Friday, January 21, 2011

Dune: The Battle of Corrin

Brian Hebert and Kevin J. Anderson
Bantam Spectra, 2004
Size: Long (my copy has 620 pages)
Theme: Futuristic space opera
Narrative: third-person
Main character: several (arguably Vorian Atreides)
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

In the third and final book of the “Legends of Dune” trilogy, we will witness the end of the Butlerian Jihad, named after Serena Butler and kindled by the murder of her baby by the intelligent machines. In the previous books we witnessed the onset and the development of this holy crusade of humanity against the machines that had enslaved them. The trilogy also addresses how what transpired two millennia before the original Dune gave rise to the background framework on which the original novel (and the later sequels and prequels) develop, and explains the formation of the Guild, the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, and many other of the Dune institutions. As expected, most of the advanced technological developments that are commonplace in the original Dune novel are explained in the trilogy, although almost all have been covered in the previous two books.

Here, more than half a century has gone by since the “Machine Crusade”, and Vorian Atreides is still alive (due to his genetic inheritance from a cymek) and fighting the machines. The humans have been able to destroy the machine armies everywhere except Omnius’ main planet of Corrin, the center of the Synchronized Worlds. Despite being cornered, Omnius continues to fight back, and through his minions, is able to deliver crippling blows to the human armies. At this point, I would usually say that the question hangs in the balance of whether humanity will be able to overcome the AIs, but the outcome of this battle is already well known to nearly any sci-fi fan. Despite this, watching events unfold and witnessing how things evolve is interesting and captivating. Simultaneously, the Free Men of Arrakis are shaping themselves into a trive of fierce warriors, one that will much later become pivotal for the events of Dune and the future of the universe.

This book was a fitting conclusion to a great series and I have much enjoyed learning about these precursor events of the fantastic Dune universe. It continues the fast-paced, multi-threaded, adventure-driven plot of the previous books in the trilogy and will fit nicely on the collection of any sci-fi fan.

Related work:

This trilogy was written after the “Prelude to Dune” trilogy, which came long after the original “Dune” series. The authors later wrote sequels to the original Dune, wrapping up the unfinished plotline of “Chapterhouse: Dune” (the 6th book in the original series). After that they also wrote an interquel that takes place between the original first and second Dune books. Still, I think the books work extremely well if read in publishing chronologic order, meaning the original Dune series first, then the “Prelude to Dune” trilogy, then the “Legends of Dune” trilogy.

Spoilers (warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):
I don’t know how much of a spoiler it is to say that humanity prevails. However, Omnius manages to send past the human barricade around Corrino a beacon/probe containing his own code. This will lead, millennia later, to the events of Chapterhouse Dune, Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune (the first written by Frank Herbert while the latter two by Brian Herbert). Vorian leaves fighting behind him and goes off in search of quieter days. Norma Cenva has become the first Navigator, mutated by melange, and starts to explore the cosmos to her will.

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