THE WINDS OF DUNE by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

28 10 2012

I read all six of Frank Herbert’s original Dune sextet years ago (those of you who know me will have guessed they were favourites of my grandmother’s and became favourites of mine) but this is the first time I’ve read one of the sequels written by Frank’s son Brian Herbert and his collaborator, Kevin J. Anderson.

Had I been avoiding them? Been a bit suspicious? Perhaps. But much of my reading is serendipitous – I pick up books wherever I go – and none of them happened to come my way. This one I found in Avignon when I was there in the summer (drawn like a moth to a flame after reading Munro’s Wrong Way Round the Church). It was on top of a stack of secon-hand books, just asking to be bought, read and cherished. I mean, look at the cover. A whole new world beckoned. And someone I could definitely identify with!

Only it wasn’t a new world. It was Dune – the Dune universe – exactly as it had been fifteen, twenty, years ago, the last time I walked there. These two don’t put a foot wrong.

In fact, this book follows on directly from the second of the original Dune trilogy, Dune Messiah. Paul Atreides, the Emperor Muad’Dib, is dead. Or missing, presumed dead, having walked out into the desert and disappeared after being blinded in an assassination attempt. He left behind him twin children – babies still – and a wife, Princess Irulan, the daughter of the previous emperor. But Irulan had been his wife in name only. His true love was the Fremen warrior maiden Chani, the mother of the twins, and she died giving birth to them.

Now the vast empire consisting of thousands of worlds is ruled over by Paul’s sixteen-year-old sister Alia. But that is not a normal sixteen. Alia, like her brother Paul, has “other memory”, can remember subjectively the lives of hundreds of women who came before her. As can members of the Bene Geserit sisterhood, of course, only Alia was born like that, which makes her, in the eyes of the Bene Geserit, an abomination. They want her dead.

The old Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino, whom Paul overthrew, believes the time is ripe for him to make a come-back. He too wants the Regent Alia dead.

How will Alia cope with all this? Jessica, Paul and Alia’s mother, travels to Dune from her home on Caladan to find out, as well as to be present at Paul’s ‘funeral’ ceremony. And to see what is happening about the twins, her grandchildren. Would they be safer on Caladan?

There are so many strands running through this tale that I can’t possibly mention them all. Anyway, I don’t wish to spoil it for you. But I loved it – especially the sections where Jessica tells Irulan and Gurney Halleck about Paul’s boyhood and his visit to Ix and his subsequent adventures with his friend Bronso, the same Bronso of Ix who is now being hunted relentlessly by Alia and the ghola Duncan Idaho. Why? Read it and see.

But don’t read it if you haven’t already read the six original novels by Frank Herbert himself! You must read them first!

As for me, I was going to get hold of the sequel to this sequel – The Throne of Dune – but I have just discovered that it has been cancelled – a tragedy! Let’s hope they uncancel it asap! In the meantime I’ll re-read Children of Dune, the third volume in the original trilogy – I am completely engrossed in the period when Alia was Regent – then start reading all the other books which Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have set in the fabulous Dune universe.

Here is an interview with the two of them made when they started on the series of sequels. They are talking about Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune, which Frank called “Dune 7” and left comprehensive notes for. After Children of Dune I guess I’ll begin with those – and review them on this site.

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