Here lies a toppled god--
His fall was not a small one.
We did but build his pedestal,
A narrow and tall one.
Book Two of the Dune Chronicles
by Frank Herbert
“Truth suffers from too much analysis.”
In the first
book of the Dune Chronicles, The Atreides family gained ownership of
Arrakis, also known as Dune. The only planet known to have spice, the
drug used to extend life, to give the Bene Gesserit their awe
inspiring powers, and to allow the Guild Navigators the ability to
send spaceships hurtling across the stars. Yet, just as quickly as
they gained it, they were betrayed and the Duke, Leto Atreides was
Fleeing into the desert, Paul Atreides,
now the Duke, and his mother, escape the Harkonnen. Allying
themselves with the the desert Fremen, they discover that a powerful
force lay in the sand. Thousands of men and women all trained, from
birth, to be a warrior people. Finding that they view him as their
Messiah, Paul uses this to reclaim Arrakis in the name of the Atreides
and the Fremen people.
Paul, with prescient visions, realizes that humankind borders on the edge of oblivion. Seeing only
one way to stop it, he begins to follow what he calls the Golden
Path. The personal horror begins to overcome him as he starts to
understand what exactly he must do. Ascending to the Lion Throne,
Paul becomes the Emperor of the Known Universe and thus begins the
Jihad in the name of Muad'dib.
"Once more the drama begins."
Twelve years since the events of the first Dune
book, we come to the second book in Frank Herbert's Dune Chronicles, and Muad'dib's jihad has covered all of known space. Paul has
created a religious empire which he cannot stop. The most powerful
man in Known Space can but wait out his bloody jihad. He knows that
even his own death would do nothing to cease the bloody warfare.
Chani, Paul's consort, has been unable to produce an heir to the
Atreides throne. This is due to the efforts of Irulan, Paul's wife
and key to the Lion Throne. She, in an attempt to gain the lost
genetics of Paul Atreides, has been feeding Chani contraceptive
drugs. By allying herself with the Bene Gesserit and the Guild, she
has helped to create a plot which will destroy the myth of Muad'dib.
They plot to bring back Duncan Idaho, the legendary Atreides'
swordsman, as a ghola who only knows himself as Hayt. Even the ghola
knows that he is a weapon aimed against the Atreides name, but knows
not what they intend. Nor is he able to stop his own programming,
laid in by the Tleilaxu.
From the beginning of the book we are told that Paul will be
defeated. And it is not the ghola Hayt, nor the mad-Fremen, nor even
the constant plotting against him that defeats Muad'dib. It is his
far-seeing future sight that locks him into the trap of absolute
prediction, which can only lead to death.
“To endure oneself
may be the hardest task in the universe.”
Paul Atreides of the first Dune book is all but gone. In his place is
a man fighting his own future, Muad'dib. Where he once embraced his
prescient visions, now he abhors them. Every step of his life is
played out for him, before it happens. He is the ultimate oracle.
unsatisfied with the role of oracle and god-head,
desperately seeks to find a vision where he can say: "There!
There's an existence which couldn't hold me. See! I vanish! No
restraint or net of human devising can trap me ever again. I renounce
my religion! This glorious instant is mine! I'm free!"
Unfortunately, he knows that even that moment of selfishness causes
the Golden Path to waver and so he continues on, in order to save
humankind from destruction.
Dune Messiah, we see Paul fall into the role of the tragic hero. Life
contains no mystery for him and being forced to follow his own
visions ultimately causes his downfall. This proves to be true when
he loses his eyes to a Tleilaxu stone burner and can still see, with
“There are problems in this universe for which there are
In Dune we saw
the birth of Alia Atreides, a child woken much before her time due to
the Water of Life. She, while young in body, has the full skills of a
Reverend Mother. Labeled abomination by the Bene Gesserit, she spends
much of her time fighting against this idea.
She, like her
brother, has become a religious icon. Saint Alia of the Knife. While
she shares her brother's prescience, she fails to understand his
struggle. Mainly due to the fact that she has her own battles to
fight. Abomination. With no identity of her own, those of her past
fight to take over. And the more she opens herself up to them, by
taking the spice, the more she finds that she is losing herself.
finds solace in the ghola's friendship, using him
to keep her stable. Although she knows that Hayt is a weapon
to be used against the Atreides family, she finds herself falling in
love with him.
“The wise man molds himself-the fool
lives only to die.”
Duncan Idaho was the ultimate Atreides soldier. Being rescued from
the Harkonnen put him in a debt of loyalty to the Atreides family,
which he gladly accepted, even to his death. But this proves to only
be the beginning of Idaho's story.
Messiah, we find out that when Idaho died, his flesh was preserved by
the Tleilaxu. They, years later, used that flesh to create a clone of
the original. While he wasn't identical to the first, he held
memories of his predecessor. And thus, Hayt was created in order to
be used against Paul who had no option but accept his childhood
friend back with open arms. As the book
progressing, Hayt finds that being with the Atreides has opened the
flood-gate of memories. He is, more and more, becoming Duncan Idaho.
say of Muad'Dib that he has gone on a journey into that land where we
walk without footprints.”
Messiah is the powerful continuation of the
original story. While Dune opened our eyes to this new world, Dune
Messiah digs us deeper into it. From the Fremen conspiracy to martyr
their god, to Irulan's attempt to regain the Bene Gesserit's lost
the beginning the reader understands that Paul won't survive to see
the next book. Much like reading the last page of a book before you
start it, one finds themselves what leads to that path. There are
many who, in reading Dune Messiah, have said they felt it was just a
transition book, between Dune and Children of Dune. But I've always felt that
any of the Dune Chronicle books could stand on their own and I hold
true to that with Dune Messiah.
this book we learn the traps of prescience and the futile attempts to
escape it. We delve deeper into the mystic religion that was created
in Dune. Everything that Dune was, is expanded on in Messiah.
Dune ended with a definite conclusion and Paul becoming Emperor,
Messiah ends with a man walking away from all that power and leaving
behind his own deification. It may leave one feeling less good and
happy inside, but it is the stronger finale in my opinion.
you enjoyed Dune, than Dune Messiah may be right up your alley. If
not, then it will at least give you the background for a better
understand when you try Children of Dune. But if you're alright with
a slower paced book, filled with politics, religion and a lot of
interesting characters, then give Dune Messiah a chance. I promise you'll
Title: Dune Messiah
Author: Frank Herbert
Date Published: 1975
Genre: Science Fiction