Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dune: House Harkonnen

Brian Hebert and Kevin J. Anderson
Bantam Spectra, 2000 (my copy is from 2001)
Size: Long (my copy has 733 pages)
Theme: Futuristic space opera
Narrative: third-person
Main character: Leto Atreides
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

This book continues the plot of “Dune: House Atreides”. It is the second book of a trilogy that focuses on the events taking place a couple of decades before the original Dune novel storyline. As a prequel, this entire trilogy provides a very interesting and detail-rich past for the characters of the original Dune novel. Also, as the title suggests, both House Harkonnen and House Atreides have considerable protagonism in this second book.

The story again revolves around Duke Leto Atreides, now 26 years old, who has consolidated his role as the ruler of house Atreides and all of Caladan. Shaddam is experiencing the reality of dealing with the inherent burdens that come from sitting on the royal throne, with the multiple power-struggles of the multiple Houses and other major players (the Guild, CHOAM, etc). The Harkonnens continue to scheme and aim to increase their influence and wealth. Many new characters are introduced, most never having featured in the Dune novels, but all having their purpose and role to play in the grand scheme of things.

As in the previous book in this trilogy, there are multiple plots, which develop individually, but interface and overlap at multiple points of the book. Narration skips at every chapter between these individual threads. However, most of the events are in some way connected, and have considerable repercussions (often through the 3 books). Chapters are typically extremely short, which adds to the feeling of many different things going on. It is also very interesting how the authors plant some seeds for sub-plots which only become fulfilled in the original Dune novel.

I have found this book to be an excellent follow-up to the previous book and a worthwhile addition to the Dune series. Again, the plot is fast paced, packed with adventure, twists and turns, and occasionally some emotional moments. I could not put this book down. Since the 3 books follow the storyline almost back-to-back, you will be thankful if you are able to pick the next book right after finishing each of them.

Spoilers (warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):

Rhombur, who suffered extensive body damage, survives barely while connected to life support, but attempts are about to be made to enable him to function again as a cyborg. Having killed Abulard, Rabban is chastised by Baron Harkonnen, despite the latter being extremely happy with that development. Fenring continues to have the Tleilaxu Master Ajidica attempt to develop artificial Melange, which would render Arrakis useless, and has received a very positive update on the progress of that work. The most important development at the end of the book is Jessica’s decision to give Leto a child (obviously, Paul), due to the sadness that overcame him since losing his first child, Victor.

No comments:

Post a Comment