Book Five in the Magnificent Dune Chronicles—the Bestselling Science Fiction Adventure of All Time
Leto Atreides, the God Emperor of Dune, is dead. In the fifteen hundred years since his passing, the Empire has fallen into ruin. The great Scattering saw millions abandon the crumbling civilization and spread out beyond the reaches of known space. The planet Arrakis—now called Rakis—has reverted to its desert climate, and its great sandworms are dying.
Now the Lost Ones are returning home in pursuit of power. And as these factions vie for control over the remnants of the Empire, a girl named Sheeana rises to prominence in the wastelands of Rakis, sending religious fervor throughout the galaxy. For she possesses the abilities of the Fremen sandriders—fulfilling a prophecy foretold by the late God Emperor....
About the Author
Frank Herbert is the bestselling author of the Dune saga. He 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.
In 1952, Herbert began publishing science fiction with “Looking for Something?” in Startling Stories. But his emergence as a writer of major stature did not occur until 1965, with the publication of Dune. Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune followed, completing the saga that the Chicago Tribune would call “one of the monuments of modern science fiction.” Herbert is also the author of some twenty other books, including The White Plague, The Dosadi Experiment, and Destination: Void. He died in 1986.
Read an Excerpt
Most discipline is hidden discipline, designed not to liberate but to limit. Do not ask Why? Be cautious with How? Why? leads inexorably to paradox. How? traps you in a universe of cause and effect. Both deny the infinite.
-The Apocrypha of Arrakis
Taraza told you, did she not, that we have gone through eleven of these Duncan Idaho gholas? This one is the twelfth."
The old Reverend Mother Schwangyu spoke with deliberate bitterness as she looked down from the third-story parapet at the lone child playing on the enclosed lawn. The planet Gammu's bright midday sunlight bounced off the white courtyard walls filling the area beneath them with brilliance as though a spotlight had been directed onto the young ghola.
Gone through! the Reverend Mother Lucilla thought. She allowed herself a short nod, thinking how coldly impersonal were Schwangyu's manner and choice of words. We have used up our supply; send us more!
The child on the lawn appeared to be about twelve standard years of age, but appearance could be deceptive with a ghola not yet awakened to his original memories. The child took that moment to look up at the watchers above him. He was a sturdy figure with a direct gaze that focused intently from beneath a black cap of karakul hair. The yellow sunlight of early spring cast a small shadow at his feet. His skin was darkly tanned but a slight movement of his body shifted his blue singlesuit, revealing pale skin at the left shoulder.
"Not only are these gholas costly but they are supremely dangerous to us," Schwangyu said. Her voice came out flat and emotionless, all the more powerful because of that. It was the voice of a Reverend Mother Instructor speaking down to an acolyte and it emphasized for Lucilla that Schwangyu was one of those who protested openly against the ghola project.
Taraza had warned: "She will try to win you over."
"Eleven failures are enough," Schwangyu said.
Lucilla glanced at Schwangyu's wrinkled features, thinking suddenly: Someday I may be old and wizened, too. And perhaps I will be a power in the Bene Gesserit as well.
Schwangyu was a small woman with many age marks earned in the Sisterhood's affairs. Lucilla knew from her own assignment-studies that Schwangyu's conventional black robe concealed a skinny figure that few other than her acolyte dressers and the males bred to her had ever seen. Schwangyu's mouth was wide, the lower lip constricted by the age lines that fanned into a jutting chin. Her manner tended to a curt abruptness that the uninitiated often interpreted as anger. The commander of the Gammu Keep was one who kept herself to herself more than most Reverend Mothers.
Once more, Lucilla wished she knew the entire scope of the ghola project. Taraza had drawn the dividing line clearly enough, though: "Schwangyu is not to be trusted where the safety of the ghola is concerned."
"We think the Tleilaxu themselves killed most of the previous eleven," Schwangyu said. "That in itself should tell us something."
Matching Schwangyu's manner, Lucilla adopted a quiet attitude of almost emotionless waiting. Her manner said: "I may be much younger than you, Schwangyu, but I, too, am a full Reverend Mother." She could feel Schwangyu's gaze.
Schwangyu had seen the holos of this Lucilla but the woman in the flesh was more disconcerting. An Imprinter of the best training, no doubt of it. Blue-in-blue eyes uncorrected by any lens gave Lucilla a piercing expression that went with her long oval face. With the hood of her black aba robe thrown back as it was now, brown hair was revealed, drawn into a tight barette and then cascading down her back. Not even the stiffest robe could completely hide Lucilla's ample breasts. She was from a genetic line famous for its motherly nature and she already had borne three children for the Sisterhood, two by the same sire. Yes-a brown-haired charmer with full breasts and a motherly disposition.
"You say very little," Schwangyu said. "This tells me that Taraza has warned you against me."
"Do you have reason to believe assassins will try to kill this twelfth ghola?" Lucilla asked.
"They already have tried."
Strange how the word "heresy" came to mind when thinking of Schwangyu, Lucilla thought. Could there be heresy among the Reverend Mothers? The religious overtones of the word seemed out of place in a Bene Gesserit context. How could there be heretical movements among people who held a profoundly manipulative attitude toward all things religious?
Lucilla shifted her attention down to the ghola, who took this moment to perform a series of cartwheels that brought him around full circle until he once more stood looking up at the two observers on the parapet.
"How prettily he performs!" Schwangyu sneered. The old voice did not completely mask an underlying violence.
Lucilla glanced at Schwangyu. Heresy. "Dissidence" was not the proper word. "Opposition" did not cover what could be sensed in the older woman. This was something that could shatter the Bene Gesserit. Revolt against Taraza, against the Reverend Mother Superior? Unthinkable! Mother Superiors were cast in the mold of monarch. Once Taraza had accepted counsel and advice and then made her decision, the Sisters were committed to obedience.
"This is no time to be creating new problems!" Schwangyu said.
Her meaning was clear. People from the Scattering were coming back and the intent of some among those Lost Ones threatened the Sisterhood. Honored Matres! How like "Reverend Mothers" the words sounded.
Lucilla ventured an exploratory sally: "So you think we should be concentrating on the problem of those Honored Matres from the Scattering?"
"Concentrating? Hah! They do not have our powers. They do not show good sense. And they do not have mastery of melange! That is what they want from us, our spice knowledge."
"Perhaps," Lucilla agreed. She was not willing to concede this on the scanty evidence.
"Mother Superior Taraza has taken leave of her senses to dally with this ghola thing now," Schwangyu said.
Lucilla remained silent. The ghola project definitely had touched an old nerve among the Sisters. The possibility, even remote, that they might arouse another Kwisatz Haderach sent shudders of angry fear through the ranks. To meddle with the worm-bound remnants of the Tyrant! That was dangerous in the extreme.
"We should never take that ghola to Rakis," Schwangyu muttered. "Let sleeping worms lie."
Lucilla gave her attention once more to the ghola-child. He had turned his back on the high parapet with its two Reverend Mothers, but something about his posture said he knew they discussed him and he awaited their response.
"You doubtless realize that you have been called in while he is yet too young," Schwangyu said.
"I have never heard of the deep imprinting on one that young," Lucilla agreed. She allowed something softly self-mocking in her tone, a thing she knew Schwangyu would hear and misinterpret. The management of procreation and all of its attendant necessities, that was the Bene Gesserit ultimate specialty. Use love but avoid it, Schwangyu would be thinking now. The Sisterhood's analysts knew the roots of love. They had examined this quite early in their development but had never dared breed it out of those they influenced. Tolerate love but guard against it, that was the rule. Know that it lay deep within the human genetic makeup, a safety net to insure continuation of the species. You used it where necessary, imprinting selected individuals (sometimes upon each other) for the Sisterhood's purposes, knowing then that such individuals would be linked by powerful bonding lines not readily available to the common awareness. Others might observe such links and plot the consequences but the linked ones would dance to unconscious music.
"I was not suggesting that it's a mistake to imprint him," Schwangyu said, misreading Lucilla's silence.
"We do what we are ordered to do," Lucilla chided. Let Schwangyu make of that what she would.
"Then you do not object to taking the ghola to Rakis," Schwangyu said. "I wonder if you would continue such unquestioning obedience if you knew the full story?"
Lucilla inhaled a deep breath. Was the entire design for the Duncan Idaho gholas to be shared with her now?
"There is a female child named Sheeana Brugh on Rakis," Schwangyu said. "She can control the giant worms."
Lucilla concealed her alertness. Giant worms. Not Shai-hulud. Not Shaitan. Giant worms. The sandrider predicted by the Tyrant had appeared at last!
"I do not make idle chatter," Schwangyu said when Lucilla continued silent.
Indeed not, Lucilla thought. And you call a thing by its descriptive label, not by the name of its mystical import. Giant worms. And you're really thinking about the Tyrant, Leto II, whose endless dream is carried as a pearl of awareness in each of those worms. Or so we are led to believe.
Schwangyu nodded toward the child on the lawn below them. "Do you think their ghola will be able to influence the girl who controls the worms?"
We're peeling away the skin at last, Lucilla thought. She said: "I have no need for the answer to such a question."
"You are a cautious one," Schwangyu said.
Lucilla arched her back and stretched. Cautious? Yes, indeed! Taraza had warned her: "Where Schwangyu is concerned, you must act with extreme caution but with speed. We have a very narrow window of time within which we can succeed."
Succeed at what? Lucilla wondered. She glanced sideways at Schwangyu. "I don't see how the Tleilaxu could succeed in killing eleven of these gholas. How could they get through our defenses?"
"We have the Bashar now," Schwangyu said. "Perhaps he can prevent disaster." Her tone said she did not believe this.
Mother Superior Taraza had said: "You are the Imprinter, Lucilla. When you get to Gammu you will recognize some of the pattern. But for your task you have no need for the full design."
"Think of the cost!" Schwangyu said, glaring down at the ghola, who now squatted, pulling at tufts of grass.
Cost had nothing to do with it, Lucilla knew. The open admission of failure was much more important. The Sisterhood could not reveal its fallibility. But the fact that an Imprinter had been summoned early-that was vital. Taraza had known the Imprinter would see this and recognize part of the pattern.
Schwangyu gestured with one bony hand at the child, who had returned to his solitary play, running and tumbling on the grass.
"Politics," Schwangyu said.
No doubt Sisterhood politics lay at the core of Schwangyu's heresy, Lucilla thought. The delicacy of the internal argument could be deduced from the fact that Schwangyu had been put in charge of the Keep here on Gammu. Those who opposed Taraza refused to sit on the sidelines.
Schwangyu turned and looked squarely at Lucilla. Enough had been said. Enough had been heard and screened through minds trained in Bene Gesserit awareness. The Chapter House had chosen this Lucilla with great care.
Lucilla felt the older woman's careful examination but refused to let this touch that innermost sense of purpose upon which every Reverend Mother could rely in times of stress. Here. Let her look fully upon me. Lucilla turned and set her mouth in a soft smile, passing her gaze across the rooftop opposite them.
A uniformed man armed with a heavy-duty lasgun appeared there, looked once at the two Reverend Mothers and then focused on the child below them.
"Who is that?" Lucilla asked
"Patrin, the Bashar's most trusted aide. Says he's only the Bashar's batman but you'd have to be blind and a fool to believe that."
Lucilla examined the man across from them with care. So that was Patrin. A native of Gammu, Taraza had said. Chosen for this task by the Bashar himself. Thin and blond, much too old now to be soldiering, but then the Bashar had been called back from retirement and had insisted Patrin must share this duty.
Schwangyu noted the way Lucilla shifted her attention from Patrin to the ghola with real concern. Yes, if the Bashar had been called back to guard this Keep, then the ghola was in extreme peril.
Lucilla started in sudden surprise. "Why...he's..."
"Miles Teg's orders," Schwangyu said, naming the Bashar. "All of the ghola's play is training play. Muscles are to be prepared for the day when he is restored to his original self."
"But that's no simple exercise he's doing down there," Lucilla said. She felt her own muscles respond sympathetically to the remembered training.
"We hold back only the Sisterhood's arcana from this ghola," Schwangyu said. "Almost anything else in our storehouse of knowledge can be his." Her tone said she found this extremely objectionable.
"Surely, no one believes this ghola could become another Kwisatz Haderach," Lucilla objected.
Schwangyu merely shrugged.
Lucilla held herself quite still, thinking. Was it possible the ghola could be transformed into a male version of a Reverend Mother? Could this Duncan Idaho learn to look inward where no Reverend Mother dared?
Schwangyu began to speak, her voice almost a growling mutter: "The design of this project...they have a dangerous plan. They could make the same mistake..." She broke off.
They, Lucilla thought. Their ghola.
"I would give anything to know for sure the position of Ix and the Fish Speakers in this," Lucilla said.
"Fish Speakers!" Schwangyu shook her head at the very thought of the remnant female army that had once served only the Tyrant. "They believe in truth and justice."
Lucilla overcame a sudden tightness in her throat. Schwangyu had all but declared open opposition. Yet, she commanded here. The political rule was a simple one: Those who opposed the project must monitor it that they might abort it at the first sign of trouble. But that was a genuine Duncan Idaho ghola down there on the lawn. Cell comparisons and Truthsayers had confirmed it.
Taraza had said: "You are to teach him love in all of its forms."
"He's so young," Lucilla said, keeping her attention on the ghola.
"Young, yes," Schwangyu said. "So, for now, I presume you will awaken his childish responses to maternal affection. Later..." Schwangyu shrugged.
Lucilla betrayed no emotional reaction. A Bene Gesserit obeyed. I am an Imprinter. So...Taraza's orders and the Imprinter's specialized training defined a particular course of events.
To Schwangyu, Lucilla said: "There is someone who looks like me and speaks with my voice. I am Imprinting for her. May I ask who that is?"
Lucilla held her silence. She had not expected revelation but it had been remarked more than once that she bore a striking resemblance to Senior Security Mother Darwi Odrade. "A young Odrade." Lucilla had heard this on several occasions. Both Lucilla and Odrade were, of course, in the Atreides line with a strong backbreeding from Siona descendants. The Fish Speakers had no monopoly on those genes! But the Other Memories of a Reverend Mother, even with their linear selectivity and confinement to the female side, provided important clues to the broad shape of the ghola project. Lucilla, who had come to depend on her experiences of the Jessica persona buried some five thousand years back in the Sisterhood's genetic manipulations, felt a deep sense of dread from that source now. There was a familiar pattern here. It gave off such an intense feeling of doom that Lucilla fell automatically into the Litany Against Fear as she had been taught it in her first introduction to the Sisterhood's rites:
What People are Saying About This
"A monumental piece of imaginative architecture... indisputably magical."
-Los Angeles Herald Examiner
"Gripping...Fascinating detail, yet cloaked in mystery and mysticism."
"Herbert weaves together several fascinating storylines with almost the same mastery as informed Dune, and keeps the reader intent on the next revelation or twist."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Heretics of Dune has more action than the previous book in the Dune series, if that is what you are looking for. My interest in this book, however, is inm the follow up to Leto II's incredible sacrifice--the continuation of his "Golden Path". In saving humanity from itself, Leto had to bring the civilization to a standstill until the creation of a human who could fade from precient awareness. Now in this book, 1500 years later, we see the rteturn of the peoples who scattered--the murderous Honored Matres. Where did they originate? Why are they so viscious? This is only the first book to tackle that question--and the conclusion of the series. Never has there been a more complex creation-with incredible philosophical insight to human nature and individual deep awareness-in a fictional epic. Leto II himself is probably the most complex fictional character ever created.
Personally, I felt this novel was too long and too slow paced for my liking. However, it deals mainly with the Bene Gesserit, which I like a lot. They raise another Duncan ghola from a small boy, while keeping a watchful eye on Sheeana on Rakis. The Bene Gesserit are threatened by the return of the Honored Matres from the Scattering, and the secret the Tleilaxu have put in the new Duncan ghola. I did like the character Miles Teg, and his amazing Mentat abilities. His involvement help to keep some of the story interesting and to move along. I don't mean this as a bad thing, but the best was the last few chapters of the book were things really start to unfold. ( I would recommend this book as a first time read of the Dune series.)
What would happen if a Bene Gesserit turned evil? We get a terrifying glimpse of their power when the Honored Matres come burning and murdering back into the "Old Empire". The brutal Honored Matres enslave their populations with terror and addictive sex. The Bene Gesserit Sisterhood watch in horror as their precious planets are destroyed one by one as the Honored Matres search for their Chapterhouse. The great Bashar Miles Teg is called back into service to help defend the Sisterhood from the chaos. The mysterious Bene Theilax scheme for domination of the galaxy, the ancient priesthood on Dune are invaded by the new and far more dangerous Face Dancers. In this Dune Chronicle, the Bene Gesserit and their amazing powers are fully explored and threated with extinction. An exciting and imaginative addition to the Dune pantheon. Heretics and Chapterhouse are by far my favorites. Like I said, BENE GESSERIT RULE!
Much more action here, my complaint being that the reader is simply a blind witness to a plan unfolding behind the scenes. Every new scene has, surprise, surprise, a pre-planned encounter. There was no real sense of watching a plan evolve and come to fruition, just idly watching from the background with no involvement or trying to decipher the plot. Still, however, the great story continues on. Very satisfying and a page turner nonetheless, really ramps up the excitement for Chapterhouse: Dune, the final Frank Herbert volume.
I actually felt like this book was a return to form. Leaving all the old characters behind leaves so much more room for exploring this universe and new storylines.
The first three Dune novels had a clear direction and overarching plot. The fourth was an excellent start to something knew. But somethings missing in Heretics of Dune. Herbert's vision begins to fade. Still great, but no longer excellent.
I will never, ever get sick of stories about giant sand worms. Not sure what this says about me, but I'm OK with that.This is the last of the Dune books published in Herbert's lifetime. Like God Emperor, this one takes place thousands of years after its immediate predecessor and drops the reader right in to a now unfamiliar history. It's obvious that Herbert had become interested in the other secret societies of his universe by the time he got to this one. The protagonists are all Bene Gesserit and we get to see much more of the Tleilaxu than in any of the other books. I'm a total sucker for overly realized universes.In all Heretics of Dune is a good read with some very strong female characters and much more directly described action than any other Herbert book that I have ever read.
Leto is dead. Rakis is slowly becoming a desert planet once again, and the sandworms are starting to reappear.And there's a girl who can control them with her dances!While normally revered by the religious, and called Shai-hulud, Sheeana, the one who dances for the worms, calls them, instead Shaitan, which, as you may quickly determine, grinds the gears of the religious elite.Duncan Idaho (and who could very well write a good Dune book without including him), or rather, his Ghola, is being raised by the Bene Gesserit, in order to make the perfect controller for the prophesied Sandrider. Though, attempts are made on the life of Idaho, and those taking charge of him must go into hiding.Slowly, the fates of Sheeana and Idaho meet, and forever change the pattern of the known universe (but what Dune book doesn't end this way?).Enjoyable if you liked the other REAL Dune books, and just want more. Some, though, who loved the original Dune a lot do not seem to favor the F. Herbert sequels. I haven't quite figured this one out, but plan to eventually.
Not one of my favorites of the series. I'd rather re-read Dune Messiah.
I remember reading this when it first came out in the early 1980s and finding it to be a somewhat boring and difficult book (not as difficult as God Emperor of Dune...). So, when I decided to re-read books 5 and 6 (Chapterhouse: Dune) in the series prior to reading the newly published book 7 (Hunters of Dune) I wasn't sure if my memory was correct. (I've read the first 3 books in the Dune series several times and God Emperor twice, but I'd only read Heretics and Chapterhouse when they were originally published and, frankly, didn't remember them very well.) Unfortunately, my memory was correct. The book wasn't so difficult now that I'm older, but it was still pretty boring. The action and adventure that drew me to Dune in the first place were mostly lacking from Heretics and Chapterhouse; rather, Herbert spent most of his time having his characters converse and ruminate on certain aspects of humanity. All fine and good, but a little action would have helped. I'm glad that I re-read these books as having failed to do so would have made Hunters of Dune less enjoyable, but books 5 and 6 of the DuneI/i> saga simply are not as engaging as the earlier volumes (note that I say engaging, rather than good; the books are very good if the subject matter and storytelling technique are what you want).
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.
Most readers don't make it this far but Heretics does a wonderful job of continuing to introduce new characters that deserve to be immortal.
Story reveals more of letos design and redeems him.
Strength fuels opposition, victory ignites it. 1,500 years have passed since the time of Leto II, the God Emperor. His fall marked the beginning of the Famine Times, prompting many to leave the known universe. Now the descendants of that Scattering have returned, in numbers that dwarf the empire they left behind. Only the Bene Gesserit stand against them, buying time while their plan comes to fruition. Once more the fate of mankind hinges on two special children. One is a young Duncan Idaho, the latest in a long line of gholas; the other is a child of the desert, Sheena, who has the power to command the worms of Rakis. Heretics of Dune has everything fans have come to expect from a Dune book; a young protagonist groomed for a specific role, a strong female who challenges authority, and a plethora of complex ideas; ranging from the nature of power and strength, to the unavoidable inequality created by social hierarchies. And yet…something is missing. Throughout the story there are numerous references to a looming threat on the horizon, but within the scenes themselves there’s little sense of urgency. Dialogue dominates every scene, a mix of heated debates that hint at a grand plan, and intellectual discussions that blatantly state the underlying ideas instead of quietly hinting at them. Flashbacks and summaries break up the monotony with warm memories that help to personalize each character. Unfortunately it’s the characters themselves that create the biggest problem. Most stories begin with a disruption, and spend the rest of the story trying to restore order. But the Bene Gesserit, who dominate the story, have all passed through their trials. They are stable, strong, and implacable. In every situation they know exactly what to do, and they never hesitate. Against such opponents the antagonists struggle to keep up, engaging in brief skirmishes that quickly fizzle out, before finally mounting a proper offensive at the two-thirds mark. This forces the protagonists out of their secure routines; creating opportunities for younger, more dynamic characters to take center stage. The last quarter is as strong as anything in the Dune series, with an ending that feels fitting, if incomplete. Overall Heretics reads more like a prologue than an actual story, a necessary precursor to the real story, Chapterhouse: Dune. +Strong Dialogue *Complex but unchanging characters *Numerous brief references to complex ideas *Underdeveloped Plot -Weak, repetitive scenes 3/5
kind of the low point of the series
Having found Dune after the mini-series, and Children of Dune; comparisons of the movies with the actual book story, places it all into perspective. An example is the sequence where Paul faces the Reverend Mother, you actually understand what is going through his mind as he inserts his hand into the box, what is racing through his mind, all of the emotions, and feelings. Frank Herbert wrote a great series, his son continues the saga.