Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dune Messiah(1969) Review

Dune Messiah, the first sequel to the great Dune, is more of an expansion than a novel on its own. It is a short book, yet it brings a powerful message and Frank intended it to be the end of the Dune saga. It is also obvious why: this book concludes the story of Paul Atreides that the first book began and opens a new realm of possibilities that Frank chooses to explore several years later.

12 years after Paul took over the Empire and began a bloody Jihad to reshape the universe, he's become known as the worst tyrant in human history and several groups, most notably the newly introduced Bene Tleilax plot against him. The Bene Tleilax create a ghola, a clone/reincarnation of the original Duncan Idaho(a friend of Paul's who died in the first book) and plant a subconscious order to kill Paul in it. The ghola is sent to Paul, who accepts the gift and "reunites" with Duncan. Alia(Paul's now teenage sister) falls in love with Duncan. Meanwhile, Paul and Chani have trouble conceiving another child and Chani finds out that Irulan(Paul's wife in law only) has been feeding her contraceptives. And amidst all this, the Fremen begin to lose their belief in Muad'Dib. None of these people are aware that Paul himself is fighting an inner torment, caused by his future vision. Being trapped by the future, unable to do anything about it causes Paul such grief that his future vision begins to fail...
no more spoilers.

The book had some problems. First and foremost, the actual events only happen in the book from time to time and most of the book is made up of conversation. And as I mentioned in my Dune review, every sentence has a meaning behind a meaning behind a meaning. The constant philosophical musings of EVERYONE can cause immense boredom in many readers which is why Dune Messiah isn't nearly as popular as the first Dune.

The main point of the story is to counterpart the point in Dune: Whilst Dune was a story about a great hero, this one is the story of how heroes are actually bad since following heroes takes away our own ability to think and reason for ourselves.

Frank has a valid point there and I must once again be awed with his intelligence.

Did I like the book? Yes I did. Despite the endless triple-meaning conversations, we did get a good character overview of Paul after his hero journey(something that most such stories don't provide) and the consequences of such a journey and his inner torment of knowing already everything that's going to happen.
Despite this, Frank has always made one mistake: the characters are far too dull. You can't really sense anyone's emotions in here. For instance, at one point Paul says: "Kill him Duncan before I succumb to temptation." Can you really feel Paul succumbing here? His soulmate dies and yet all that is said is: "I cannot succumb to grief yet." and I honestly didn't feel anything after Chani died in this book. So that's kinda bad(good thing we have the miniseries to for that).

Like with Dune, I recommend this to experienced readers only.

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