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Dune #2

Dune Messiah

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

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 comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s dynasty...

331 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published July 1, 1969

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About the author

Frank Herbert

480 books12.8k followers
People note Dune (1965) of American science fiction novelist Frank Patrick Herbert for its intricate plot and its broad intellectual scope.

Frank Herbert authored five critically acclaimed and commercially successful sequels to this best-known work. Widely considered among the classics in the field of science fiction, the Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, dealt with themes, such as human survival, human evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics, and power.

He was the father of fellow author Brian Herbert.

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5 stars
69,612 (27%)
4 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 12,632 reviews
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
434 reviews4,255 followers
August 1, 2023
Completely Different Tone Than Dune #1

Dune #1 leaves us in a complete cliffhanger. However, Dune #2 starts up 12 years later.

In the introduction to the version that I read, Brian Herbert (the author’s son) wrote that one magazine labeled this book as the “disappointment of the year.” However, he explained the book is supposed to show how absolute power can corrupt leaders including Paul Atreides.

Dune Messiah has a completely different tone than Dune. Dune was filled with adventure and hope, the entire group working, willing to die, to transform the environment. Further, Dune had a bunch of very strong female characters. In contrast, Dune Messiah is more political and emotional. Also, the depiction of women is just horrible. Alia is boy crazy, and Irulan and Chani are only focused on Paul and producing an heir.

In 12 years, Paul has matured. He is not the boy of Dune. He makes decisions almost cavalierly.

The book was definitely entertaining though. The audiobook had an entire cast of characters, and it was such a rich experience. As with Dune, I could pick something up new each time reading Dune Messiah. However, the tone on this was much darker than Dune, and it wasn’t inspiring. The ending of Dune Messiah was so weak, the complete opposite of the ending of Dune.

Recently, I was reading a list ranking all of the Dune books, and this one was rated the very worst of the series so I am still excited to continue with this series and hope that the future is a little less bleak.

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Profile Image for Lyn.
1,883 reviews16.6k followers
February 10, 2023
Only half the length of the original Dune, the second book in the series takes place 12 years after.

Not as epic, this is almost like a chamber western, with political intrigue and references to great goings on, but little action described. The feel of the book is like a prelude to what comes next, that the third book will be the true sequel to Dune.

For fans of Dune, no doubt, and you really need to have read Dune first, to know the characters and to at least have a clue about Herbert's complex and intricately detailed world building.

But then, comparing this book to Dune is like comparing a country lawyer to a Supreme Court justice, the comparison itself is unfair, very few books will equal Dune or even come close. Dune Messiah is part of Herbert's great vision and is a good book in its own right.

*** 2019 Reread

Coming back to this book years later and after having read all of the first six that Frank Herbert, I have a better appreciation for Herbert's great vision. Describing a conspiracy against Paul after his conquest of the Universe, and devastation of myriad worlds and billions of lives lost, the author creates a setting of disquiet, as Leto's time in the Dune universe begins.

Herbert's literary grasp of theology, ideology and spiritualism is on full display and this is an important book in his canon.

Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,856 followers
June 28, 2020
It´s mainly a psychological warfare battle with psi weapons, many conspiracies, less action, and very good dialogues.

Some favorite elements:

Sci-Fi pregnancies are always a fertile ground for plot ideas, bad pun intended, and as each mother of any species and epoch wants the best for the unborn and has the healthiest diet possible, there is one question that comes with pregnancy enhancing drugs and magical substances turning embryos in mentalists.
Especially when pimping the baby in the womb is totally safe and nothing can go wrong anymore or each complication and problem can immediately be solved thanks to very advanced future medicine, the mother loses the legitimation to refuse any optimization possible, because it would actively harm the child by reducing the chances in the future and in competition with others, something already in discussion regarding genetic engineering nowadays.
If it´s magic powder and its quality and quantity that decide over the future career of the child as a doctor, engineer, or god-emperor, it´ a bit trickier to find the right amount, because there are no mini- and nanobots patrolling the body scanning around. You know, I guess even fictional characters´ bodies might have different tolerances and biochemistries so how does a woman decide how much is too much and will the eyes of the kid glow too blue or too less and is a too less even desirable if it includes lower potential? If it´s already shining trough the womb during pregnancy, it might be just the right dosage.

The world with shapeshifters, clones, psi powers, breeding programs, and intrigues that are distilled in a much smaller area than in the first novel, intensifying the suspense of so many different fractions competing with another.

Philosophical, political, social, ethical, and moral questions in vast amounts, I would like to know how many books and ideas Herbert used to create the philosophy of the world and its protagonists and would be interested in a list of the references and how he modified and changed all the ideas, there is certainly a wiki, Reddit, or blog dealing with this. Diving deeper in this second dimension of the story might only be possible when rereading or regularly stopping while reading to reflect on what has just been said and to try to put it in the context of the whole story.

It was so cool and could have been much longer, everything is perfect here and there would have been the potential for double the size with all the suspenseful elements and open questions. And the dialogues, it´s not often the case that there is something to read like that, so go for it.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
July 27, 2021
You know what it's like. Every decision seems so obviously sensible, but one thing just leads to another. We've all had it happen to us.

So, last time I had my family murdered by our hereditary enemies I went into hiding in the desert too, and linked up with the tough native fighters there. I mean, who wouldn't? Since I had psychic powers, it seemed pretty crazy not to use them to gain some respect. Before I knew what had happened, I was the clan's leader. And you get some momentum, you want to keep it up, otherwise you just go backwards. Suddenly I found I was ruling the planet. I didn't expect it to be quite so easy to conquer the known Universe, but that bit always catches you by surprise.

On the way, I met this girl. I liked her, she liked me, well, you know how these things happen. She gets pregnant. Then, shit, I go and of course lose my sight in some kind of nuclear attack. I'm just kicking myself for being so careless. Girlfriend dies in childbirth, par for the course, and since she has twins all my psychic powers are gone. I keep meaning to find out why that happens, but I never get round to it.

Oh well, I guess Never mind. I'll try to do better next time.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Laura.
126 reviews35 followers
September 5, 2007
So I thought Dune was the best thing since the bound codex, right? And I read it about five times over the course of my young-adulthood. And then I read Messiah and was pretty much completely dissatisfied. Not enough to give it a poor rating, since it is interesting (I mean, we all still care about Paul, even if he is a whiner) and it did keep my attention.
You haven't seen foreshadowing until you've read Dune Messiah. It takes that to a whole new, grotesque level. And pretentiousness. Thought Dune was pretentious? Hah! This one makes Dune look like a chimney-sweep in comparison. It's as though Frank Herbert managed to make a blunt weapon out of pretentiousness and use it directly on the reader's mind.
My final impression was of just another massive philosophical acid trip consisting of a bunch of people smarter than me bandying hints and portentous minutiae in the middle of a half-realized desert wonderland for over three hundred pages. And I didn't really care about Duncan Idaho, anyway, since he was only in Dune for like forty pages and he only spoke about twice. Telling me ten times in a row that Paul really really liked Idaho is not going to make me feel the same way about him, Frank Herbert!
Now I'm afraid to read number three.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
966 reviews6,850 followers
April 30, 2023
I live in an apocalyptic dream.

When the wheels of fate are churning, can you escape without being crushed beneath its wheels. Frank Herberts set up an amazing and complex political universe and sets it to explode, sending us off on a trajectory picked up by Dune Messiah. Set 12 years after the events of Dune, we find Paul Maud’dib on the Emperors throne and the Jihad has ‘killed sixty-one billion, sterilised ninety planets, completely demoralised five hundred others’ all in Paul’s name. Messiah has vastly expanded mechanics yet resides in a much smaller scale than its predecessor, being almost a parlor drama of ‘plots within plots within plots’ as before but with a more focused proximity to really feel the tension creaking through the narrative. Expanding on themes of the ways religion and politics are manipulated for power and diving deep into ideas of fate and freedom with a touch of Friedrich Nietzsche along the way, Dune Messiah is a tense and psychological thriller that really drives home the ideas left open at the end of the previous novel and charts a course for incredible new directions for the larger narrative.

While the original Dune plays out on epic proportions, Messiah feels more like a Shakespeareian tragedy. Withing a few chapters of the opening we see the plot drop into the chamber and be fired off with a pretty clear indication what it leads, yet every step of the way still feels fresh and thrilling. This is in keeping with the story as well, seeing as Paul foresees much of what is coming but after a decade of winning and no surprises, a psychological challenge that could be unexpected is what he craves. ‘He felt chained to a future which, exposed too often, had locked onto him like a greedy succubus,’ Herbert writes, and Paul, feeling isolated from even those he loves due to his prescience while increasingly speaking with Alia on their shared struggle, begins to wish for a way to escape his all-knowing fate. This becomes increasingly tragic when he can see great loss before they happen and the only advice his sister can give is ‘we must not grieve for those dear to us before their passing

The story feels a bit more loose and less tidy in this one, an obvious difficulty when constructing a narrative around prescience. Yet the political tensions and plottings keep it sharp and direct, and where Herbert really excels is getting into character’s heads during discussions and seeing the internal mastermining going on. This is especially exciting with Scytale, a Tleilaxu Face Dancer that can shift into any body because if Bene Gesserits weren’t enough, this shapeshifting class only hinted at before is now on full conniving display to remind you that the Dune universe is terrifying and awesome. It is a tight cast, with less than a dozen primary characters including the return of Duncan Idaho as a clone, or ‘ghola’, also going by the name Heyt. Which, as expected, becomes an issue with the Fremen who see technology such as this as potentially blasphemous. Scytale warns ‘reason is the first victim of strong emotion’ and much of Messiah is mental chess full of strong emotions to throw Paul off his game. It’s pretty dark, considering he knows Duncan has been sent to probably kill him and it’s his friend yet not his friend at all as boisterous Duncan is now a stoic and pensive intellectual.

Truth suffers from too much analysis.
-Ancient Fremen Saying

Messiah seems hellbent on reminding you that the events of Dune were not a heroic and great thing but a pretty twisted political contest of colonialism, manipulation and mass murder. Like murder on the galactic scale of genocide. The Jihad is not awesome and people are starting to talk about that. The opening pages are an intense interview with a historian about to be executed for writing a critical historical analysis of Paul and his rise to power, and he tells the Fremen ‘you learned early to call the truth heresy.’ The ruling powers dismiss anything not in keeping with their narrative, one held firmly together by the glue of religion. ‘Religion, too, is a weapon,’ Herbert writes, and asks us ‘what manner of weapon is religion when it becomes the government?’ We begin to see the religious gaslighting to keep a strong and obedient population ready to kill. ‘They are not mad. They're trained to believe, not to know. Belief can be manipulated. Only knowledge is dangerous.

What seems most dangerous is the knowledge of what is to come and the lack of freedom to escape fate. This novel delves deeper into ideas of memory as well as looking to the future with characters like Alia that have memory accessible in her cells to converse with the ancestral past. It becomes very existential, with question if there is any agency to truly make choices, locked into political decisions as well as the awareness of the future. Paul is set up much like the Nietzschean Übermensch yet in this novel he rejects it and wishes to escape it. ‘My steps fit into it so precisely that I fear most of all I will grow bored reliving the thing so exactly,’ he says, which also feels a nod to Nietzche’s concept of Eternal Return. What unfolds is brilliant and becomes an excellent example of refusing the body for the myth. While the end is sad and tragic, it is also a cementing of immortality as the eternal Maud’dib, now more legend and legacy than ever before.

Messiah is a shorter sequel that packs a lot of power on the smaller scale while managing to make the universe vastly larger and more complex. There is much distrust stirred in this book, with distrust in rulers, history and religion being a major purpose for Herbert. In an essay by his son, Brian Herbert, he mentions how his father saw the Watergate scandal as a positive: ‘By amplified example, albeit unwittingly, the thirty-seventh president of the United States taught people to question their leaders.’ This message of questioning leaders, especially ones who impose moral codes through religion and seek to dismiss critical historical perspectives as execution-worthy heresy is at heart in Messiah. Legacy and fate are critical themes, as well as breeding schemes that will determine the future ruler of Arakkis. This is an excellent passing of the torch that slingshots us towards the next book, and the Dune series marches on.


'If you need something to worship, then worship life - all life, every last crawling bit of it! We're all in this beauty together!'
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,633 followers
July 23, 2021
Having re-read Dune (and reviewed it here on GR) recently, I figured I should continue and read at least the initial trilogy with Dune Messiah and Children of Dune to get a better idea of the world that Frank Herbert created. I am glad that I read Dune Messiah. It is an excellent novel about destiny and fate and how much of it we can control. We get more insight into the Navigators - here I noticed that, unlike in Dune, we actually meet a Navigator (one of the three primary conspirators against Paul Maud'dib) which means that David Lynch most have read this book as well before making his cult classic movie of the first book. We also learn more about the Bene Geserits and the Mentats. I found it particularly fascinating that the Butlerian Jihad, which takes place a few hundred years before the action in Dune and Dune Messiah, was actually, if I understood correctly, a war of humans against machines which the humans won. Following this victory, computers were banished from the known universe and instead Mentats and Navigators (inspired by melange made from spice) were bred to be human computers for political and financial strategy in the former case, and for navigation in space-time for the latter. This fascinated me because I have read and watched so much science fiction where the machines win (or are winning) such as in Ghost in the Shell or Neuromancer, or Blade Runner, or Hyperion and Dune is one of the rare universes where humans won and yet, at what cost? Banning machines seems to have brought humans back to a medieval society with its aristocracies (House Corrino, House Harkkonen, House Atreides) and oppression and genetic manipulation (Bene Gesserit). And once the Fremen rally around Paul to destroy two of the three houses and install Paul as the new Emperor and as the Dune Messiah, is this new regime really a new start for humanity or just another autocratic regime. It sure looks like that latter and we get inklings of this as the Fremen go spread the Gospel of their Maud'dib and subsequently spilling not just a little blood. All of these things continue to torture Paul as they did in Dune and yet he is inevitably driven forward by this messianic destiny. Enter the conspiracy of a Bene Gesserit priestess, a rogue Navigator and a strange Face Dancer who want to topple Paul's regime, well more specifically kill his Fremen wife and force him to sleep with his sister Alia (ewww!!) so as to continue the genetic engineering project and re-install the old regime over which each had more control than under Paul. Another piece of the puzzle here is the reappearance of Duncan Idaho, mentor and friend to Paul as a Zensunni master which has unintended consequences. Zensunnism in itself is a fascinating blend of Sunni Islam and Zen Buddhism that also is followed by the Freman. In essence, Herbert created a universe where classic monarchal hegemonies come into conflict with religious fanatics - in a sense we can see the Fremen hordes as marauding Zen Buddhist priests in ancient Japan fighting the Emperor, well that is one image that came into my mind anyway, so as not to wear out the old Western capitalism vs Islamic obscurantism trope.

While perhaps less expansive and mind-blowing than the first Dune, Dune Messiah still delivers punches as a great plot with convincing characters and lots of philosophical questions. On to Children of Dune!

I have since finished the whole canonical series and enjoyed all of it.

[UPDATE] I am looking forward to Denis Villeneuve's Dune in October 2021. The previews I have seen so far seem to be quite coherent with respect to the book. I was a fan of Lynch's Dune and am curious to see what Villeneuve does with this one. Feel free to comment below.

Fino's Dune Reviews
Dune Messiah
Children of Dune
God Emperor of Dune
Heretics of Dune
Chapterhouse: Dune
Profile Image for Mike's Book Reviews.
149 reviews6,226 followers
September 29, 2021
It's difficult for me to be too tough on this book because it simply feels incomplete. About half the size of the original, it feels like a simply bridge to Children of Dune than an actual sequel to Dune. But the theme of the story is one that Frank Herbert must have believed personally and that is Think For Yourself. People are not gods. Gods are not governance. To deify politicians and world leaders is a can of worms that should never be opened.

Fans of the original fell in love with Paul Atreides and to see him essentially as a flawed leader with clay feet left a bitter taste in many mouths. So, again, it's easy to understand the criticism. It's like if Empire Strikes Back came out and Luke turned out to be just some dude who was more lucky than gifted. I’ll always recommend reading Messiah and Children of Dune together. Because as a stand alone, Messiah vanishes under the vast shadow cast by its predecessor.
Profile Image for Markus.
476 reviews1,562 followers
September 11, 2015
Buddy read with Athena!

"Once more the drama begins."
- The Emperor Paul Muad'dib on his ascension to the Lion Throne

Twelve years have passed since the Battle of Arrakeen, where Paul Atreides wrestled the Imperium from the hands of the Padishah Emperor, and seized the Lion Throne for himself. Dune has become the political and economical centre of the universe, and the Qizarate priesthood has spread Muad'dib's name throughout space and turned him into not only an emperor with absolute power, but a god in his own right.

Yet there are those who would topple the god emperor from his religious throne. In the grand circles of power, a new conspiracy arises from the shadows. Its goals and ambitions are many, and it seeks to infiltrate the ranks of the Atreides and the Fremen, striking at those closest to the emperor in order to remove him from power. And each step brings its plans closer to succeeding.

"Mysterious, lethal, an oracle without eyes,
Catspaw of prophecy, whose voice never dies!"

Dune Messiah is, in many ways, even better than Dune. It cannot stand up to the wonder of discovering the world of Arrakis for the first time, but it certainly has other strengths. The setting and the writing style is mostly the same as in the first book. The story though, has changed dramatically. The first book is about Paul Atreides and his quest for vengeance against those who betrayed his family and seized their land. The second book is about managing an empire and protecting it from a devilishly dangerous conspiracy who shuns no means to achieve what they want. There is more political maneuvering, more hidden agendas, and more excitement for the reader.

The character have also grown more interesting in the second book. Paul, Chani and Irulan are all older and more experienced in the games of power, and were much more enjoyable to read about than they were in the first one. And perhaps the most fascinating character of them all is Alia, Paul's sister. Still only fifteen years of age, she is both a Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit, a leader of the Qizarate priesthood, and a powerful voice in the Imperial Council.

What truly made me decide to let this book keep the five stars from the first time I read it, was the ending. I will not go into details about it, but only say that this may be the most beautiful ending I have ever read in a sci-fi or fantasy book ever.

For those of you who have read Dune and are debating with yourselves whether or not to read its sequels, I hope this review will be helpful in deciding. For those of you who haven't read any of the books from this universe, know that it is in my eyes one of the greatest fictional series of all time. I would definitely recommend it to every single one of you, because it's a wonderful story with few equals in the world of science fiction.

Such a rich store of myths enfolds Paul Muad'dib, the Mentat Emperor, and his sister, Alia, it is difficult to see the real persons behind these veils. But there were, after all, a man born Paul Atreides and a woman born Alia. Their flesh was subject to space and time. And even though their oracular powers placed them beyond the usual limits of time and space, they came from human stock. They experienced real events which left real traces upon a real universe. To understand them, it must be seen that their catastrophe was the catastrophe of all mankind. This work is dedicated, then, not to Muad'dib or his sister, but to their heirs - to all of us.
- Dedication in the Muad'dib Concordance as copied from The Tabla Memorium of the Mahdi Spirit Cult

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews35 followers
May 14, 2022
Dune Messiah (Dune #2), Frank Herbert

Dune Messiah is a science fiction novel by American writer Frank Herbert, the second in his Dune series of six novels. Twelve years after the events described in Dune (1965), Paul "Muad'Dib" Atreides rules as Emperor. By accepting the role of messiah to the Fremen, Paul had unleashed a jihad which conquered most of the known universe. While Paul is the most powerful emperor ever known, he is powerless to stop the lethal excesses of the religious juggernaut he has created.

Although 61 billion people have perished, Paul's prescient visions indicate that this is far from the worst possible outcome for humanity. Motivated by this knowledge, Paul hopes to set humanity on a course that will not inevitably lead to stagnation and destruction, while at the same time acting as ruler of the empire and focal point of the Fremen religion. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی ام ماه نوامبر سال2018میلادی

عنوان: مسیحای تلماسه: کتاب دوم از سری تلماسه؛ نویسنده: فرانک هربرت؛ مترجم: مهیار فروتن فر؛ تهران، نشر کتابسرای تندیس، سال1397؛ در320ص؛ فروست: شاهکارهای ادبیات علمی تخیلی؛ شابک9786001823244؛ چاپ دوم سال1398؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

ماجرای نبرد میان سه خاندان بزرگ بر سر مالکیت این سیاره و قصه قهرمان افسانه ای «فرمن»ها به نام «پل مودِب» است که با تکیه بر اندیشه های پیچیده فلسفی، روان شناختی، سیاسی، بوم شناسی و…؛ نگارش شده است؛ «مسیحای تلماسه» ادامه داستان «پائول آتریدس» است، مردی که «مودب» را مسیحی کرد، او به عنوان فرمانرو��ی جهان شناخته شده، بیش از آنچه که یک فرد میباید قدرت داشته باشد دارای قدرت بود؛ او به نمادی مذهبی تبدیل شده بود و توسط تندروها پرستش میشد؛ با اینحال به خاطر جابجاییهای سیاسی که در زمان تصاحب تاج و تخت انجام داده بود مورد نفرت بسیاری قرار گرفته است و با توطئه نفوذ مواجه شد؛ و حتی وقتی خانه «آتریدس» در اطراف او شروع به از دست دادن اعتبار خود میکند، توطئه ای دیگر معشوق او، «چانی»، و وارث متولد نشده سلسله خانوادگیش را تهدید میکند...؛ میلیونها نسخه از کتابهای باشکوه «مسیحای تلماسه» در سراسر جهان فروخته شده، دوازده سال پس از چیرگی «پل مودب»، پیشوای پیشگو، بر غاصبان، و تکیه زدن ایشان بر سریر سیادت، نه تنها «تلماسه» که همه ی کائنات جهان زخم خورده، سرانجام از بستر بهت برخاسته، و بنای انتقام میگذارند؛ ...؛ سری کتابهای تلماسه رمانهای علمی- تخیلی هستند، روایتی شگفت انگیز که در سال1965میلادی جان گ��فت و فضایی از آینده ای دور را به تصویر کشاند؛ این سری بازگویی ماجرای نبرد میان سه خاندان بزرگ بر سر مالکیت این سیاره و قصه ی قهرمان افسانه ای «فرمن»ها به نام «پل مودِب» است که با تکیه بر اندیشه های پیچیده ی فلسفی، روان شناختی، سیاسی، بوم شناسی و…؛ نگاشته شده اند؛

نقل از متن: («پل» آهی کشید و در این فکر فرورفت که چطور هر دنیایی که به دست لشکریانش فتح، و به منبعی تازه برای زوار بدل میشود، زواری که به سپاس از «صلح و آرامش اعطایی مودب» به زیارت «آراکیس» میآمدند؛ با خود گفت: بله، همه جا صلح و آرامش هست؛ همه جا…؛ جز در قلب «مودب»؛ احساس میکرد که عنصری از عناصر وجودش، در ژرفنای بی پایان ظلماتی منجمد، غرق شده است؛ قدرت پیشگویانه ی او تصویری را که همگان از جهان داشتند، دستکاری کرده بود؛ او جهان امنی را که همه میشناختند زیر و رو کرده بود، و امن و امانش را با «کورساد» خود جایگزین کرده بود؛ او ثابت کرده بود که در زور و فکر و آینده نگری سرتر از جهان انسانهاست، ولی ته دلش مطمئن بود که جهان هنوز دست خود را تمام و کمال برایش رو نکرده است)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 28/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 23/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Jamie.
Author 5 books169 followers
May 28, 2010
I really liked Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel Dune when I first read it a few months ago --so much so that I named it one of the best books I read that year. But upon finally getting around to the sequel, Dune Messiah I'm pretty disappointed. It's really boring.

Don't get me wrong, I can see some of the impressive literary clockwork that Herbert assembles in the book. Where Dune told the story of Paul Muad’Dib's rise to the Emperor, controller of the universe's only source of the coveted super spice "melange," and general badass dude, Messiah tells the story of his downfall. It also follows through on one of the more interesting concepts introduced in the first book: Paul's spice-induced ability to foresee the eventual species-wide extinction of humans and the hard choices he has to make in order to steer history towards a lesser evil. Indeed, Messiah fast forwards to a point where Paul's fanatic followers have propagated a holy war that has destroyed entire planets and left over 60 billion people dead in just a few years. By those measures, Paul is the worst monster history has ever created, yet he has to bear the mostly private burden of knowing that he's killing all those people to save the race as a whole while simultaneously trying to outmaneuver his political opponents and crafty assassins. Angst!

The problem I have with Messiah is that it suffers acutely from a kind of talking head syndrome. It's not until the back sixth or so of the book that anything interesting happens. Dune had sword fights, skirmishes, Paul and his mother tromping around the deadly desert of Arakis meeting and learning about the Fremen, and all other kinds of adventures. Messiah devotes literally dozens of pages at a time to sitting in a room listening to conspirators talk to each other. And then talking about what the talking means. And then thinking about what the talking about the talking means. It's terrible and jarring to see how Herbert has switched gears so abruptly from fascinating adventure and world building to stark exposition and naval gazing.

Not that some of the ideas aren't interesting. The way that Paul must grapple with his precognition and how he has to grasp at things to try and leave humanity on the path to survival in the wake of his inevitable fall is a complex and fascinating idea, for one. And I liked the idea of how his strengths are the things that ultimately do him in --sometimes literally. It's just that I wish Herbert had found ways to make this story less tedious in its execution.

Is the third book any better? I'm on the fence at this point.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,080 followers
May 9, 2021
Hace mucho tiempo que tenía ganas de leer la secuela de Dune y ahora que por fin lo he hecho me ha dejado sentimientos encontrados.
Es un relato que arranca 12 años después del final de la primera parte y va a mostrarnos en qué ha ido a parar el imperio galáctico a manos de su nuevo emperador. Es un libro mucho más lento, reflexivo y filosófico que el anterior... esto por norma general suele gustarme, pero en esta ocasión hubo muchas partes que me resultaron confusas y hasta la mitad de la novela (que además es bastante breve) no conseguí interesarme verdaderamente por lo que estaba ocurriendo.
Por otro lado el desenlace me encantó y me ha dejado con muchísimas ganas de leer la siguiente parte con la próxima generación.
Creo que todos los que amaron la primera parte conseguirán disfrutar de esta en mayor o menor medida, tiene más intrigas políticas, más corrupción espacial, más worldbuilding fascinante y lo más importante de todo... más bene gesserit.

*******Alia gracias por existir
*******Jessica vuelve
Profile Image for Nicholas West.
Author 4 books11 followers
November 1, 2017
When I first read Dune Messiah, it was nearly twenty years ago and like a lot things time had erased most of the details from my brain - including the ending.

So digging into it last week was a treat; felt like something new. From re-discovering characters and themes, to gaining an understanding that my seventeen-year-old brain wasn't able to yet comprehend. 

As a note on my assessment style: Part of me wants to respond to other reviewers here on Goodreads concerning their literary criticisms. However, I’ve found that to be a self-defeating endeavor. I come from the school of: A review should stand on its own merits. But I have a little cheat here - I can respond to what my younger self thought of Dune Messiah. The Nick West of twenty years ago did have some criticisms of this book that may have been rooted in misunderstanding — and at the very least, a sense of disappointment or superb literary let-down. As I respond to Nick of the 90s, you can parallel similar themes in other 2 and 3 star reviews on this site.

So here we are: You the reader, Nicholas at age 37, and Nick at age 17. Let’s chat.

**(There is one specific thing I do want to address concerning other reviews, because it’s a weirdly specific critique that pops up a bunch of times. But we’ll get there in a minute.)**

Off the top here, I loved this book. I had it on my Goodreads for 10 days, but really I ate up the bulk of the text in a three day page-burner.

Here’s something that Nick, age 17, could not fully realize about Dune Messiah: This is a novel for grown ups. Gone is the fairy-tale magic of a young man forced into extraordinary circumstances. Gone are any aspects to the beginnings of the hero’s journey.

Instead, we get the biggest realization that Nicholas at age 37 has had about the Dune series: Those aspects of fantasy and science fiction tropes that got me into the story, seemingly became absent concepts in Book Two. While not incidental, those surface elements are incidentally the thing that I got hung up on the first time I read this series. And they weren’t even the most important things in the saga.

Frank Herbert has this reputation for making Dune some impenetrable document as rigid, complicated, and vengeful as the Old Testament. But that’s a bad rap. On the surface, the first Dune book was a seemingly simple story of betrayal and revenge. The world building, interpersonal relationships, religious philosophies, and political intrigue are as deep as anything ever put into fiction. (The vengeful part is, however, accurate.)

So, when teenage Nick finished Dune; what felt like the most epic journey my imagination had ever been on, only to crack open the next book and feel like I was thrust into the pages of a bad pulp novel, it felt a bit confusing.

I read the prologue which contained on-the-nose dialogues by some nameless jailer and a historian. Okay? — The empire of Paul Maud’dib has a Spanish Inquisition team?

The next chapter introduced me to Face Dancers, gaseous fish-men, and a conspiracy to kick the book into gear — It is a little pulpy. But the Harkonnens are pretty damn pulpy too. As adversaries they are supervillain-gaga. Maybe you just missed it missed it because of how epic the story was around them.

Geez, young Nick, you didn’t realize it was pulp all along. With a healthy dose of psychedelia and the best world building since Tolkien. As to the confusion of the prologue, turns out that’s just a clever way to deliver exposition on what became of the Universe since Paul ascended to emperorship: It’s been twelve years since the first book, etc…

Pulp might be the wrong word. But the heart of the matter is that Herbert had a vision (visions!) in which he used Dune, Book One, to dip a toe in, or maybe a foot. But with Dune Messiah, we definitely went waist deep. What’s third base in a swimming mixed metaphor? I think Frank Herbert reached his hand down my pants from a psychedelic standpoint.

But I’m skipping ahead. Nick at 17 was let down. My expectations had been subverted. Dune Messiah isn’t about the Shakespearean characters performing hyper-slick action scenes. No. Book Two in the series is much more contemplative. We jump into new dramas between old characters and fresh faces. And yes, teenage Nick, there is a hell of a lot of talking. But to call that boring or hard to follow betrays an unrefined mind, kid. This novel is a procedural of emotion, passion, pleasure, the struggle with mortality — you know, the human condition — Not only did Frank Herbert up his literary game; he did so with a brevity and beauty that was perfect for this story. And what we think of as a slow burn actually has new twists and intrigues on practically every other page. If you pay attention, which the writing makes easy to do, the payoff is a powerful one indeed.

On that note: Paul Maud’dib is dealing with some heavy stuff as Emperor of the known Universe. He had allowed (Or he claimed it as out of his control) a horrible Jihad to rage across the universe. This Holy War is what I struggled with the most both times I read the novel — and perhaps Herbert was using this as a way to expand the reader’s consciousness? (This is a meta theory if you tie it into the Ghola/Hayt/Duncan Idaho’s fate. Whoa. There’s a thesis, man…) You really have to open up new channels of thought to figure out why Paul could not stop evil from being done in the Atreides name. Was there really was no order of events or commands that could’ve stopped the Fremen conquerers?

So now we get into the goods. Here’s what makes this book such a killer, twelve-round-fight-with-a-knockout-punch, genius piece of literature.

Paul faces several huge problems that seem insurmountable. And he feels trapped by his prescience. If one could see the future and decided on a certain path, the sheer boredom would be brutal. But there is still too much fear for the boredom to kick in. There is a complicated conspiracy against him that is so powerful, even his knowledge of the plot cannot stop its machinations. Paul must produce an heir. If this is done improperly, the love of his life would be tortured and turned into a slave. the Jihad must be stopped. The unbalanced government fueled by religious zealots needs to be set on a more progressive track.

That’s quite a tall order for 329 pages.

On top of that, we are told in the prologue about Paul’s downfall. So now we’re faced with a whodunnit?, or more of a howdunnit? Will the conspirators win the day? Can Paul cement a legacy that reaches beyond violence? Can Chani bear a child that lives?

So we sit through all the meetings, and conversations that take place jumping between multiple points-of-view. We delve into character’s deepest thoughts, passions, desires, and inadequacies — something that Herbert can actually pull off. What could have been a mess of massive internal dialogues, instead becomes a string, a chord, and finally a cable pulling the reader forward page by page. Yes, young Nick. How could you understand the anxiety a father feels for his children? Or a husband for his wife of more than a decade? You really can’t. Frank Herbert wrote a book for grown ups. And when you’re all grown up, you might catch a bit of what was trying to be conveyed. All the while being heaped with a massive dose of trippy visions pulling you into the undertow of genetic and higher-thinking philosophies.

You try writing something half as spectacular.

So, teenage Nick, give it some time, buddy. Dune Messiah comes highly recommended from you, a man who has changed a little bit over the last twenty years.

**Finally here’s that weird note that pops up in a bunch of Goodreads reviews. I’ll go ahead and quote some actual reviews here (Of course, I’m not going to call out individual names. I’m not here to pick a fight. These reviewers have just as much validity in their feelings towards the book as I do.) Bolds added by me.—

“I'm realizing there's not much to this book. It simply bridges the first and third.”

“After re-reading Dune recently, I decided to finally get around to reading Dune Messiah - the sequel to Dune and the bridge to Children of Dune.”

“I read in reviews all over the Internet that it was boring that it was basically only a bridge between DUNE and CHILDREN OF DUNE.”

“For me Dune Messiah acts as a slightly dull (but not too shabby) bridge to go on to the original trilogy’s grand finale Children of Dune"

(This next one says the same thing but surprisingly doesn’t use the key word, BRIDGE. Seriously, what is going on here?)

“The feel of the book is like a prelude to what comes next, that the third book will be the true sequel to Dune.”

“This is not to say I didn't love the book -- far from it! It definitely feels like a bridging book between "Dune" and "Children of Dune””

You get the point. At least 30 different reviews used this terminology in my quick scan.

Firstly: What the hell is going on? Did everyone read each other’s reviews and just spew the same points using their own re-ordered sentences? Is there some secret Dune-whisperer-critic that said this is a “bridge” novel and that became reality for everyone else? Seriously, wtf?

Secondly: I think most of these folks are wrong. You could stop the series at Dune Messiah and have a really satisfying ending to Paul’s journey. Honestly, Messiah is one of the best damn endings I’ve ever read. It’s a magic trick where the cards are face up the whole time and you’re still left wondering how Frank Herbert pulled it off.

Good stuff, Mr. Herbert. Young Nick, ignore these “bridge” acolytes. I don’t trust ‘em. :P
Profile Image for myo ⋆。˚ ❀ *.
823 reviews6,888 followers
October 25, 2021
a lot of people said that this book was bad but it’s not? some people say to read it as an epilogue to Dune and after that it really helped my enjoyment of the book.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,116 reviews3,036 followers
April 21, 2022
Oh, man, where the fuck do I really even start? When I've read Dune last year I fell head over heels in love with it. It had been such a long time since I've read a chunky sci-fi/fantasy novel and I seriously didn't expect to love that book, its characters, the world building, and its plot as much as I did.
Empires do not suffer emptiness of purpose at the time of their creation. It is when they have become established that aims are lost and replaced by vague ritual.
And even though Dune had a somewhat closed ending, I was still curious to see where Paul Muad'Dib would end up. What would happen to Arrakis under his rule? To the Fremen? To the whole universe? I've heard many interesting takes on the series as a whole, and I am mainly interested in the philosophical questions of power, worship and human control over nature that it raises. Therefore, I knew that I had to give Dune Messiah a shot, to piece the puzzle together, and to get more answers.

I didn't nearly love it as much as I loved Dune. Dune had the big advantage of everything being new. I was introduced to Arrakis, to the Atreides, the Harkonnens; I saw the ornithopters, the Fremen stillsuits and the sandworms for the first time; I started to grasp the complexity of this world that Frank Herbert created. Whereas in Dune Messiah, albeit the world has changed, it still feels oddly familiar. To me, the sequel didn't feel as fresh or new or even original. It felt more like the traditional sci-fi novels that I usually stay clear off.

In Dune, Paul was a young boy who led a revolution against the tyranny of the Padishah empire. However, when he ascended the throne as emperor, a jihad got unleashed in his name, leading to the death of 61 billion people. He became a failed hero. Heroes who fail to recognise their humanity fall into an abyss of desolation forged from the failures they encounter once realism dawns on them.
There exists no separation between gods and men; one blends softly casual into the other.
Dune Messiah shows how deadly religion can get once it has a cause that fuels it. Paul knows that even if he were to disappear or die, he wouldn't be able to stop the jihad, he'd simply become a martyr, a God, fuelling the jihad even more. The people fighting in his name have become fanatics, succumbed to a cause that will never let them out of its grips.
There are problems in this universe for which there are no answers. Nothing. Nothing can be done.
In Dune Messiah, we find many interesting musings on power and freedom: "Power tends to isolate those who hold too much of it. Eventually, they lose touch with reality … and fall.", "Any delusions of Free Will he harboured now must be merely the prisoner rattling his cage. His curse lay in the fact that he saw the cage.", and "Too much freedom breeds chaos."

I wish I had found the time (or energy) to contemplate these a lot more, because I really like how Herbert subverts the (white) savior trope in this series. Paul is a failed hero. And for that, he is the most interesting character in these books. We see the paradoxes surrounding him. So, I really like what Herbert has to say about the nature of power, and how it corrupts (not just the person who holds it but also the cause for which it is used), however, I have to admit that I haven't (yet) dived deep into an interpretation of the series. I think I will save that for when I've finished Children of Dune. I can't wait to read all the hot takes and watch video essays on it.

Now let's discuss some of the things I really didn't enjoy this book – and why it ultimately left me a little bit disappointed.

Similarly to Dune, Frank Herbert's writing style is just really not my cup of tea. I don't think that his writing is beautiful nor effective. Whilst I love his world building and appreciate the complexity of the universe he created, I have to admit that I struggle with visualising any of his descriptions. Therefore, I was very happy that I could bounce off the visuals of Denis Villeneuve's new film. They really helped me picture the world whilst reading.

However, as new characters and elements of the world are introduced in Dune Messiah, I struggled with visualising them. It's not that Herbert doesn't describe them, it's just how he does it that doesn't work for me. I always end up picturing the most ridiculous things possible. For example, if you compare Herbert's descriptions of the members of the Spacing Guild – "Edric swam in a container of orange gas … The Guildsman was an elongated figure, vaguely humanoid with finned feet and hugely fanned membraneous hands – a fish in a strange sea. His tank’s vents emitted a pale orange cloud rich with the smell of the geriatric spice, melange." – to Denis Villeneuve's cool design for the movie:


It's not hard to pick a favorite. Herbert's description seems so ... weird? A fish-like figure swimming in an orange gas tank? What is that supposed to look like? How is that practical for the story? How does Edric move forward? Isn't he super vulnerable because people could just break his tank?? What is happening? Whereas in the movie, the Spacing Guild looks fucking epic, even intimidating. They have a much more Star Wars-y design. And I can take them seriously. In the movie, they are much more believable.

Another example is the Dune Tarot. Up to this day, I don't understand what its function is or how it even works. It's an oracular tool (basically Tarot cards?) sold in markets on Arrakis. For some reason, that is never properly explained, the existence of the Tarot muddles Paul's and Alia's ability to see the future. Wait, what? How? And why? Because there are more prophets. It makes no sense. Also, just picturing Fremen dealing with Tarot cards is too fucking funny to me. Again, it's a part of the world that would've probably been really cool and epic in the films, but in the book, I fail to take it seriously.

My biggest gripe with Dune Messiah, however, is what Frank Herbert did to the character of Alia. She had such great potential in Dune, being the youngest and most powerful Reverend Mother, I couldn't wait to see her as a teenager (she is 15 at the beginning of Dune Messiah), so that she could become more integral to the plot.

Instead of fleshing out her character and giving her an important role (which would suit her powers), Herbert does nothing but sexualise her throughout the entirety of the novel. It was frustrating, and even disgusting at times, but let me elaborate: It all started going to shit right off the bat, when the Tleilaxu admit that their plan is to distract her by making her fall in love with Hayt: "She is of an age when she can be distracted by a charming male designed for that purpose. She will be attracted by his maleness and by his abilities as a mentat."

So, you're telling me, one of the most powerful creatures of this universe will get distracted and lured into a trap by a man? Umm, okay, sure. Keep on dreaming, Herbert.

I really don't understand why Herbert was so obsessed with stressing the point that now, at age 15, Alia has her sexual awakening: "It was lust in tension with chastity, she thought. Her flesh desired a mate. Sex held no casual mystery for a Reverend mother who had presided at the sketch orgies." I mean, what is happening??? Why is that necessary?? Paul didn't go through a sex-crazy phase when he was a teenager in Dune, so why must Alia?

The lowest of low points was the scene in which Alia decides to do target practice naked: "Abruptly, Alia climbed dripping from the bath, strode wet an naked into the training chamber which adjoined her bedroom." The whole scene was so muddled by the male gaze it was hard to bear. Women do not enjoy fighting naked. It's not practical, Herbert. Titties bouncing all over the place. It hurts. And the way Herbert described this naked 15-year old (!!!) girl – "Sweat glistened on her naked skin." – made me very uncomfortable. It was disgusting.

When Alia is discovered by her brother Paul and Stilgar, Frank Herbert once again showed that he's a man and doesn't understand teenage girls: "Alia, growing conscious of her nudity, thought to cover herself, found the idea amusing. What the eyes had seen could not be erased." Absolutely not. Girls don't find it amusing when their brothers see them naked?? What is going on with you??

In general, Herbert tried to establish somewhat of a sexual tension between Alia and Paul (...who is 30 at this point, mind you – AND HER FUCKING BROTHER) – "Paul took his time reading the reactions on her face and body: the flush of her exertions colouring her skin, the wet fulness of her lips. There was a disquieting femaleness about her that he had never considered in his sister." – and I wasn't here for any of that. It was soooo unnecessary to the plot, and just disgusting. When Paul noticed that "Yes – there’d been a ruttish air about Alia." I actually wanted to throw my copy of the book away. I mean, what the fuck is going on here, Frank? Can we focus, please?

Another way that Alia was thrown under the bus in this novel is her relationship to Hayt/Duncan. Alia, the most powerful and most KNOWLEDGEABLE creature in the universe (having absorbed all the knowledge of all Reverend Mothers before her), becomes a naive and silly girl in front of Hayt and his "male confidence" (her words, not mine...). At the end of the book, she literally says to him: "'I need you, Duncan,' she sobbed. 'Love me.'" Are you fucking kidding me? How about you start using your powers and choosing your own destiny, instead of relying on this man (who kissed you without your consent btw)??? So yeah, Alia's character went DOWN THE DRAIN, and I'm still pissed about it.

Anyways, what follows now is a very short summary of Dune Messiah – which I will use for further reference once I get to Children of Dune (ya'll know that my memory is like a sieve) – so please beware of spoilers:

Twelve years after Paul Atreides's ascension as emperor, the death toll of the jihad unleashed in his name peeks 61 billion people. Paul gains total control of Melange's production, making him the most powerful emperor to have ever ruled. Using his prescience, Paul tries to create a golden path for humanity.
“I’ve killed sixty-one billion, sterilised ninety planets, completely demoralised five hundred others. I’ve wiped out the followers of forty religions which had existed since.”
The Bene Gesserit, Spacing Guild, and Tleilaxu come together to plot a plan that will lead to Paul's dethroning. Reverend Mother Gaius recruits Princess Irulan, Paul's consort, to work on the inside, and she does so by adding contraceptives into Chani's food, preventing her from conceiving for Paul. However, Chani gets pregnant after using a Fremen fertility diet. Scytale, the face dancer from the Tleilaxu, brings Paul a gift of Duncan Idaho's ghola, called Hayt. Paul's acceptance of Hayt creates a rift between him and the Fremen.

Paul discovers a Fremen plot to kill him and confronts his opposition. Paul gets blinded by a Stone Burner. Paul tries negotiating Chani's life in exchange for artificially inseminating Princess Irulan. As foreseen, Chani dies in childbirth, and Hayt attacks Paul but recovers his former self.

Paul kills Scytale by using his son's eyes after having received a prescient vision from the perspective of his newborn son. Paul then loses his own prescience in the act. Paul leaves his new twin babies in Alia's care and walks into the desert as a man as per the Fremen tradition. Alia orders the execution of Paul's enemies, including Reverend Mother Gaius and Edric. However, she spares Princess Irulan.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,078 reviews551 followers
July 31, 2021
If you ask any first-time reader of ‘Dune’ where he or she thinks the story is likely to go in the follow-up, I doubt if anyone could have predicted ‘Dune Messiah’. It does not work as a book, as there is really no beginning, just a slow (very, very slow and exposition-laden) flat-line of a narrative that gives a slight blip at the overly dramatic ending, which is clearly meant to set-up ‘Children of Dune’ rather than end the second book in any satisfactory fashion. I think ‘Dune Messiah’ is much better-suited as the last part of ‘Dune’ itself, where it would function as a reflective coda deconstructing the consequences of the preceding events.

Clearly, ‘Dune Messiah’ did little to deter the juggernaut that the Dune books would ultimately become. It had about as much effect as poor old Paul trying to avert the jihad and prevent humanity going off the rails of civilisation. Paul spends pretty much the entire book in an existential funk, pondering his increasingly opaque and contradictory visions (much to the frustration of the patient reader, who still has no clue as to what it is he is actually ‘seeing’.)

In a throwaway line so typical of much of the off-hand nature of ‘Dune Messiah’, as if Herbert was deliberately trying to avoid emulating anything that characterised the previous book (and that had made readers fall in love with it), Paul compares notes with fellow ‘emperors’ Genghis Khan and Hitler: “Statistics: at a conservative estimate, I’ve killed sixty-one billion, sterilized ninety planets, completely demoralized five hundred others. I’ve wiped out the followers of forty religions…”

This is well into the book’s last act, and does make the reader raise an eyebrow. Oh, so that’s why Paul is in such a bad mood! Apparently, it is barely 12 years after the ending of ‘Dune’, a rather odd number that I’ve seen bandied about but don’t recall being referenced in the actual text. A vast bureaucracy known as the Qizarate has arisen to administer (and temper) the religious fanaticism that has arisen around Paul.

A pilgrimage route known as the ‘hajj’ is well-established by now, with Arrakis as its ultimate destination, ensuring that the Qizarate’s coffers are always overflowing. Jessica, however, wants nothing to do with this:

Despite the special reverence held for Caladan as the place of Paul’s birth, the Lady Jessica had emphasized her refusal to make her planet a stop on the hajj.
“No doubt my son is an epochal figure of history,” she’d written, “but I cannot see this as an excuse for submitting to a rabble invasion.”

The main plot of ‘Dune Messiah’ concerns the machinations of a ‘fellowship’ of disparate stakeholders drawn into an uneasy alliance with the common purpose of unseating Paul from his throne. Herbert is always very precise about his terminology, and I am sure his reference to a ‘company of conspirators’ is a deliberate inversion of how the term ‘fellowship’ is used in ‘Lord of the Rings’, for example, the other contemporary countercultural novel that ‘Dune’ is often compared with.

While we have the usual suspects like Mohiam and Irulan, it is the new characters and players introduced into the mix that really elevates ‘Dune Messiah’ into something special. If you thought ‘Dune’ could not get any weirder than the quasi-mystical mumbo jumbo of the original, then ‘Dune Messiah’ quickly makes you realise that Herbert still has quite a number of cards up his sleeve (there is a lovely riff on the Dune Tarot set throughout the book.)

Bijaz, described as a dwarf Tleilaxu oracle, is a weird combination of Falstaff from Shakespeare and Chucky from the Child’s Play movies, and would not be out of place in a David Lynch movie. Speaking of Lynch, he obviously nicked Edric the mutated Guild Navigator straight from the pages of ‘Dune Messiah’, turning it into an indelible image in SF cinema.

Herbert seems to be a fan of baroque excess, as evinced by the flamboyant and thoroughly despicable Baron in ‘Dune’. In ‘Dune Messiah’, however, he introduces yet another shadowy player that is potentially even more perverse and grotesque, the Bene Tleilax. Just where the hell did they come from? Despite the ancient proscription on using computers that arose from the Butlerian Jihad, the Tleilaxu is clearly the predecessor of LexCorp, always flirting with dangerous technology:

The Tleilaxu displayed a disturbing lack of inhibitions in what they created. Unbridled curiosity might guide their actions. They boasted they could make anything from the proper human raw material—devils or saints. They sold killer-mentats. They’d produced a killer medic, overcoming the Suk inhibitions against the taking of human life to do it. Their wares included willing menials, pliant sex toys for any whim, soldiers, generals, philosophers, even an occasional moralist.

The best demonstration of the overriding creepiness of the Bene Tleilax, of course, is their presentation of a special gift to Paul, a ghola of Duncan Idaho himself, plucked from the battlefield and reanimated like Frankstein’s monster in an axolotl tank (clearly an inversion of the Fremen death still). Alia of the Knife, whom Herbert often reminds the reader is on the cusp of her womanhood, as if there is a noxious whiff of the Baron still hanging around, is immediately turned on by Hayt, the ghola’s Tleilaxu name. Not subtle at all, Herbert.

Alia attempts to work off some steam by sparring with an updated version of the fighting machine that Paul used on Caladan in ‘Dune’ (this one even has flashing lights.) Except she does so in the nude. Yes, sex rears its head in ‘Dune Messiah’ like Shai Hulud popping up out of the sand. (A lot of SFX ingenuity in Lynch’s 1984 ‘Dune’ went into preventing the sandworms looking like questing penises. Lynch was only partially successful, but that could have been deliberate on his part.)

Herbert reminds us that orgies were a commonplace occurrence in the Fremen sietch (if you recall, Paul first had sex with Chani in the spice-induced orgy after he kills Jamis in single-handed combat.) We even get a quotation from Chapter 3 of The Steersman’s Guild, entitled ‘THE ORGY AS A TOOL OF STATECRAFT’. And as if the Bene Gesserit weren’t in the reader’s bad books already, here they hatch a desperate plot to attempt to get Paul to fuck his sister. “…[T]hat stubborn fool of an Atreides! How could he deny the jewels of posterity within his loins?”

Poor sexually-deprived Irulan wonders idly about Edric the Guild Navigator as a potential fuck buddy, “thinking how odd it would be to mate with such a one.” This, mind you, during the first meeting of the conspirators that opens the book, where her mind should be focusing on the larger issues and not be in the gutter (or Edric’s tank, as it were.) Mohiam fondly calls Lady Jessica a “traitorous bitch”, who in turn is told by Scytale: “You are not a sex object, have never been a sex object, cannot be a sex object.” Ouch. That had to hurt as much as the gom jabbar.

Ah, Scytale. Described as a ‘Jadacha hermaphrodite’, he (pronouns weren’t as advanced in 1969 when ‘Dune Messiah’ was published), can assume either sex at will, and is commonly referred to as a Face Dancer. “For the present, I am a man,” he declares. The reader is not convinced, because there is something even oilier about Scytale than that uber-creep the Baron. It is especially uncomfortable because Herbert seems to signpost a latent effeminacy or sexual ambiguity in Scytale as being fundamentally wrong. It is clear that a lot of the convoluted sexual politics of ‘Dune’, wrapped up as it were in Herbert’s own subconscious biases towards misogyny and homophobia, begin to, er, come into play in ‘Dune Messiah’.

‘Dune Messiah’ is the literary equivalent of a ‘spice blow’, which is the result of immense pressure building up within a pre-spice mass deep within the sands of Arrakis. (Of course, this is what killed Liet Kynes when he rather stupidly went to lay on top of one in ‘Dune’.) At only about a third of the length of the original novel, so much is packed into ‘Dune Messiah’ that a spice blow is inevitable.

Herbert’s writing is always at its most delicate and evocative when he turns to Arrakis itself, and ‘Dune Messiah’ is no exception. He clearly has a deep and abiding love for the desert world he has created, which is a tabula rasa of the natural world despoiled by humanity and its increasingly dramatic and uncontrollable impact on our own planet. There is a wonderful scene near the end when Chani returns to her sietch to give birth (and precipitate the crisis that launches the next book in the sequence):

Windblown sand whipped at her, reddened her cheeks. She glanced over her shoulder at the frightful band of dust across the sky. The desert beneath the storm had taken on a tawny, restless appearance as though dune waves beat on a tempest shore the way Paul had once described a sea. She hesitated, caught by a feeling of the desert’s transience. Measured against eternity, this was no more than a caldron. Dune surf thundered against cliffs.
The storm out there had become a universal thing for her—all the animals hiding from it...nothing left of the desert but its own private sounds: blown sand scraping along rock, a wind-surge whistling, the gallop of a boulder tumbled suddenly from its hill—then! somewhere out of sight, a capsized worm thumping its idiot way aright and slithering off to its dry depths.

As far as I recall, this is the only worm sighting in the entire book, apart from a side plot involving a bunch of Fremen traitors capturing a small maker to take it off-planet and start the spice cycle on a similar world. Ah, but they don’t know about the sand plankton that is such an integral part of the sandworm lifecycle, which is probably what George Lucas had in mind when he started tinkering with the role of midichlorians as an essential component of the Star Wars universe.

Herbert continues:

Sietch odors assaulted her nostrils. The place was a ferment of nasal memories—the warren closeness of bodies, rank esters of the reclamation stills, familiar food aromas, the flinty burning of machines at work...and through it all, the omnipresent spice: melange everywhere.
She took a deep breath. “Home.”

Extraordinary. And it is exactly as if the reader him- or herself has returned home, to the deep desert of Arrakis where it all began. Chani’s viewpoint is reflected in Paul’s own perspective:

Ugly, barren land! He imagined it sun-soaked and monstrous with heat, a place of sandslides and the drowned darkness of dust pools, blowdevils unreeling tiny dunes across the rocks, their narrow bellies full of ochre crystals. But it was a rich land, too: big, exploding out of narrow places with vistas of storm-trodden emptiness, rampart cliffs and tumbledown ridges.
All it required was water...and love.
Life changed those irascible wastes into shapes of grace and movement, he thought. That was the message of the desert. Contrast stunned him with realization. He wanted to turn to the aides massed in the sietch entrance, shout at them: If you need something to worship, then worship life—all life, every last crawling bit of it! We’re all in this beauty together!

Yes, I know that this is Herbert at his most ‘hippy dippy’ – and it is certainly no surprise that a novel as batshit crazy as this would have such a deeply Age of Aquarius moment in it. But, for me, this is still one of the most remarkable, and memorable, passages in the entire saga. It is the ‘Circle of Life’, writ boldly on the ever-shifting sands of Dune.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
June 7, 2022
Sometimes one book is enough. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes a story needs to be left alone.

I have never been more disappointed with a sequel in my entire life. It’s that bad I wish I never read it and I also wish that the author never wrote it because it adds absolutely nothing to the franchise. I’m so surprised at how poor it is. I’ve heard that the series gets worse with each book, and I can’t imagine how it could get any worse than this. So, I’m going to stop right here and save myself writing anymore negative reviews and wasting my time with bad writing.

The main problem is that nothing really happens. The plot is non-existent, which is surprising considering just how intricate the first book is. The world is huge, and Herbert could have done so much with it. Instead, he extended the story further than it should have been and the consequences are dire. The only point of interest, a resurrected character from the first book, fails to deliver the drama and tension he appears to bring with his presence.

Ultimately, because the first book is just so fantastic, the sequels will only ever be compared to it. It’s how these things work. A series needs to be consistent in its imaginative power and it needs to be consistent in its drive and quality. This is so weak compared to the first book that I could only ever be disappointed. Whilst there are some interesting aspects, they suffer because the plot stays so stationery and frets over the ethics of religious jihad and Paul’s impassivity in the face of his destiny.

I also found the mention of real-world historical figures a little odd considering there was no mention of anything like this in the first novel. There is a comparison between Paul and Hitler, as Herbert considers who has killed more people during the act of conquest. And this threw me totally off because the series seemed very self-contained. It’s like Richard III being mentioned in a Star Wars novel when the universe wasn’t built on ours initially. This totally destroyed any sense of immersion in the plot.

Herbert should have just stuck to one book or, better yet, actually wrote a decent sequel or something new.


You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,104 followers
July 26, 2021
Returning to the original world of Dune has a special place in my heart. I seem to recall that Messiah was written before Dune but obviously Dune was published before it.

Of course, a beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. This every fan of Frank Herbert knows. To begin your study of the life of Dune, then, take care that you first place this in its proper time.

Know then that it is the year 2021 and all the covidiots and Q factions have taken over the universe. What was once an act of glorious revenge against a teetering empire has now become an entrenched tragedy.

Reading Dune Messiah is the tragedy that we deserve. Taken over by religious zealots, icons over careful deliberation, countless dead instead of a stable empire.

But that's where the comparison fails. Paul, unlike any of us, has a much clearer idea of the future, being able to see it, however imperfectly, and he is caught in a web of intrigue and guile and that beautiful sliver of hope hidden in the future that only his eyes see, where only perfidy, assassination, and betrayal seems to be his new bed.

Twelve years after the end of Dune, Alia is a teenager and a bright star. Irulan wants an heir to the Empire, Chani is a devoted but flattened character, as is Paul, as all futures grind down to singular points. The time of crisis comes and tragedy, depression, and horror awaits.

But at least there is a copy of Duncan Idaho. Now a mentat, a tool of assassination -- and a human computer -- his role captures Paul as hardly anything else could have.

Honestly, for years, I thought this one was the worst of the Dune books. But mostly that's because I cared too strongly for Paul, never wanted to see him fall. In actuality, the book is delightfully intellectual and complex, showing us so much more about the Fremen and the pitfalls of a religion-based monarchy and the hellish pitfalls of prescience.

Being a god is not all it's cracked up to be.

And in a moment or two, Paul's son is going to ask his papa to hold his beer.
Profile Image for Eric Allen.
Author 3 books740 followers
November 20, 2012
Dune Messiah
By Frank Herbert

A Dune Retrospective by Eric Allen

Four years after the publication of Dune, those who cried out for a sequel were finally answered. Frank Herbert returned to Arrakis for a book that was very different from the action packed first volume of the series, but at the same time, still held a lot of the familiar. When I tell people that I actually enjoyed the sequel to Dune more than the original, the answer I get from the overwhelming majority is, "Wait . . . Dune has a sequel?" People know of Dune nowadays through the 1984 cult classic movie. Some people may be vaguely aware that the movie was based on a book, but never bothered to pick it up or look for sequels. Which is a shame, because they're missing out on this little gem of a book.

Twelve years after taking the throne of the empire for himself in Dune, Paul "Muad'Dib" Atreides has become something of a God, or Savior figure to the Fremen, who have taken up arms and spread out throughout the entire known universe bringing a Holy War to subjugate all beneath his rule. All of this, very much against Paul's own wishes. He has become a figurehead, standing atop the empire as Emperor, while priests of the religion that worships him rule in his name. He has made good his promise to begin turning Dune into a paradise, and now the desert runs freely with water. Another sign to his followers of his godhood.

Princess Irulan, Paul's trophy wife, and the means by which he secured the throne is anxious to follow her Bene Gesserit orders to bear the royal heir, but Paul has no love for her and refuses it to her, instead remaining true to his real, Fremen wife Chani. This leads Irulan to join a conspiracy against the Emperor, meant to discredit him, destroy his reputation, and take the wind out of the Fremen Zealots' sails. Out of spite, she has been feeding Chani contraceptives to prevent her from ever bearing Paul an heir, but this plan failed, and Chani conceived anyway.

The Good? Again, Frank Herbert did a ridiculous amount of research before writing this book. It shows in how he truly understands the mechanics of economics, politics, and religion. The religion that he has built up around Paul is intriguing, and realistic, and the atrocities that its zealots commit in his name feel logical, and realistic as well.

Paul's suffering under the burden of the sins of those who follow him is really well done. This book is more a character study on him, than really anything else, showing the impact his actions have had on him as a person. This is a very different kind of book than the first in the series. Where the first book was all about war, this one is all about the consequences of it on the man that started it all. Despite its short length, this book has a very big and important message, and it delivers it exquisitely. Many people tend to complain that this book is rather boring after the first one, but I found Paul's inner struggles to be just as, or perhaps even more entertaining than the battles of conquest and Paul's coming of age, etc from the first book.

This book is remarkably better written and put together than the first book. Not only did Frank Herbert apparently do quite a bit of research in the four years between books, but he also improved on his skills as a writer quite a bit. The storyline is tighter, less convoluted and far less confusing than that of the first book. It almost reads like something written by a completely different writer because of the increased quality of the writing, and the change of focus, but at the same time, it still has his unique style and flair to it.

The Bad? I have never liked the Third Person Omniscient perspective that Frank Herbert uses. This is where the story is told by a narrator in third person that will change viewpoints between characters at the drop of a hat, without warning when any given character has any important thoughts or observations on what's going on. I find it to be rather confusing and distracting at times, and I've always thought of the style as rather amateurish. This is wholly a point of opinion, and true, many very good books are written in this particular perspective, but I don't like it, and will always count it as a bad mark against any book it appears in.

Frank Herbert doesn't really seem to "get" female characters. He doesn't really seem to understand what motivates women, how they think, how they act, how they talk, and why they do the things that they do. Going by his female characters, one could almost say that he never met a real woman in his life. As such, they are basically just men with breasts. They have all the right girly bits, because someone in the universe has to, but the their minds and personalities are about the furthest thing from feminine as is possible. Back in the '60s this was a VERY common thing, which is getting somewhat better these days, but still lingers on. Frank Herbert's portrayal of women fits those of the times, but to anyone that might be, or has ever actually met, a real woman before, it's going to feel a bit off. Back in the day this sort of thing was acceptable, but I find it to be annoying and distracting, if not downright offensive, in this day and age.

In conclusion, Dune Messiah is a VERY different type of book than its predecessor Dune, and it does have its vices, but the good more than outweighs the bad by far. The focus on Paul's dilemma with the Jihad that he inadvertently started is spectacular. Watching his inner turmoil over the countless billions that have died in his name play out is excellent. And if the female characters are off, everything else is dead on. He's created a fantastic world, with fantastic people (if you think of them all as men, anyway) to live in it, and did a great deal of research to make everything from the economics to the religion feel realistic. As an entry in the Dune Saga, it's probably one of the best.

Check out my other reviews.
Profile Image for Alberto Villarreal.
Author 19 books11.4k followers
August 4, 2022
Lo intenté de nuevo pero no soy fan de Dune. Veré las películas, eso sí.
Profile Image for Tim.
477 reviews660 followers
February 12, 2019
I said in my review of Dune that one of the things I really appreciated was that it could be “viewed on so many different levels, from political, philosophical, scientific, or simply as a fantastic adventure novel... and it works so well, no matter which angle you look at it from, because Herbert treats each of them as equally important.” While writing the sequel, I think Herbert must have considered it and said something along the lines of, “Yeah, that was great… now let’s pretty much ignore everything that wasn’t philosophy.”

I exaggerate of course. Elements of those other aspects are still in place, but the story this time around is from people sitting at tables and discussing the existence of fate and ways to avoid prophesy rather than overthrowing evil barons. In fact, there are times where I felt that it hardly seems like a full novel, and more like a series of short scenes Herbert wrote, pat himself on the back over how clever they were and then decided to try to tie them all together.

Now some of you may be sitting there going, oh, I guess that means you didn’t like it then Tim? HA I say! The philosophy was what appealed to me the most of those aspects mentioned in Dune! I can read about people sitting at tables and talking for hours!

But yeah, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few parts where it got a bit old, and I wished for the descriptions of the desert, the plots within plots within plots… but by the end, I was satisfied as they were there all along, you just have to look closer to see them in play. In fact, by the end I realized that it was an extremely well developed novel, and that it was I who was at fault for not seeing the intricacies at play. Herbert demands your full attention to see what’s going on all around.

Which brings me to the thing Herbert does best in this novel; one of the big aspects of the Dune series thus far is that he gives you every main character’ thought process. There is no main POV character in each chapter, he will give you the thoughts of everyone, thus showing who thinks they are fooling who and who is actually fooled. He does this and he plays it fair the entire time, yet still manages to hide plot points in plain sight, and it is extremely well played.

The first book was a masterpiece in terms of world building, here that takes a backseat to prophesies and philosophy, but Herbert does manage to introduce at least one fascinating new aspect to his universe. The Face Dancers are introduced as assassins and shape shifters. One can walk into the room a pudgy male guard and leave as a small servant girl. They take contracts, but with a sense of honor and a condition; they must always leave the would be victim with an opportunity to escape. They need to know they are in danger and must be presented with an out. I find this new aspect fascinating and would have loved to see a bit more of a focus on them.

I want to close this review by briefly describing my favorite scene in the entire book; it is one of the scenes where people sit and talk at tables. An older Fremen discusses why he joined up in Paul’s campaign. It wasn’t glory or the spoils of war… it was because some of his friends described the sea, and he couldn’t believe it. He felt it must be a prank. He then goes on to describe it to a character who has been to many worlds and obviously seen the sea many times, but the character finds himself absorbed in the Fremen’s words and realizes that he’s experiencing this description in an unusual way, lost in the story and seeing it with new eyes… I couldn’t help but smile, as Herbert made me feel the same way. For a brief moment I forgot I was reading, and could hear this old voice telling me about the sea…

A well earned 4/5 stars, but with the notation for those who fell in love with the first novel that this is not a sweeping epic. This is a small chamber piece… just, you know, with giant sand worms.
Profile Image for Karine.
380 reviews17 followers
March 26, 2023
After a slow start, Dune Messiah develops into a chess match between Paul and those conspiring against him. The narrative is disrupted by musings on power and the difficulty of appreciating the present when you know the future.  Nevertheless, I was sad when it ended. 
Profile Image for Trish.
2,018 reviews3,436 followers
July 29, 2021
I'm very much looking forward to Villeneuve's interpretation of Dune that will be shown in theaters this year so I decided to not only read the original book but also the rest of the series.

After seizing power and becoming emperor by marrying Princess Irulan, Paul (well, his forces, but in his name nonetheless) has sterilized hundreds of planets, killed billions of people ... and hates his own Jihad (I loved Scytale's description of it being a mental epidemic). Paul doubts the justice and righteousness of the path he has chosen, his powers of vision encounter more and more limits, and the number of people opposing the new emperor grow ever more. Even some Fremen despise Muad'ib now. While Paul and his now 15-year-old sister, Alia, rule with a council, Irulan joins a conspiracy to kill Paul. Simultaneously, Chani wishes for nothing more than to be pregnant again (not knowing that ) but Irulan herself demands the privilege of bearing her empirial husband's child (and is refused, unless she accepts artificial insemination). As if all that wasn't enough, the Navigator Guild establishes an embassy on Arrakis and brings a gift (funny, considering the German word Gift): a genetic copy of Paul's former friend and teacher, Duncan Idaho. He has a part to play, of course, knows and reveals as much as he knows about it even, but things are ... complicated. Once again, everything is shrouded in lies and mysteries and tarots, partially revealed by and often misunderstood thanks to visions.

So yes, there is a lot of intrigue and personal drama here. Where the first book was about fear and self-awakening, this second one more carried the tones of self-hatred and being trapped. What I especially liked about this book is that it addressed the conflict attentive readers saw coming in the previous book: how Paul had seized power and what he presented himself as to his followers could only lead to disaster. Not to mention the downside of his powers, the price he has to pay for them. Yet there were good reasons for him to do what and how he did (preventing annihilation for humanity). Nevertheless, seizing the throne is way easier than keeping it. And religious fanatism always carries within itself the seed of its own destruction.

Naturally, the sandworms still are vital to the machinations and events. Here, plans are set in motion to create another melange "factory" on another planet.
Then there were the further revelations of the complicated genetic tapestry the Bene Gesserit have weaved, the consequences, the history (for example, they aren't the only ones with such planning and Paul apparently )!

Personally, I liked and dreaded since I know where it leads to (if the mini series Children of Dune follow the book(s) faithfully) - good and bad, necessary and preventable. Likewise, I knew what would happen to , also thanks to the mini series Children of Dune, but hated it and was hoping it would be different here - which was, of course, impossible. So I was definitely emotionally invested and appropriately devastated.

This book, then, offers an important insight into Paul's conflict with himself and his different personas/potentials. It also shows the same kind of insight into Alia's mind (very important considering her having awakened to Reverend Mother awareness before she was even born and, no doubt, her future role). Last but not least, it sets the tone and places important corner stones for future developments. Because if you thought this series was about Paul, you better think again!

A short-ish book, very cerebral with little actual action but still thrilling thanks to the reader excitedly following the path and the story being rounded off by the periodical interludes in the fashion of historical assessments and commentary, all of which is vital to the overall mythology and establishment of important characters that will carry the rest of the saga forward. It doesn't hurt that the author is so good at making you care about certain people in a short amount of time.

P.S.: Don't let the rating fool you, this is not quite as good as the first novel. It is neither as vast in scope nor as intricate. However, it is intricate in its own way, very smart, and the rating system here is limited. This scifi book is definitely in a league of its own, too.
Profile Image for Penny.
172 reviews348 followers
May 25, 2013
This was a good sequel to a great book, which is actually harder to pull off than we give authors credit for. When they set the bar so high with an exceptional first novel in a series they're expected to meet or better it which is not an easy task. I think it was very well done in this case.

12 years have passed since the end of Dune. We're thrust into a world where the long term consequences of actions taken in the first book are evident and seldom what we expected or what was intended.

There were two main points that really struck me about this book. The first was that the commentary on government and power was well developed and thoughtfully presented. The other was the way in which seeing the future as a sequence of possibilities all changed by small actions was presented. Usually the future is one thing and fate or destiny allow multiple paths but only one outcome. I've always found this hard to accept and find Herbert's way of dealing with knowing the future far better thought out.

I look forward to continuing the series.
Profile Image for Ivana Books Are Magic.
523 reviews201 followers
February 23, 2021
Dune Messiah starts off a dozen years after the end of the first book in the Dune series. Paul is at the top of the world, but you know what they say- it's a long way down from the top. Paul might be in for a long fall. Paul's supernatural abilities do not grant him an easy way out of his problems. Quite on the contrary, Paul's divine statue creates a whole new set of moral issues for our hero. The sequel to Dune is quite different in tone, although the setting is just as fascinating as ever. There is a note of bitterness in this sequel that warms of dangers of ultimate power. ...“There are many degrees of sight and many degrees of blindness. What senses do we lack that we cannot see another world all around us?”

Ironically, Paul we meet in this book often seems a broken man. He is perhaps captured by his own greatness. Paul has unlashed a Jihad on the world that resulted in death of many innocents. By many, I mean billions. That's a lot of blood to be carrying on one's hand. Moreover, Paul's numerous enemies are plotting against him. You could say that the adrenaline of the victory is over and there is a sense of weariness in Paul. The emperor is troubled, he cannot father a child with his beloved concubine and he refused to touch his wife- the princess Irulan. The empire grows restless without an heir. The melancholically inclined Paul ponders power and his role in the world: ...“Constitutions become the ultimate tyranny," Paul said. "They’re organized power on such a scale as to be overwhelming. The constitution is social power mobilized and it has no conscience. It can crush the highest and the lowest, removing all dignity and individuality. It has an unstable balance point and no limitations.”

Politics are closely examined in this novel. There is less action then in the first one. The action almost happens behind the scenes as different power structures are at work. ...“There exists a limit to the force even the most powerful may apply without destroying themselves. Judging this limit is the true artistry of government. Misuse of power is the fatal sin. The law cannot be a tool of vengeance, never a hostage, nor a fortification against the martyrs it has created. You cannot threaten any individual and escape the consequences.”

If lacking in action, I found Dune Messiah quite touching. As Lady Jessica drifts from the picture, the focus is now fully on Paul and Alia. Paul's sister grows up to be an interesting character in her own right, but her fate might be just as sad. Like her brother Alia is trapped by her greatness and her powers : ...“I didn't want to be different.
I wanted to be able to laugh
But I'm sister to an Emperor who's worshiped as a god. People fear me. I never wanted to be feared.
I don't want to be part of history, I just want to be loved . . . and to love.”... However, there is no mistaking the hero of this book- it's once again Paul. A different hero then the one in Dune, but a hero nevertheless.
“There was a man so wise,
He jumped into
A sandy place
And burnt out both his eyes!
And when he knew his eyes were gone,
He offered no complaint.
He summoned up a vision
And made himself a saint.
-Children's Verse
from History of Muad'dib”

I only now realized that Dune Messiah is one of the few novels in the series that I haven't revisited and reread. I think it is because I find it so darn tragic. I find Dune Messiah to be as valuable as any other book in series, but perhaps not as easy to read because it is filled with bitterness and sadness. After the high that one gets from reading the end of Dune and seeing Paul victorious over his enemies, reading Dune Messiah seems anti-climatic. However, that is the worth of this book. It teaches us about the dangers of power. It shows us how a Messiah cult can grow into something dangerous, something Messiah himself cannot control. It really is an ingenious novel.

“Here lies a toppled god.
His fall was not a small one.
We did but build his pedestal,
A narrow and a tall one.”

UPDATE: I published a more detailed review on my blog if anyone is interested in that:
Profile Image for Sara.
204 reviews141 followers
March 13, 2022
Pretty good, but not on the same level as dune.

Profile Image for Alex Nieves.
176 reviews665 followers
October 16, 2021
I liked this mostly but it doesn't hold a candle to Dune. There were certainly some very intriguing decisions and things to come, but also some.....weird ones. I definitely didn't love it the way I love Dune but I'm going to continue and see where the story takes me.
Profile Image for Mizuki.
3,000 reviews1,208 followers
February 9, 2022
Pre-review: There are a total of 127 people waiting in line to borrow Dune from the library, so I made do with requesting the Chinese translation of the second book instead. XD

My review for Dune vol. 2: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
My review for Children of Dune: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Premise: some 12 years after Paul Atreides defeating the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, a few parties banded together to bring Paul (now the Emperor) down, Paul's legal wife, Princess Irulan, seemed to be among the conspirators.

Well, the context in the volume vaguely reminds me the Stars Wars trilogy and its prequels: , and I'm not saying it in a bad way. XD

I like the internal struggles Paul, the main character, has with himself, Mr. Herbert had done a believable character study on a character who is worshiped by most of his subject as a living god but at the same time he still has much self-doubt, he still struggles to protect himself and his loved ones (and from time to time he failed to do so), he also struggles to do the right things despite having awesome psychic(?) power and military power at his disposal.

Still, I am surprised to see Irulan doesn't play as much role as I expected in the story (she is nowhere in sight in the later part), thankfully she does more things in Children of Dune.

Alia, Paul's younger sister, on the other hand does have a more center role to play in this story as a teenage girl, I enjoy her interaction with her brother.

Dune Messiah doesn't have many action scenes (just a few scenes) so the tension isn't as high as the first book, but I do like the topic of court intrigues and how even a great ruler can be dragged down by politics and his own power (e.g. Paul's ability to see the future). There are plenty of open battles in Dune, but in the second book the danger comes more from the endless schemes from the different factions.

Dune book 1 tells a story with traditional heroism as its main theme, then in the second book the author seems to have taken a step back and done a full analysis on the many side effects of heroism and the inbreeding of religion and political power. The author seems to be telling us: even when the ruler has the best intention at heart, the result can still be disastrous for himself and everyone under his rule.

PS: I continue to find the description of the desert planet's eco system, the different POVs from various characters, the practices of the tribes (although the gender role stereotypes in this fictional tribal society is hardly endearing) and the schemes dished out by the different factions to be well constructed and intriguing.

PSS: the 2021 Sci-Fi epic movie, Dune Part 1, is pretty damn great! Do watch it!
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