Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
Children of Dune by Frank Herbert (Italian edition)

The novel “Children of Dune” by Frank Herbert was published for the first time in 1976 serialized in the magazine “Analog Science Fiction and Fact” and then as a book. It’s the third book in the Dune saga and follows “Dune Messiah“.

Nine years after Paul Muad’dib went to the desert, his children Leto and Ghanima are decidedly out of the ordinary because they have their father’s powers. Alia is the regent but has become an Abomination and her plans for the future intersect with those of Wensicia Corrino and her son Farad’n, the heir of the House.

Climate change on Arrakis is becoming more relevant and the desert is retreating. With it, the ecosystem that allows the spice to form is shrinking. Some Fremen are abandoning the old traditions and their society is going through changes of various kinds. The social unrest is also due to the Preacher, a mysterious man who, according to some people, is Muad’dib back from the desert.

A few years after the publication of “Dune Messiah”, Frank Herbert published the third novel of the Dune series in which he ended the story of the original characters, paving the way for subsequent generations. The themes are in many ways the same as the second novel, taking the development of some of them to extremes with introspection and reflections. In this third novel, there are new intrigues brought on by several people who cross paths with each other and sometimes form alliances that may seem unlikely.

The plot is structured to follow different characters more through dialogue between them than their actions, particularly in the first half of the novel. Frank Herbert seems to have tried to get as many combinations as possible in the meetings of characters. That’s due to the complexity of the situation around the imperial power but makes the novel’s pace even slower than the previous one.

The depth in the dig into the motivations of important characters is positive and also contributes to the development of the novel’s themes. However, sometimes this structure becomes heavy, not least because it determines the fragmentation of the plot development. For example, everything about the mysterious Preacher is told mainly through other characters’ comments and only minimally following his actions. That gives the idea of ​​the evolution of religion on Arrakis with the mythicization of Muad’dib but the Preacher appears and disappears from the story. The same thing happens to other important characters such as Alia, whose personal story is somewhat sacrificed.

The result is a novel that is in some ways similar to “Dune Messiah” but much longer. There are still insights regarding political, religious, and economic power but the way in which they’re developed becomes unbalanced. Even the previous novels had a pace that wasn’t very homogeneous but “Children of Dune” suffers from the fragmentation of a plot that tries to follow many important characters.

“Children of Dune” remains important to the story’s developments within the Dune saga with the Golden Path becoming an important theme along with the transformation of the planet Arrakis. It’s a novel that, despite its flaws, you might like if you appreciated certain themes that mark the entire saga.

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