THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING PREQUEL TO THE CLASSIC AWARD–WINNING SAGA BY FRANK HERBERT
Frank Herbert’s award-winning Dune chronicles captured the imagination of millions of readers worldwide. By his death in 1986, Herbert had completed six novels in the series, but much of his vision remained unwritten. Now, working from his father’s recently discovered files, Brian Herbert and bestselling novelist Kevin J. Anderson collaborate on a new novel, the prelude to Dune—where we step onto the planet Arrakis . . . decades before Dune’s hero, Paul Muad’Dib Atreides, walks its sands.
Here is the rich and complex world that Frank Herbert created, in the time leading up to the momentous events of Dune. As Emperor Elrood’s son plots a subtle regicide, young Leto Atreides leaves for a year’s education on the mechanized world of Ix; a planetologist named Pardot Kynes seeks the secrets of Arrakis; and the eight-year-old slave Duncan Idaho is hunted by his cruel masters in a terrifying game from which he vows escape and vengeance. But none can envision the fate in store for them: one that will make them renegades— and shapers of history
“[Fans] rejoice in this chance to return to one of science fiction’s most appealing futures.”—The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Brian Herbert, the son of Frank Herbert, is the author of numerous acclaimed science fiction novels, including Sidney's Comet; Sudanna, Sudanna; Prisoners of Arrion; Race for God; and Man of Two Worlds (written with Frank Herbert). He has also written Dreamer of Dune, a comprehensive biography of his illustrious father.
Kevin J. Anderson has written twenty-five national bestsellers and has been nominated for the Nebula Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the SFX Reader's Choice Award. He also holds the Guinness world record for "Largest Single-Author Book Signing."
Read an Excerpt
Melange is the financial crux of CHOAM activities. Without this spice, Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers could not perform feats of observation and human control, Guild Navigators could not see safe pathways across space, and billions of Imperial citizens would die of addictive withdrawal. Any simpleton knows that such dependence upon a single commodity leads to abuse. We are all at risk.
CHOAM Economic Analysis of Materiel Flow Patterns
Lean and muscular, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen hunched forward next to the ornithopter pilot. He peered with spider-black eyes through the pitted windowplaz, smelling the ever-present grit and sand.
As the armored 'thopter flew high overhead, the white sun of Arrakis dazzled against unrelenting sands. The sweeping vista of dunes sizzling in the day's heat made his retinas burn. The landscape and sky were bleached of color. Nothing soothed the human eye.
The Baron wished he could be back in the industrialized warmth and civilized complexity of Giedi Prime, the central world of House Harkonnen. Even stuck here, he had better things to do back at the local family headquarters in the city of Carthag, other diversions to suit his demanding tastes.
But the spice harvesting must take precedence. Always. Especially a huge strike such as the one his spotters had reported.
In the cramped cockpit, the Baron lounged with well-postured confidence, ignoring the buffet and sway of air currents. The 'thopter's mechanical wings beat rhythmically like a wasp's. The dark leather of his chestpiece fit tightly over well-toned pectorals. In his mid-forties, he had rakish good looks; his reddish gold hair had been cut and styled to exacting specifications, enhancing his distinctive widow's peak. The Baron's skin was smooth, his cheekbones high and well sculpted. Sinewy muscles stood out along his neck and jaw, ready to contort his face into a scowl or a hard smile, depending on circumstances.
"How much farther?" He looked sideways at the pilot, who had been showing signs of nervousness.
"The site is in the deep desert, m'Lord Baron. All indications are that this is one of the richest concentrations of spice ever excavated."
The flying craft shuddered on thermals as they passed over an outcropping of black lava rock. The pilot swallowed hard, focusing on the ornithopter's controls.
The Baron relaxed into his seat and quelled his impatience. He was glad the new hoard was far from prying eyes, away from Imperial or CHOAM corporate officials who might keep troublesome records. Doddering old Emperor Elrood IX didn't need to know every damned thing about Harkonnen spice production on Arrakis. Through carefully edited reports and doctored accounting journals, not to mention bribes, the Baron told the off-planet overseers only what he wanted them to know.
He swiped a strong hand across the sheen of sweat on his upper lip, then adjusted the 'thopter's environment controls to make the cockpit cooler, the air more moist.
The pilot, uncomfortable at having such an important and volatile passenger in his care, nudged the engines to increase speed. He checked the console's map projection again, studied outlines of the desert terrain that spread as far as they could see.
Having examined the cartographic projections himself, the Baron had been displeased by their lack of detail. How could anyone expect to find his way across this desert scab of a world? How could a planet so vital to the economic stability of the Imperium remain basically uncharted? Yet another failing of his weak younger demibrother, Abulurd.
But Abulurd was gone, and the Baron was in charge. Now that Arrakis is mine, I'll put everything in order. Upon returning to Carthag, he would set people to work drawing up new surveys and maps, if the damned Fremen didn't kill the explorers again or ruin the cartography points.
For forty years, this desert world had been the quasi-fief of House Harkonnen, a political appointment granted by the Emperor, with the blessing of the commercial powerhouse CHOAMthe Combine Honnete Ober Advancer Mercantiles. Though grim and unpleasant, Arrakis was one of the most important jewels in the Imperial crown because of the precious substance it provided.
However, upon the death of the Baron's father, Dmitri Harkonnen, the old Emperor had, through some mental deficiency, granted the seat of power to the softhearted Abulurd, who had managed to decimate spice production in a mere seven years. Profits plunged, and he lost control to smugglers and sabotage. In disgrace, the fool had been yanked from his position and sent off without official title to Lankiveil, where even he could do little damage to the self-sustaining whale-fur activities there.
Immediately upon being granted the governorship, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen had set out to turn Arrakis around. He would make his own mark, erase the legacy of mistakes and bad judgment.
In all the Imperium, Arrakisa hellhole that some might consider a punishment rather than a rewardwas the only known source of the spice melange, a substance worth far more than any precious metal. Here on this parched world, it was worth even more than its weight in water.
Without spice, efficient space travel would be impossible ... and without space travel, the Imperium itself would fall. Spice prolonged life, protected health, and added a vigor to existence. The Baron, a moderate user himself, greatly appreciated the way it made him feel. Of course, the spice melange was also ferociously addictive, which kept the price high....
The armored 'thopter flew over a seared mountain range that looked like a broken jawbone filled with rotted teeth. Up ahead the Baron could see a dust cloud extending like an anvil into the sky.
"Those are the harvesting operations, m'Lord Baron."
Hawklike attack 'thopters grew from black dots in the monochrome sky and swooped toward them. The communicator pinged, and the pilot sent back an identification signal. The paid defendersmercenaries with orders to keep out unwelcome observerscircled away and took up protective positions in the sky.
So long as House Harkonnen maintained the illusion of progress and profits, the Spacing Guild didn't need to know about every particular spice find. Nor did the Emperor, nor CHOAM. The Baron would keep the melange for himself and add it to his huge stockpiles.
After Abulurd's years of bumbling, if the Baron accomplished even half of what he was capable of, CHOAM and the Imperium would see a vast improvement. If he kept them happy, they wouldn't notice his substantial skim, would never suspect his secret spice stashes. A dangerous stratagem if discovered ... but the Baron had ways of dealing with prying eyes.
As they approached the plume of dust, he took out a pair of binoculars and focused the oil lenses. The magnification permitted him to see the spice factory at work. With its giant treads and enormous cargo capacity, the mechanical monstrosity was incredibly expensiveand worth every solari expended to maintain it. Its excavators kicked up cinnamon-red dust, gray sand, and flint chips as they dug down, scooping up the surface of the desert, sifting for aromatic spice.
Mobile ground units ranged across the open sand in the vicinity of the factory, dipping probes beneath the surface, scraping samples, mapping the extent of the buried spice vein. Overhead, heavier machinery borne by jumbo ornithopters circled, waiting. Peripherally, spotter craft cruised up and down the sands with alert watchers searching for the telltale ripples of wormsign. One of the great sandworms of Arrakis could swallow their entire operation whole.
"M'Lord Baron," the pilot said and handed the communicator wand over to him, "the captain of the work crew wishes to speak with you."
"This is your Baron." He touched his ear to listen to the pickup. "Give me an update. How much have you found?"
Below on the sands, the crew captain answered, his voice gruff, his manner annoyingly unimpressed with the importance of the man to whom he was speaking. "Ten years working spice crews, and this deposit's beyond anything I've ever seen. Trouble is, it's buried deep. Normally, you know, we find the spice exposed by the elements. This time it's densely concentrated, but ..."
The Baron waited for only a moment. "Yes, what is it?"
"Something strange going on here, sir. Chemically, I mean. We've got carbon dioxide leaking from below, some sort of a bubble beneath us. The harvester's digging through outer layers of sand to get at the spice, but there's also water vapor."
"Water vapor!" Such a thing was unheard-of on Arrakis, where the moisture content of the air was nearly unmeasurable, even on the best of days.
"Could have stumbled on an ancient aquifer, sir. Maybe buried under a cap of rock."
The Baron had never imagined finding running water beneath the surface of Arrakis. Quickly he considered the possibilities of exploiting a free-flowing water resource by selling it to the populace. That was sure to upset the existing water merchants, who had grown too swollen with self-importance anyway.
His basso voice rumbled. "Do you think it's contaminating the spice somehow?"
"Not able to say, sir," said the crew captain. "Spice is strange stuff, but I've never seen a pocket like this before. It doesn't seem ... right somehow."
The Baron looked over at the 'thopter pilot. "Contact the spotters. See if they've picked up any wormsign yet."
"No wormsign, m'Lord," the pilot said, scanning the reply. The Baron noticed sparkles of sweat on the man's forehead.
"How long has the harvester been down there?"
"Nearly two standard hours, sir."
Now the Baron scowled. One of the worms should definitely have come before now.
Inadvertently, the pilot had left the comsystem open, and the crew captain gruffly acknowledged over the speaker. "Never had this much time either, sir. The worms always come. Always. But something's going on down here. Gases are increasing. You can smell it in the air."
Taking a deep breath of the recycled cabin air, the Baron detected the musky cinnamon smell of raw melange scooped from the desert. The ornithopter flew in a holding pattern now, several hundred meters from the main harvester.
"We're also detecting vibrations underground, some kind of a resonance. I don't like it, sir."
"You're not paid to like it," the Baron replied. "Is it a deep worm?"
"I don't think so, sir."
He scanned the estimates being transmitted from the spice harvester. The numbers boggled his mind. "We're getting as much from this one excavation as a month's production on my other sites." He drummed his fingers on his right thigh in a rhythmic pattern.
"Nevertheless, sir, I suggest that we prepare to pack up and abandon the site. We could lose"
"Absolutely not, Captain," the Baron said. "There's no wormsign, and you've already got nearly a full factory load. We can bring down a carryall and give you an empty harvester if you need it. I'm not leaving behind a fortune in spice just because you're getting nervous ... just because you have an uneasy feeling. Ridiculous!"
When the work leader tried to push his point, the Baron interrupted, "Captain, if you're a nervous coward, you're in the wrong profession and in the employ of the wrong House. Carry on." He switched off the communicator and made a mental note to remove that man from his position as soon as possible.
Carryalls hovered above, ready to retrieve the spice harvester and its crew as soon as a worm appeared. But why was it taking so long for one to come? Worms always protected the spice.
Spice. He tasted the word in his thoughts and on his lips.
Veiled in superstition, the substance was an unknown quantity, a modern unicorn's-horn. And Arrakis was inhospitable enough that no one had yet deciphered the origin of melange. In the vast canvas of the Imperium, no explorer or prospector had found melange on any other planet, nor had anyone succeeded in synthesizing a substitute, despite centuries of attempts. Since House Harkonnen held the planetary governorship of Arrakis, and therefore controlled all spice production, the Baron had no wish to see a substitute developed, or any other source found.
Expert desert crews located the spice, and the Imperium used itbut beyond that, the details didn't concern him. There was always risk to spice workers, always the danger that a worm would attack too soon, that a carryall would malfunction, that a spice factory would not be lifted away in time. Unexpected sandstorms could come up with startling speed. The casualty rate and the equipment losses to House Harkonnen were appalling ... but melange paid off nearly any cost in blood or money.
As the ornithopter circled in a steady, thrumming rhythm, the Baron studied the industrial spectacle below. Baking sun glinted off the spice factory's dusty hull. Spotters continued to prowl the air, while groundcars cruised beneath them, taking samples.
Still no sign of a worm, and every moment allowed the crew to retrieve more spice.The workers would receive bonusesexcept for that captainand House Harkonnen would become richer. The records could be doctored later.
The Baron turned to the pilot. "Call our nearest base. Summon another carryall and another spice factory. This vein seems inexhaustible." His voice trailed off. "If a worm hasn't shown up by now, there just might be time...."
The ground crew captain called back, broadcasting on a general frequency since the Baron had shut down his own receiver. "Sir, our probes indicate that the temperature is rising deep belowa dramatic spike! Something's going on down there, a chemical reaction. And one of our ground-roving teams just broke into a swarming nest of sandtrout."
The Baron growled, furious with the man for communicating on an unencrypted channel. What if CHOAM spies were listening? Besides, no one cared about sandtrout. The jellylike creatures deep beneath the sand were as irrelevant to him as flies swarming around a long-abandoned corpse.
He made a mental note to do more to this weakling captain than just remove him from the work crews and deny him a bonus. That gutless bastard was probably handpicked by Abulurd.
The Baron saw tiny figures of scouts tracking through the sands, running about like ants maddened with acid vapor. They rushed back to the main spice factory. One man leaped off his dirt-encrusted rover and scrambled toward the open door of the massive machine.
"What are those men doing? Are they abandoning their posts? Bring us down closer so I can see."
The pilot tilted the ornithopter and descended like an ominous beetle toward the sand. Below, the men leaned over, coughing and retching as they tried to drag filters over their faces. Two stumbled on the shifting sand. Others were rapidly battening down the spice factory.
"Bring the carryall! Bring the carryall!" someone cried.
The spotters all reported in. "I see no wormsign."
"All clear from here," said a third.
"Why are they evacuating?" the Baron demanded, as if the pilot would know.
"Something's happening," the crew captain
The ground bucked. Four workers stumbled and pitched facefirst onto the sand before they could reach the ramp to the spice factory.
"Look, m'Lord!" The pilot pointed downward, his voice filled with awe. As the Baron stopped focusing on the cowardly men, he saw the sand trembling all around the excavation site, vibrating like a struck drumhead.
The spice harvester canted, slipped to one side. A crack opened in the sands, and the whole site began to swell from beneath the ground, rising in the air like a gas bubble in a boiling Salusan mudpot.
"Get us out of here!" the Baron shouted. The pilot stared for a fraction of a second, and the Baron swept his left hand with the speed of a cracked whip, striking the man hard on the cheek. "Move!"
The pilot grabbed the 'thopter controls and wrenched them into a steep ascent. The articulated wings flapped furiously.
On the terrain below, the swollen underground bubble reached its apexthen burst, hurling the spice harvester, the mobile crews, and everything else up off the surface. A gigantic explosion of sand sprayed upward, carrying broken rock and volatile orange spice. The mammoth factory was crushed and blasted to pieces, scattered like lost rags in a Coriolis storm.
"What the devil happened?" The Baron's dark eyes went wide in disbelief at the sheer magnitude of the disaster. All that precious spice gone, swallowed in an instant. All the equipment destroyed. The loss in lives hardly occurred to him, except for the wasted costs of crew training.
"Hang on, m'Lord," the pilot cried. His knuckles turned white on the controls.
A hammer-blast of wind struck them. The armored ornithopter turned end over end in the air, wings flailing. The engines whined and groaned, trying to maintain stability. Pellets of high-velocity sand struck the plaz windowports. Dust-clogged, the 'thopter's motors made sick, coughing sounds. The craft lost altitude, dropping toward the seething maw of the desert.
The pilot shouted unintelligible words. The Baron clutched his crash restraints, saw the ground coming toward them like an inverted bootheel to squash an insect.
As head of House Harkonnen, he had always thought he would die by a treacherous assassin's hand ... but to fall prey to an unpredictable natural disaster insteadthe Baron found it almost humorous.
As they plunged, he saw the sand open like a festering sore. The dust and raw melange were being sucked down, turned over by convection currents and chemical reactions. The rich spice vein of only moments before had turned into a leprous mouth ready to swallow them.
But the pilot, who had seemed weak and distractible during their flight, became rigid with concentration and determination. His fingers flew over sky rudder and engine throttle controls, working to ride the currents, switching flow from one motor to another to discharge dust strangulation in the air intakes.
Finally the ornithopter leveled off, steadied itself again, and cruised low over the dune plain. The pilot emitted an audible sigh of relief.
Where the great opening had been ripped into the layered sand, the Baron now saw glittering translucent shapes like maggots on a carcass: sandtrout, rushing toward the explosion. Soon giant worms would come, too. The monsters couldn't possibly resist this.
Try as he might, the Baron couldn't understand spice. Not at all.
The 'thopter gained altitude, taking them toward the spotters and the carryalls that had been caught unawares. They hadn't been able to retrieve the spice factory and its precious cargo before the explosion, and he could blame no one for itno one but himself. The Baron had given them explicit orders to remain out of reach.
"You just saved my life, pilot. What is your name?"
"All right, then, Kryubihave you ever seen such a thing? What happened down there? What caused that explosion?"
The pilot took a deep breath. "I've heard the Fremen talking about something they call a ... spice blow." He seemed like a statue now, as if the terror had transformed him into something much stronger. "It happens in the deep desert, where few people can see."
"Who cares what the Fremen say?" He curled his lip at the thought of the dirty, nomadic indigents of the great desert. "We've all heard of spice blows, but nobody's ever actually seen one. Crazy superstitions."
"Yes, but superstition usually has some kind of basis. They see many things out in the desert." Now the Baron admired the man for his willingness to speak out, though Kryubi must know of his temper and vindictiveness. Perhaps it would be wise to promote him....
"They say a spice blow is a chemical explosion," Kryubi continued, "probably the result of a pre-spice mass beneath the sands."
The Baron considered this; he couldn't deny the evidence of his own eyes. One day maybe someone would understand the true nature of melange and be able to prevent disasters like this. So far, because the spice was seemingly inexhaustible to those willing to make the effort, no one had bothered with a detailed analysis. Why waste time on tests, when fortunes waited to be made? The Baron had a monopoly on Arrakisbut it was also a monopoly based on ignorance.
He gritted his teeth and knew that once they returned to Carthag he would be forced to blow off some steam, to release his pent-up tensions on "amusements," perhaps a bit more vigorously than he had earlier intended. He would have to find a special candidate this timenot one of his regular lovers, but someone he would never have use for again. That would free him of restraint.
Looking down, he thought, No longer any need to hide this site from the Emperor. They would record it, log it as a find, and document the destruction of the crew and equipment. No need to manipulate the records now. Old Elrood would not be pleased, and House Harkonnen would have to absorb this financial setback.
As the pilot circled around, the surviving spice crew assessed their damages on the ground, and over the comlink reported losses of men, equipment, and spice load. The Baron felt rage boiling within him.
Damn Arrakis! he thought. Damn the spice, and damn our dependence on it!
Table of Contents
What People are Saying About This
"[Fans] rejoice in this chance to return to one of science fiction's most appealing futures." -The New York Times Book Review
Inventing History for Dune
When Frank Herbert first created the Dune universe almost four decades ago, he placed his story on a canvas that spanned more than 20,000 years. A masterpiece of world building and history, Dune is richly detailed, full of characters and cultures, clearly giving the impression that the author knows much more than he's letting on.
One of the most tantalizing events mentioned in all six of Frank Herbert's Dune novels is the Butlerian Jihad, a titanic conflict of humans against thinking machines, which serves as the genesis for many of the familiar ingredients in Dune. This fascinating part of Dune history is the single event most hotly anticipated by Frank Herbert fans.
After completing three immediate prequels to Dune -- House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Corrino -- we reawakened the fervor for Frank Herbert's grand history. Many readers have returned to the original novels, and new fans have picked up the books. Our first prequel trilogy features all familiar characters and events, leading directly into Dune.
For The Butlerian Jihad, we had to travel back 10,000 years before the events in the original story. This posed a difficult, but entertaining, challenge -- to create an original universe, building our own characters and events, yet one that captures the flavor and essence of Dune.
Armed with Frank Herbert's unpublished notes and background material, we had some important clues to the events of the Butlerian Jihad, but none of the extensive details. Building on this material, The Butlerian Jihad answers the most vital questions fans have been asking: the circumstances behind the great betrayal that made mortal enemies of House Atreides and House Harkonnen, the foundations of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, as well as the creation of the Order of Mentats, the Suk doctors, the Swordmasters of Ginaz, and the Spacing Guild. We also show the dramatic struggle of the oppressed Zensunni Wanderers who escape their bondage and flee to an uncharted desert world, where they settle among the spice and sandworms and declare themselves "Free men" of Dune. Readers will recognize some familiar names and meet new friends and enemies.
Because The Butlerian Jihad is so far removed from the original classic novel, we felt we had a greater freedom but also a greater responsibility. We are opening a new chapter in this grand history, yet it must be familiar enough to belong beside the other Dune novels. We created a new set of characters that we found remarkable in their own right -- the half-machine tyrant Agamemnon and his brainwashed son Vorian Atreides, the dedicated free human Xavier Harkonnen, the genius scientist Tio Holtzman, and of course the incomparable heroine, Serena Butler. The independent robot Erasmus -- whom Publishers Weekly calls "a Thinking Machine Hannibal Lecter with whimsical Mr. Spock-ish meditations" -- is probably the best villain either of us has ever concocted. The Butlerian Jihad is just the first of a projected trilogy. Frank Herbert has left us a vast landscape to explore, but at least we have a map. We still have a lot more history to create. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The original Dune series was enigmatic and challenging. It demanded that the readers pay attention and draw connections that Frank Herbert did not always make immediately clear. With House Atriedes the treatment of the characters and subject is too light and entirely too elementary. I respect the challenge that young Herbert faces following in his father's tracks but I was disappointed in the lack of depth.
This is probably the worst prequel or sci-fi book that i have finished reading. After 100 pages I felt like returning this back to the public library. It is full of inconsistencies & hollow themes. Whereas Dune was a philosophical novel, this is a story for book of the month club. Here are some things I found awkward: 1)Duncan Idaho killing off a few Harkoneen house troops at age 8? I mean, get real, how pathetic is that house? 2)The Thielex did not have ghola tanks until thousands of years after Leto 11, and there were no 'no-ships' either. 3)That snot nose kid twin who is pampered & then becomes a 'genius' creating a trans-stellar link to his naviator brother, come on! 4)Pardot Kienes instantly becoming a 'prophet' in a nomadic intergroup of Fremen, unplausible at best! 5)House Atreides' economy relies on fish, sandals, and rice but it's still a great house compared to Ix that manufactures advanced components, think about it, 3rd world vs Silicon Valley...who will win? 6)The treatment of the aristocrats and the suboids revolt on Ix was just too much to bear, come on, are we supposed to support that puke kid & his snob sister all while the suboids are suffering? And the takeover of the world in a few days after the author told us how 'advanced & wealthy Ix was'. There were other inconsistencies, unbelievable truths, and half hearted attempts on the part of the authors to create a Dune world, but they failed, and failed miserably!
Dune: House Atreides, the first of three books leading up to the events of the original Dune series, successfully (re)introduces the characters and themes of the Frank Herbert books, although it is burdened by the legacy the classic Dune books have left behind. Brian Herbert, a most gentle and honorable soul I have had the pleasure of meeting on a couple of occasions at book signings, and Kevin J. Anderson, have undertaken an almost impossible task in trying to fill out the missing story lines of the original books. To those who quip that they are just out to make an easy buck, know that this undertaking was not done in haste, and no decision was taken lightly. Brian and Kevin have done their homework and their goal is to finish the story. But to do so requires telling us what lead up to the events in Dune. Creating the 1000 page Dune Concordance used as their Dune encyclopedia, and writing 1800 pages plus to get to the point of being able to finish the Dune story line, not to mention a probably detour to the Butlerian Jihad events 10000 years earlier, is no way to go about making an easy buck! Both authors are accomplished writers who did not need to take on such a tremendous challenge. Yet they have, and although I think the story gets off to a slow start, the last 300 pages made it hard to put the book down. Although one who has read the original books will be familiar with the characters, the story in House Atreides is well enough written to keep the reader's interest, and keep one wondering how things will play out. The authors follow a number of plot threads that generally coalesce into one thread that is followed at the end. My one complaint would be that early on the story line tends to jump around just a little too much. I would have liked to see a little longer spells following one plot or another. Perhaps this clearer focus later on made the book a more gripping read for me as I turned the pages. Having not read the original Dune since the mid 1980's, and only having been able to 'catch' up with Frank Herbert's later Dune books because he sadly passed away - he seemed to write them far faster than I could read them - I cannot easily compare this new book with the original. However, I do not feel compelled to do so either. House Atreides stands on its own merits. It is a book that new fans can enjoy, and old fans should be able to as well. It cannot be as original as the original - that's just the nature of things - but that does not lessen the quality of the book. As the authors become more comfortable with the Dune world they are writing about/in, and their storyline becomes more developed I suspect the future offerings, House Harkonnen, and then House Corrino, will be even more compelling reads. I recommend this book.
I read the Fund series years ago and was enthralled by this book!
This is the first book in a series of Dune prequels. It is written on a junior high level and is far inferior to both the original Dune and the second set of prequels that succeeded these.
The words to describe how ineptly this book was written are simply not available in English. Dune was an enjoyable series, but you have to be seriously addicted to the diminishingly interesting Dune universe to plough through this bit of pulp.
Most Dune fans either love the "Classic" books and think the continued series by his son is just shallow and uninspired, or they love the continued series by his son and think the "Classic" books are ponderous and convoluted. I am definitely in the former group.I have known and loved the first four books since I was in highschool, and have accepted the final two "Classic" books as being acceptable continuations of the series. I absolutely avoided the books by Brian Herbert, fearing that they would simply be tired extensions of the work of a giant: continuing the series for the sake of continuation. That was my bias, and as a result it isn't until now (at the age of 37) that I've finished the first of these books.It isn't as bad as I thought it would be. It suffers from the same discontinuity of many "prequels" in the first half of the book, as it struggles to situate well-known characters from the series (e.g. Duke Leto, Duncan Idaho, Vladimir Harkonnen) in their context for the story. The beginning of the book therefore feels a little disjointed and frenetic, jumping from storyline to storyline in order to get everything "in place." The real meat of the book is in the story of the Harkonnen plot and the trial of Leto that takes place as a consequence, but that really takes up only the final 1/4 of the book. As a result, I was mostly disappointed by the book, although I was decidedly more impressed with the last half than the first. Hinging on the hope built by that trajectory, I probably WILL pick up the next book (House Harkonnen). But so far my impression is that the level of writing and philosophy is not NEARLY a match for the original books.But I say that with this disclaimer: I *liked* the philosophy of the first books. I have friends who find the original books ponderous and slow, lacking in action and over-doing the obscure intellectual tangents into the meaning of prescience. So my dislike for the "shallow action scenes" in this book reflects at least as much on my own tastes as it does on the skill of the book itself.
Ever wonder what the spinning corpse of Frank Herbert sounds like? If so, then you've probably not read the new Dune novels written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.Now, there was a time when Dune was my favorite science fiction series. I loved the vast culture, the socioeconomic overview, the religions, the everything. And, I was sad when I discovered that Frank Herbert passed away leaving his last book unfinished.Before I got into Dune, I loved reading Star Wars novels. And who hasn't read a star wars novel without hearing the name "Kevin J. Anderson"? I, of course, stopped reading Star Wars novels when I realized that they were mostly formulaic, and that I didn't want to devote my limited bookshelf space to glorified fan fiction. Also, I got tired of the fact that KJA would always "push the envelope," introducing characters more powerful than Luke Skywalker, giving them ships capable of destroying the universe, and then letting them gallivant through the galaxy doing whatever they want until they learn a valuable lesson. So, when I heard that Brian Herbert was using KJA to write more Dune books, my heart sank. Nevertheless, I decided to pick up the first one and at least give it a shot. Maybe Herbert learned a little about writing from daddy, and was only using KJA as a big name to sell the books.Wrong. I'm not sure what percentage of this book is actually written by Herbert, but it reads exactly like every other KJA book I've had the misfortune of reading: like glorified fan fiction. And sure enough, KJA introduces characters that are MORE POWERFUL than Paul Atriedes, and able to do all sorts of amazing feats, and this all happened before Paul was EVEN BORN!Here's some fan fiction of my own: "After the publication of Dune: House Atreides, the mystical forces of the universe were so unsettled that they shattered the barrier between life and death. The zombie Frank Herbert rose from his grave, and would have eaten the brains of the people who wrote and published the piece of crap that had word "Dune" in the title, had they any brains to eat. Instead, he shambled over to his Underwood and pecked out the rest of Dune 7, which was promptly published to wide acclaim. As he returned to his grave after a particularly harrowing signing, he dragged along a large burlap sack with the muffled sounds of screaming coming from within. After that, there were no more glorified fan fiction books being published by a particularly prosaic writer."You'll probably like this book if you love the spoonfed dreck that KJA normally defecates onto paper. Otherwise, you'll probably only read this book if you LOVE Dune, and will read anything with the word "Dune" in the title, and named your first child "Frank Herbert Paul Maud'Dib of Dune Jones." And if she can forgive you, maybe you can forgive Brian Herbert.
A good background to the events leading up to Paul Atreides. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and am looking forward to the next book. This is really a wonderful collaboration between Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson. In this novel, you learn about the work behind the scenes and the political actions.Sean
The three books are okay to read, definately a must for Dune fans. I read them before rereading the original Dune novel, and while reading the books, I couldn't wait to start reading Dune. Great as an appetizer!
Good and not. I'd rather read the original books but this was fun to read.
Although I genuinely enjoy Frank Herbert¿s original novels, these 2nd generation novels furtive attempts at capturing the essence of his universe lack finesse as well as grace (at least this one does). Having grown up reading Kevin J Anderson, I know him to be a strong writer with a firm grasp on characterization and form. I can only surmise that he deferred too much steering of the authorship to Brian, who I will refer to by his first name rather than his last to denote that he in no ways live up to Frank Herbert¿s legacy. While the various plot points do manage to solidly encapsulate the evil vindictiveness of the Harkonnens and the Corrinos, the book is fracturous, with too many points of view in too many places with little connectivity, too few of which are female. In an effort to set the stage for the latter two books in the trilogy, a great many characters are introduced. While some lose their POV after the first couple chapters, other characters are given a great deal of time to develop. The three characters that one would hope would have the most consequence, both from being original Herbertian characters, as well as figuring as protagonists on the buildup toward their birth rite novel, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Duncan Idaho and Leto Atreides are all varieties of static. The Baron is given no valid reason for his early viscous attitudes, although Brian cleverly fashioned the impetus for his eventual bloated suspensor-assisted treachery. I considered labeling the Baron as an antagonists because probably anyone who's seen Dune would say that he is, except in this case everyone is an antagonist--virtually all of the book's characters are hedonistic, self-righteous and seek to sabotage everyone else (except for Pardot Kynes). Duncan Idaho wins the hand-wave grand prize for being a completely unbelievable pre-pubescent lone, cunning, planet-hopping soldier based solely on the death of his paper-pusher parents. To claim this character is ¿larger than life¿ would be ironic and ridiculously understated. Unnaturally lucky, 8 year old Duncan manages to thwart seasoned Harkonnen hunters and cross multiple hemispheres of a planet with no resources. Leto Atreides, raised by a doting much-beloved king in a wholesome fishing monarchy not unlike Scandinavia, comes off as sadly both stupid and weak willed. Leto¿s naiveté and regurgitation of his mother¿s rhetoric paints him as useless during a planetary revolt, forcing his business-minded hakoiri musume playmates to orchestrate their escape. This book does little if anything to set Leto up as the eventual martyred hero, though it should be noted that for this book Jessica hasn¿t been born yet¿the claim could be made that her influence changes him irrevocably¿Yet, these three are still given far more development than any of the female characters. A possible love interest for Leto, Kailea, is given one brief scene to introduce her personality as haughty and profit-driven, seemingly devoid of girlish fantasies and friends. Afterwards she fades into the background, apparently since her goal of joining court in the Imperial planet Kaitain is no longer viable. Although it¿s not clear if Leto actually has a crush on her, if so it¿s difficult to understand why. But speaking of women connected to Leto, his mother is also quite the puzzle. Helena is possibly the worst choice to marry Paulus. Frigid, aloof and Orange Bible-thumping, Helena barely shows any warmth for her son and is constantly concerned with appearances. Leto doesn¿t understand her, and the reader isn¿t given the chance to. The one female narrator Brian offers us for more than one chapter is the Bene Gesserit Gaius Helen Mohiam. Helen comes to as something of an unwilling participant in the Landsaard. We understand that she has a great many powers to control her physical being and that she willing follows the edicts of the Bene Gesserit. Beyond that the only part of her personality that the reader real
I was at first hesitant when I learned that someone was going to "mess with" Frank Herbert's siminal Dune series. However, I like Kevin J. Anderson and it's always better to try a continuation by an author whose work you already enjoy. I am so glad I took the plunge! This prequel was excellent and I think it captured the spirit of Frank Herbert's work. Leto and Jessica are especially well done, but the machinations of the Bene Gesserit steal the book. I positively loved learning the background on how Jessica was conceived, how Leto won her heart and all the events that lead up to Paul.The authors clearly stayed within canon when dveeloping the plot and though the writing style is not the same as Frabk Herbert's, I found it much easier to read. The novel flowed well. Overall, I highly recommend this to fans of Dune, though purists will no doubt find some issues with it.
This is horrible. It's bad enough that the man is dead. Don't ruin his works, too.
This prequel deals with the youths of the "older generation" in Dune: Duke Leto, the Crown Prince Shaddam, Vladimir Harkonnen and his viscious nephews, Hasimir Fenring,Pardot Kynes, Stilgar, Duncan Idaho, and the Atreides retainers, clarifying the universe in which Paul Atreides-Muad'dib inherits. Connections Mere hints in Herbert's classic are developed at length in a natural, unforced manner, making the reader want to re-read the series with renewed insight. Masterfully done.
Not on the same level as most of the original series, but still worth reading.
Nice backstory to play be if my favorite novels
This book is set 10,148 years after te Mentats of Dune. Although this was good, so far it has been my least favorite( dethroning MoD). The story was interesting, but the writing was somewhat awkward. This was as well written as the 5 previous novels and I found myself dozing off in some parts of tthe book. I enjoyed reading about PE Elrood IX and Duke Paulus, but the rest the story was somewht flat, and you can certainly tell that is the 1st DUNE book that these two wrote, it was still good but I only give it a 80 % C.
Read it once and loved it. Rereading it in chronological order with the entire series makes it a even better