The Gross National Debt

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dune: The Machine Crusade - book review


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Book 2 of the Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson is the least appealing of the triology of the Butlerian Jihad to overthrow the Thinking Machines.

A review of Books 1 and 2 is here.

About 1/4 of the way into this book, I realized the book was fully twice as long as it needed to be. By the time I turned the last page, I was even more convinced of this. The book does provide some excellent and muchly wanted information for us Dune aficionados. Specifically, what happened to Xavier Harkonnen, Serena Butler and, most important, the origins of the Fremen and the beginnings of the spice trade.

But the book is still too long. The writers spend far too much time on trivial details that appear to be included just to make the book be about 2 inches thick across the spine. As a person who reads several novels a week, I like thick books. But this one I really think would not miss much if given a Reader's Digest Condensed Book treatment.

The explorations of the triangle relationship between Butler, Harkonnen and Vor Atreides does not need NEARLY the amount of exposition the authors devote to it. While solid character development is essential to any novel, it can also be taken too far.

At the same time, to my thinking, not enough attention is given to Selim Wormwrider, the first person on Arrakis to ride the sandworms and the founder of the Fremen society. I hope Herbert and Anderson are planning a book on that.

Attention given to the Cymeks is just a tad long for my tastes, but I can accept it. What little I'd chop out is Agamemnon's constantly harping about needing to break away from Ominus' control. Him saying it once is enough to settle that he's planning a revolution. Hecate, the "missing" cymek appears exactly enough.

As with the other Dune books by H&A, if you go into this one expecting some much needed answers to the questions in the original Dune series, you'll be satisfied. If you go in expecting the master Frank Herbert's work, you will be disappointed.

As this book does fill in those holes, I still rank it as S.F. essentials book.

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