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The Legends Of Dune - Volume 1: The Butlerian Jihad 414

Posted by timothy
from the richer-than-the-simpsons dept.
axis-techno-geek writes "This is the tenth Dune novel, and the fourth co-authored by Brian Herbert (the son of Frank Herbert) and acclaimed sci-fi writer Kevin J. Anderson. The story in this Dune novel takes place 10,000 years before the original Dune novel and gives the reader more foundation on how the empire we know from the previous 9 book came to be." Read on for the complete review.
The Legends Of Dune - Volume 1: The Butlerian Jihad
author Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
pages 624 hardcover/3041 Palm eBook
publisher Tor Books/Palm Digital Media
rating 7.5 out of 10
reviewer axis-techno-geek
ISBN 0765301571/eISBN: 0-312-70808-4
summary A historical account of the “Dune” universe 10,000 years before Muad’Dib

The book starts out by giving a history of how the Titans took over the "Old Empire" after humanity had lost its drive and had relegated intelligent machines to handle the everyday tasks. The Titans used this lack of drive and the intelligent machine to quickly take over the Old Empire and conquered most of the known galaxy. Free humans rose up at the fringes of the galaxy to resist and push the Titans back, forming "The League of Nobels".

The Titans governed their planets with a increasingly sophisticated AI network and increasing brutality towards their human "slaves". In a bid to rule for centuries, and for possible immortality, the Titans underwent the transfiguration to "cymeks", robots with a human brain. After a century of Titan rule, one of the Titans, in a quest for more free time to indulge in hedonistic activity, relinquished too much control to his intelligent AI network. Eventually the sentient AI network computer evermind, which took the name Ominus, took control of all the Titan controlled planets and formed the "Synchronized Worlds".

After a thousand years of conflict and stalemate between the Synchronized Worlds and the League of Nobels the machines, with coaxing from the Titans, have determined that it is time to "corral" the wild humans and strike out, the logical target, Salusa Secundus, the center of government for the League of Nobels . Being so "unpredictable" to Ominus, the humans, taking huge losses, again resist the machine attacks. In part due to the AI scrambler shield invention of one Tio Holtzman that stops robots, but in an oversight, allowed the Titan cymeks, with their human brains, through.

Reconsidering their tactics, the machines instead move on one of the less vehemently defended planets, an industrial world with an abundance of resources, Giedi Prime. This time the machines manage to knockout the shield generator and take the planet. Once the league hears of this, the endless debates start within their government, as with any democracy, nothing gets done because all the politicians are afraid to commit. All except Serena Butler, she instead organizes a small band to sneak onto Geidi Prime and complete the secondary shield generator. This leads to Serena's capture and eventual transfer to the primary Synchronized World, Earth.

We get to see the first "friction" here between the Atreides and Harkonnen, the Sorceresses of Rossak with their telepathic and telekinetic powers are the beginnings of the Bene Gesserit. The foundation is laid for the Suk doctors, and the cover blurb that I read mentioned the Swordmasters of Ginaz, but I found only a slight mention of the planet Ginaz. Another cover blurb I read mentioned the Mentat school, but there was nothing in this book, one could see the use for them as the League of Nobels did not use any computers.

The book flows very well and I found myself drawn to read more and more. The book does not have the intricate plot within plot layout as the other Dune works, but then this book is being narrated from a historical perspective. Given this, I found most of the characters actions predictable, but I have read all other 9 books, so this being a "historical" narrative, this keeps the characters close to their roles that were hinted at/layed out in the previous novels.

I give credit to Brian Herbert for the foresight of enlisting the help of Kevin J. Anderson in the creation of the Dune "prequels" as he openly admitted that he did not possess all of the "tools" required to under take this project, kudos.


You can purchase The Legends Of Dune - Volume 1 from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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The Legends Of Dune - Volume 1: The Butlerian Jihad

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  • by Mendax Veritas (100454) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:04PM (#4578437) Homepage
    This must be based on some definition of "acclaimed" that I'm not familiar with. Kevin J. Anderson is a hack who mostly writes TV novelizations (X-Files, etc.) or helps people polish books they aren't capable of writing on their own (as in this case). Who has "acclaimed" him? For what? Has he won any awards, been the guest of honor at a convention... anything?

    As for the Dune books, only the first two were ever worth anything. Frank Herbert himself couldn't keep the series going at a high level of quality, and his son's work qualifies as nothing more than shameless exploitation of a franchise.

    • or helps people polish books they aren't capable of writing on their own
      So what are you saying, Polish people don't know how to write?

      That's pretty racist, pal.

    • I'm not really sure you've ever read anything by Kevin J. Anderson. He's one of the best science fiction authors out there today, including some of his work on the "TV novelization" Star Wars series (I'm assuming you think this genre is stupid or something). He's also written some really good short stories, and is one of the more versatile SciFi authors I've read that is still writing. Was there anything in particular you didn't like about him, or were you just being obnoxious?
      • by Alan Shutko (5101) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:40PM (#4578668) Homepage
        After struggling through the Jedi Academy trilogy I've got to say that Kevin J. Anderson isn't close to one of the best sf authors out there today. The plots were bad, the additions were juvenile, the character voices were wrong. It's a shame that the SW franchise has so many books written by him rather than better authors.

        I find that most people who like him just haven't read anything by good authors. I do seem to recall a collaboration he did with someone that I didn't hate but I can't remember what it was. So maybe there's hope for him when he has someone riding herd over him, but with fanbeings like you around, it's unlikely he'll be forced to improve.
      • by Flamerule (467257) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:07PM (#4578755)
        I'm not really sure you've ever read anything by Kevin J. Anderson.
        I've read most of his Star Wars books, and the 3 first Dune prequels.
        He's one of the best science fiction authors out there today ...
        Like another poster, I have to assume here that you just haven't read a lot of SF. Are you seriously going to compare Kevin J. Anderson to... I don't know, Ursula K. LeGuin, George R. R. Martin, Frederik Pohl, Robert Silverberg, Vernor Vinge, Gene Wolfe... Much of their work is literature; Kevin Anderson doesn't write particularly bad stuff, but it sure as hell isn't very deep.
        ... including some of his work on the "TV novelization" Star Wars series (I'm assuming you think this genre is stupid or something).
        It's not stupid, it's just an often-entertaining series of books to flesh out the Star Wars universe. It's not going to win any SF awards.
      • Disclaimer: I have only read his original Star Wars novels -- not his novelization of the movies or anything else he's done.

        That said, I found his books to be some of the worst Science Fiction I've encountered. I can't blame the setting, since Timothy Zahn did some wonderful things with the same universe. But his stories are predictable and generally nothing more than reincarnations of movie plots with a few variables switched around. His dialogue is cliche and he limits himself to a static interpretation of the characters -- it's as if somebody told him "Yes, you can write a Star Wars novel, but the characters from the movies had better be exactly the same people at the end of the book as they were at the beginning!"

        It may be that he was stuck in regurgitation mode after having written novelizations of the of the movies (assuming it was him that did that, I haven't read the book versions of the movies). Unfortunately, that's the same mode I was in after reading his tripe.

        I sincerely hope that some of his other work can prove me wrong, that the foulness of his SW novels is the exception and not the rule. But that's one heck of a black mark, if you ask me.
      • Eeek.

        My copies of Zahn ATE my copy of "Jedi Search" and then stomped up and down on my testicles until I promised never to buy another Kevin J. book as long as I live.
      • I don't know about is other work, but the prose in "House Atriedes" was close to unreadable. Dreadful. Awful. So bad that the only reason I finished it was that was that I was stuck somewhere with nothing else to read, and I'm a reading addict.

        Whether the prose is the fault of K. Anderson or B. Herbert I've no idea, and I'm not likely to find out as I've no intention of wasting my time with anything else by either them unless recommended by someone I trust.

        And it's not like I'm a snobbish about such things. Not everyone can be a Simmons or Ellison. But I don't like to flinch while reading.

    • I concur. I had great hopes of the Star Wars sequel books amounting to something after reading the first one by Timothy Zahn. Then I read one of the sequels by KJA. That ruined it for me.

    • by merigold77 (156634) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:24PM (#4578587)
      Yes, acclaimed, at least, to your standards: he has won awards, been nominated, etc.

      "Anderson's solo work has garnered wide critical acclaim: CLIMBING OLYMPUS (voted the best paperback SF novel of 1995 by Locus magazine), RESURRECTION, INC. (nominated for the Bram Stoker Award), and his novel BLINDFOLD (1996 preliminary Nebula nominee).... [X Files novels] GROUND ZERO was voted "Best Science Fiction Novel of 1995" by the readers of SFX magazine. RUINS hit the New York Times bestseller list, the first X-FILES novel ever to do so, and was voted "Best Science Fiction Novel of 1996. " (from his professional bio [wordfire.com])

      • "Anderson's solo work has garnered wide critical acclaim: CLIMBING OLYMPUS (voted the best paperback SF novel of 1995 by Locus magazine),

        Locus is the only one of these "accolades" I would take seriously.

        RESURRECTION, INC. (nominated for the Bram Stoker Award),

        "nominated" for an award no one's ever hard of?

        and his novel BLINDFOLD (1996 preliminary Nebula nominee)

        Wow! A "preliminary" nominee. What an honour.

        [X Files novels] GROUND ZERO was voted "Best Science Fiction Novel of 1995" by the readers of SFX magazine.

        A novelisation of a TV series was voted "best" by a special effects magazine. Interesting, but what what relation to literature (which is what "books" are) is this?

        RUINS hit the New York Times bestseller list, the first X-FILES novel ever to do so, and was voted "Best Science Fiction Novel of 1996.

        Another TV novelisation. And voted "best" by who? Anyway, he's a hack, 90% of his output is rehashes of Star Wars, X-Files, and similar dreck (fun to watch, but for God's sake why waste your time reading this crap, you can only carry off this stuff with special efects to distract you from how silly it all is) and now he's "helping" the son of a famous real writer to exploit his memory.

        The terrible thing is that garbage like this guy churns out is why real SF isn't treated with any respect.

      • > voted the best paperback SF novel of 1995 by Locus magazine

        Actually somewhat impressive, but seven years ago.

        > nominated for the Bram Stoker Award

        "nominated", as in, "didn't win". Never heard of the award, either.

        > 1996 preliminary Nebula nominee

        As in, "not actually nominated"

        > voted "Best Science Fiction Novel of 1995" by the readers of SFX magazine

        Who? Never heard of the magazine.

        > hit the New York Times bestseller list

        The NYT bestseller list is shamelessly manipulated by the publishers, but OK, that's not bad.

        > voted "Best Science Fiction Novel of 1996. "

        By whom? The Oompa-Loompas? And when did he last update his bio? Has he gotten *any* good reviews in the last five years?

        Chris Mattern
    • Bleah, the second book was awful, but 3-6 were very good. The last couple are awesome. I really wish Herbert had lived long enough to write the next two because you just know that his son is going to ruin the cliffhanger from 6.

    • Amen to that! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Glytch (4881)
      KJA took the storyline of Timothy Zahn's good "Heir To The Empire" Star Wars books and turned it into Star Trek-esque technobabble, "My goodness, how will Luke and friends save the galaxy today?" and "Oh, let the precocious little tykes fix everything" nonsense. That opened the floodgates for other Trekkish hacks like Vonda N. MacIntyre (yes, the same one that wrote a thousand bad Trek novels) to try their hand at Star Wars. Her "Crystal Star" was particularly wretched, even by the standards of her fellow (I know the word is overused in this post, but it's just so damn appropriate) hacks. Take your average Trek book, switch "Enterprise" for "Millenium Falcon" and throw in a stock "Leia's Children Go Missing Yet Again" sideplot, and that's what you end up with. More technobabble and less plot than your average Voyager episode.

      Not even Michael Stackpole and Aaron Allston (best known for their original ideas in the X-Wing series) and Zahn's return could salvage the whole steaming pile that is "New Jedi Order".

      And as for shameless exploitation of a franchise, I'd like to mention a few Foundation sequels being authorized by Isaac Asimov's estate (ie relatives who want to milk the old guy's corpse for all they can get). Poor Isaac. At least he'll never have to suffer through the eyesore that is "Foundation and Chaos".

      Hey, I enjoyed this. Is there any chance for me to be a paid book critic? Anyone hiring? :)
  • by ProtonMotiveForce (267027) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:05PM (#4578439)
    And I think it explains somewhat what the honored maitres were afraid of. At about 1/3 of the book it foreshadows some very powerful force that was sent out into the galaxy to germinate, and that force is probably what scares the shit out of everyone inthe last Dune book by papa Herbert.
    • by Jerf (17166) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:59PM (#4579204) Journal
      From my reading, the Honored Maitres, which went out during the great dispersion after the death of The Tyrant, just got the snot beaten out of them by another group that went out after the death of The Tyrant, probably the face dancer splinter group shown at the very end of the last book, though IIRC we never really know what they are running from.

      There's no need for another force to wait mysteriously in the wings for 14-15 thousand years, when the whole point of Leto's reign was that humanity was "stagnating" on its multiple hundreds of thousands of planets, and nobody was expanding anymore, because there was no mysterious force (or anything else) to encourage humanity to grow. His "Golden Path" was a means of forcibly holding down humanity, so they would explode outward when he died. (He acts all mysterious about it but it's not that hard to see.)
  • Good grief (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "This is the tenth Dune novel, and the fourth co-authored by Brian Herbert (the son of Frank Herbert)"

    Can it get any better? L Ron Hubbard was involved too? Britney Spears going to be in the movie? Terry Pratchett doing the artwork? Nine inch nails doing the music?
    Anyone else want to sell out and produce low quality bullshit for people who should know better, but unfortunately dont?
    • Re:Good grief (Score:3, Insightful)

      by theduck (101668)

      ...people who should know better, but unfortunately dont...

      Do you really know that many people who should know better and actually do? ;)

    • Excuse me, but Terry Pratchett is a decent author of fiction. Also, Trent Reznor, is a decent musician, (although I don't care for his stuff personally, many people do like it).

      Please don't slander these individuals by even insinuating that they may like or approve of any of the crap which spews forth from Brian Herbert's rotting brain.

      But, please, feel free to insult Hubbard and Spears.

      dave
  • by delphin42 (556929) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:07PM (#4578452) Homepage
    Much of what is described in this review appears to be plot details. Maybe next time we'll get more of a review and less of a book report. At some point it was mentioned that the book was hard to put down, which is more of what I was personally looking for. Can't wait to read the latest (earliest?) in the dune series.

    I'm guessing this novel is just the first of many in the prequels to the prequels of Dune?
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:08PM (#4578459) Homepage

    The characters did what you'd expect as it was a historical view. This means they just took the easy route and re-iterated the stuff from before.

    Now for anyone who has studied history you know that what actually happened is not what people _think_ happened. US Revolution against the evil British Empire, read history and it becomes US Revolution against despotic British(German) King who was losing power at home and sought to impose his will on the colonies. Hitler, short-arsed Nazi who terrorised his way to power thanks to poor economic conditions... or foundations laid by Otto Von Bismark who first united Germany when he tried to create a German Empire which pissed off the Brits and French who had enough trouble stealing countries without more competition.

    Neville Chamberlain, total coward "peace in our time" and yet he ordered the increase in military spending and manufacturer, if Germany had attacked 6 months eariler would Britain have been able to hold out ?

    etc etc etc

    What would have been more challenging was a book that challenged our perceptions of the foundations of Dune, and which led through a series of books to the reasons for the later generations perceptions.

    But then since Frank Herbert died this has just been the Star Trek of the fiction world, and endless Saga with little or no reason for existence.
    • What would have been more challenging was a book that challenged our perceptions of the foundations of Dune, and which led through a series of books to the reasons for the later generations perceptions.

      Personally, I've always thought that Orson Scott Card did that quite well with his transition from Ender's Game to Speaker for the Dead. At the end of Ender's Game, Ender Wiggin is a hero. At the beginning of Speaker for the Dead, he is so despised for what he did that nobody even uses the nickname "Ender" anymore.
    • What would have been more challenging was a book that challenged our perceptions of the foundations of Dune, and which led through a series of books to the reasons for the later generations perceptions.

      I disagree, because he tried doing that in the first 3 prequils and it didn't make sense.

      For example, he made the Reverand Mother GHM the mother of Jessica. This seems like a nice tricky thing to do as a plot twist right? Now, the ultimately precient Leto II as a child revealed to his grandmother Jessica the knowledge "Jessica out of Tanidia Nerus by the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen". Why would the most precient person ever to live refer to his great-grandmother by a false name? And how would Paul, Alia, and Leto II not have the complete mind of RM GHM from the point of conception at their disposal? No matter how you try to spin it, this foundational change doesn't work. And then what, no-ships were invented more than 15,000 years before Heretics? Come on! This is just garbage. At least in Butlerian Jihad, he stuck to the story and didn't try to rewrite much. Fortunately, there wasn't much to mess up from that far back in time. I actually liked the current book much better than the other prequils. I gained a lot of respect for Brian Herbert after reading Butlerian Jihad, and I have much more confidence that he will do the "7th book" justice.

      • For example, he made the Reverand Mother GHM the mother of Jessica. This seems like a nice tricky thing to do as a plot twist right?

        I don't know how canonical the Dune Encyclopedia is supposed to be, but it was published in 1984 and contains the words "Complete and Authorized" on the cover. The entry for Mohiam confirms this as fact, and also talks about massacres of Bene Gesserit historians instigated by Leto II during his reign to cover this up (after they had attempted to blackmail him with it).

        Frank Herbert has a short foreword saying it's all interesting and largely accurate, although he reserves the right to "illuminate matters further" in the books about to be published. So I'd say that, whether or not it's 'accurate' (i.e. historically true in the context of the Dune milieu), it's certainly what was supposed to be believed by people some 1800 years after Leto II's death.

    • > Neville Chamberlain, total coward "peace in our
      > time" and yet he ordered the increase in military
      > spending and manufacturer, if Germany had attacked
      > 6 months eariler would Britain have been able to hold out ?

      Absolutely. Germany built up much more in that interval than Britain and France did. And by betraying the Czechs they sold out their best possible ally in Central Europe. The Czechs had a highly fortified and defensible border with Germany; virtually the entire border is mountainous and heavily forested. They also had a well-equipped modern army. Two years later when the Germans invaded France, a significant amount of their armored forces were equipped with *Czech* tanks. Czechoslovakia was by any rational consideration a much better place to make a stand against the Nazis instead of Poland.

      Chris Mattern
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:10PM (#4578476)
    Does this mean the butler did it?
  • Mildly Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr.nicholas (219881) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:10PM (#4578478)
    This book was mildly interesting in a pure historical context, but the authoring style bordered on being the worst I've ever read.

    It was dry, unimaginitive, cluttered and and it just "tried too hard."

    I particularly found it annoying that the authors (as with the House * books) found it necessary to explain EVERYTHING. For example, you met a proto-Fremen and blam! He rides the first worm. You see a group of recluse women and BLAM!, they are the proto-Bene Gesserit.

    It seemed that the authors went out of their way to CREATE connections, and with that in mind, they felt it necessary to connect to EVERYTHING. I find it hard to believe that in a Galaxy whose history is well over 12,000 years old, that we would see the beginnings of so many familiar settings within a span of a year. I would think they would be stretched out over a greater period of time.
    • by stevenbee (227371)
      I have to agree -- what made the original Dune series such a joy for me to read was not the incredibly detailed universe per se, but the beautiful story which was overlaid upon it. I think writers these days sometimes tend to stage-manage at the expense of the play.
    • IIRC, in the "original" series, several of these occurences did, in fact, happen together. While I'm not sure of when the Zensunni became the Fremen, the Bene Gesserit, the Guild of Navigators, and the Mentats were founded during the Butlerian Jihad. It's quite possible that the discovery of spice on Arrakis may have had something to do with everything happening at once.
      • Herbert doesn't say this in as many words, but it is heavily implied in various places. The tripod that has dominated the political landscape of the empire arose out of the Butlerian Jihad. If I'm not mistaken the presence of Tio Holtzman during the Jihad was mentioned directly; which would mean space folding could not predate the Jihad.

        Whether mentats came about before, during or after the Jihad is unclear - certainly they occured sometime after the machines took over. Herbert never hints that mentats had anything to do with the downfall of the machines though.

        The only questionable parts (in my mind) are the simultaneous discovery of the spice and its effects; and the relationship of the zensunnis to the original takeover by the machines.

        Interestingly, the settling of the zensunnis on Dune shortly before the Jihad would be consistent: assuming the Bene Gesserit largely gained political power during or after the Jihad, this would be the time when they started their missionaria protectiva, and we know that the fremen culture was in its infancy then (or those seeds could not have been implanted).

    • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hoggerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:27PM (#4578610) Journal
      It seemed that the authors went out of their way to CREATE connections, and with that in mind, they felt it necessary to connect to EVERYTHING. I find it hard to believe that in a Galaxy whose history is well over 12,000 years old, that we would see the beginnings of so many familiar settings within a span of a year. I would think they would be stretched out over a greater period of time.
      Everybody seems to be doing that Georges Lucas thingy. Isaac Asimov did exactly that when he connected his robots novels and prequels to his Foundation novels, and then it got worse with the tree Foundation prequels written by the "three killer Bs" after Asimov's death (10 years ago already!!!).

      What's next? Prequels to

      • Rendez-vous with Rama?
      • Ringworld?
      • 20,000 leagues under the sea?
      • Micromégas?
      • The Illyad & Oddyssey?
      • The Gilgamesh Epic???
    • by dpilot (134227) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:37PM (#4578665) Homepage Journal
      I'll chime in a 'mee, too' about so about so many key events all happening so long ago, in such a short time.

      But I'll add that this seems to be in part a Kevin J Anderson thing. Don't know if Herbert Jr. fought it, went along with it, or encouraged it. But my son is a big Star Wars fan, and reads the novels, including the KJA ones. These types of historical coincidence happen all the time in the Star Wars universe.

      Maybe that's why I read only one or two for the 'good father' value, along with only one or two Redwall books a few years earlier.

      Fan fiction tends to be that way.

      At least in the later Dune (God Emperor of Dune+) novels by Herbert Sr. he had the good sense to allow some drift. Arrakis became Rakis, and other things got a little blurred over 3000 years. Yet we have 10,000 years of greater turmoil (probably leading to poorer bookkeeping) Atriedes, Harkonnen, Butler and the like come through with no corruption, and not even a giant worm to remember the correct spelling and pronunciation.
  • by djansen (67143) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:11PM (#4578484) Homepage
    There is so little good sci fiction in the world, its really sad when a decent series continues to be exploited to the point where its fans start to detest hearing about the next sequel.

    Dune, while not the best book ever, was incredibly entertaining and some really unique concepts in it.

    Pretty soon the Dune series is going to start showing up in the cheesey scifi book section next to the Star Wars and Dragon Lance crap. They should put the Robert Jordan stuff there as well since he seems to be writing an unending exploitation of his first couple of ok books.

    Sigh.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "Pretty soon the Dune series is going to start showing up in the cheesey scifi book section next to the Star Wars and Dragon Lance crap."

      The fact that the book is out on Tor signifies that this has already happened.
    • by selectspec (74651) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:13PM (#4578813)
      My review of "Great Expectations II" authored by me (not related to Dickens, but a notable dick):

      In this zany sequel to the Classic novel of Late Victorian England's underclass, Pip has discovered that he's really prefers to wear women's clothing. Also, he changes his name to Bob. I'm not sure if Dickens had intended a space ship to land and take Pip on a crazy adventure hunting down the White Whale (this book ties in Moby Dick's story line too - kind of a two for one sequel), but Dickens is dead, so I can write this story any way I want.

      Did I mention that the book has a fully CGI racial stereotyped character and explains the science behind force?

    • I agree.

      Part of the magic of the original Dune books was the monumental amount of unpublished history written by Frank Herbert. In the actual books, there were references to the "Butlerian Jihad" the "Holtzman Effect" and many other defining events of the universe but the details were kept out of the novels. All these mysteries made the world of the novels a much more interesting place.

      Each one of these hack prequels makes the Dune universe more mundane.

    • bravo! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CodeMunch (95290)
      They should put the Robert Jordan stuff there as well since he seems to be writing an unending exploitation of his first couple of ok books.

      BINGO! Bang on the "money" (the key reason I think it's dragging on)! Back when it first came out in the early 90's (or late 80's??) I enjoyed "The Eye of the World", probably "the great hunt" as well as the 3rd installment.

      Speaking of TOR (as someone else mentioned), don't waste your money on Terry Goodkind as he seems to get many of his ideas for the "sword of truth" series from Jordan's "wheel of time" (although one could probably argue all sci-fi/fantasy in the last 15 years is cud [regurgitated & chewed around] - i haven't read enough of it to seriously comment). Heh, maybe they're even the same person?

  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:12PM (#4578494) Homepage

    At the risk of being moderated as a troll, axis-techno-geek's review wasn't a review at all, but just a summary of the book's contents. Except for the second to last paragraph, there was absolutely no analysis of the book.

    It wouldn't be a bad idea for Slashdot to make informal arrangements with a couple contributors who are widely read in science fiction, and who are able to write reviews worthy of what quality sites Salon.com can muster.

  • I got back to my brothers house in CT last week... and while at Heathrow Duty Free, the bookstore had the Butlerian Jihad on sale. I couldn't believe it (because I thought that House Corrino would be the end of the Dune writing saga, just shows how up to date I am).

    My gripe is is that I didn't get the book at the Airport (because I'd already maxxed out on hand luggage with presents).. and I thought I'd get it in that US cheaper. Well the book was the paperback version at the airport (10.99pounds), but the book is the hardback version in Barnes and Noble (at $27.99).

    Obviously I'm being a bit tight fisted with my money, but I've not been a fan of hardbacks.. does anybody know when the paperback is coming out? Either way, I'm really looking forward to the Jihad, the Herbert/Anderson combo did a great job with the prelude trilogy.. just wondering when SciFi (or anyone else) will get to doing the TV Movie versions of these (haven't they done Children of Dune yet?).

  • more Dune? (Score:5, Funny)

    by L. VeGas (580015) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:14PM (#4578513) Homepage Journal
    You've got to be kidding.
    People are still interested in new episodes to this old fossil? Would we be even remotely interested in Skeeter Verne's "30,000 Leagues Under the Sea" or Coco Bradbury's "The Saturn Chronicles"?

    Gimme a break.
  • Heretics (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why can't Brian revert back to what his late father did in his latter two books and write about superhumans having sex with sex godesses and human females being used as incubation chambers for various biological experiments?
    • Re:Heretics (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jandrese (485)
      It's just DOM[1] syndrome kicking in again. It seems to happen to all of the Hard Scifi writers.

      [1] Dirty Old Man. There is a definate relationship to the age of your average Scifi author, and the amount of sex in his latest works.
  • Not worth it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by r0ckflite (63420) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:19PM (#4578555) Homepage
    I read all the original Dune series, and agree that the later ones couldn't hold up to the earlier part of the series. But these prequels are of really poor quality IMHO. The various plots the characters contrive are really shallow. The Bene Gesserit are now psychic super women and the twists are pretty obvious and shallow.

    They have a great universe, but neither of them is up to writing in it. It just gives me the feel of a couple of amateurs trying to be clever. They should stick to writing adventure storeis or some such. They can't handle the complexity Dune deserves.

  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hoggerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:19PM (#4578561) Journal
    According to the Dune Encyclopedia, the Butlerian Jihad was started after Jehanne Butler had her pregnancy aborted by an automated clinic, and was unable to get any reason for it from the condescending robot administrator of the clinic.

    And the Jihad ended when cyborged Ibrahim Holzmann returned from his 400 year orbit, and was blow-up by some volunteer whose name escapes me.

  • by brandido (612020) on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:21PM (#4578574) Homepage Journal

    I loved the original Dune series, all the way through Chapterhouse, must have read Dune 10+ times, and the entire series 3+ times (I know, no life). However, I was sorely disappointed by House Atreides, and couldn't even finish it. I found the the characters where extremely stiff, black and white, and uninteresting - totally lacking in the passion and subtlety found in the original series.

    Anybody out there who had the same reaction to the first of Brian Herbert's Dune books have an opinion of whether things have gotten better or not? This review makes it sound like it might be worth it, but burnt once . . .

  • Something like Buttman Jihad.

    Either that, or an image of legions upon legions of black suited butlers swarming over the ramparts of mansions, finally rebelling in a jihad for their centuries of indentured servitude.

    I know, pretty poor, but I am on the west coast, so it is barely past 8 a.m., and I haven't had any coffee!


  • I think Herbert and Anderson did an excellent job with the "House" prequels. The characterization was well done and there was...gasp...action! Original Dune is a great series but it really got dry as the series wore on. Herbert and Anderson have added much needed life to the series while remaining true to the original.

    That being said I have not read "The Butlerian Jihad" but look forward to it. All the negative comments posted here don't deter me...just par for the course at slashdot. These are the same people raving about version 0.002 of some unfishished buggy software :)
  • 10,000 Years (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IPFreely (47576) <mark@mwiley.org> on Friday November 01, 2002 @12:57PM (#4578674) Homepage Journal
    We get to see the first "friction" here between the Atreides and Harkonnen, the Sorceresses of Rossak with their telepathic and telekinetic powers are the beginnings of the Bene Gesserit. The foundation is laid for the Suk doctors.

    Why so long? They setup family names, institutions, types of government, nations. All of this is supposed to last 10,000 years?

    Very little of any of these last more than a few hundred years just here on earth. Unless their universe goes absolutley stagnant for 10,000 years, what do they expect to be the same?

    The rest of the history sounds interesting, but it would be more reasonable to set it less than a thousand years past. At least you could have some expectation that something would last to the "Dune" era in recognizable form.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:13PM (#4578814)
      Yes, it's supposed to be a grand, slow-moving epic, sweeping across the millennia.

      No, it's not necessarily our own galaxy, or even our own universe for that matter. Things move more slowly. Humanity has slowed its pace, lost some of its pioneering, colonizing will. With the Guild Navigators' prescience, the Universe is open and available. No need to explore.

      If you'd read the original books you'd understand that. Leto II's reign, for example. Lasted 3500 years. Not much changed. Planets changed, but attitudes didn't. That was part of the point.
    • Frank Herbert made it clear in his novels that the animosity between Atreides and Harkonnan dates back to the time of the Jihad.

      In our history there are many family lines/names that can be traced back thousands of years.

      In a universe that has returned to a feudal system, family names are likely to become even more entrenched with time.

  • Here [tor.com] is a short story written by Herbert and Anderson whose story takes place before this book.

    You see Xavier's parents as well as his brother and of course the Titans.

    As for the remark about not mentioning the Mentats very much. I believe, in my humble opinion, that the head sorceress ( which is the beginning of the Gesserit ) husband is laying the foundation for it in that he is always seeking pharmaceutical ways to enhance men ( insert lame joke here ) so they can be on par with the sorceresses
  • Christ, what a couple of hacks. I swear, any significant author should kill his own son before he dies, just to preclude any possibility of what might be done in their names.
  • "Nobel" is a surname. A "noble" is a feudal aristocrat.

    "League of Nobles".

    • If that's the only problem re: Proofreading you saw in this review, then please read again.

      I've seen better book reports written by 5th graders....
  • by TimWeigel (542949) <timweigel@gmail.com> on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:15PM (#4578829) Homepage
    I must preface this by saying I've not read this new book, so apologies if I'm off-base here, or if we're not up to the exact time in the timeline. This really makes me wonder if they're going to follow what was listed in the Dune Encyclopedia regarding Jehanne Butler being the cause of it all. Dr. Willis E. McNelly, the author of the Encyclopedia, was a friend of Frank Herbert [futureprometheus.com], and Dr. McNelly was the only academic Frank Herbert trusted to do the work [futureprometheus.com]. Wish they'd put it back in print [duneworld.org]!
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:25PM (#4578913)

    Brian, if you're reading this...

    Your father was a very talented man, and we all enjoyed his work tremendously. Dune is my favorite work of SciFi. But...it's your father's work and not yours. If you'd like to please his fans and put a little cash in your own pocket, could you please take a lesson from Christopher Tolkien?

    While your work is interesting, it's not Dune and can never be. Dune is the work of Frank Herbert, and none other. So, may I humbly suggest taking his unpublished work and notes and arrange those into a book? I'd throw down cash today for a Dune:Silmarillion type work. I'll bet a lot of other people would too.

    Weaselmancer

    • Personal thought is to tell the sons to stuff it. Come up with something original for a change. You're getting far too many royalties already, you should be able to spend some time being creative (if you're actually creatively inclined), or find SOMETHING to do other than ride on your father's coattails.

      But that's just my curmudgeonly way.
  • Ok, here's the short version of this post: letting Herbert Jr. and Anderson take over the Dune Franchise is a bit like letting Penny Marshall direct the next LOTR movie. We'd all go to see it anyway, but we'd cry because we know how much better Peter Jackson would have made it. So in my opinion, if anyone other than the dearly departed Frank should be allowed to embrace and extend the series, everyone should because surely someone would do a better job than this.

    Here's the slightly elongated version:

    I am huge Dune fan. I wanted to cry after I read the last line of Chapterhouse Dune, because I knew there would never be anymore, I had read the very last line of the very last dune book.

    Well, imagine my surprise when the Dune:House N series appeared. I was torn but hopeful.

    Well, the first two were like good fan fiction. They built a little bit of structure for events that happened later, were mostly consistent and pretty fun to read. But nothing like Frank's work.

    The third book (House Corrino) was awful. I'll never get those hours back.

    What bugs me is that no one else can add to the Dune canon except the copyright holders, so those of us who love it but do not profit from it are forced to watch in horror as the average quality of the official series is diluted.

    I haven't yet read the book being reviewed here, and against my better judgment I probably will eventually but I'll be shocked if it's any good. It's just a shame that just because Herbert Jr. shares half a set of genes with Herbert Sr. that we have to be subjected to his inferior fan fiction while other, more talented writers who would like to add to the series can't publish and profit from their potential works for fear of legal reprisal.

    Thank you for reading.
    • I couldn't agree with you more about the new trilogy. I'm not as discerning as some people and tend to read most books for plot. But even I couldn't believe how poorly they were written -- at one point I promised myself if I heard Rhombur say "Vermillion hells!" one more time I'd stop reading and burn the damned thing. (Plus I think his sister should have been named "Trapezoidia" or something...) But I stuck it out through "Corrino", biting my tongue the whole way, just to see how they resolved things -- no way am I going to pick up this new series.

      After reading the first two I went back and read through "God Emperor" of the original series. The difference was amazing, much starker than the difference between "Godfather III" and the first two.
    • I've read some of Brian Herbert's own works (I can't remember offhand who he was collab'ing with originally, but it didn't help), before he got involved in extending DUNE. Fact is, Brian is a dull writer who tends to beat what plot he has to death, and seems to mistake sufficiently convoluted for "intricate and detailed".

      With the first Frank/Brian collaboration, I could tell TO THE WORD where Frank stopped writing and Brian took over. The difference in real content was that dramatic, at least to my writer/editor eye.

      Anyway, after reading 3 or 4 of Brian's books and co-books (if that's a word.. well, it is now), I gave up on him entirely.

      You're right that other authors can't write in the venue -- unless they get permission from the franchise owners (I'm not sure who the legal owner is at this point, having not followed it that closely). But certainly if someone really wanted to, they could ask to be licensed for a book. Tho for all I know, arguments over creative control, and whether Brian Herbert reserves the right to [gods save us] rewrite the resulting novel may be the real show-stopper.

      (Now let's see if slashdot is speaking to me. It's been disappearing my posts ever since the move.)

  • by swordgeek (112599) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:27PM (#4578925) Journal
    OK, this is an honest question. I'm not trying to troll here.

    But I have been a SF/Fantasy fan for most of my life. I am a huge fan of the classics, modern writing, and all of the (good) stuff in between. It should also be mentioned that I'm also not JUST a SF/Fantasy reader either--my reading stretches over a fair range.

    That said, Dune is the ONLY book I have EVER failed to finish reading, once I got more than ten pages into it. In fact on my third (and last) attempt, I read some 400 pages of it, and couldn't be bothered to pick it up again.

    I found Dune utterly uninvolving. Heavy, ponderous, dull, stilted, and just bloody painful reading. I had no interest in characters, stories, or outcomes in it.

    So what am I missing that sequel #9, written by the son of the original author, is getting created at all, let alone cheered enthusiastically?
    • That's why William Hurt was perfect casting for the TV epic. A perfect match of depressive dullness.
    • I found Dune utterly uninvolving. Heavy, ponderous, dull, stilted, and just bloody painful reading. I had no interest in characters, stories, or outcomes in it.

      F. Herbert was really into the psychology and motivations of his characters. It's even worse in his non-dune books, like The White Plague. That's one that, after several hundred pages, I couldn't finish - after the first few chapters, nothing ever happened. It just went on and on about how this guy felt about what he'd done. Destination: Void was another one I tried to read, several times, but never got past the first few chapters.

      I did read the first 5 Dune books, and enjoyed them. Some are better than others. Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, and Heretics of Dune were the best. I always meant to read Chapterhouse but never got around to it. God Emporer was pretty bad.
  • by Jerf (17166) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:51PM (#4579125) Journal
    In a fricken' universe of some hundreds of thousands or millions of worlds (don't recall which off hand, don't care), the only IMPORTENT ones are the ones which exist in the other books! Wow, 10,000 years eariler and the only importent planets are Giedi Prime and Salusa Secundus. And look, the only social institutions that exist other then The Big Bad guys are the ones that exist in later books: Mentats, Bene Gessirit, the Suk, and if the League of Nobels doesn't eventually become the Royalty of Dune's time, I'd be stunned.

    Ten thousand years and nothing changes.

    I don't know about everyone else, but I find this a distinct marker of lack of imagination on the part of the authors. Herbert himself was not so limited... in the last two books (best two of the series, IMHO), he brings in numerous players that have no existence in the earlier books. He wasn't limited by the stuff he established in later books.

    Star Wars fiction also often suffers this problem, though not always. Some of it is very good and actually explores things not directly in the movies. Others would lead an impartial outside observer to believe that either A: There are only two planets in the entire galaxy or B: Endor is the capital of the galaxy, and Ewoks are the dominant race, because they never have any imagination and step outside of previous work. Oh, and the galaxy has a sum total of about 30 or 40 people in it, etc. etc. You get the idea.

    Look, budding authors, if all I wanted to do was revisit the universe, I'd just re-read the books! Let me explore a bit... show me something new.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday November 01, 2002 @01:53PM (#4579142)
    I heard Kevin in late September talk at a Denver bookstore.
    So far in the series:
    (1-6) Frank Herberts six Dune books.
    (7-9) The three book prequel.
    (10) First book of the Butlerian trilogy.

    Coming:
    (11-12) Second book of Butlerian trilogy done; third book being written.
    (13-15) A fill-in-the-gaps trilogy between the prequels and #2 (Dune Messiah) on how Atriedes got assigned to Dune; How Paul's jihad went, etc.
    (16) A "Road to Dune" book consisting of unpublished notes and short stories found in Frank's estate papers. Both authors are strongly opposed to a Christopher Toklein series, i.e. where Chris published 12 books on every scrap of paper his father wrote.
    (17) A sequel to Frank's sixth book based on full outline found in the estate papers and initial work by Frank. (The amount of this material is highly controversial and we may being hoodwinked here.) Supposedly we learn more where the last no-ship went, who the mysterious farmer couple were, and something more about the scattering culture.

    Kevin also mentioned how the co-authorship works. Both authors completely rewrite everything up to ten times in alternating shifts. Both authors work on other projects in the meantime. Brian H. does not fly in airplanes (a scifi tradition), so he rarely makes it out of the west coast.
  • by dswensen (252552) on Friday November 01, 2002 @02:49PM (#4579594) Homepage
    I don't know, I kind of liked the idea of the Butlerian Jihad as something mysterious that happened in the past, rather than something spelled out explicitly in a sequel. I thought it added a nice dimension to the original Dune, but isn't something that needs its own book.

    The Butlerian Jihad having its own book sort of spoils some of the mystery of it for me. Does anyone else feel this way?
  • A review...hmmmn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Apostata (390629) <apostata@@@hotmail...com> on Friday November 01, 2002 @02:52PM (#4579616) Homepage Journal
    This was a synopsis, not a review, unless reviews have evolved since I last undrestood them into two meagre paragraphs (following a synopsis) that don't really give much of an opinion.

    I've only read the first three books of Dune (the original trilogy), but I understand much of what the reviewer mentioned in the synopsis...question is, it's not made clear whether one would have to read all nine books in the series to "get" Butlerian Jihad.

    Pish tosh!

  • by Vinnie_333 (575483) on Friday November 01, 2002 @05:37PM (#4580937)
    Frank Herbert wrote 6 Dune novels. I love them. Some of the grandest Sci Fi ever written! Now, Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson are writting a bunch of books using the Dune universe. All a series of trilogies. The "Prelude to Dune" books focused on the major families of the Dune universe, the "Legends of Dune" Trilogy, currently in production, focuses on the events and sciences that shaped the Dune universe (Mentants, sheid technology, etc).

    Personnally, I don't have time for any of them. Brian is not Frank in either imagination or skill. Not that this is a major insult, Frank was a master.

    However, Brian did recently find his father's COMPLETE OUTLINE for Dune 7. So, Brian and Kevin will write that, which I will gladly purchase, after they are done with their prequels. Hurry up guys!

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