Monday, April 29, 2013

Sisterhood of Dune

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Tor, 2012 (my hardcover copy was gracefully provided by Tor for review)
Size: Long (my hardcover copy has 496 pages)
Theme: Space Opera
Narrative: third-person
Main character: several
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

The Sisterhood of Dune depicts the events taking place approximately 8 decades after the Butlerian Jihad. We find a universe devastated by the war against the machines, yet in rapid change and full of hope for the future. The Corrinos have since been established as the imperial family. And in the midst of the turmoil of the post-war imperium, several schools have emerged to hone specific characteristics of the human potential.

This novel narrates how each of the major factions and groups that we are familiar with in the Dune universe have been established. The mentats, the Bene Gesserit, the swordmasters, the space guild, and more, are all featured in a complex interplay of power, as they attempt to solidify their standing in the imperium. But that is not all. Familiar characters, such as Vorian Atreides, Norma Cenva, and obviously the sandworms of dune, play important roles. The plot events will start shaping the intricate relations between the families that will later spur the Landsraad Houses.

However, the most prominent aspect of the post-war Dune universe is the radicalism of Butlerians, who wish to get rid of any and all technology. After a millennium of intelligent machine oppression, most of the ravaged humanity rallies against anything they associate with sentient computers, while some individuals appreciate the potential benefits of technology and attempt to oppose the Butlerians.

As one can see, there are a lot of storylines crammed into this book. As Brian already accustomed us (e.g. in the Legends of Dune series), the book has very short chapters, each switching the focus among the different characters. I particularly like this style, since it makes it easy to pause reading and simultaneously prevents long narrations that could become boring.

This book is truly a riveting, action-driven, space opera, worthy of the Dune name. I found it as good as the Legends of Dune and the Prelude to Dune trilogies, and definitely superior to Heroes of Dune (which was a considerable disappointment). Characters are interesting and well explored. It kept me reading enthusiastically throughout; if anything, I wished the book would run longer, and I look forward to the sequel. It is a must read for Dune fans (having read through the entire Legends of Dune series beforehand is absolutely mandatory in order to understand the plot).

Related work:
The Dune universe is too extensive to simply list here. It should suffice to say this novel comes after “Dune: the battle of Corrin” (from the Legends of Dune prequel trilogy) and before “Dune: House Atreides” (from the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy).

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

Some of the major events in the book include the awakening of more Reverend Mothers among the Bene Gesserit, Vorian Atreides not being able to prevent Griffin Harkonnen from being killed by his two pseudo-siblings, the fact that Gilbertus Albans hides the functional memory core of the independent robot Erasmus, the downfall of the Suk school that will lead them to establish a conditioning safeguard system, the imperial decision to disband the existing Bene Gesserit and allow only a loyal subset to continue operating, the declaration of war from Aurelius Venport on the fanatic Butlerians, and the plot to sterilize the Corrino emperor due to projections indicating that his offspring will likely produce a terrible tyrant in only a few generations.

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