Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Paul of Dune

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Tor, 2008 (my copy is from Tor, 2008)
Size: Average (my hardcover copy has 512 pages)
Theme: Space Opera
Narrative: third-person
Main character: Paul Atreides
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: UNLIKELY

Set in Frank Herbert’s Dune universe, this is a midquel that bridges between the original “Dune” novel and its sequel “Dune Messiah”. It tells the story of how Paul Atreides, or Paul Muad’Dib, set in motion the Jihad that established his rule over the galactic empire. It also covers important events that took place when Paul was young and Leto Atreides was the Duke of Caladan, events that shaped Paul into the leader he would later become.

The book is divided into large chapters for the two key timelines: young Paul Atreides and Emperor Paul Muad’Dib. Narration follows the style of previous novels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, namely, the storyline switches from character to character, with very short sub-chapters, which for me works very well. I find it makes the story more compelling and that it gives a better global picture of all the intertwined events that are developing simultaneously.

Reading more about the Dune universe is a treat, since it is one of my all-time favorite sagas, but this book has several shortcomings that I was unable to ignore. Although I have previously praised Brian Herbert’s “Legends of Dune” trilogy and also his “House Triology”, which had an entirely different style from Frank Herbert, but worked very well as adventure stories (on a space-opera span), I found “Paul of Dune” to be of poor design and worse implementation. The first two or three sub-chapters were bluntly written, with multiple repetitions nagging the reader about simple things that anyone would have inferred without having to be repeatedly bludgeoned with them. After a few dozen pages, I was half-expecting some side caption in bold red letters making sure we had understood the characters’ feelings (Paul, Irulan, etc). Luckily, the book does improve a bit along its length, and I eventually ended up enjoying the additional bits of story from the fantastic universe created by Frank Herbert. I would not recommend this as a single novel, but many Dune die-hard fans will likely enjoy the opportunity to simply read more about Dune. Although not impressed by the writing style or the lack of depth of the plot, I will go through the next book in the series and hope it improves.

Related work:
Note that another midquel entitled “Winds of Dune” exists to fill in the gap between “Dune Messiah” and “Children of Dune”. These two midquels are collectively called the “Heroes of Dune” series, although I fail to see the point of coming up with a collection title for only two books (originally they were supposed to be 4, but at the time this review was written, recent information indicated the last 2 novels had been indefinitely postponed). In addition, there are many other books set in the Dune universe, all of which intrinsically related.

*** Spoiler Alert ***
(Warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):

There are way too many tidbits of story to go over, but some of the major events include the avoided assassination attempt on Dune Leto Atreides, which led to the War of Assassins and the battle at Grumman, and also the failed assassination attempt on Paul by Count Fenring, his wife Margot and daughter Maria (which ends up dying in the attempt).

1 comment:

  1. Dissapointing this one isn't as good. I found a signed copy at a used bookstore so I picked it up but I haven't got to it yet.