Dune Messiah is volume two in Frank Herbert's Dune series, and I am of mixed mind about it on this reread.
On the good side, there's more here than I remembered from previous readings. Yes, it's still a short novel - just 256 pages - but it has more plot than I gave it credit for in my memory. Herbert's voice is still here, and the world is still rich and interesting.
I like the way Paul continues to struggle with escaping his vision of the future, and it feels believable, though there is less descriptive language about his actual visions this time. I also like Hayt's role and what he becomes. Those who've read farther into the series know he's going to be around for a very long time.
There are a few things on the not so good side, though.
Most importantly it seems possible that Herbert became enamored of some things that weren't mentioned or present in Dune itself. The planet Tleilax, for example, gets a brief mention in Dune as the source of twisted mentats and another when Barron Harkonnen says he needs to order a new mentat. That's it. In Dune Messiah, however, things are very different. We encounter the name "Bene Tleilaxu" with no explanation, and they have a long history. Several of their creations - Gholas and Face Dancers among them - play major roles in the story. Why did we have no hint of this in Dune itself? Is it possible that Herbert was asked (told?) to "write more Dune!" and turned out Dune Messiah too quickly as a result? I honestly don't know, but I find the way the Bene Tleilaxu are played up a bit bothersome. They are powerful enough they should have had a bigger role before.
As additional evidence for the possible "hurry up and publish it" idea, I give you the book itself. My copy of Dune is nicely typeset, Dune Messiah, on the other hand, was clearly rushed to press. As with Dune, each chapter starts with a quote, but no one bothered to start each quote on a new page. As a result some of these introductory quotes cross pages, which looks very odd and supports my theory that the entire enterprise of writing and publishing it was rushed.
There are some plot issues as well. When Paul took the water of life, whether or not he was presented with all of his ancestors (male, female, or both) is never made clear. We know that Jessica and Alia have an inner dialog with their ancestors, and I know we learn in the next book that the same is true for Ghanima and Leto, but we never find out if that's true for Paul. Why not? Again, I doubt Herbert was given the time he needed to get the book written.
And the link between Paul and Leto at the end is never explained. That may be a bit picky on my part, but I don't know what allows it to happen. An explanation would have helped me.
In all, Dune Messiah was better than I remembered, but still not nearly as good as Dune itself.
This second book in the Dune Chronicles returns with Paul Atreides as now emperor. The stress of ruling and knowing what is to come has taken its toll on Paul. He is not alone in being able to see the future Paul's sister Alia helps Paul rule as she is the head of the Bene Gesserit. Even though Paul and Alia are the center characters we see that the choices they make may not be the best or lead them to a future they wish for.
This is my first time reading through this series and I am really enjoying it. The series is unlike any family saga I have read. All the characters have layers. Neither of them is just good or bad. Like every real individual, the decisions we make have consequences. Paul and Alia are different because they do know what is ahead just not when.
With the upcoming movie, I have been picturing the cast as certain characters...like Duncan Idaho played by Jason Momoa. I don't if this is a good thing or bad. Only time will tell I suppose. Knowing about the movie coming out is urging me to read the series quicker. I will be starting the next book Children of Dune soon.
Second Book in the First Dune Trilogy.
(2nd in Dune series)
The bestselling science fiction series of all time continues! This second installment explores new developments on the desert planet Arrakis, with its intricate social order and its strange threatening environment. DUNE MESSIAH picks up the story of the man known as Maud'dib, heir to a power unimaginable, bringing to fruition an ambition of unparalleled scale: the centuries-old scheme to create a superbeing who reigns not in the heavens but among men.
But the question is: Do all paths of glory lead to the grave?
Almost as good as the first. A must read for Dune fans.
Next book after Dune, continues Paul Atreides story with the Fremen on the desert planet Dune...
Science fiction. Set on the desert planet Arrakis - a world fully as real and as rich as our own - Dune Messiah continues the story of the man Muad'dib, heir to a power unimaginable, bringing to completion the centuries-old scheme to create a superbeing.