One of Paul’s twins is supposed to become an Emperor of the mighty interplanetary Empire created by great Muad’dib. The only slight problem is that nobody at all – and I do mean absolutely nobody – wants this to happen. This includes the twins themselves. Plots within plot within plots are brewing and in the game with such high stakes all means of winning are fine, including slaughtering innocent bystanders wholesale. Another interesting problem is that it is not exactly clear whether the abovementioned twins are completely human, and if so whether they will remain such. Enter Lady Jessica who finally after almost 20 years of absence decided to visit Dune to check on her grandkids.
Here is a very good place for my rant about Lady Jessica. She went to Caladan shortly after the evens in the end of the first book. She left her kid daughter behind, but took Gurney Halleck
with her to keep her company. She never showed up even to take a look at how her daughter is doing. Please do not get me wrong; I fully understand that it was much easier (and fun) for her to spend her time with a lover as opposed to bringing up her very unusual daughter. Still in my personal opinion if you do it you gave up all of the rights to complain about the way your daughter developed. Upon the arrival Lady Jessica is shocked about how her daughter turned out: disappointments within disappointments within disappointments. I am very glad that even in the distant future the hypocrisy is alive and kicking.
So from the paragraph above you can figure out I was not a big fan of Lady Jessica in this book. Add to this her holier-than-thou attitude typical for any Bene Gesserit and you will understand why I wanted Lady Jessica to die. This was also why I pitied Alia: she grew up from being a lonely (abandoned) scared young teen into her present – and not very nice – self. Abandonment within abandonment within abandonment.
So how were the other characters? Except for the two above I could not care less about any of them one way or the other. None were particular nice. Absolutely no one at all cared about little people that were used as 100% disposables by all major players. This brings up an interesting question related to the whole series: is absolute monarchy the best form of government humanity could come up after countless centuries of development? Currently democracy with all its faults (and it does has countless number of them) really looks much better than what our future descendants would have according to the series. Despotism within despotism within despotism.
While I am still in the rand mode let me talk about Muad’dib Jihad. Sometime during the reading of this book I finally realized why it was so successful (yes, I can be slow at times). Remember that the Fremen did not have any access to open water? They had to wear special suits to catch their own moisture and recycle it. Do you know what it means? It means that then it comes to body odor the worst-smelling modern bum has nothing on an average Son of the Desert.
In fact they would be qualified as biological weapons and as such banned in modern times. The usual conquest would look like this: arrive on a planet, face its defenders, remove stillsuit, and finish off the survivors to end their agony. This is why I found notions from “progressive” people of Dune about going back to traditional Fremen ways ridiculous, no matter how romantic it sounds. People finally gained access to water, decent food, medicine, and countless other “spoils” of civilization. Try telling me further progress means giving these up while keeping a straight face? You cannot? I thought so. Then again continuing this way would severely cut down the production of spice and who cares about lives of simple humans measured against this? Nobody that is who. Profits within profits within profits.
Let me get this straight until it is too late: I like this book more than the previous one. At least things happened in here unlike the previous installment where Paul’s angst was the only happening. There were some action and some fairly intense moments… with the people I do not care about. Anyhow, I gave the second book 3 stars and I like this one much more. I gave the first book 4 stars and it is an undisputed classic of science fiction. What would be the final rating? 3.5 very solid stars? Would Goodreads allow me to give half-star ratings for my special case? Not likely. Finally the reasoning for the rating was the following: for me 4 stars mean I will reread the book once; 3 stars – no reread. I will not reread this one. I am still looking forward to reading the next installment. I will be perfectly satisfied if it is at least as good as this one. Hopes within hopes within hopes.
P.S. Have you noticed I overused the expression something
? Frank Herbert did it in all three books I read so far. What is good for a classic of science fiction should be good for me.