Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I look back on everything I've read and learned, wrapping up this series is a truly enormous task. I mean, this has got to be one of the most ambitious works to ever try to clean up and jam down our throats, like, ever.
I'm not saying it succeeds, mind you, but I've got to give these guys props for the sheer weight of their balls.
It's really hard to describe a lot of the action, setting, or even the big characters without giving away the grand majority of what makes this book great. Yes. Great. Most of it is great. The grand majority of it really IS great! The ideas are superb, the grand wrap up has the *potential* to be really, really great!
I mean, this is Frank Herbert's notes and outline we're talking about. He's a master at layering and layering, or as he even writes within Dune, "One peels a problem like an onion."
He writes like an onion. :)
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson don't like onions all that much.
Straightforward writing is great when trying to appeal to the masses and have quick pacing, and it's perfectly great for all kinds of tales and it worked great when we got Paul Atreides and Leto II and Jessica and Duncan Idaho and even Yueh as gholas in the deep deep future trying to save themselves from the fate of an almost completely annihilated humanity, a race to awaken several Kwisatz Haderachs in order to defeat a 15 thousand year old foe, fully realized in the chronological universe's first trilogy, for you fans of the Butlerian Jihad.
The death count is unimaginable. A whole universe is in turmoil and there really isn't that much hope. Hell, even when I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was skeptical because the Kwizatz Haderach in both it's old incarnations still relied on a huge support structure of PEOPLE, and by this point, most people are up shit creek.
So that leads me to the end of the tale, and this is where things are both... "Hey, that's cool!" and "WTF, where was the layering and gradual reveals to make this seem like an organic outcome, not just as Deus Ex Machina?"
I love how the machine crusade and the original oracle of time was tied back into the end all the way from the first trilogy. Don't get me wrong. It's pretty epic to think about. I also have no problems with Duncan Idaho being a supreme badass because I FELT that in Heretics of Dune when he remembered ALL of his lifetimes of being brought back, of all the different fields and specialties he learned, of being a mentat, of becoming a different kind of Kwizatz Haderach without needing the spice. It was awesome and that isn't my issue.
My issue is Erasmus. After 15 thousand years, he either needs an upgrade in complexity or he needed to be a much different part of the tale or SOMETHING. His little twist at the end felt very machiavellian and therefore unconvincing.
I'd almost have rather seen all our heroes jump universe and start afresh somewhere new. The oracle of time and Duncan probably could have managed it.
Happy ending? Yeah, I'm actually disappointed in the happy ending, and I LIKE happy endings.
On the other hand, I think with the right application of Onion, this might actually have worked out just fine. Deeper reveals, layered inclusion of Erasmus in a much different way than we actually got, more cryptic ideas and hinted-at worlds and experiences... more MYSTERY... and the reader could have done most of the work and could have filled in all these wonderful possible gaps by the end and then this Deus Ex Machina, or Machina Ex Deus, might have resulted in a supremely EXCELLENT end using the very same ingredients!
Sorry. This is a fanboy trying to reconcile the grand tapestry of his favorite SF series with the vaguely disappointing end, EVEN THOUGH I really enjoyed the ride up to that point!
I hope I'm not dissuading anyone from reading this!
It's worth it just to revel in the Big Picture, let alone all the awesome ideas and especially traveling around with all the favorite characters from the original masterpiece!
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