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Title: Dune Messiah
Series: Dune Chronicles #2
Author: Frank Herbert
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Paul Atreides is Emperor of the Galaxy. His Fremen have swept planets under his rule and nobody can stop him. For Paul can see the future and how do you fight a man who can see THAT? The answer appears to be, very carefully and with layers upon layers of plots.
The Bene Gesserit, the Spacing Guild, the Bene Tleilax and Princess Irulan are all in to bring the downfall of Paul Atreides, who seems to be on the cusp of attaining godhood. They attack his family through Chani. They subvert his Quizarate. They foment rebellion amongst the Naibs who cannot deal with the rapid change of climate on Dune. They tempt Paul himself with the gola of Duncan Idaho, the man who gave his life to save Paul.
And Paul sees this all and knows this all and he doesn’t know how to stop seeing the future. He is walking a path of least resistance, the smallest amount of chaos but as the Navigators found out in Dune, that eventually leads to Stagnation. So Paul lets the future happen and hopes that his children can somehow change things.
And as a blind Fremen, he walks out into the desert to die.
Some seriously wicked crazy plotting going on here. Not everyone is happy with Emperor Paul. In fact, most of the power groups aren’t. We get introduced to the Bene Tleilax, a group/race of people that are, in essence, shapechangers. They can also mimic those they change into. The Bene Gesserit are upset because their little breeding program is off the rails; what’s the point of creating a superman if you can’t control him? The Spacing Guild, CHOAM and the Landsraad are all pretty put out as Paul exercises supreme authority and they have to do what they’re told.
I really liked how Herbert figures out a way to make it possible to blind someone who can see the future. If nothing else in this book impresses you, the fact that Herbert doesn’t make Paul unassailable should make you re-read Dune with new eyes.
There was a lot of philosophy talk being thrown around. There was a lot of political machinations going on. This had nuances and creases and folds that were not only not apparent in Dune, but were pretty much unthinkable. Herbert completely throws Paul under the bus because that is the only place he can go.
Alia plays the second biggest role here, in my opinion. She’s not quite as powerful as Paul and is constantly trying to catch up to her big brother. That isn’t very ominous until you’re doing a Re-Read. Then it becomes the scary music in the background. In many ways it seems that Paul does nothing to try to stop her. But that is a “thing” for him. He is hemmed in by prophecy of future sight and so he is so afraid of meddling with others and somehow damaging their free will.
Free will is about having the choice. Not all the choices, not clearly spelled out, not with all the knowledge of the consequences. Free Will means being able to say “yes” or “no” to something. Even while bemoaning the future sight, Paul still had Free Will. He just didn’t want to face the consequences of taking a different path and so he didn’t.
And so like in our world, one generation of heroes must make way for another.