Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

The second Dune novel sees Paul Atreides now ruling as an emperor. Sadly, like all the other sci-fi and fantasy boys, he’s just an all-powerful, amoral dictator. It’s hard to really feel anything for someone who pontificates about how great of a man Hitler is (which he literally does), but I did really enjoy exploring the politics of this world.

The novel feels almost completely different from the first one. Initially, Paul is a young and almost helpless young man battling against the odds to avenge his family and overthrow the powerful forces of evil that turned his life upside down. Now he’s struggling to hold together a giant empire, and trying to cement himself as a kind of god-like being.

Although it was a little harder to understand what was going on sometimes, I was still pretty engaged throughout. I wish there was more sandworm action, but I’m glad that was swapped for something that feels very different, rather than just giving us more of the same.

One of my favourite additions to this book is Alia – though she did have a small appearance in the first book, she really becomes her own character here. She’s a strange mixture of teenage girl, and someone who’s wise far beyond her years due to the knowledge she received from her Bene Gesserit mother. She’d kind of other worldly in the way she behaves, and I found her quite enigmatic.

This book also sees the return of the formerly dead, Duncan Idaho. He was revived as a gift for Paul, but intended to be an assassin. The process of reviving him meant that he maintained his technical skills, but lost all his memory and personality. He now goes by the name Hayt and kind of considers himself a separate person, but also seems to want to find out more about who he was. He’s quite conflicted, and I generally think the concept behind him is very cool.

The problem is, Hayt is also connected to one of my least favourite parts of the book. I won’t spoil it but essentially, he’s shown to be sexually attracted to Alia, who is just a teenager, and who Hayt himself is shown to see as a child. If that’s not gross enough, Frank Herbert also thought it was necessary to have Paul see his sister naked and have some confusing feelings about it. Why do all male sci-fi and fantasy writers feel the need to put stuff like this in?

Overall though, I could look past the unpleasantly weird stuff and enjoy the book. It has its flaws, and is quite dry sometimes, but it’s an interesting enough setting. It’s hard to compare it directly against the first book – sometimes I think it was a bit worse, sometimes I think it was a bit better. Either way, its a worthy continuation.

Rating: 6.3/10

Buy it here.

This entry was posted in Book Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *