The entire exercise is a bait and switch: Chapterhouse
ends famously with Marty & Daniel reflecting:
"'That would've been funny. They have such a hard time accepting that Face Dancers can be independent of them.'
'I don't see why. It's a natural consequence. They gave us the power to absorb the memories and experiences of other people. Gather enough of those and...'
'It's personas we take, Marty.'
'Whatever. The Masters should've known we would gather enough of them one day to make our own decisions about our own future.'"
That and lesser passages tend to suggest that the pair are Evil Shapechangers.
Not so fast, however--this new installment doesn't bother to revise that langauge, but simply ignores it in making Marty & Daniel into Evil Robots from the authors' prequels. It's actually extremely annoying. Sure, the Evil Shapechangers are still there, but it's not quite the same.
The text at times reads almost like YA, to the extent that too much is explained. Consider the first example from my marginalia: we know that the Chapterhouse
no-ship is the Ithaca
, and yet we are told what Ithaca is geographically and mythologically, and then: "Similarly, Duncan and his companions needed a place to call home, a safe haven. These people were on their own great odyssey, and without so much as a map or a star chart" (25). Okay, yeah? Numerous other examples might be cited, rapidly moving from merely tedious to somewhat insulting
The real problem is revealed in the selection of narrators. A number of narrators are deployed once or twice, and then die, seemingly for no purpose. The Ithaca
ends up with eight perspectives, all major persons in the setting, but virtually no intrigue. It is merely cumulation of narrators for its own sake, or perhaps also for the sake of "Cool! Bashar Teg!!!" Sure, there's factional debates among the passengers, but it's undeveloped.
We also get a new Lost Tleilaxu perspective, not on the no-ship, who functions as a breeder until he gets fed to the sligs (and whose chapter is thereafter narrated from the perspective of a deliberately indifferent slig farmer--reckless POV discipline, that). There was no need for this breeder's perspective, as we already had a rogue Evil Shapechanger perspective who interacted closely with the Tleilaxu guy and who actually advances the narrative; the Lost Tleilaxu is merely a set of eyes to let the audience know about developments in the setting (usually redundant) and in the action away from the main part of the story--developments that presumably are important for the finale, but not obviously here.
Events certainly happen--genocides, battles, transactions, alliances, betrayals, tortures, sex, drugs, haughty speech, candid introspections, mentat projections, eugenics, worms eating the shit out of idiot characters, weirdnesses, beauty, subversive ethical dilemmas, hypertechnology simultaneous to swordfighting, &c.--it's a friggin' Dune
novel, so the normal roster of inventory is present--but the theology, the philosophy, the macro-ecology are not manifest, except as caricature. This is accordingly a platform to bring back all of the original characters as gholas, merge them with the existing post-Leto II cast, and then introduce a new group of power players (including the extremely silly "Oracle of Time").
There are definitely some good bits. Some of the chapter epigraphs are more than competent (unevenly so, however), and there's a great scene where some characters are reading about the life of Paul Atreides, which is described as the "stuff of legend" (327). Very plainly, those readers are reading the same books that we had read already, the original novels of Frank Herbert, which are referred to as epic
, and so on in the Acknowledgments (7) and the Author's Note (9-11), which explains how this installment is based on a secret outline found in a safety deposit box after the father's decease--like Leto II's secret writings, kinda, I guess--stolen by his descendent, Siona, and used by her to assassinate him.
The revelation about the identity of the Honored Matres is definitely kickass--one can certainly see how that concept grows directly out of the fifth and sixth novels of the father. And there's certainly something nifty going on with the copying of persons in this volume.
Another annoying bit, though I may be dead wrong, is that the interstellar travel is expressly described numerous times as folding space, which requires spice to accomplish, unless we have fancy & forbidden Ixian machinery or stuff from Beyond the Scattering. IIRC, however, Dune
did not deploy folding space
at all, but rather explained that the the navigators needed the spice for the purpose of developing sufficiently prescient awareness that they might pilot the Guild ships at FTL speeds. It's an irritating revision that essentially adopts David Lynch's ultra vires
Recommended only for deliberately indifferent slig farmers, ambulatory axlotl tanks, and cherubic boys with an amazing repertoire of scatological talents.