Dune Messiah

By Frank Herbert

I wasn’t a massive fan of the original Dune. I sort of flew through it and it felt a bit dated and despite some cool moments, the rushed ending left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I figured at the time that I’d never touch a book of the Dune series again.

However I was inspired by the title of a Youtube video (I didn’t actually watch the video until after finishing this book) to give it another shot. Since I had a cross country solo road trip ahead of me I decided to get lost in some fiction and try the sequel. I ended up really enjoying the book and felt that I have gained a greater appreciation for things I missed in the original book as well.

With the first book in the series I felt Herbert was enjoying telling the story so much that he didn’t want to stop. As he approached 500 pages however he seemed to realize he needed to stop and just dropped in a ending. This book however feels very focused as its only the half the length of the first book but with a very satisfying ending.

One thing interesting about both these books is Herbert takes the “don’t tell, show” (as in don’t tell us the main character is a nice guy, show he is) to the extreme. When a new weapon or device is shown you are never given a monologue about how it works or why it was invented. You are just shown the device and the story moves on.

The Dune series as a whole is about human potential. The series takes place 20,000 years into the future and imagines that instead of humans having created advanced technology, like computers, AI, starships, as in other science fiction, instead humans have created advanced humans. Instead of computers we have the Mentats, humans with advanced memory and calculation ability. Instead of advanced starships we have ships controlled by Guild Navigators who have mutated so specifically to their task of piloting ships across the galaxy using faster than light techniques that they can’t even walk and must be suspended in something resembling a fish tank.

At the center of all this human potential we have Paul Atreides. He is prophesied to be the chosen one of a number of religions and despite his immense power, he is never able to escape the prophesies and choose his own path in life. He can see the future but in a very Dr. Manhattan manner is merely just a puppet who can see the strings.

I look forward to continuing on with the rest of the books in the series.