Back in the mid-1980s I read the original Dune novels from Frank Herbert – Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, and God Emperor of Dune. I never got as far as Heretics of Dune or Chapterhouse: Dune. But I was always under the impression that the first book — Dune — was the best.
Nothing compares to the sheer scope of the Dune universe that Herbert created. Arrakis, the Desert Planet, is but one planet among an empire of millions. Royal houses compete for resources and power among the stars and without the Spice Melange from Arrakis, interplanetary commerce among the stars would stop dead in its tracks.
In 1999, Frank Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson began writing a series of prequels and sequels based on notes Frank Herbert had left and expanding on the universe he’d begun.
Paul of Dune takes place in the time between the end of the original Dune novel and the beginning of Dune Messiah 12 years later. Paul Atreides, also known as Muad’Dib, is the new Emperor of the Known Universe. He must bring the royal houses into line to fulfill the future timeline he forsees in his mind so that he may help the human race survive.
Muad’Dib’s warriors are fighting battles across the universe, and Paul is wondering if things have gone beyond his ability to control or guide them. And his safety and the safety of those he loves is in question, which makes it all the more difficult to keep on track.
I have to admit that it took me a while to get into this book. The first 100 pages were tough sledding, but I think it was because it’s been a very long time since I read any sort of book in the Dune universe and it was a bit of a shock to the system. Once I got into the groove, it was easier to devour. I think I knew I was over the hump when I got to Part II – Young Paul Atredies — Age 12. That really pushed my reading into overdrive and I enjoyed the rest of the ride.
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson weave an amazing narrative of those years where Paul’s rule, as well as the legends and mythology surrounding him, was just beginning.
What I loved were the segments where we learned of some of the events of Paul Atredies childhood – when he was growing up the son of Duke Leto and his mother, Jessica of the Bene Gesserit. These early events shaped Paul into the man he would later become, but give us much more insight into some of the other characters surrounding Paul.
Princess Irulan gets much more interesting when you begin learning of her involvement in the creation of the many books documenting the rise of Muad’Dib’s power.
And you also learn more of Paul’s sister, Alia, as she begins her own legends of St. Alia of the Knife.
These are complex and compelling characters in a universe that is still very vibrant and alive more than 40 years after Frank Herbert began sharing it with the world. Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have outdone themselves by filling in the gaps and showing us these earlier events.
Though I enjoyed the entire book, I have to admit that the sections about Paul’s experience leading up to the war with Moritani were my favorite parts. They provide an amazing glimpse into the forces that helped shape Paul into the man who would be emperor of the universe.
If you are a fan of the Dune universe, this is a great way to continue the adventure. Now I need to find the other books from Herbert & Anderson to see what else I’ve missed!
The writing duo also seem to be working on two further books in the series – Jessica of Dune and Irulan of Dune, so we will learn more of Paul’s Mother’s past and how Irulan grew to be the historian and writer of the new age of Muad’dib. So stay tuned for more in the Dune universe!
p.s. Pick this book up from your favorite local retailer or Amazon: