Sep 17, 2005

dune messiah

Dune Messiah feels like it was originally part of Dune and the editors decided to chop it off against Herbert's wishes. It's the logical conclusion to the Dune book and it doesn't come off as a complete story all on its own. While Dune focused on the creation of a living messiah figure, Dune Messiah focuses on 'killing' him off. The two concepts would have worked well in a single book. If there is a difference, it's the sense of action created in both books. Dune is action packed. Not in a Dirty Harry kind of way. It's not the action per se but the sense of motion that Dune creates that makes it seem action packed. Things happen, the universe is changed, people fight and die and go through transitions. Dune Messiah is much more cerebral. There is almost no action. Few die. Few fundamentally change. There is little character development. Just discussion.

The tension is created by a set of powerful figures who want the messiah gone and the messiah himself who isn't exactly thrilled with his lot in life. 80% of the way into this book and you realize it has all been a set up. There are times when you feel the book is going to spin hopelesslly out of control. But the last 20% is resolution. Finishing this book creates the same feeling one has when finishing a jigsaw puzzle. Things fit nicely. It's clear there was a larger picture from the beginning that you couldn't see but the author could. I loved this book as much as Dune but for very different reasons. It's an intricate web-like masterpiece.

And in way it's a beginning as well. The messiah's son, Leto, carries the mantle for most of the remainder of the Dune books. In a way Dune really is about Leto. Paul, the messiah, is just a backstory for Leto.


Anonymous said...

both messiah and children of dune fell flat for me in comparison with the rest of the books. god emperor of dune is sheer brilliance, IMNSHO. can't wait to hear your opinion on that one.

C. Fuzzbang said...

When I first read messiah (years ago) it too fell flat. This time I liked it. It's a lot of work to get to the payoff at the end but I thought it was so clever how he tied up loose ends.

I made it through children and that was a disaster too (again years ago). Never made it to Emperor. That'll give me some incentive.