Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

REVIEW

After a promising start to Children of Dune, the book has again begun to lay flat by the 15th chapter. The internal monologue may be scarce but too intense to keep track of. After casual absence for the entirety of Dune Messiah, Lady Jessica has once again 42431arrived and holds a key position in the story. Alia is a conflicting character driven by greed for power, even willing to abduct her own mother – a trait not very becoming of her as shown in the first two books. Through reading the prose one gets the feeling that Frank Herbert invested himself fully in just the first instalment of the series. Much like Dune Messiah, Children of Dune falls flat in places where the reader most expects it to rise. The twins Ghanima and Leto are introduced for the first time and it’s quite early to make a conclusive opinion on their character. From what I’ve read so far, Leto is the least likeable of all characters – he enjoys certain arrogance due to his foresight and powers invested in him. Ghanima on the other hand isn’t as alluring a character as Alia was at a young age. Perhaps expecting innocence of the two who have a collective conscious stronger than that of their father or grandmother is too much, but to take pride in having acquired knowledge beyond any human capacity or comprehension is pulling it too far. It seems that Frank Herbert is just not interested in making the readers admire a character as they did Paul Atreides.

The thematic ecology sorely missing from Dune Messiah makes a shoddy return in this instalment. The planet Dune is undergoing a slow ecological transformation which is in turn changing its inhabitants as Stilgar meditates upon in the first chapter. We are sure to see a rebellion rising against this change.
And as almost by magic, yes “magic” Princess Irulan who had avowed to avenge her father in the second book, had conspired with the Bene Gesserit to takedown Paul and Alia, was envious of Paul’s relations with Chani to the effect so as to poison her food with contraceptives in order to stop them from conceiving, had even gone ahead to conspire a murder – magically the same character has turned into a generous caregiver for the twins in the third book! Her hatred for Paul simmered down and she realises her true love for him and after his disappearance into the desert, she vows to take care of the twins (whose mother she killed)! Aggravating change of circumstances. How can Alia in all honesty trust a woman she mistrusted deeply prior to her brothers self-imposed disappearance?
By the twenty-second chapter what has aroused my intrigue is the change in familial relationships due to power of Regency, the Bene Gesserit and Prescience. Alia, Lady Jessica and the twins seem to have turned against each other to further personal motives. What Duncan Idaho remorsefully observes is the Atriedes House turning on itself. Frank Herbert mimics the vices of extreme power in doing so, not even blood can be trusted with loyalty. Thirst for power, either empirical or spiritual overtakes familial bonds.
Now that I’ve arrived mid-story and let go off the irresolute plot holes constructed by Herbert, the story seems to interest me in its adventurous spirit. The evil machinations of Alia, proposed abduction of Lady Jessica, the travails of the twins followed by their parting – all contribute to an interesting plot, given the fact that no comparison is made between the first book and the third.
Leto’s plan on feigning death and finding his Father Paul in the desert is perhaps the most interesting of all story lines. Ghanima consciously contributes to the plan by asserting to Alia and Irulan that Leto is indeed dead. Leto goes through multiple level of consciousness in his travels, a keen reminder of Paul’s understanding of himself in the first book. Here, the transforming ecology of Arrakis plays an important role in changing attitudes and circumstances of the Fremen.
Lady Jessica takes on the role as a Bene Gesserit mentor for Farad’n on planet Salusa Secundus. Here the power struggles between Space Guild, CHOAM, Bene Gesserit and the Fremen (residents of Arrakis) surfaces with such vigour.
Side note: Direly miss the presence of Stilgar here. He has been the one character threading the three books with three varying story lines together. An interesting specimen of a character, perhaps my second favorite after Paul.

 


  • I am an attendant yet, he told himself. And my master is God the Merciful, the Compassionate. And he quoted to himself: “Surely, We have put on their necks fetters up to the chin, so their heads are raised; and We have put before them a barrier and behind them a barrier; and We have covered them, so they do not see.”

  • a figure lacking the lean sparseness of Fremen tradition, but not as water-fat as an off-worlder
  • These were not merely nine-year-old children; they were a natural force, objects of veneration and fear
  • How simple things were when our Messiah was only a dream, he thought. By finding our Mahdi we loosed upon the universe countless messianic dreams. Every people subjugated by the jihad now dreams of a leader to come
  • He was aware now of many things — of statecraft and profound consequences in the smallest decisions. Yet he felt this knowledge and subtlety as a thin veneer covering an iron core of simpler, more deterministic awareness. And that older core called out to him, pleaded with him for a return to cleaner values.
  • They might be children in flesh, but they were ancient in experience, born with a totality of genetic memory, a terrifying awareness which set their Aunt Alia and themselves apart from all other living humans.
  • Failure to make a decision was in itself a decision
  • Were Muad’Dib’s twins responsible for the reality which obliterated the dreams of others? No. They were merely the lens through which light poured to reveal new shapes in the universe.
  • Government and religion united, and breaking a law became sin. A smell of blasphemy arose like smoke around any questioning of governmental edicts. The guilt of rebellion invoked hellfire and self-righteous judgments.
  • Stilgar removed his hand from the knife. His fingers tingled with remembrance of it
  • Better the complexities one thought he knew than the complexities which defied understanding. Better the now than the future of a dream.
  • Too much knowledge never makes for simple decisions.
  • The only business of the Fremen should be that of opening his soul to the inner teachings. The worlds of the Imperium, the Landsraad and the CHOAM Confederacy have no message to give him. They will only rob him of his soul. —The Preacher at Arrakeen
  • When we try to conceal our innermost drives, the entire being screams betrayal.
  • One of them could die and yet remain alive in the other’s consciousness, every shared memory intact; they were that close
  • Because that great known-unknown within moves me like a wave. He felt the cresting of his past as though he rode a surfboard. He had his father’s time-spread memories of prescience superimposed upon everything else, yet he wanted all of those pasts.
  • To be truly at one with the virtue of the spice, uncorrupted in all ways, full of goodly honor, a man must permit his deeds and his words to agree. When your actions describe a system of evil consequences, you should be judged by those consequences and not by your explanations. It is thus that we should judge Muad’Dib. —The Pedant Heresy
  • She felt small choice between hells: the outcry within her mind or the outcry from her attendants — all were pointless voices, but persistent in their demands, hourglass noises that she would like to silence with the edge of a knife.FrankHerbert_ChildrenOfDune_1st
  • From one viewpoint, child, each incident of creation represents a catastrophe.
  • Values, my dear grandchild, depend for their acceptance upon their success
  • “People often learn subtlety as they age,” Leto said. “What is it we’re learning with all of this agedness to draw upon?”
  • She liked the way Leto had employed their private language. Toil of the shaduf. It was a pledge. He’d called their plan agricultural work of a very menial kind: fertilizing, irrigating, weeding, transplanting, pruning — yet with the Fremen implication that this labor occurred simultaneously in Another World where it symbolized cultivating the richness of the soul.
  • I’m millions of years old. That requires adjustments which humans have never before been called upon to make.
  • to know the future absolutely is to be trapped into that future absolutely. It collapses time. Present becomes future. I require more freedom than that.
  • Atrocity never balances or rectifies the past. Atrocity merely arms the future for more atrocity. It is self-perpetuating upon itself — a barbarous form of incest. Whoever commits atrocity also commits those future atrocities thus bred. —The Apocrypha of Muad’Dib
  • The Bene Gesserits had codified the problem: “A large populace held in check by a small but powerful force is quite a common situation in our universe. And we know the major conditions wherein this large populace may turn upon its keepers — “One: When they find a leader. This is the most volatile threat to the powerful; they must retain control of leaders. “Two: When the populace recognizes its chains. Keep the populace blind and unquestioning.
  • Why do I stand here watching that ruin in ancient flesh? she asked herself. That mortal wreckage down there cannot he the ‘vessel of magnificence’ which once was my brother.
  • Paul had always said that stasis was the most dangerous of those things which were not natural. The only permanence was fluid. Change was all that mattered
  • Three: When the populace perceives a hope of escape from bondage. They must never even believe that escape is possible!”
  • The past may show the right way to behave if you live in the past
  • Humans create art by their own violence, by their own volition
  • Senses once whetted by omnipresent dangers could degenerate when not used.
  • Ignorance reduces the shock of some experiences
  • To suspect your own mortality is to know the beginning of terror; to learn irrefutably that you are mortal is to know the end of terror.
  • learning more from a hawk stooping over the desert than from any book yet written
  • Good government never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The machinery of government is always subordinate to the will of those who administer that machinery.
  • Our civilization could well die of indifference within it before succumbing to external attack.
  • Arrakeen had become an ungenerous place, a contained place, unreasonable and self-righteous in its harsh outlines.
  • It had been written in a variant of the old Chakobsa where the particular word chosen to denote danger signified a plot.
  • “I can think of nothing more poisonous than to rot in the stink of your own reflections.”
  • The high-handed, tyrannical nature of Alia’s power was out in the open, however, and her belief that because she controlled the Priesthood she controlled the Fremen was about to be tested.
  • “Alia grasps the power firmly now.” She looked back at Idaho. “You understand? One uses power by grasping it lightly. To grasp too strongly is to be taken over by power, and thus to become its victim
  • there was a deep emotional difference between history as recorded on shigawire and read at leisure, a deep difference between that kind of history and the history which one lived.
  • It is said of Muad’Dib that once when he saw a weed trying to grow between two rocks, he moved one of the rocks. Later, when the weed was seen to be flourishing, he covered it with the remaining rock. “That was its fate,” he explained.
  • Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class — whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy. —Politics as Repeat Phenomenon: Bene Gesserit Training Manual
  • Their rituals provided a freedom from guilts which might otherwise have destroyed them
  • He was a mind-slaver and his enslaving process could be understood with extreme simplicity: he transferred technical knowledge without a transfer of values.
  • Knowledge, you see, has no uses without purpose, but purpose is what builds enclosing walls.
  • To claim absolute knowledge is to become monstrous. Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.
  • There’s no mystery about a human life. It’s not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced
  • The trouble with peace is that it tends to punish mistakes instead of rewarding brilliance.
  • Now, alone in the ‘thopter, he allowed his grief to spend itself in great wracking sobs
  • And a storm was out there, winding across many degrees of latitude, whipping its world into submission
  • Even within the fine patina of Imperial civilization and its sophisticated rules they remained half-tamed savages, aware always that a crysknife dissolved at the death of its owner. That’s what can save us, Leto thought. That wildness.ChildrenOfDune_FullCover
  • Everything went on trust now and the narrow thread of his vision to which he clung. If that failed, Allahu akbahr. Sometimes one had to submit to a greater order.
  • Church and State, scientific reason and faith, the individual and his community, even progress and tradition — all of these can be reconciled
  • The assumption that a whole system can be made to work better through an assault on its conscious elements betrays a dangerous ignorance.
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