David Louis Edelman David Louis Edelman

Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s “Dune” Prequels

Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson's 'Dune: House Atreides' If you intend to read the trilogy of Dune prequels written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Corrino), you ought to know what you’re in for.

A baby is smothered to death by its mother. Another baby is blown to bits by its mother. One man has weights attached to his ankles and is drowned in a vat of excrement. A character strangles his father and has his grandfather tossed off a cliff. There is a prolonged death by bull-goring, and the drugging and violent rape of a Bene Gesserit woman. One woman is raped to death by hundreds of men, another put in a tank and turned into a mindless chemical factory, a third leaps out a window to her death. Soldiers are flayed alive, others have their legs sliced off. At least half a dozen eyeballs get skewered on knives.

A Fremen slices himself open, another is eviscerated by a sandstorm. A traitor has his eyes, ears, tongue and hands sliced off as punishment. There are dozens of deaths by poison. One man is torn to pieces by a pack of dogs. An entire village goes mad to the point that its citizens smear their bloody innards on walls. A woman is stabbed to death by a “psychic” blade. A dozen whales are brutally gored to death. An 8-year-old boy watches his mother get shot in the head.

Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson's 'Dune: House Harkonnen'Wait, I’m not done. Men get eaten by sandworms. On about a dozen occasions, soldiers from one house or another gleefully fire lasguns into crowds and (specifically) cut down women, children and the elderly. Innocent bystanders are slaughtered by the tens of thousands in battles, explosions. A nuclear conflagration blinds a quarter of a planet’s citizens. Dozens of nameless henchmen are tortured, mutilated, stabbed, raped and strangled in graphic detail. Prisoners are framed and executed to public applause. Heads hang on spikes. Corpses are hung on walls to rot. Blood drips from ceilings and puddles on floors. A group of scientists leap into a living vivisection machine, causing blood, gore and body parts to spray all over the attending crowd.

Had enough? I could go on.

We all understand that humans are violent creatures. Frank Herbert, author of the original Dune books, was not above the occasional scene of shocking brutality. But too often Herbert fils and hired gun Kevin Anderson settle for such graphic sensationalism in lieu of subtlety or insight. There’s no need to chastise the authors for not slavishly imitating the beloved originals — but couldn’t they have peeled back the covers on Herbert pere‘s grand mythic and ecologic themes, just a little bit?

Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson's 'Dune: House Corrino'Instead we get gore, buckets of it. Alongside the gore the authors meticulously develop plots and counter-plots over hundreds of pages. Much of the royal intrigue is quite clever, but like the bloodshed, excessive. We get to learn the background stories behind many of the minor characters in the original Dune series (including Duncan Idaho, Liet Kynes, Emperor Shaddam, and others). But many of these tales would have been better left as unexplored bits of background texture. (Was anyone really clamoring to know how “Beast” Rabban got his nickname?)

Certain other major characters are diminished by their extended treatment. As written by Frank Herbert, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen was a ruthless and villainous antagonist to the Atreides family, not above the occasional bit of sadism to get his way; as written by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, he’s a cartoon, constantly going out of his way to sodomize, pillage, maim and torture the innocent. (And let’s not ignore the fact that the prequel authors play up and make an issue of the Baron’s homosexual tendencies in a way that smacks of gay-baiting.)

Probably the greatest sin that the Dune prequels commit is the same sin that The Phantom Menace committed by revealing C-3PO’s creator: they’ve made a much-studied and richly detailed universe a smaller place.

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  1. Shawn h. on October 2, 2008 at 4:23 pm  Chain link

    I have a similar opinion regarding the new Dune novels. I used to regard the Original Dune universe with awe and mystery. Now it has somehow been made mundane and exposed, even if I don’t believe the background and insights that were supposedly uncovered from a safety deposit-box left by Frank Herbert.
    One glaring error is that the ancient ancestors in the prequels had F.T.L. ! That ruins everything. Are they in the Star Trek universe?

  2. martin on April 23, 2009 at 4:25 pm  Chain link

    my plan was to read the prequels and then the original. i have read the butlerian jihad trilogy. it gets worse with every volume.

    i am still holding off reading the original because i can still remember the jihad trilogy.

  3. Joel Witherspoon on April 23, 2009 at 4:47 pm  Chain link

    @martin: Read the originals:you won’t be disappointed.
    Read the prequels: you will be disappointed.

    Anderson and Herbert went to geeky in to the stories. They ceased to be human drama and more a technical exercise. I liked that Frank Herbert didn’t completely explain the axlotl tanks, the voice or any other of the plot tools he used. He simply told the story with them. With the Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson books, the technology is the story and the humanistic drama weaves between them.

  4. Ácido Cínico on April 23, 2009 at 5:40 pm  Chain link

    Fully agree, and thanks for a great review.
    I read the originals before college. Many years later I read House Atreides on a long flight, feeling like I was reading not Herbert Sr -by far- but rather Tom Clancy: Ok for airport reading, and ready to forget as jet lag disappears; but shame it was in the Dune universe I quite revered. I didn’t like House Harkonnen, nor ever felt like buying House Corrino; in fact I don’ t remember the plot in the trilogy… I guess it must be like Episodes I, II, III: they end just before the original.
    Later I found Butlerian Jihad (didn’t even know it was now a trilogy, but not a surprise) at a friend’s place, and could never get past page 20: boring, dull, linear… Abashing.

    I wouldn’t be surprised either to see this extended ad infinitum.
    Thus expect to see in stores pretty soon: Schaum’s guide to The Voice; Navigator’s astrophysics in a nutshell; Ginaz for Dummies; The complete works of Irulan; a comparison between Coruscant, Trantor, and Kaitain; The Handbook of Muad’dib’s philosophy; Like a Sea for the Fremen: Dune revelations; Open Source Mentats; Arrakis’ Alchemist; The orange catholic bible; Advanced Bene Gesserit Sexual Techniques; Sardaukar Survival Handbook; CHOAM accounting: the spice bubble and Ponzi schemes in Dune; Pardot Kynes handwritten notes; Portrait of Shaddam IV as a young emperor; Zensunni haikus; Zensufi greatest hits (sells with an iTunes Store free track); Build your own windtrap; Ix’ global warming; The Bashar in the Rye and other stories…

    It truly could go on FOREVER. It is the legacy of Frank Herbert that these two harkonnen are spoiling.

    The thing I tell everyone Dune-virgin again and again is: read ONLY the first novel, “DUNE”, as many times as you may feel like it (at least 2 or 3), but NEVER bother reading the rest of the originals, NOR the heir’s spawn literature…

  5. Alli on April 24, 2009 at 12:32 am  Chain link

    The biggest difference IMHO?

    Frank Sr used the tech to tell the story. Jr and Anderson tell stories about the tech. Much less interesting that way.

  6. Pheagan on April 24, 2009 at 12:59 am  Chain link

    I’ve never has any wish to read these books. I’m still sure they pale in comparison to the Dune books. But hot damn if you didn’t sell the heck out of them while trying to condemn them! Which one is the most brutal? You’ve got a horror movie fan here primed and ready for some crappy gory reading.

  7. Aaron on April 24, 2009 at 1:08 am  Chain link

    Hey, just read your review and have to agree. I read the first two books when they first came out and the scariest thing of it is they were so terribly dull and uninspired that I didn’t even remember all the terribly violence you described until you listed it.

    When people asked my opinion I generally just said ‘boring and unsubtle’.

    It’s a bit sad where terrible violence can be used so effectively in some books like Sara Douglas’s Nameless Day (who would know how to push the gory buttons better than a former nurse!) as an essential part of the plot and in books like this such terrible acts be presented so poorly as to be forgetable.

  8. Vogellied on April 24, 2009 at 12:06 pm  Chain link

    I loved the original books and have read them all every three or four years since my teens. I loved the prequels! Yes there are the violent scenes described above,m but that is over 67 books and thousands upon thousands of pages. Finding out just what the Butlerian Jihad encompassed, the beginning the Bene Gesserit, and the other major and minor houses is amazing ). Lets not forget that this didn’t happen in a void with Herbert and “hired gun” Anderson just making it up as they go along. The stories are based on well documented writings by Frank and his ideas of what happened in his universe that lead to the 6 books he created. I find your review is quite bias and sensational for those who have not read the books. For example “An entire village goes mad to the point that its citizens smear their bloody innards on walls”, what you don;t bother to explain is that this pivotal scene is due to Harkonnen on Dune drowing a baby maker in the villages water supply. Without a Benne Geserit to convert the poison the unsuspecting village is driven insane. The is a critical point for the fremen in determining how they decide their fate and in recruiting followers and changing the scope of their tactics. Many of the scenes of violence you describe are either committed by the Harkonnen who Frank writes up as violent and demented and are used to tell needed stories, by the thinking machines who are slave master to humanity and see humans as chattel who can be abused and tossed away at will, or freemen, who again are again described by Frank engaging in many graphic acts and rituals. The story of how Vladimir becomes how he is portrayed in the Frank series is brilliant and honestly I never got the gay- bashing bit. I just stumbled across this and found no voice out there doing anything but agreeing with you, even though many admit they did not read much of the books so don’t know how or why certain aspects from earlier books play out. Wish I didn’t have to get back to work and could think my comments out a bit more clearly and to the point, but duty calls. Cheers all!

  9. […] Going To Have A Jihad But Then We Found That Lunch Menu And Decided To Get Lunch Instead, Of Dune. Just check out David Louis Edelman’s review of the prequels, in which he calls them out for pointless unpleasantness, turning Baron Harkkonen […]

  10. David Louis Edelman on April 24, 2009 at 3:01 pm  Chain link

    Vogellied: No problem with having dissenting voices here. Obviously there are people who love the new Dune books, or they wouldn’t be selling hundreds of thousands of copies.

    I should point out that my above review only covers the first three Herbert/Anderson prequels (first three in terms of publication date, not chronology). I dunno, to me that seems like an excessive amount of violence even spread out among a thousand pages. After a while, all the blood just gets demented, cartoony, and just plain loses its impact.

    I should point out that in addition to this review, I have another article up on this blog stating that, despite my dislike of the prequels, I’m glad Herbert and Anderson are continuing to write them. I might not care for their novels, but I disagree with those who think they’re just in it for the cash.

  11. Bob on April 24, 2009 at 4:19 pm  Chain link

    “They’ve made a much-studied and richly detailed universe a smaller place”

    This is a common failure of authors and their heirs: showing us how a mythical realm really works ruins the myth.

    The classic is The Hobbit and LOTR. I first read them in the late 60s, and always felt the magic and mystery of an entire detailed world and history that was clearly common knowledge to the characters, as they passingly mentioned Hurin and Turin and Elbereth Gilthoniel – but not to me. I read them every year. Then Christopher Tolkien started editing and publishing the notes his dad never intended for public consumption, like the Silmarillion and then the zillion other volumes. When I read the Silmarillion, yeah, it was cool, but then the sense of mystery was just gone.

    Charles de Lint did the same thing. I religiously bought every Newford book he wrote as soon as it came out. Then I read “The Onion Girl”, where he explained the machinery of his magical realm, and have had no further interest in his work.

  12. Slangers on April 24, 2009 at 5:28 pm  Chain link

    The original Dune books are awesome. I have read them time and time again over the last 30 years. The prequels are dreadful. Brian Herbert is not fit to tie his fathers shoelaces.

  13. Noda on April 26, 2009 at 6:29 am  Chain link

    For me, Frank’s 6 novels were some of the greatest world building, thematic, and engaging ever written. By contrast,IMO, Brian and Kevin are insanely frustrating – the writing is inane, as you say it’s a gratuitous gorefest, and they commit, to my mind, the worst sin possible…
    In the second book of the prequel trilogy, they disclose a secret that Frank holds off on until God Emperor – that’s book 4!!! Consequently, there’s this prequel trilogy, that, even if it had been well written, CAN’T be recommended to new readers of the saga without destroying Frank’s Magnum Opus. It’s just stupid.
    I hate to say it, but I like Dune so much, I have bought and read ALL of the new books, not just trilogy one but all the rest too. What can I say? I was overly optimistic about my hopes that with practice, they might get it…

  14. Kristian Lund on April 26, 2009 at 5:36 pm  Chain link

    @ Vogellied:
    “The story of how Vladimir becomes how he is portrayed in the Frank series is brilliant”

    It is wrong.

    We are told several times in Dune how the Baron Harkonnen is fat because he indulges his appetites and cares not one whit what people think of him (or actually likes to shock people). We are told Rabban might let himself go fat, and that Feud will not let himself go fat.
    Nowhere is there a mention that “Feud would not let a BG give him a fatness-inducing disease”, but we have rather Lady Fenring (skilled in the art of observation) juxtaposing Feud with the Baron over the exact issue of letting gross overweight happen to oneself.

    Furthermore, he Baron’s girth is an example of his bestial nature, it underlines his character as a sensual, bestial antithesis to the Atreides who pride themselves at their humanity (read the first two chapters, it is quite clear…)

    So, in short, changing the reason behind the Baron’s weight is chiseling off a little bit of Frank’s characterization. Either the Baron’s weight speaks to his character and resonates with the themes of animal vs human – or it is just a cool gimmick, some punishment thought up by a Bene Gesserit (who are known for not becoming personal and disliking revenge, by the way).

  15. Pat on June 16, 2009 at 9:47 pm  Chain link

    I am frustrated that there are so many errors in the prequels: how Jessica came to be the Duke’s concubine, the reason the Baron is fat, Emporer was married(Dune says consort), Jessica did not know about the Kwistaz Haderach program when she conceived (Dune implies she did), Jessica knew Dr Yeuh since before Paul was conceived (Dune says she only knew him 6 years at the time Paul was 15) and on and on. Has anyone else noticed this? I see many others and I feel that if I as a recreational, ableit frequent, reader can pick these out that someone/his son researching to write Dune prequels should be able to see this and avoid these conflicts.

  16. Eric Therrien on August 18, 2009 at 3:54 pm  Chain link

    I use to read the entire Dune series (6 books) once every 2 years but since i read the prequels and hunters and sandworms of Dune, these originals books, by the master, Frank, are pulling away from me. I’ve waited 20 years for the 7th book and they completely destroyed my visions…. sometimes, things are better left the way they are. Me neither, i don’t beleive in the deposit box discovery! Frank Herbert, in my opinion, never did a bad book. Even White Plague, which is a hard and long book to read, is millions years ahead of anything that both Brian & Kevin have and will write.
    Hope to be able to read Dune again, and if i have to throw the Herbert/Anderson books to the garbage to do so, so be it.

  17. James on July 5, 2010 at 10:38 pm  Chain link

    I tried to read the prequels, but quickly became disgusted and put them aside. Not only where they childish in construction, lacking all sense of intricacy that Frank Herbert was famous for, but it seems that they relied on the David Lynch film for their character references rather than Frank Herbert’s own work. The Baron is cherubic, grotesquely fat, but still attractive. Yet Herbert/Anderson give him a disease that attempts to explain why he’s so fat, but then also discusses his boils and scars. Boils and scars? Did he read the character description of the Baron in Dune at all? I didn’t want to see how they destroyed what would have otherwise been an amazing end to a fantastic series. I would have been entirely too depressed.

  18. grandmastercrafter on August 6, 2010 at 1:14 pm  Chain link

    @ Vogellied – These new books are NOT based on “well documented writings” by Frank, and his ideas of “what happened” in his universe that lead to the 6 books he created.

    The new stories, at best, came from notes that the two claimed had been discovered, decades after FH’s death. No one has ever independently corroborated that these notes do indeed exist – it’s hearsay and unproven (as far as I know, to date – please correct me if I’m wrong). Requests for proof have gone unheeded, and in fact the groups and individuals asking for any kind of independent verification have been scoffed at and treated very badly (most of them were true and loyal fans of Dune and FH, who stuck by the franchise throughout the decades – well before Kevin came on the scene).

    At worst, these stories have been made up as they go along… in my opinion it seems like that’s far more likely, since there are far too many problems with the new books that Frank Herbert would never have endorsed, based simply on standards of storyline consistency that come with being a good writer, which Frank definitely was…

    These so-called notes, from the mouths of Kevin and Brian, were FH’s notes used when he created the series, over a course of 2.x DECADES. There could be all kinds of ideas that Frank had tried out and deemed unsuitable for Dune, since that’s the nature of planning a novel – having lots of ideas and then working it out to come up with a final product, via edits and pruning and the like. You don’t use everything you see in someone’s notes as gospel or claim that it’s something that simply was not added because the original author never got around to it – and you should never try rewrite the canon to an authors legacy work without more to go on than that, imho.

    If these notes DO exist, all that can be said is that they are ideas that Frank had that he did NOT include into any of his other works (why not, no one knows and it’s in the realm of speculation, since Brian doesn’t claim to know that – and Kevin definitely doesn’t know, since he came along afterwards) – and he had only (allegedly) planned to write one more Dune book – where is all this other nonsense coming from?

    We’re talking about FH here – he worked for decades on ONE novel – there’s a reason Dune is so good: solid hard WORK from a brilliant and inspired man. It’s not easy to write good stuff – churn out a book a year in a universe that took 20+ years to even conceive, and you can guarantee one thing and one thing only: substandard materials, regardless of style or anything else.

    Also – I have read all the books, and wish I hadn’t, since the ideas from the new stuff pollutes my memories of the originals – not alot, due to rigid self-discipline, but enough to make me nauseous. But you can’t comment on things you haven’t read, right? (wrong, but that’s another convo, for another time and place)

    Oh, and in looking around for and talking to readers of Dune whenever I can, I have found approximately 0 (+/- 3.7584) people who got into the original Dune series from these new books.

    On the other hand, I have found people who started Dune with the new books, who then argue the points in the new books as if these are solid facts. And they claim to know the originals, but when asked to discuss specifics they cannot come up with any more than either rote answers or cookie-cutter cliches… that tells me alot right there – cause Dune can be a hard read, and how do you expect anyone coming from the prequels to just ease into the originals? It has to be the other way around, if it happens at all – imho…

    On the gripping hand, I’m sure there must be some people who have gotten into the originals due to these new books – unfortunately, they are hard to find, and I really try to keep my eyes and ears open…

    I realize I could keep going, so I’ll stop after the second sentence after this one, I guess. Next time I’ll have an outline, or will test a draft out elsewhere before typing like this :)

    David – I’d like to thank you for a very impressive review – great points with a good focus, well-written – a gem for sure – Thank you.

  19. acreator on January 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm  Chain link

    I’ve read the original FH books thrice. They’re a challenging read, largely because Frank is extremely subtle in style and in intellectual approach. He avoids explanations as much as possible, preferring to let the reader piece things together. His continuous story was compelling largely because he didn’t coddle us: he implied more than explained, and he kept things moving quickly, jumping ahead years, decades, centuries, or millennia as he saw fit, with little guidance to the reader. His subtlety was his greatest strength, making the series actually seem futuristic (even to modern readers) despite having begun in the 60’s (!).

    The Brian & Kevin team are quite the opposite. Regardless of the veracity of their claims about safety deposit boxes (grandmastercrafter makes some good points about the nature and limitations of an author’s personal notes), their writing is sloppy and childish. I’d be surprised if either of them has managed to read through all six of FH’s originals without spending most of each book distracted, eyes glazed over as they lethargically scanned the pages. Their misinterpretations of the majority of the series, especially Chapterhouse: Dune, are blatantly obvious in the first 50 pages of Hunters. Many have pointed out the compendium of errors that have made their way into the 6 prequels.

    But let us make some allowances. Sure, their research and preparation work was obviously quite weak, but we can live with that. What we can’t live with, as readers, is BAD WRITING. Have you folks read any of these things? They’re horse-sh*t! Wow! These guys write like below-average high school students grudgingly hashing out creative writing assignments for English class. It’s deplorable and embarrassing. The writing is so obvious, over-explained, and mundane. Frank managed to make his characters ADVANCED, INTELLECTUAL HUMAN BEINGS in the way they thought, observed, perceived, conversed, behaved, etc – which makes sense considering that they lived THOUSANDS of years into our evolutionary future. Brian & Kevin manage to devolve humanity to the intellectual level of 90’s day-time soap opera characters.

    It’s so goddamn disappointing. Brian should have hired someone like Dan Simmons to create “book 7” and left him to do it on his own…

  20. Chip on December 15, 2011 at 3:19 am  Chain link

    I’ve read the original Dune series, and I find it to be one of the most complex, and rewarding reading experiences I’ve ever had the good fortune to enjoy. Though Dune is rightly regarded as a masterwork of science fiction, I find that my particular literary affections lie with Heretics of Dune. I get a nice, cuddly feeling whenever I think of that novel.

    I’ve read many of the Dune prequel novels and find that as the series progresses, the quality of writing, characterization, and respect for money-paying readers diminishes radically. I always believed that the Dune prequels were simply a money-making scheme, the literary equivalent of a turn-key business operation; what I didn’t want to believe, however, was that Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson would be so obvious and crass about it. I can understand not wanting to “imitate” Frank Herbert’s particular style in a way that might come off as contrived, but I cannot understand the choice to simply abandon the very essence of the series. (I wonder if Brian Herbert is even familiar with his father’s work.)

    I wasn’t overly offended by the hefty amount of violence in the “prequel” stories, but I did find myself wanting more in terms of subtlety, grace, intellect, style, and substance. The initial Dune series implied so much more than it revealed, and it made particular demands of readers: Dune and the whole Dune series was not intended for dummies. It seems that Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have a different opinion of the whole Dune phenomenon and its readers. I think they consider true Dune fans to be so incredibly desperate for anything Dune-related, that they can just slap the name “DUNE” on any steaming pile of sh** and make tons of money off of people who truly love and respect the universe that Frank Herbert brought to us. It’s this cynical apparent-attitude that offends me the most.

    At the time of this reading, I’ve learned that “Sisterhood of Dune” is due to infect bookshelves soon. At the time of this reading, I wonder why Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson haven’t been subjected to the gom jabbar!

  21. Ken on February 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm  Chain link

    I felt the prequels were fluff compared to the originals. I didn’t mind the Jihad books
    except that I felt by the third book it kinda ran out of steam.
    Don’t get me started on Sandworms of Dune. While not a prequel I felt that it went way off the reservation and integrated the prequels to the determent of Herbert’s story. I do not believe for one minute that Herbert’s supposed outline in any way shape of form envisioned their ending for the series

  22. Zeno on February 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm  Chain link

    I loved the first 3 books.
    God Emperor of Dune was decent.
    Heretics and Chapterhouse were a bit thin but I still enjoyed them but I doubt I would read them again.

    Prequels? No thanks, everyone I know who has read them says to stay away – and what little I’ve skimmed at the bookstore leads me to believe that assessment.

    And just for the record I just don’t buy the whole ‘found in a safety deposit box’ stroy…call me a skeptic…

    For anyone who is interested in a very nice presentation of DUNE backstory elements, try to find a copy of the Dune Encyclopedia by Willis McNely rt al. While this work is not considered canonical by ‘official’ sources (i.e. Brian Herbert), it was done with such obvious care and affection by those involved for the series that, for me at least, it’s more canon than the pap written by B.H and K.A. Besides, at least Frank Herbert himself had seen the work and wrote an intro for it.

  23. David Louis Edelman on February 27, 2012 at 8:48 pm  Chain link

    Zeno: I am the proud owner of a copy of The Dune Encyclopedia. It’s honestly quite difficult to read, and a lot of it seems pretty wacky and fanboyish. But a nice thing to own nonetheless.

  24. Ivriniel on February 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm  Chain link

    Having read Kevin J. Anderson’s Star Wars trilogy, I refuse to read anything else of his.

    How this man keeps getting invites to play in other people’s universes is beyond me.

  25. Ozymandias on February 28, 2012 at 1:03 am  Chain link

    Larry Niven has said in the past that he does not like “colaborations” mainly because most of them have one guy doing the work and another giving the name for recognition. I dont like mister Anderson’s work. I read his Star wars book because I,was a fanboy, but didnt like any of it, and found presumptous the way he pushed his characters. Later I read Dune, and could not put those books down. Read them at least 3 times. Then I picked Butlerian Jihad, wow what a bad book. It is not about different styles or characterizations it is just plain bad writing. It was the first book I didnot finish, not even to critisize it.

  26. Reaver on February 28, 2012 at 1:35 am  Chain link

    I’m not a hardcore Duner, but grew up with my parents reading the books and by proxy picked up on a lot of the story.
    the the David Lynch dune blew my 7 year old mind and for me when I read the novels now, I see David Lynch’s design, style and vision .
    which is a good thing for a 20,000 years in the future universe, (something that was lost on the designers of the mini series spin offs it shouldn’t look like starwars)
    I have to say I enjoyed the butlerian Jihad, machine crusade and battle of corino.
    I did want to know more about what set this unique universe in motion.
    one that had gone so far forward it had collapsed back on itself into a feudal empire.
    I havent read any of the other prequel books, but I did enjoy seeing how the beginnings of some of these things, like the holtzman drives, guild navigation and mentats came about.
    Also it goes to show Herbert Sr totally beat James Cameron to the plot Terminator :)

  27. […] Going To Have A Jihad But Then We Found That Lunch Menu And Decided To Get Lunch Instead, Of Dune. Just check out David Louis Edelman’s review of the prequels, in which he calls them out for pointless unpleasantness, turning Baron Harkkonen […]

  28. Zeno on February 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm  Chain link


    …Also it goes to show Herbert Sr totally beat James Cameron to the plot Terminator….

    Not sure I follow the connection between DUNE and Terminator. Is there a time travelling robot in the prequel novels? If so, then all I’ve got to say is @#%

  29. SC on April 19, 2012 at 7:03 pm  Chain link

    I love Dune and reread the originals now and again. I liked the prequels as a preteen when they first came out, and the years have brought for them a growing distaste.

    Everyone makes good points here but while I’m working from old memory, the whole Bene Gesserit rape event now strikes me as distinctly absurd. They did enough thinking to realize it would take paralysis to accomplish such but not enough to conclude that a Reverend Mother capable of enduring the Spice Agony should be more than capable of safely metabolizing a limited paralytic. Poor taste notwithstanding.

    If the pair wanted to have a rape scene so badly they could have done a little more thinking and maybe made Mohiam only pretend-play along so that she could have the new Harkonnen child with minimal fuss, but no, we get an unsubstantiated revenge-illness to explain the Baron’s already-explained rotundity, oh and also by the way the Bene Gesserit have psychic powers and together they can use the Force to control no-ships with their minds. Okay.

    I felt obliged to comment only after learning that the same pair who stripped the Butlerian Jihad of all subtlety and mystery had the stones to insinuate that Dune itself was in-universe fiction, whereas their prequels and sequels are the REAL story. When I introduce anyone to Dune I will make sure to mention that Frank Herbert is a genius whose son is a sellout partnered with a hack.

    Merely my opinion.

  30. lotek on August 14, 2012 at 11:23 am  Chain link

    It’s good to find this kind of review around instead of the usual shills (even them have trouble finding nice things to say, which in turn says a lot)

    Thanks to you David, and please drop by our sietch if you feel like it.

  31. Johnny D. on August 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm  Chain link

    Was so glad to find this review, and even more glad to find that there are so many others who feel exactly as I do that the Brian Herbert

  32. Pabz DC on January 25, 2013 at 5:38 pm  Chain link

    First of all, i can’t believe this website has been here since 2004. I only started reading the 6 Canon Dune books last May 2012 and followed it up along with BH/KJA’s Non Canon Fillers. I never noticed the inconsistencies except thru the forums, and I am just dismayed by what has happened. I only realized what was missing after three books by BH/KJA. I can;t believe that they seem to have never read the book. I missed the subtleties and the insights which kept me on this series, imagine having 12×12 of dog ear folds. I don;t get any of those anymore.

    Plus there were lots of characters that didn;’t seem to grow out of their past selves. Think Ginaz Mercenary Jon NOret who had never forgiven himself over his blood on his father’s death. He was just…there. And then at the end Iblis Ginjo blurted out everything his plans and plots to Xavier Harkonnen, when he could have just left most things unsaid. Also, it might have been different if one of Vorian’s twins died, plus Kalem discovering Leronica’s affair with Vorian “Virk” in the public tavern. But insead, BH/KJA implied in an earlier chapter that Kalem would pass. Though i had hoped it would’ve been one of the children instead, how she Leronica would react to that conflict, even if she did just accept Vorian Atreides’ absence, how would the Primero deal with the loss?

    I know for a fact that my concerns regarding the 6 Canon Dune books seem naive or amateur, anyway, I know that Herbert Sr. changed my perception in books, even though I loved Fast-paced genre Riordan’s Percy Jackson, McHale’s Pendragon, Butcher’s Dresden Files, Clive Cussler’s Oregon Files among others are my favorites for the instant adrenaline rushes that they give me, after Frank Herbert’s Dune (6 Canon books) and simultaneuosly Le Guin’s Earthsea Series and Card’s Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, I have started to use Herbert, as my Benchmark for any Sci Fi books that I read. Books that leave me thinking, books that are very, challenging and takes time to digest. Books that make you agree though not completely, books that change the way you see things.

    Established authors, i think, should do their research well. It was clear that the “secret bosses” were the Face Dancers right at book 6’s last chapter. In book 7 they changed it to Erasmus and Omnius. – ANd it may have been clear that the whole Dune would end with the battle among themselves, as in, maybe Herbert Sr. would turn to philosophy in reference to what separates a man from an the advanced face dancers. I really don;t know. The only reasons, I think that I would continue reading the Butlerian Jihad Trilogy is to find out how the Bene Gesserits and the Mentats started.

  33. Raspopa Cristian on August 31, 2013 at 4:26 pm  Chain link

    I first tried to read dune when I was 14 and gave it up because i found it too hard to comprehend. Since i was about 18, i started reading the original books and i cannot, and i mean I CAN NOT give them up even now when i’m 26. I even made it a point to read them in english (i’m Romanian) so as to capture the original spirit of the books.
    So i guess it’s safe to say i’m a fanatic Dune fan. I would like someone to start a petition requesting that Brian and Kevin be taken to the deathstills and their water flushed down the drain.
    I actually feel like puking every time i look at the titles these guys created. To me, the worst part is not that they’ve created a universe full of mass murderers, or that they’ve written the books in a style accessible to my 10 months old son, or that they’ve transformed a sci-fi into something unnameable with elecrans (energy elementals?), oracles of time (wtf?). No, the greatest crime was that they deliberately modified facts, ignored data supplied in the original books, added cheezy happenings to previously admired characters.
    – Baron Harkonnen throws a scepter out the window and hopes it hits somebody in the streets below? (when Barony is said to have 950 stories – Heretics of Dune) WTF?
    – Leto goes himself and is somehow coerced into accepting Lady Jessica (The duke’s buyers came for her – Dune) WTF?
    – Baron Harkonnen is transformed into a victim of Gaius Helen Mohiam, who actually has a storehouse of diseases ready for use, screw the Great Convention prohibiting the use of biological weapons WTF?
    The list of WTF?s is longer than you can imagine, so i seriously advise anybody who thinks about reading these books, THINK AGAIN. Take a hammer and hit yourself in the groin and the pain would be easier to accept.
    Congratulations David Louis Edelman for a most comprehensive review, you pretty much summed it all up.

    And before i go……
    Leto II’s infant ghola transforms into a mini-sandworm and lashes at the Reverend Mothers who try to smother him?? WTF????


  34. James on March 26, 2014 at 4:48 pm  Chain link

    I read the prequels up to the point where they describe how the Baron Harkonnen contracts a virus that makes him morbidly obese and causes him to break out in sores. At that point I realized the authors of the prequels hadn’t read Frank Herbert’s books but instead had opted to watch the David Lynch movie and go from there. It was grotesque, and I have since refused to read any of them, including their surely horrific ending to the elder Herbert’s original Dune series. I also actively discourage people from reading any of Brian and Kevin’s butcheries and suggest they stick with Frank Herbert’s books alone, ending at Chapter House and leaving the mystery to itself.

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