Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Returning to the original world of Dune has a special place in my heart. I seem to recall that Messiah was written before Dune but obviously Dune was published before it.
Of course, a beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. This every fan of Frank Herbert knows. To begin your study of the life of Dune, then, take care that you first place this in its proper time.
Know then that it is the year 2021 and all the covidiots and Q factions have taken over the universe. What was once an act of glorious revenge against a teetering empire has now become an entrenched tragedy.
Reading Dune Messiah is the tragedy that we deserve. Taken over by religious zealots, icons over careful deliberation, countless dead instead of a stable empire.
But that's where the comparison fails. Paul, unlike any of us, has a much clearer idea of the future, being able to see it, however imperfectly, and he is caught in a web of intrigue and guile and that beautiful sliver of hope hidden in the future that only his eyes see, where only perfidy, assassination, and betrayal seems to be his new bed.
Twelve years after the end of Dune, Alia is a teenager and a bright star. Irulan wants an heir to the Empire, Chani is a devoted but flattened character, as is Paul, as all futures grind down to singular points. The time of crisis comes and tragedy, depression, and horror awaits.
But at least there is a copy of Duncan Idaho. Now a mentat, a tool of assassination -- and a human computer -- his role captures Paul as hardly anything else could have.
Honestly, for years, I thought this one was the worst of the Dune books. But mostly that's because I cared too strongly for Paul, never wanted to see him fall. In actuality, the book is delightfully intellectual and complex, showing us so much more about the Fremen and the pitfalls of a religion-based monarchy and the hellish pitfalls of prescience.
Being a god is not all it's cracked up to be.
And in a moment or two, Paul's son is going to ask his papa to hold his beer.
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