This article is part of the meta-post 4134 Words Or How The Writers Of The New Dune Novels Sold Out. This article gives a book review on Legends Of Dune: Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson. Initally, I enjoyed this series. But in retrospect, it is filled with factual errors in the Dune Mythos and its overall tone is quite wrong for a Dune book.
After ruining parts of the Dune Mythos with their previous triology, House Atreided, Harkonnen and Corrino, Frank Herbert’s son and his friend wanted to set the stage for the unwritten novel Dune 7 which would finish the Dune series. I say ruin because I really disliked their approach to House Atreides. Their writing and concepts got better with the next books, but it was still disturbing to see the Dune Mythos somewhat shredded by his own son.
Frank Herbert had written extensive notes on the subject but had never had the time to publish or write the novel that was supposed to follow Chapterhouse Dune in the Dune Chronicles and end the saga. Chapterhouse Dune ends abruptly with a myriad of questions unanswered. Who is the great enemy that the Honores Matres are fleeing from the Diaspora, what happened with the Face Dancers and what happened to the Million Worlds? What will happen with Duncan Idaho and the refugees?
There is something insidious about their writing. It is sugary and bad at points. The story, like their previous novels, recounts the story on how the humans rebelled and conquered the machines. It is told in three novels. Also the story is told from a lot of different parts, we follow Vorian Atreides, son of the Titan cymek Agammemnon, Serena Butler and Erasmus on Earth-Omnius, Xavier Harkonnen on Salusa Secundus, Iblis Ginjo on Earth-Omnius, the Titan cymek Agammemnon, Tio Holtzman and Norma Cenza on Poritin, Zufa Cenza on Rossak, Tuk Kedair on Arrakis and more. It doesn’t get confusing, but a story told of so many parts is totally ridiculous. My most hated parts are the ones that recount how the Sorceress from Rossak, who would form the embryonic Bene Gesserit Order, train to become human EMP bombs that destroy Cymek and robot brains. I am sorry to say this, but the Bene Gesserits do have some power, but nothing overt like this. They can tell the truth, they can commune with their ancestors, they can influence people with their voice, they can seduce and train and they manipulate planets with religion. But they do not have psychic powers. They way they write about them, having no problems in killing themselves, how totally artificial the whole sequences appear, is terrible.
He also destroys the Tleilax with his premise that they were slavers and organ farmers 10000 years ago. He had already destroyed Ix and their machines in House Atreides. Now we see other facets come into play. I find it very ironic how all these great things are happening at the same time, when humanity is sick and bloated and being overcome by thinking machines.
What drives me completely crazy are the repetitions. Every single chapter, there are repetitions. Again and again. I don’t know if this is because this book is written by two writers or because someone is just plain stupid, but the reader doesn’t need to be reminded of the same facts every few chapters. Maybe it’s because they follow so many parts of a story, it can be 25 to 50 pages before they return to a story sequence. Nothings makes me more mad than constant boring repetitions.
Their representation of thinking machines is also flawed. Why would any machine try to become human? How stupid is that? They are different, in a class of their own. They should never try to become human. And the authors try to anthropomorphize the machines, and that is stupid too. The authors use the premise of Skynet from the Terminator movies and extrapolate on this concept. They do not represent the evermind Omnius correctly. He has flaws and even if he is not supposed to feel, he does.
Also, the hate that the machines have for humanity is crazy. I do understand that they want to take over, but ruthless slaughter just for the heck of it? The authors recounting the horrors of the vivisections and experimentations of Erasmus are gruesome enough, why bother with the wholesale slaughter of planets? How efficient is that? I think that if ever thinking machines would take over, they would find a better way.
Also, since supposedly the Navigators and the Holtzman engines that can fold space do not exist yet, how do the humans travel so fast between star systems? Only one way, is that they have faster than light travel. Normally, traveling between star systems can take years and decades at the speed of light. They do it in a matter of months. And it is never mentioned how they accomplish this, just that they do. And lastly, I’m sorry but I don’t believe that any 19 year old would be a planetary politician in the League of Nobles. No way, yet Serena Butler does do this and she succeeds very well. She has gone to countless humanitarian missions in her short life, since they can travel between the stars FTL, it’s no problem. Bollocks!
Also another myth shattered is the one of Tio Holtzman. He is presented as an inventor at the end of his usefulness, until he recruits a young new apprentice in Norma Cenza and takes credit for her inventions. He invented machine scrambler fields and projectors, suspensor globes, shields that protect ships and people against kinetic attacks, the space folding engines.
The story goes as following. The Old Empire had grown complacent and a group of motivated young people, who called themselves Titans, developed ways of influencing and programming routines into the thinking machines so that they could take over. Basically what is said is that they gave the worst traits of humanity to the machines, parts of their feelings of victory, conquest and cruelty. The Titans took over and for a short while ruled in peace with the machines. The Titans transformed themselves into Cymeks to live forever. They surgically extracted their brains from their bodies and implanted them into robot constructs that they would control. Xerxes is the worst hedonist of the bunch and relinquishes control of too many systems to his AIs. They take over, become self-aware and take over the rest of the Empire in a very short while. The League of Nobles had resisted the takeover of the Titans and still resisted them. They did the same to the evermind and this is the story how a series of events galvanized the surviving free humans into a coherent jihad against the machines.
Naturally, they needed to tell this story to set the stage for the upcoming novels of Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune. How you ask? Since the evermind returns in those upcoming novels, they had to find an artifice for him to survive. And they did. They said that when the thinking machines sacked Geidi Prime and took it over for the 1st time, Geidi Prime-Omnius used deep space probes to send copies of himself all over the unknown universe, so that he would be there when the humans expanded. However, Geidi-Prime-Omnius was destroyed before he could update the other evermind copies about this strategy, so it was lost to everyone until Omnius reappears to infiltrate the Million Worlds now controlled by Reverend Mother Murbella, fifteen thousand years in the future.
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It is also part of the meta-post 4134 Words Or How The Writers Of The New Dune Novels Sold Out.