Review: Dune Messiah

Posted 22 November, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Dune Messiah (Dune #2)
By: Frank Herbert
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known – and feared – as the man christened Muad’Dib. As Emperor of the Known Universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremen, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne – and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence.

And even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul is directed against his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s dynasty…

Like Dune (review), I had read this book in high school and greatly enjoyed it. In an effort to finally finish reading the series–and having picked up The Great Dune Trilogy published by Gollanz–I decided I would re-read the book again 🙂 I’ve been busy, but after reading an article on about the miniseries) I was struck with nostalgia and decided to re-read it recently 🙂

Oh man, it’s so easy to slip back into the world of Arrakis and the Bene Gesserit and the Fremen. It picks up several years after the events of the first book but it felt like no time had passed since last I read the first novel, so yay that (I guess that just shows how ingrained the book is in my mind).

Anyway, what really struck out for me whilst reading this book was how it dealt more or less with the consequences of what happened in the first book. Paul is now Emperor and he’s struggling both with securing his throne for future generations–whilst struggling with the issue of a lack of heir to his throne–as well as the weight as religious deity and the burden of his abilities. I thought the strength of this book was highlighting the perils of a character inhabiting the position of secular and religious leader, worshipped by a god by some aspects of society but also dealing with the politicos of the day. There are plots coming from various factions in the galaxy who haven’t fully accepted his rule or place in the galactic scheme of things and try to undermine his rule.

At the same time his visions of the future elude and frighten him, and he ends up getting caught up in events partly of his own making. This part is a bit difficult to explain as it’s pretty complex philosophically and in the spectrum of how we perceive time, the different paths that he can perceive, how he tries to map a future for humanity but his vision fails. Or rather he’s not strong enough to take the direction that needs to be taken, to do the things that needs to be done. This is a theme that will continue into Children of Dune.

Otherwise the rest of Dune Messiah is very much a mental book. The reader is privvy to the thoughts of the different characters as they sift and analyse each other, trying to figure out the other person’s agenda or the truth behind an action. It’s quite an excerise in that sense, and makes the novel interesting because beyond that, the book does feel like a bit of a filler between Dune and Children of Dune. Some of the scenes jump, which I guess I don’t mind too much, but other times like the acceleration of the assassination attempts on Paul happen so quickly that you kind of miss the dramatic punch of it all. There are so many questions left at the end of this novel, not to mention just a pack of emotional finality to express what had just occurred.

On the plus side, you start to see the slippery slope that Alia undergoes and why things happen to her the way they do in Children of Dune.

So whilst this book was enjoyable and a worthy follow-up to Dune in that it addresses a lot of the consequences of the first novel, it did feel like a filler, a set-up novel of sorts to events that will transpire in Children of Dune. But anyhow, it did leave me pretty excited to re-read Children of Dune.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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4 Responses to “Review: Dune Messiah”

  1. I loved this series when I read it in my early 20’s way, way back when. I’m not sure I finished it though.
    Your reviews are reminding me why I enjoyed it so much (although sand worms haunt my dreams!) – maybe I will reread it one day….

  2. The first book, Dune, has some action in it. Many people are familiar with the famous 80’s Dune movie that has a lot of action in it. THen people get really disappointed to find the rest of the book in the series are all deep thoughts and practically zero action.

    I really enjoy the first 4 books in the series, but wow is it a slog to get through Heretics and Chapterhouse. they are just super weird and kinda boring.

    • I agree, the last two books had all the intrigue that could’ve made it interesting but I found myself not caring for the characters or the situation. Maybe it needs another re-read from me, I don’t know…

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