God Emperor of Dune

God Emperor of Dune

by Frank Herbert

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Tuesday, November 19


Book Four in the Magnificent Dune Chronicles—the Bestselling Science Fiction Adventure of All Time

Millennia have passed on Arrakis, and the once-desert planet is green with life. Leto Atreides, the son of the world’s savior, the Emperor Paul Muad’Dib, is still alive but far from human. To preserve humanity’s future, he sacrificed his own by merging with a sandworm, granting him near immortality as God Emperor of Dune for the past thirty-five hundred years.

Leto’s rule is not a benevolent one. His transformation has made not only his appearance but his morality inhuman. A rebellion, led by Siona, a member of the Atreides family, has risen to oppose the despot’s rule. But Siona is unaware that Leto’s vision of a Golden Path for humanity requires her to fulfill a destiny she never wanted—or could possibly conceive....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780441294671
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/15/1987
Series: Dune Chronicles Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 58,593
Product dimensions: 6.84(w) x 4.14(h) x 1.17(d)
Lexile: 780L (what's this?)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Frank Herbert was born in Tacoma, Washington, and educated at the University of Washington, Seattle. He worked a wide variety of jobs—including TV cameraman, radio commentator, oyster diver, jungle survival instructor, lay analyst, creative writing teacher, reporter and editor of several West Coast newspapers—before becoming a full-time writer. He died in 1986.

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from the speech by Hadi Benotto announcing the discoveries at Dar-es-Balat on the planet of Rakis:


It not only is my pleasure to announce to you this morning our discovery of this marvelous storehouse containing, among other things, a monumental collection of manuscripts inscribed on ridulian crystal paper, but I also take pride in giving you our arguments for the authenticity of our discoveries, to tell you why we believe we have uncovered the original journals of Leto II, the God Emperor.


First, let me recall to you the historical treasure which we all know by the name of The Stolen Journals, those volumes of known antiquity which over the centuries have been so valuable in helping us to understand our ancestors. As you all know, The Stolen Journals were deciphered by the Spacing Guild, and the method of the Guild Key was employed to translate these newly discovered volumes. No one denies the antiquity of the Guild Key and it, and it alone, translates these volumes.


Second, these volumes were printed by an Ixian dictatel of truly ancient make. The Stolen Journals leave no doubt that this was in fact the method employed by Leto II to record his historical observations.


Third, and we believe that this is equal in portent to the actual discovery, there is the storehouse itself. The repository for these journals is an undoubted Ixian artifact of such primitive and yet marvelous construction that it is sure to throw new light on the historical epoch known as "The Scattering." As was to be expected, the storehouse was invisible. It was buried far deeper than myth and the Oral History had led us to expect and it emitted radiation and absorbed radiation to simulate the natural character of its surroundings, a mechanical mimesis which is not surprising of itself. What has surprised our engineers, however, is the way this was done with the most rudimentary and truly primitive mechanical skills.


I can see that some of you are as excited by this as we were. We believe we are looking at the first Ixian Globe, the no-room from which all such devices evolved. If it is not actually the first, we believe it must be one of the first and embodying the same principles as the first.


Let me address your obvious curiosity by assuring you that we will take you on a brief tour of the storehouse presently. We will ask only that you maintain silence while within the storehouse because our engineers and other specialists are still at work there unraveling the mysteries.


Which brings me to my fourth point, and this may well be the capstone of our discoveries. It is with emotions difficult to describe that I reveal to you now another discovery at this site-namely, actual oral recordings which are labeled as having been made by Leto II in the voice of his father, Paul Muad'Dib. Since authenticated recordings of the God Emperor are lodged in the Bene Gesserit Archives, we have sent a sampling of our recordings, all of which were made on an ancient microbubble system, to the Sisterhood with a formal request that they conduct a comparison test. We have little doubt that the recordings will be authenticated.


Now, please turn your attention to the translated excerpts which were handed to you as you entered. Let me take this opportunity to apologize for their weight. I have heard some of you joking about that. We used ordinary paper for a practical reason-economy. The original volumes are inscribed in symbols so small that they must be magnified substantially before they can be read. In fact, it requires more than forty ordinary volumes of the type you now hold just to reprint the contents of one of the ridulian crystal originals.


If the projector-yes. We are now projecting part of an original page onto the screen at your left. This is from the first page of the first volume. Our translation is on the screens to the right. I call your attention to the internal evidence, the poetic vanity of the words as well as the meaning derived from the translation. The style conveys a personality which is identifiable and consistent. We believe that this could only have been written by someone who had the direct experience of ancestral memories, by someone laboring to share that extraordinary experience of previous lives in a way that could be understood by those not so gifted.


Look now at the actual meaning content. All of the references accord with everything history has told us about the one person whom we believe is the only person who could have written such an account.


We have another surprise for you now. I have taken the liberty of inviting the well-known poet, Rebeth Vreeb, to share the platform with us this morning and to read from this first page a short passage of our translation. It is our observation that, even in translation, these words take on a different character when read aloud. We want to share with you a truly extraordinary quality which we have discovered in these volumes.


Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Rebeth Vreeb.


From the reading by Rebeth Vreeb:


I assure you that I am the book of fate.


Questions are my enemies. For my questions explode! Answers leap up like a frightened flock, blackening the sky of my inescapable memories. Not one answer, not one suffices.


What prisms flash when I enter the terrible field of my past. I am a chip of shattered flint enclosed in a box. The box gyrates and quakes. I am tossed about in a storm of mysteries. And when the box opens, I return to this presence like a stranger in a primitive land.


Slowly (slowly, I say) I relearn my name.


But that is not to know myself!


This person of my name, this Leto who is the second of that calling, finds other voices in his mind, other names and other places. Oh, I promise you (as I have been promised) that I answer to but a single name. If you say, "Leto," I respond. Sufferance makes this true, sufferance and one thing more:


I hold the threads!


All of them are mine. Let me but imagine a topic-say...men who have died by the sword-and I have them in all of their gore, every image intact, every moan, every grimace.


Joys of motherhood, I think, and the birthing beds are mine. Serial baby smiles and the sweet cooings of new generations. The first walkings of the toddlers and the first victories of youths brought forth for me to share. They tumble one upon another until I can see little else but sameness and repetition.


"Keep it all intact," I warn myself.


Who can deny the value of such experiences, the worth of learning through which I view each new instant?


Ahhh, but it's the past.


Don't you understand?


It's only the past!


This morning I was born in a yurt at the edge of a horse-plain in a land of a planet which no longer exists. Tomorrow I will be born someone else in another place. I have not yet chosen. This morning, though-ahhh, this life! When my eyes had learned to focus, I looked out at sunshine on trampled grass and I saw vigorous people going about the sweet activities of their lives. Where...oh where has all of that vigor gone?


-the stolen journals


The three people running northward through moon shadows in the Forbidden Forest were strung out along almost half a kilometer. The last runner in the line ran less than a hundred meters ahead of the pursuing D-wolves. The animals could be heard yelping and panting in their eagerness, the way they do when they have the prey in sight.


With First Moon almost directly overhead, it was quite light in the forest and, although these were the higher latitudes of Arrakis, it was still warm from the heat of a summer day. The nightly drift of air from the Last Desert of the Sareer carried resin smells and the damp exhalations of the duff underfoot. Now and again, a breeze from the Kynes Sea beyond the Sareer drifted across the runners' tracks with hints of salt and fishes.


By a quirk of fate, the last runner was called Ulot, which in the Fremen tongue means "Beloved Straggler." Ulot was short in stature and with a tendency to fat which had placed an extra dieting burden on him in training for this venture. Even when slimmed down for their desperate run, his face remained round, the large brown eyes vulnerable in that suggestion of too much flesh.


To Ulot it was obvious that he could not run much farther. He panted and wheezed. Occasionally, he staggered. But he did not call out to his companions. He knew they could not help him. All of them had taken the same oath, knowing they had no defenses except the old virtues and Fremen loyalties. This remained true even though everything that once had been Fremen had now a museum quality-rote recitals learned from Museum Fremen.


It was Fremen loyalty that kept Ulot silent in the full awareness of his doom. A fine display of the ancient qualities, and rather pitiful when none of the runners had any but book knowledge and the legends of the Oral History about the virtues they aped.


The D-wolves ran close behind Ulot, giant gray figures almost man-height at the shoulders. They leaped and whined in their eagerness, heads lifted, eyes focused on the moon-betrayed figure of their quarry.


A root caught Ulot's left foot and he almost fell. This gave him renewed energy. He put on a burst of speed, gaining perhaps a wolf-length on his pursuers. His arms pumped. He breathed noisily through his open mouth.


The D-wolves did not change pace. They were silver shadows which went flick-flick through the loud green smells of their forest. They knew they had won. It was a familiar experience.


Again, Ulot stumbled. He caught his balance against a sapling and continued his panting flight, gasping, his legs trembling in rebellion against these demands. No energy remained for another burst of speed.


One of the D-wolves, a large female, moved out on Ulot's left flank. She swerved inward and leaped across his path. Giant fangs ripped Ulot's shoulder and staggered him but he did not fall. The pungency of blood was added to the forest smells. A smaller male caught his right hip and at last Ulot fell, screaming. The pack pounced and his screams were cut off in abrupt finality.


Not stopping to feed, the D-wolves again took up the chase. Their noses probed the forest floor and the vagrant eddies in the air, scenting the warm tracery of two more running humans.


The next runner in the line was named Kwuteg, an old and honorable name on Arrakis, a name from the Dune times. An ancestor had served Sietch Tabr as Master of the Deathstills, but that was more than three thousand years lost in a past which many no longer believed. Kwuteg ran with the long strides of a tall and slender body which seemed perfectly fitted to such exertion. Long black hair streamed back from his aquiline features. As with his companions, he wore a black running suit of tightly knitted cotton. It revealed the workings of his buttocks and stringy thighs, the deep and steady rhythm of his breathing. Only his pace, which was markedly slow for Kwuteg, betrayed the fact that he had injured his right knee coming down from the man-made precipices which girdled the God Emperor's Citadel fortress in the Sareer.


Kwuteg heard Ulot's screams, the abrupt and potent silence, then the renewed chase-yelps of the D-wolves. He tried not to let his mind create the image of another friend being slain by Leto's monster guardians but imagination worked its sorcery on him. Kwuteg thought a curse against the tyrant but wasted no breath to voice it. There remained a chance that he could reach the sanctuary of the Idaho River. Kwuteg knew what his friends thought about him-even Siona. He had always been known as a conservative. Even as a child he had saved his energy until it counted most, parceling out his reserves like a miser.


In spite of the injured knee, Kwuteg increased his pace. He knew the river was near. His injury had gone beyond agony into a steady flame which filled his entire leg and side with its burning. He knew the limits of his endurance. He knew also that Siona should be almost at the water. The fastest runner of them all, she carried the sealed packet and, in it, the things they had stolen from the fortress in the Sareer. Kwuteg focused his thoughts on that packet as he ran.


Save it, Siona! Use it to destroy him!


The eager whining of the D-wolves penetrated Kwuteg's consciousness. They were too close. He knew then that he would not escape.


But Siona must escape!


He risked a backward glance and saw one of the wolves move to flank him. The pattern of their attack plan imprinted itself on his awareness. As the flanking wolf leaped Kwuteg also leaped. Placing a tree between himself and the pack, he ducked beneath the flanking wolf, grasped one of its hind legs in both hands and, without stopping, whirled the captive wolf as a flail which scattered the others. Finding the creature not as heavy as he had expected, almost welcoming the change of action, he flailed his living bludgeon at the attackers in a dervish whirl which brought two of them down in a crash of skulls. But he could not guard every side. A lean male caught him in the back, hurling him against a tree and he lost his bludgeon.


"Go!" he screamed.


The pack bored in and Kwuteg caught the throat of the lean male in his teeth. He bit down with every gram of his final desperation. Wolf blood spurted over his face, blinding him. Rolling without any knowledge of where he went, Kwuteg grappled another wolf. Part of the pack dissolved into a yelping, whirling mob, some turning against their own injured. Most of the pack remained intent on the quarry, though. Teeth ripped Kwuteg's throat from both sides.


Siona, too, had heard Ulot scream, then the unmistakable silence followed by the yelping of the pack as the wolves resumed the chase. Such anger filled her that she felt she might explode with it. Ulot had been included in this venture because of his analytical ability, his way of seeing a whole from only a few parts. It had been Ulot who, taking the inevitable magnifier from his kit, had examined the two strange volumes they had found in with the Citadel's plans.


"I think it's a cipher," Ulot had said.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

God Emperor of Dune 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 121 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Taking place 3500 years after ther first 3 books and 1500 years before the last 2 books in the series'*', this book requires more thinking and offers a lot less action than the other books but, gives you a look at the 'Golden Path' chosen by Leto II and the sacrifices he made in order to save mankind from itself. At first look it appears Leto II seems to be a tyrant 'the nickname the Bene Geserit give to him in the future' and murderer but later you begin to realize he is only acting like a concerned parent towards the rest of the universe. This book gives you an idea of what life under the guidance of a living omniscent god might be like and how unpleaseat life might be like in a utopian society. WHile doing the peviously stated the story makes it possible to understand the evolution of man through the 5000 year period the series takes place in. * 'As written by Frank Herbert his son Brian and Kevin Anderson have witten 6 prequals and 2 sequals to the original series produced by Frank Herbert, the total time included with these new books brings the timeline up to 15,000 years long. All the new books are very good but written in a different style than the original with a less subtle, more 'action packed' style.'
DrewHappy More than 1 year ago
First, I absolutely loved the Herbert's original Dune trilogy, and never moved on because a good friend of mine didn't like this book. I guess it took a while for his warning to wear off, and I am glad it did. Admittedly, I love Herbert's writing because of the interesting ideas he weaves throughout his narratives, ideas about religion and belief, politics, what makes a person human, fanaticism and plenty of other things. While I was originally concerned because of the book's distance from the earlier storyline, a few millennia having passed, this was soon abated as I found the new characters very compelling. I recommend this book highly. This is still my favourite series when if comes to cerebral writing.
Ryan Levin More than 1 year ago
Fantastic read. The continuing adventures of the ghola Duncan Idaho bring him to the edges of loyalty and beyond. fans of Dune should not find themselves disapointed. fans of Clancy or Grisham might find themselves hopelessly unable to process the contents of this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Frank Herbert continues. Amazing insight and imagination.
Waianuhea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
WEIRD but good! I love how Herbert got around characters dying by having gholas around. I'm fine with that though, seeing as Duncan Idaho is my favorite character right up there with Jessica.
stvslayer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Book 4 of Frank Herbert's incredible Dune series. Though it is necessary to read this title to understand the full scope of the series, it is a bit plodding at times. Herbert delves into philosophical commentary a little too much for my taste in this installment. Once again you do need to read this book (or a really great summary) to move on to book 5 in the series. Books 5 and 6 really pick up, so it's worth trudging through this one.
ebooker_ben on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just couldn't be arsed in the end. Something about old characters being remade to over throw the God like slug, blah, blah, rubbish, blah ... sleep. The first two books are fantastic and so rocked my world. I should have known not to bother after barely limping through the third.
hume on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the fourth in the Dune series. The god emperor leto II is beset by the machinations of IX, the bene gesserit and his once loyal guardian duncan idaho. In leto II we encounter a tyrant who is unable to enjoy the comforts, his rule should afford him. who is constantly reminded of his duty to humanity while he gradually loses his. the tragedy of leto's circumstance and the gholas he has created for himself illustrate the full desperation of his plight. The author could've compromised this novel and made it more reader friendly, less of a thesis on the human condition. Though, what work of literary excellence has ever benefited from playing to the crowd.
AndyWol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can't agree with the majority of 3-5 star reviews of this book. The first book is in a different league to this one - which seems to have less characters, who you care less about, scattered across what at times is a book that drones on for the sake of padding out the word count. I would go along with the first paragraph of 'shelterdowns' review; and don't have the time or energy to re-read this book when there is so much more better stuff out there - including the original novel (which I've re-read about 5 times). Trust me, stick with the first three.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this fourth installment of the Dune Chronicles, the world is under the thumb of a living god. This is a different book than the first three Dune novels, make no mistake. But that doesn't make it any less great.
danconsiglio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The fourth book in the original Dune series takes a stark turn form the patterns established by Herbert in his first three installments. Set 4,000 years after the events of the last book, this story does not concern itself with the manipulations of multiple factions struggling for control over a scarce resource; rather it looks at a single entity controlling the culture of millions. Where he used to shy away from such things, here Herbert adds many descriptions of action sequence and the human body to demonstrate the horror and frustration of the humans forced to serve the monstrous and inhuman Leto II. While the imagery and narrative structure of the book is new, the themes presented are familiar. Herbert is constantly interested in the ways that history and sexuality (often unstated) feed human desire and how culture creates leaders. Good stuff!
DirtPriest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Dune series rolls along, not too many surprises in this installment, but simply a great tale. Actually somewhat plodding and there is very little action, but still...Individually, the sequels aren't as great as Dune proper as solo works, but I consider series books like this as one story in essence, and a awesome one at that. Dune as a standalone is exemplary, however.
mmyoung on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My initial experience of the Dune series could be graphed as a continuous downward curve -- from the high of the initial book through the slight disappointment with Dune Messiah to more disappointment with Children of Dune and so forth. When I initially read God Emperor I quite disliked it. Rereadings have made me wonder if Herbert was intentionally playing with the reader by starting with a book about a hero (albeit one about whom we have misgivings by the end of the book) through successive books each deconstructing what had been held out at the end of the previous book as what remained of "hero."
DCArchitect on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The chance to once again inhabit Mr. Herbert's universe makes up for the lack of momentum that 'The Chronicles' exhibit after 'Dune.' While 'Dune' is required reading for any Sci-Fi fan (and highly encouraged reading for everybody) only dedicated sci-fi readers will need apply here.
KevlarRelic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am first to review! Yay for me!God Emperor of Dune has to be the most depressing of Frank Herbert's series, not only is there the gaping hole left by the absence of all but two of the previous book's main characters, but the protagonist is no longer the hero we knew before: he has been transformed into a tyrannical anti-hero who is very difficult to sympathise with.This all being said, this is far from being my personal least favorite dune book. I found it to be very interesting at times, although the pace lagged alot in the middle, and there was enough emotional investment in the characters to make the ending pretty moving.
shelterdowns on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I hated this book the first time I read it. Hated every person in it, did not understand why anyone acted the way they did. Now its one of my top-ten comfort reads, and I see so much in Leto I want for myself. Dune was the perfect hero book, and then Herbert turned the perfect, clever formula of ¿boy becomes Messiah and saves the noble people¿ on its head with Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. In those two volumes, everything that was assumed and trusted becomes so much sand, and a son must destroy his father Messiah¿s legacy to save the universe from religious genocide and tyranny. We close on the boy becoming yet another saviour and have only a vague, yet very hopeful idea of what he intends to do next. Herbert could have left us there, many thought he would when he finished his ¿Dune Trilogy¿. Instead, he published his most difficult and daring book yet. In Emperor, we discover that the boy¿s plan to save humanity from tyranny is... to become the ultimate Tyrant, and Predator of humankind. Yeah, I¿m with you. Just say ¿huh?¿ and get it over with. I can¿t explain without giving a lot of plot away, and you really just have to read it to get it. Emperor is a masterpiece of philosophy, and the best book in the series, but I wouldn¿t blame you if you stopped somewhere in the middle and stuffed it to the back of your shelf for ten years before you gave it another chance. Who am I to argue? I did.
Adam_Gentry More than 1 year ago
For the sake of humanity he sacrificed his own. Dune has been transformed. Its once dry deserts covered by green, all thanks to Leto II. As a boy he bonded with the sandtrout skin. Now he guides humanity down the Golden Path, as he slowly transforms into a sand worm. Some worship him as a god, others curse his name and call him tyrant and monster, but no one truly understands him, until now. After three thousand years one person will succeed where countless weapons could not. They will pierce Leto’s armor, and threaten the Golden Path. God Emperor of Dune is simultaneously one of the more ambitious and subtle stories I have ever read. The opening encapsulates the whole with an excerpt from Leto’s journals, highlighting his own struggles with identity, a taste of the rich and sometimes contradictory language that fills these pages. Chapters alternate between half a dozen main characters; each on their own journey of discovery. Scenes are a mix of dialogue focused conflicts, and deep introspection. Perspective frequently drifts between the past and present, emphasizing the character’s thoughts and feelings over actual events. This gives the story a slow, meandering pace. Characters plod along, often making idle conversation as they wait for an opportunity. But through these conversations a plethora of topics are engaged. Some question the dichotomy between free will and safety (chaos vs order), others consider the nature of truth. Throughout the story audiences are encouraged to pause, and really consider the unspoken meaning behind what’s been said. Through it all misunderstanding sets the stage for the main conflict, which leaves audiences with one last question: Was this a tale of tragedy, or the difficult path of a hero? +Strong, Complex Ideas +Strong Writing +Strong Dialogue +Strong Perspective *Predictable but fitting plot 5/5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Still relivant views on current world/government issues.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GrahamCDowns More than 1 year ago
This one is the best Dune yet! I've had a love/hate relationship with this series since I finally managed to finish the first instalment last year. Some of the books have bored me silly, but the ending has been just enough to make me want to read the next one.  God Emperor of Dune, however, had me hooked from the very first page, and didn't stop! It's the story of Leto Atreides II, some 3000 years after the ending of the previous book. Leto's transformation to sandworm is almost complete, and the book is full of his philosophies on politics, systems of governments and religions, formulated by him over the past few thousand years. I found God Emperor of Dune to be a gripping read, with characters that sucked me in and made me really care about what happened to them. I lost the plot somewhere in the middle, but picked it up again really quickly. If you're struggling through the Dune series, I urge you to stick it out until you've read book 4!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is good and will satisfy you. I would however venture to say that it reads much longer than what it is. I love herbert but this book makes you think a whole lot more than the other ones. takes time to really dive into what this book is and understand its complex ideas and themes. Over all i loved it