Saturday, September 25, 2010

Children Of Dune - Frank Herbert

Children Of Dune
By: Frank Herbert
Published: 1976
Audiobook Read by: Simon Vance, Scott Brick and others
My rating: Great

I have already read the first two books of the Dune saga so I knew what to expect. This was a very interesting continuation of the story, but it was very long and not quite as exciting as I had hoped it would be.

Paul's twins, Leto and Ghanima are 9 years old at the beginning of this book, but already they are ancient thanks to the plethora of ancestors filling their brains. During the entire course of the book I never thought of them as children. The wisdom and authority that these two possessed went far beyond even the oldest of their elders. Often they are mistakenly thought of as children by others, giving them the upper hand in many situations. It is understandable that so many of the people of Dune fear them, I'd fear my own children if they acted 2000 years old!

Paul's sister Alia is a sad case by this time. She is haunted by her ancestors just as the twins are but she copes differently. She allows the evil Baron Harkonnen to control her and he feeds on the power that she wields as regent and high priestess. She looses herself to the dark forces at work inside her and in the end they destroy her.

The story line is wonderfully built with an amazing array of plots within plots within plots. Franks imagination is simply mind boggling as this fantastic story unfolds. Since the twins are wise far beyond their years, it stands to reason that they will foresee the conspiracies against them. Devising a plot of their own and putting it into play, they lead their would be destroyers on an amazing chase over the deserts of Dune. Despite seemingly hopeless scenarios they never once actually loose control of the situation. The Fremen are torn between the old ways and the new. The religion that Maud'dib preached has been perverted and turned into a disgrace to His name. When The Preacher comes to denounce this perversion he begins to raise major questions including who he really is. In the end Leto The Second becomes the supreme emperor with a long long reign ahead of him. He vows to lead his vast interstellar empire to long lasting peace.

I was struck by the way Maud'dib's teachings had been twisted into a hollow set of rules and traditions. I was reminded of the way Christianity is so often reduced the same way. We have allowed ourselves to drift away from so many of the precepts that Jesus taught. I wonder if Jesus is proud of what we have become and what we have done with the teachings he gave us. Are we accepting His gift of eternal life but turning our backs on what he asks us to do as Christians? Maybe we can learn a lesson from the people of Arrakis.

This book is chock full of very wise sayings and a lot of really deep thoughts and conversations. Frank is an amazing writer and his vision for this book and the entire series is absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, this is also kind of a fault. The depth of the book and the complexity that is evident in this religion and culture he created, causes the book to be very long and at times boring as all of the details are explained. The plot is amazing but there were several times that an extended dialog or detailed description of traditions or beliefs left me yawning uncontrollably.

I listened to the audiobook performed by Simon Vance, Scott Brick and a few others. Their performance was absolutely wonderful. I really didn't feel like I was listening to a book being read as much as I felt like I was actually a part of the story. I felt like I might have to dump sand out of my shoes when I was finished! The character's voices were perfect, fitting exactly what my imagination was seeing. I loved listening to all of the different voices but I think my favorite was Stilgar.

Overall this is a great book and I encourage anyone who likes this kind of Sci-fi work to give it a try. Make sure you take them in order though. This book can stand on it's own but will make a lot more sense if you've read the first two.

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