The Machine Crusade by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

The Machine Crusade by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
The Machine Crusade by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

The novel “The Machine Crusade” by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson was published for the first time in 2003. It’s the second book in the Legends of Dune trilogy and follows “The Butlerian Jihad“.

The Butlerian Jihad appears to be at a stalemate where only small victories are achieved against Omnius and its thinking machines. The fire that brought billions of humans to fight is fading away, and Iblis Ginjo searches for something special that can revive it.

Vorian Atreides continues to develop his unconventional strategies that can surprise thinking machines but at the same time, a visit to the planet Caladan makes him want to put down roots there. On Arrakis, Selim’s legend grows as his band of outlaws use the great sandworms against spice traders. On the planet Poritrin, Norma Cenva designs a revolutionary new propulsion system.

“The Machine Crusade” reprises the story begun in “The Butlerian Jihad” of the events that led to the birth of the empire introduced in “Dune” by Frank Herbert. The story told in the Legends of Dune trilogy unfolds over several decades, and the second book begins about twenty years after the end of the first book. The authors included many references to “The Butlerian Jihad” which allow you not to get lost among the developments of the various subplots and even skip the first book.

The story is complex, as it’s split into various subplots that follow important characters but this doesn’t mean that it’s sophisticated nor that it’s developed with the typical subtleties of Frank Herbert’s novels. The characters have personalities depicted in generally crude ways and their motives are obvious.

The Erasmus robot continues to be an example of a weirdly developed character. After decades of study, Erasmus seems to continue to be utterly obtuse when it comes to understanding humans and especially their emotions. Despite this and despite its robotic nature, there are cases in which it seems to feel emotions itself and seems to understand them at least partially.

Anyone who read the first book is familiar with these flaws. The trilogy is based on quantity and not on quality and the authors’ style doesn’t reflect the merits of Frank Herbert’s novels. Honestly, having read some works written by Kevin J. Anderson alone, I didn’t expect anything more.

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson used this trilogy to describe the circumstances that led to the birth of the new empire with the various organizations and houses that run it. In my opinion, this continues to remain the only reason to read this trilogy with the awareness that it’s an interpretation that the authors gave to some of Frank Herbert’s ideas.

In “The Machine Crusade” the authors introduce some new plot elements that increase its complexity. Perhaps, the authors thought that the story of the Butlerian Jihad was too linear and that recounting battle after battle would become boring. In some cases, the authors exploit the new bits to intertwine them with some of the stories connected to the birth of the new empire and at least they’re not just fillers.

Overall, “The Machine Crusade” is what one could expect and if you already read “The Butlerian Jihad”, you can’t complain because you should have already known what you were getting into. The Legends of Dune form one big story, so you need to continue with the last book to know how they end. You can get used to the authors’ style by pretending that it’s fanfiction or that it has nothing to do with the Dune saga. It’s available on Amazon USA, UK, and Canada.

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