Book review and recommendation: Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
Hello, dear readers! How are you doing? Today I have another book review to share with you: Dune Messiah by Frank Hebert. This novel is the second book in the Dune series and it is significantly shorter than the first novel. If you remember, I already reviewed Dune. Earlier this month, I published my book review for Dune by Frank Herbert. I promised to review other books in the series as well. Initially I planned to review all the sequels to Dune in one post, but I changed my mind because all of these books deserve separate reviews. In other words, I decided to publish a separate book review post for each sequel. These kind of detailed book review posts sometimes take a long time to put together, but I don't mind. Being a fairy creative person, I also like to play with the visual part of my book reviews and add a bit of bit of my own art and photography. I don't just copy paste my reviews from my goodreads profile, I like to 'polish' them up for my blog. That is one of the reasons why I have been posting more often. I was working on improving and polishing my blog content. I have also been painting for hours on end but that's another subject. How does the second novel in the series compares to the first one? Scroll down to read my review of Dune Messiah.
FIRST SOME BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT DUNE MESSIAH
Dune Messiah was originally serialized in Galaxy Science Fiction magazine in 1969 and published the same year by Putnam. Whereas critical response was largely positive with many reviewers praising the novel, the sequel didn't achieve the same level of success as Dune. However, that could be said of all the sequels. Dune is, without doubt, the best received novel in all the series.
ADAPTATION BY SCIENCE FICTION CHANNEL IN 2003
Dune Messiah and its sequel (Children of Dune) were both adapted as a mini series titled Frank Herbert's Children of Dune. It's a while since I saw that mini series, but as far as I recall, in terms of the plot, the mini series followed the book quite closely. Don't watch it before you read the book if you want to avoid spoilers.
TIME FRAME FOR DUNE MESSIAH- 12 YEARS AFTER THE TRIUMPH
Dune Messiah doesn't start immediately after the end of Dune. Rather, it starts 12 years after Paul's triumph. ( I don't think it's a spoiler to write that Paul wins 'the game of thrones' at the end of the first novel. If you know there is a sequel named after Paul, you can assume he survives. I do try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, but some background information is often necessary, especially when reviewing sequels. ) During this 12 years, Paul's rise to power was cemented by a bloody jihad lead by his elite Fremen fighters. The dark shadow of this is upon Paul as the novel opens. Why did the author choose to leave the jihad out of the novel? I think it is because was more dramatic to place it into the past. This way the author also created some distance between the Paul of the first book and the one of the second. The reader must asks himself: 'How well do I know Paul?'. In Dune, Paul is a boy that is forced to grow up too quickly. Movie versions typically cast older actors, but Paul of the novel is a teenager. Once Paul acquires his prophetic vision, he is changed forever and it is hard to think of him as being of any age. On the other hand, his young age remains a factor. In the sequel, Paul is not as young. Moreover, during this space of twelve years much has changed. Paul is a man fully grown and a ruler of entire Universe at that. What are the consequences of that?
DOES DUNE MESSIAH UNDERLINE PAUL'S SUCCESS?
I read that Frank Herbert himself said that Dune was like heroic melody and Dune Messiah its inversion. That was my interpretation as well. In Dune, Paul wins against all odds. He risks his life repeatedly to save his mother and sister as well as to preserve his royal house. At the end of Dune, Paul is a hero. However, the tables have switched in Dune Messiah. Paul is no longer the rebel against the king, now he is the king. Will he past the ultimate test? Will the power corrupt him?
PAUL SUPERNATURAL ABILITIES CANNOT SOLVE EVERYTHING
The reader will have to get used to a new Paul. His powers are not an easy way out. Paul is surrounded by complex philosophical and moral problems. The setting may be the same as in the first book, but everything else is different. I actually like how this second novel feels like a completely different work. Instead of recycling Dune, the author created a completely different work for us- a book that often deals with politics and the art of ruling. This book undermines Paul's success, turning him from a victorious to a tragic figure. There is a definite note of bitterness and sadness in this novel. The tone of the book is completely different to that of Dune.
DUNE MESSIAH AS A PHILOSOPHICAL RATHER THAN AN ACTION PACKED NOVEL
The sequel to Dune is less action packed that the original book. There are still conspiracies and plots, murder attempts and murders, but much of the action takes place in the shadows. This novel is more political scheming than plain action. Once again, the mechanisms of Dune universe are examined. The world building continues in just as much detail and splendor, one might say. As the known Universe changes, so does the world building. The Universe describes is still familiar, but the story is less plot driven and feels more philosophical. Some readers might enjoy it, others might feel that the book is slow or anti-climatic. Those who are interested in the social structure and secret societies of Dune will be rewarded by greater insight into them.
A WARNING AGAINST THE MISUSE OF POWER
Within itself, Dune Messiah carries a warning against the misuse of power. Paul we know from Dune is a moral young man. Is he changed in the sequel? He doesn't seem to be, yet the blood of billions is on his hands. At times you feel like Paul is completely trapped by his powers. Paul seems to be aware of it. His thoughts about the dangers of the misuse of power were quite inspiring. I genuinely enjoyed the way politics was examined in this novel. It made me think of Machiavelli's The Prince. As a reader, I felt that I could see the effort that Frank Herbert put into this book. Many of the quotes from this book still echo through my mind, warning me of the dangers of bad government. For example, the following sentence often makes me think: 'Misuse of power is a fatal sin. ' Isn't is so? How often does the government become corrupt? Does it always happen? How long before the law is abused? Can we ever trust any law or government? Should we?
THE EMOTIONAL AND PERSONAL ASPECT OF DUNE MESSIAH
I spoke much of political discourse, but there is an emotional side to Dune Messiah as well. I can think of several characters that really moved me. I would say that Paul, Chani, Irulan and Alia were the characters that I sympathized the most with. The epic love between Paul and Chani is very much present in this novel. Despite their deep love for one another, as the novel opens, we learn that they are not able to have children. Their love doesn't make the problems go away, rather it creates them. At some point in the novel, it becomes clear that Paul is aware who is poising Chani with contraceptives, but he allows it because he knows that if she gives birth to his children, Chani must die in the process. It seems that their love is a tragic one, paralleling that of his mother and father. In Dune, the relationship between Lady Jessica and Duke Leto was one of deep love and understanding. Despite being only a concubine in status, Lady Jessica was actually a wife to Leto. So, it is the case with Paul and Chani. However, I could also feel for princess Irulan. Despite of her scheming with the secret sisterhood, it is clear that Irulan's feelings for Paul are true. Even when she does harm, she does it will good intention. Isn't that often the case, though? Does it excuse her actions? In this novel, the reader is always provoked to question the actions of characters. That's perhaps what I love about it so much. The characters in this novel remain very human. No matter how high their status is or how much power they hold, they are just as human as you and me.
THE SISTER TO DUNE MESSIAH- THE FASCINATING CHARACTER OF ALIA
With everything going on, it is easy to forget that Paul is just a man. His sister Alia, known as abomination, is just a woman as well. The brother and sister are both facing the same enemies that plot against them. Their mother Lady Jessica returns to the sisterhood and in a way this leaves them on their own. Paul at least has his beloved Chani, but what of Alia? I found her fate very touching and sad. If Paul was forced to grow up as a teenager, what can be said of Alia? She was forced to face the past lives in her mother's womb. Alia finds herself in a state of supreme isolation. The reader can feel the load on Paul's shoulders every step of the way. As the Shakespeare said- Heavy is the head that hold the crown. The shadow of jihad is upon Paul, but Alia doesn't fare any better. Even as a child, she was forced to get involved into the battle for survival. Now, Alia is a young woman hopelessly isolated.
PAUL- THE DUNE MESSIAH THAT PERPLEXES
This novel undermines success of Paul with a series of events. This doesn't mean that Paul falls from grace completely. I think this novel demonstrates that in order to maintain his morality, Paul has to make great personal sacrifices. In other ways, this book opens a new way for him to be a hero. Will he remain a hero? Well, you will have to read this novel to find it out for yourself. All I can say is that while Paul often perplexed me as a character, he has never disappointed me. The same can be said for this novel. It might feel a bit anti-climatic and depressive compared to the first book in the series, but for me that only makes it feel more real and genuine. Highly recommended!
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