including the princess-historian Irulan and the devious Count Fenring, are given much more to do, and their stories are woven compellingly into the saga. This book even expands on a throwaway line from Dune Messiah regarding the secretive Bene Tleilaxís efforts to create their own superhuman being.

If youíve read previous books in the series, youíve likely already made up your mind regarding the continuing expansion of the Dune universe. If youíve enjoyed the work that Herbert and Anderson have produced so far, or youíve at least made your peace with the differences in style and substance between them and Frank Herbert, you should enjoy this one as well.

The Dune books continue to be one of science fictionís strongest and most sweeping serial dramas, comprising ideas and storylines that manage to constantly demonstrate new areas of relevance and insight. While the architect of that universe is missed, thankfully, as the authors remind us, the saga of Dune is far from over.

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