Legends Of Dune: Butlerian Jihad By Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson

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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Relevant posts

Tidbits From Hunters Of Dune

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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.

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10 responses to “Legends Of Dune: Butlerian Jihad By Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson”

  1. Red Mars By Kim Stanley Robinson « memoirs on a rainy day Avatar

    […] Legends Of Dune: Butlerian Jihad Review […]

  2. The Algebraist By Iain Banks « memoirs on a rainy day Avatar

    […] The Machine War a few thousand years ago. Again, this strikes me very similar to the concept of the Butlerian Jihad . But the Machine War is never discussed in detail and only mentioned a handful of times, so it […]

  3. […] Range’s review of The Butlerian Jihad […]

  4. Yaro Kasear Avatar
    Yaro Kasear

    You’re a little too kind to them about their books. They utterly TRASHED the entire concept of what the Butlerian Jihad was and what actually happened. There was an uprising against thinking machines. They were supposed to be evenly matched, and the thinkign machines weren’t as much the enemies as a cult that WORSHIPED those machines actively.

    They completely reversed the cult into peopel smashing any likeness to machines they saw, and that we had a whole bunch of Terminator-style machines just trying to wipe humanity out for no reason.

    Then they mutilated the foundation of all the core groups: BEne Gesserit was supposed to have already been a well established organization before the Jihad started, tracing bloodlines and doing what they do best. I doubt there wasn’t a single IOTA of “the Sorceresses of Rossack” in the alleged notes Frank Herbert left. I say allaged because no one has ever seen them except KJA and BH, and they’ve been mass producing this drivel for 10 years now and it doesn’t even remotely resemble the sort of stories Herbert would tell for Dune.

    Oh, and the Mentats! Sorry, but I REFUSE to accept that mentats were created by a robot trying to be human and winning a bet with the evermind. It makes MUCH more logical sense to assume the Mentats developed over millenia out of necessity, as thinking machines were absolutely taboo after the Butlerian Jihad.

    Prelude was a little better, but you give it too much credit. They all stomped on continuity, and you really got KJA’s Star Wars style written all over it everywhere. Star Wars does NOT belong in Dune. Star Wars is a space opera whose storyline has never really amounted to an epic story worth telling. It’s writing style utterly RUINS what the Dune books were meant to be like. Dune is not, never was, and never SHOULD be… straight up adventure. It’s too deep for “Curious Leto Discovers The Axlotl Tanks.” And I absolutely don’t like the idea of Shaddam IV being an active villain. Remember that it was even explained in Dune that House Corrino’s part in House Atreides downfall was NOT simply Shaddam being bad for bad’s sake like KJA depicted him in Prelude. He felt a threat in the Atreides and eliminated it, and absolutely positively DID NOT WANT TO, but HAD TO. The reluctance of Shaddam through Dune was EXTREMELY clear. There was even an epigraph excerpting one of Irulan’s many works where she talks about how angry her father was afterwards and ended up, in his rage, blaming everyone from the Bene Gesserit to his own daughters that it had to happen. Granted, we still saw him get deposed, but lets not make the same mistake KJA did and assume Shaddam was inherently evil.

    KJA seemed to ignore the checks and balances of the known universe a bit. A lot of the things Shaddam did in the Prelude novels would NOT have jived with the Guild or the Landsraad had Frank Herbert wrote those books himself. In fact, I think FH would have made Shaddam’s role in the books highly passive and non-conspiratorial. Maybe a tad alarmed at Leto’s increasing popularity, but not scamming anything outright. And none of the political depth seems to have made it into the KJA books.

  5. range Avatar

    Hi Yaro!

    I hear you. I’m really sad what they did with Dune. It’s too bad.

  6. alasswild Avatar

    Although I agree with some parts that you mentioned as not being “on the same page” with what FH would have written, i really like the adventure turn and the multiple-story style of the two authors.

    I hate that some of you talk about what others (closer to the FH as you could never be) wrote, like you have seen in person the events of Dune :))))….i think that you should take it as a fact…think of it as history unfolding…and then, maybe you will appreciate the work of BH and KJA !!!!

    Have fun reading!!!

    1. range Avatar

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Dune has been one of my favorite cycle of books for years, and I have read them countless times. This doesn’t mean that I am an expert, but the way that BH and KJA took the storyline left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

      Some works are best left alone.

      1. SandChigger Avatar


        They’re never going to stop, it seems. I imagine that even after the publishers have pulled the plug for good and declared the Abomination dead, KJA will find a way to go on publishing his fan fiction on Kindle and other e-book platforms.

        (range, I don’t know how closely you’re following developments now, but the Heroes tetralogy was cancelled halfway through and they’ll be putting out the first volume of a new “Great Schools” trilogy in early 2012. It will be set immediately after and continue the plot arcs of the Legends books. Ugh!)

    2. SandChigger Avatar

      It always amuses me when some fanboy brings up the “closeness to FH” issue.

      Brian Herbert was estranged from his father for many years and he only read Dune for the first time late in life.

      And Kevin J. Anderson never met Frank Herbert once.

      As for how well the two understand and love and respect the original Dune books, I think the things they have added and done to the series (including recasting Frank Herbert’s originals as in-universe propaganda penned by Irulan for political purposes) speak louder and more eloquently than any protestations of their being the “world’s biggest fans of Dune”.

      1. range Avatar

        I actually stopped paying attention to what they had been releasing after Hunters and Sandworms of Dune. I heard about what they were going to do, but since I wasn’t that pleased with what they had done in their prequels I knew that I wasn’t going to like what they were going to do with Heroes of Dune.

        I don’t mean to say that their writing is not noteworthy, but I wish they had just left it alone. Even when they used FH’s notes to write the last volume, it’s not really what it was supposed to be. They tie in what the did in the prequels and while I’m sure that some of it was inspired correctly, they just did it wrong IMHO.

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