Paul of Dune
By Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Published by Macmillan Audio
Read by Scott Brick
This is Book 1 of the Heroes of Dune Series, and Book 10 of the Dune Saga and I am convinced the only purpose it serves is for Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson to further cash in on what was a really good stand-alone novel (Dune by Frank Herbert). Owing to a ton of prequels Dune is now Book 9 of the never-ending series. The whole bunch of books is a study on how to take a true classic and water it down until it gets lost in the shuffle.
Paul of Dune starts out maybe a year or so after the end of Dune, but then also has numerous flashbacks to the years of Paul’s youth when the so-called “War of Assassins” occurred. I honestly to not remember the War if Assassins in the original book so if it was there, it has slipped my mind. I do recall that Paul starts out in Dune as the young, but accomplished, son of Duke Leto with the implication that he has thus far led a sheltered life and that all his knowledge of fighting and various Bene Gesserit techniques were taught by his tutors and mother. Apparently, according to this retcon mish-mash, he’s been fighting since shortly after he was born. Go figure.
There is a really basic problem with this book; it attempts to build suspense by putting Paul and his family into jeopardy, but since we know they are all alive and well in Dune Messiah (The second book in the series as Frank Herbert had written it) reading it is pretty much analogous to someone watching all the Star Wars movies in order of their chronology, rather than order of release. So, by the time Darth Vader says, “Luke, I am your father,” the viewer just shrugs and says, “Duh! I knew that four hours ago.” A good reason to not to produce prequels, at least not ones that give away dramatic points meant to be revealed later. In my opinion, if you are going to write a prequel it should probably not involve the main cast of the original story and if it does, dramatic tension should be produced in some other manner than sending a Ninja army (or whatever) after them.
So, a long-time reader of the “Dune Series” will open this book knowing that all the main characters who survived from Dune to Dune Messiah are going to get through unscathed in this book as well no matter how many over-convoluted plots are acted out against them. On the other hand, it means that all the new characters have roughly the same life expectancy of a “Red Shirt” in the Original Star Trek Series.
Well, how about that? I managed to pull in both Star Wars and Star Trek references. Considering all this started with one of the great classics of SF, that might even be appropriate…
Anyway, assuming you are still a fan of the whole “Dune Series” in a way that I guess I’m not, This story fills in details about Paul’s early life as well as some of what went on during the years of the Jihad that established the empire that was eventually inherited by his son, Leto II, the human sandworm God-Emperor. You know, now that I actually use that phrase it really does make the whole rest of the series after the original story just seem silly.
Sometime back I reviewed another book in this series and mentioned how a good friend of mine says that Dune is “a great book. You should read it.” The rest of the series, though, maybe no so much. I still agree with him.
Scott Brick reads this one fairly well. I’ll admit that I tend to blow hot and cold on his narrations, but this really was a fairly solid performance; no funny voices and no really annoying mispronunciations of oft-repeated words. If I sometimes had trouble telling one character from another, I think that was more the fault of the authors than the reader since except for the annoying “Mmhmms” and “Ahs” of Count Fenring (who was actually toned way down this time) they really do all sound alike and think alike as well. Yes, they all think in terms of highly convoluted, Byzantine plots, often in cases when more direct action would likely work out better.
So, a decent reading for what I hereby nominate as the second most unnecessary sequel of all time… after Austen’s Pride and Prejudice II: The Awakening…