Unlike the previous books this one continues the plot-line of the previous ones; books 1-4 had definite endings, but book 5 did not. So the Bene Gesserit pulled back to regroup and get ready for a counterattack. The regrouping only took them 10 years to do so while the new menace appearing out of nowhere continued to capture or destroy their home bases. Can we say after 5000 years of preparations the Bene Gesserit were not exactly ready? Sure we can. It is also completely unclear whether the new threat was a part of a fabled Golden Path - Leto II never bothered to explain it - or whether Frank Herbert has pulled it out of his ass to keep the series going.
I finally finished the series and the only emotion I feel is a great relief, otherwise I am completely drained by my efforts not to DNF this one.
Sufficient to say, I am not impressed. The biggest problem for me was the complete lack of any even remotely interesting characters. I became convinced Frank Herbert is unable to create a good character even if his life depended on it. The only decent one was Paul in the first book. That particular book became a classic of science fiction? Coincidence? I do not think so.
We have a conflict between two sides. One side is a typical power-hungry generic villain readers saw countless number of times practically everywhere and the other side consists of literally heartless cold-bloodied automations who weeded all the emotions out of themselves during their more than 5000 year history. Those girls think nothing about sacrificing complete planets with their inhabitants when it suit them, by the way. Is it any wonder I could not care less about anybody?
I already mentioned the atrocities committed by supposedly "good" guys. I had to give it to the series though: it makes a wonderful job of desensitizing the readers. Sufficient to say I was not shocked by a child rape (obviously committed in the name of a Greater Good) after what I have seen before in the series.
To Herbert's credit after the previous book he realized nobody would care about completely emotionless characters, so some of them began rediscovering said emotions, but for me it was too little too late. The vast majority of the novel is spent on philosophical ideas about government, bureaucracy, and other related high topics. Too bad nobody remembered the little people who did the thankless job of providing comfortable living to the philosophers.
After all of the philosophizing I finally came to promised action on the last 70 pages. To my complete disappointment it all happened behind the scenes which is not surprising because the rest of the book simply did not leave enough space for anything else. Please note that I am not criticizing the fact that the tale stopped practically in the middle of a sentence as Frank Herbert died before he wrote the continuation.
The book and thus the series end in an unresolved cliffhanger. There is a big lesson here: if a writer ends a book with one, he/she better have the next one with some resolution ready. You might get hit by a bus (sorry, but this is life), or just hit a writer block and you end up with an army of pissed off fans. Speaking about cliffhangers this book is guilty of me changing the definition of the word. A cliffhanger is when something ends in the middle of an action and you care about what happens next
. I already mentioned I could not care less about every single character in the book, so for me it was not a cliffhanger, just unresolved plot-lines.
Now would be a good time to speak about the whole series. I have to give a credit where it is due: it makes a wonderful job in sense that you can stop after any book (except book 5) and have a complete tale. Do you want to read about Paul's struggle against the Emperor and Baron Harkonnen? Read the first book. Do you want to have a conclusion of Paul's tale? Read first two books. Do you want to have a conclusion of Atreides' direct influence on Dune? Read first three books. Do you want to see the conclusion of Dune tale? Read first four books. By the way in case you have not figure this out this book has practically nothing in common with Dune books except for some names; none of the action even takes place on that planet.
All I want to say here is that you will not have the right idea about Frank Herbert's idea about Dune if you stop after the first book like countless people did. The first trilogy might serve though.
I finished the series and now like countless hipsters of sixtieth (they were not called that then) can annoy people around me by constantly saying, "The spice must flow". I earned this privilege by my hard work.
Speaking about which I now know that if you say this you miss the point of the series completely as it is not
about the spice. It sounds cool though; first million times it was used - after this it overstayed its welcome, just like the series after book 4.