Wednesday, May 29, 2013

God Emperor of Dune (Dune 4), by Frank Herbert

Here is another example of how even apparently clear memories aren't really that accurate: I almost didn't like this book. I don't know why I remember that I liked God Emperor of Dune, I probably did, but for the sake of me I don't know why. The entire span of the book Leto is whining of how much he sacrificed and his Golden Path, oscillating between total arrogance, self pity and angry fits. Probably part of a good book/bad book cycle, the second and the fourth books of the series felt weaker to me.

Anyway, the plot is not really convoluted, nor does it feature greatly trained people with extraordinary qualities. Instead, most of the characters are mostly ridiculous: a rebel that has nothing but hate and youth to drive her, but somehow Leto allows for her and even likes her for reasons I can't fathom, a Duncan Idaho ghola who acts like a spoiled and angry brat all the time, a bureaucrat that seems to have always in mind the possibility that The Worm could kill him and navigates his life around that, museum Fremen, an army of hysterical women, some remnants of the Bene Gesserit, but not enough to make a difference in that universe and in the course of the book, some Tleilaxu, but acting desperately and illogically and some Ixian machines that seem to be pervasive even when prohibited by that ridiculous Jihad. The rest of the book Leto is lamenting his situation, ponders deep philosophical questions and always wants to be surprised by the people around him, even if he trained, conditioned, bred or even cloned them himself, so he has as few chances as possible. All in the name of avoiding a horrible future when machines hunt and destroy all humans. No, really: Leto II playing John Connor.

Maybe I was more impatient or less likely to open up to the book and so I couldn't empathise with any of the characters, but maybe it was as much a pretentious book as I thought it was. Filled with pompous quotes from the Leto journals and internal dialogues that seemed to have no other purpose but to belittle the other characters in the book, God Emperor of Dune was actually boring to me. There is no question that Frank Herbert writes well, so I will not say I hated the book or that it is a bad one, but compared to others in the series it pretty much stank. I started reading book 5: Heretics of Dune, which started well with Bene Gesserit witches having some devious plans and always assessing one another. I don't seem to remember much of it, which is good, as I start with no expectations.