Strength fuels opposition, victory ignites it.
1,500 years have passed since the time of Leto II, the God Emperor. His fall marked the beginning of the Famine Times, prompting many to leave the known universe. Now the descendants of that Scattering have returned, in numbers that dwarf the empire they left behind. Only the Bene Gesserit stand against them, buying time while their plan comes to fruition. Once more the fate of mankind hinges on two special children. One is a young Duncan Idaho, the latest in a long line of gholas; the other is a child of the desert, Sheena, who has the power to command the worms of Rakis.
Heretics of Dune has everything fans have come to expect from a Dune book; a young protagonist groomed for a specific role, a strong female who challenges authority, and a plethora of complex ideas; ranging from the nature of power and strength, to the unavoidable inequality created by social hierarchies. And yet…something is missing.
Throughout the story there are numerous references to a looming threat on the horizon, but within the scenes themselves there’s little sense of urgency. Dialogue dominates every scene, a mix of heated debates that hint at a grand plan, and intellectual discussions that blatantly state the underlying ideas instead of quietly hinting at them. Flashbacks and summaries break up the monotony with warm memories that help to personalize each character. Unfortunately it’s the characters themselves that create the biggest problem.
Most stories begin with a disruption, and spend the rest of the story trying to restore order. But the Bene Gesserit, who dominate the story, have all passed through their trials. They are stable, strong, and implacable. In every situation they know exactly what to do, and they never hesitate. Against such opponents the antagonists struggle to keep up, engaging in brief skirmishes that quickly fizzle out, before finally mounting a proper offensive at the two-thirds mark. This forces the protagonists out of their secure routines; creating opportunities for younger, more dynamic characters to take center stage. The last quarter is as strong as anything in the Dune series, with an ending that feels fitting, if incomplete. Overall Heretics reads more like a prologue than an actual story, a necessary precursor to the real story, Chapterhouse: Dune.
Chapterhouse: Dune (Dune 06)