Frank Herbert’s Dune Sucks: Part III – Children of Dune

Daaaaaaiimn son, this is the CLIMAX of the Dune Triology!  Holy shit yes!  At least, that’s what they said back then, according to the cover you see down there.  This was the greatest sales success sci-fi had ever seen.  That’s a sad fact, because after everyone read it, or tried to at least, the pretending began.  It’s laughable anyone had the audacity to put “climax” at the top, because we all know Herbert milked the shit out of this world of lies for another three fucking books.  Milked it so hard its milk turned to blood and its children died.  Since this is about children that joke’s kind of funny for once, but this book is totally not.  Trust me, I trudged through all of them, and I took my time.  I didn’t want to, God I didn’t want to, but I did.  I did it so that the next time I heard someone going on about how great the series was, I would have something to say about it, facts to utilize to smash them into the ground.  After the second novel I really had hope for the the rest, it seemed like Herbert was getting his shit together and things were going to turn out alright in the end.  Spoiler alert, no.  Sorry it took me awhile to get to this, I was so burned out from reading the goddamn things I didn’t want to try, but it seems a few of you are enjoying it.  I also enjoy the hate, but I’ll really only respond from now on if I feel like trolling you or if you have a substantial argument to make, which none of you have thus far.  Now, for starters, if you haven’t read my first two analyses, I suggest you do to get some background.  Don’t argue with me if you haven’t read them, and read them thoroughly.  For your convenience:

Part I: Dune

Part II: Dune Messiah

Now…sigh, let’s get to this heaping thing.  Heaping is a good word, because here and after Herbert goes back to gigantic stupidity.  I hardly know where to begin.  It’s not because I read it a few months ago, a quick look online brings back horrid memories of the plot.  It’s because basically 98% of the people that read this, me included, don’t have a fucking clue what they read.  The other 2% are insane.  I’ll try to explain it, but it took me awhile to grasp because of Herbert’s, I stress this, terrible writing style.  It’s really evident in this one why he should have never, ever been allowed anywhere near a typewriter.  As usual, I’ll break it down for you with the most critical pieces.  No need to go over the plot in totality, you can skim that somewhere else, but I’ll give it to you quick so you have some background.  Let’s begin.


Our Third Analysis: Children of Dune

This one takes place about nine or so years after the last one.  Dune is undergoing ecological transformation, the Fremen are beginning to change and are losing their original identity, and Paul’s children are wandering around doing shit getting ready to basically rule the universe when they come of age, but, their sister Alia is essentially ‘possessed’ by a dead relative, who is in fact Baron Harkonnen from the first novel.  Changing Dune will eventually kill the sandworms, and there’s some political intrigue going on to kill the children, stop Paul’s followers, and take control of Dune, like usual.  Of course, they don’t die, there are some interplot plots or some shit, Leto II, one of Paul’s sons and thus one of the children of Dune, merges with sandtrout, which are basically an early stage of sandworms, so he can become half-sandworm, leads the Fremen, tries to help Alia but she kills herself, and then rules the galaxy with some other minor bullshit happening behind the scenes.  See that?  I basically just told you the entire book in a short paragraph, too bad it takes Herbert hundreds upon hundreds to even try.  So let’s analyze.


Children of Dune: The Good

There isn’t any.  I’m serious.  This book is so incredibly boring, poorly written, and poorly constructed you will absolutely not get a single thing out of it except questioning the existence of such a fiend as could write this trash.  Those who swear it has any bit of worth in it need to face the facts.  The first twenty-or-so pages are actually kind of cool, but then it descends into pointless crap for the next several hundred, the ending comes, which is somewhat cool for a page, and then you hate yourself.  I’m serious, there is nothing redeeming about this novel.  Not a thing. I’m not being lazy either, there is seriously nothing good about this.  This is one of the worst novels I’ve ever read, it is essentially hundreds of pages of rambling, mostly. Let me prove it with…


Children of Dune: The Suck

1. Laza Tigers.  These are basically cat-like creatures that have been manipulated so they’re living, remote-control cars.  So as previously, you get more of this ripe idea of using technology when people are wary about it in the Dune universe, references to the planet Ix and all of that.  Very ripe idea here, it’s a classic sci-fi trope and so easy to use to make awesomeness in the text.  Man, there was so much he could have done with it!  Here, all we get this time around are the laza tigers.  Even though they’re Tyco versions of cheetahs, they’re actually kind of cool.  They appear at the start, and then are used against the children later, but fail.  First thing, where was this shit in the other books?  Here we have, yet again, the critical problem with the sequels to Dune.  Herbert adds things and acts like they’re important, but if they were so important we would have heard of then already, wouldn’t we?  And how in the hell can any plot, let alone remote-controlled tigers, be used against children who can see the future?  I mean really.  Whatever, they’re only in the book for like five pages anyway, even though it opens with them and you think it’s going to be something really critical.  Sigh, more potential, wasted, as he normally does.  Did this guy ever even read the great works of science fiction?

2. Stupid-ass characters.  Yet again, Herbert presents us with incredibly unbelievable characterizations, wooden dialog, and laughable monologues that by this point are a fucking abscess on a glans that never heals.  Seriously, cut the shit out, getting old.  Learn how to write, please.  Oh, you’re dead, nevermind, guess we’re stuck with this.  Oh, wait a second, your children are going to write sequels…  God damn it, are you fucking serious?  At least that kind of makes it seem like this particular novel is a symbol, or something.  More effective than anythign Herbert ever did, at any rate.

3. Like no action at all.  That’s the one big problem with this one.  Now, trust me, I can take a book that’s more thought than action (wait till we get to the fourth in the series), but this one is based on plot structures at third-grade level with a focus on philosophical rambling.  By about half-way, you can skip over all that crap to try to follow the plot, because Herbert does an incredibly poor job of explaining the “philosophy” among the rest of the text.  But the plot techniques?  They’re so see-through that trying to derive big philosophical ideation out of them is cause for murder.  This particular novel is basically like taking any example of hagiography, adding some giant worms, and space.  It’s lifted from so many old myths and religions you wonder how anyone could consider anything in it original.  In Dune Messiah there was at least some cool action here and there, but in this one nothing.  I complained about the general lack of it in the others at times, but here, bottomless pit of despair.  Maybe, in all, four pages of action, not kidding.  Have fun with the other four-hundred-and-something.  Ends up being similar to The Left Hand of Darkness.  Trust me, that’s not a place you want to be.  There were so many areas with potential, with the Fremen revolting and all of this, but yet, Herbert just explains it behind the scenes as he furthers some crap subplot you could give a shit about.  Why?  Why does he keep avoiding things that keep our attention and stop us from falling asleep?  Again I ask, did this guy ever read any legendary science fiction?


4. The Prophet.  This started in the previous novel, but it’s really annoying here.  You can probably guess who the prophet is without reading the book if you’ve skimmed my articles.  The fact that I used the word prophet as it occurs gives the damn thing away.  It’s this mysterious guy, see, who talks about Dune and this and that and wanders the desert…ohhhh whoooo coooould it beeee whoooooo (ghost sounds).  Fact is, any infant with a brain would figure the fucker is Paul Atreides as soon as the mysterious one is mentioned.  Herbert is just too cut-and-dry with his character templates.  Oh, yes, who is this mysterious man of the desert?  Who could it possibly be?  I don’t know!  Surprise me!


5. Abomination. No, not the book itself, this refers to possession by the memories of a previous relative who is now deceased.  In this case, sigh, fucking Baron Harkonnen.  Was Herbert that dead inside that he couldn’t come up with a new villain to use?!!!!  So, he has to say, ummm yeah, so see like the memories or something of the Baron overwhelm Alia (Paul’s sister, look at previous reviews) and she basically becomes him mentally, yeah, that sounds like a great idea. Why wasn’t this kind of shit mentioned before?!!!  Abomination, in previous books, was explained as the fact that Alia absorbed memories through infusing the Water of Life before she was born, so she had powers before she should have properly received them, that’s fucking it.  Where did this shit come from?  Why the Baron?  Just because they’re related?  He died after the Water of Life incident!!!  Why does that fucking matter if they’re related anyway (trust me, Herbert never properly explains it)?  Can’t you think of something new?  Just take a peek at some of the monologues revolving around this crap, it’s a fucking joke.  There’s Herbert’s big problem again, not thinking Dune would go very far, he decides it’s now his life’s work and he makes a bunch of shit up that doesn’t fit his already static universe.  This is an issue for something else too, keep reading.


6. Fucking gholas.  Here we go with this shit again, just read my previous review of the last book.  If you don’t feel like reading, they’re basically reanimated versions of human beings with weird insect-eyes that are used as servants.  Previously Paul’s dead buddy Duncan Idaho was turned into one to “trick” him, and yes it doesn’t work.  They’re back, again, and they really shouldn’t be.  How many times can something fail before someone says “yeah, scratch that idea” (again I say wait until the next novel).  Even worse because it’s the same fucking guy again, Duncan.  That’s a glaring issue with this one and the others that come.  Herbert either, one, adds shit that seems so important you would have heard about it before, or two, keeps the same shit going that made the other books so horrible in certain areas because he obviously doesn’t know what else to do and probably was trying to hide the fact he was adding features in other areas.


7. Children?  Why children?  Really, it should be Child of Dune, because the boy’s sister, Ghanima, basically does fucking nothing the entire novel except walk around, talk bullshit, and pander to her brother Leto II, who should actually be Leto III now that I think about it…  Anyway Leto II or whoever he is, is the future heir with powers and all of that, but Ghanima has them too.  Why does she seem to play such a minor role?  Why is she such a tool?  She’s basically Leto II’s muppet and I bet if she had googly eyes you wouldn’t find it strange.  Oh wait, those are reserved for the gholas (see last review).  But there’s another problem here relating to abomination.  This is further compounded by the twins, these children, because Herbert attempts to explain their “pre-born” power status, but before he said that can only be due to the Water of Life before, so what’s the deal?  Well now he tries to explain it as the fact their parents ate a lot of the spice.  But, umm, isn’t that what most of the fucking Fremen do already?  God damn it, seriously man, think things through.  Yeah, I know, royal lineage, blah blah blah, it’s not sufficiently explained, it’s just yet another thing added to derive plot from where there was no plot because he already constricted his techniques with the first novel’s design.


8. Mythology out the ass that is never properly explained.  Where did all this esoteric shit come from?  The Dune books have had many, hear me, many inklings of borrowings from various religions of the world.  They open most of the chapters.  Decent idea, really, if they weren’t so shallow.  But this one gets so dense with all of this myth-speak sounds like the damn thing is from a completely different series.  All of the mixture of myth with science in the previous books is basically going bye-bye when you read this one, to the point that about five pages of it read as sci-fi, the other couldn’t even pass as fantasy.  Hell, they’d barely pass for an econ book half the time, or a 1040 they’re so damn boring.  Anyway, issue is that Herbert here really starts to take the direction towards this flighty “philosophy” that’s hardly convincing.  Starts here, gets worse as we go on.  And, sigh, he adds things.  The Jacrutu (some secret Fremen group or whatever), the sand trout, where did this shit come from why did we hear almost nothing about this bullshit until you needed to make plot out of it?!!  Where did this shit about some Pharoah lineage in the Atreides line come from?  How in the hell did you pull that out of your ass?  Idiot probably believed aliens built the entire Egyptian civilization too, just as stupid as this.


9. Subplots out the ass.  Big problem with this one too, no direction, like none.  About 90% of Children of Dune is spent in subplot after subplot after sideplot, none of which make a fucking difference to the overall main plot.  I summed it all up in a short paragraph above.  Add a bunch more paragraphs around that one that seem like tangents and have little meaningful connection, and you get the novel itself.  Actually, make it dissertation length and then you have the novel itself.  Herbert’s problem with what he seemed to think was artful plot-weaving is really an issue here.  At least the paper-thin plot structures of the first book and some of the second were understandable, this goes to outright WTF after about thirty pages.  His confusing interplay of “philosophy” and lack of consistency in plot structure make any subplots all the more confusing.


10. Dialog without meaning.  That’s another biggie.  This book is filled, I mean filled to the brim and spilling on the floor with dialog that doesn’t make any sense.   We’re talking discussions that would make a schizophrenic’s word salad sound like A Brief History of Time. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever read this many dialogs where I kept reading back and back again to try to make some sense out of it but still didn’t have a clue what dipshit Herbert was trying to get across, if he was even trying…  It slows down your reading by at least 70%.  Reason he really had to do this is he’s trying to tie in a lot of history to give it a sense of depth, but there’s just too damn much of it to make it feasible.


11. Half-man, HALF-SANDWORM.  Yes, laugh at that, please.  One of the big things here, and sadly really the only interesting few pages, is when Leto II (III) fuses with some sandtrout and is able to move around like a sandworm, the plot letting you know he will eventually become a sandworm.  Kind of cool, in a way, but also freaking retarded.  He swims in the sand, people, seriously.  How can this even been vaguely considered sci-fi?  Because it is in space?  In that case, fuck, all you have to do is add space to anything and you have sci-fi apparently.  See this bowl of soup?  Throw it into space and you have sci-fi, and we’ll call it Spoon.  Spider Robinson, a legendary sci-fi author and critic, probably said it best, “After thousands of years of a carefully planned and exactly executed breeding program designed to bring about the Uberman, we end up with a midget covered in silly putty?”  By the way, you should read his criticism of the other novels if you’re interested on someone bashing them further.  He only went up to book four, but they’re fucking hilarious.


12. Confusion.  Herbert seemed confused with what he even thought was going on.  Paul was clearly choosing a path that worried him starting in the first book, but he still knew what he was doing, that’s clear.  But Herbert’s trying to make it seem like he wasn’t?  But…he was…  So Leto II is trying to avoid this nonexistent problem with foretelling the future, even though it wasn’t there in the first place and really never happened and…what?  Plus we have this confusion about what ‘abomination’ means (read above).  So how are the children of Paul abominations?  Herbert is indicating because the reverend mothers are addicted to spice, but ummm, that’s how it always was?  Alia was abomination because of the Water of Life thing with Jessica, so how in the fucking hell can anything but that be abomination if that’s how you defined it?  Get your shit together, Tyrone.


13. Wasted characters.  Why are some of these dicks even still around?  Can’t let it go?  Stilgar was a huge character in the first book, but here he’s nothing more than space-filler.  There is one part where he and the fucking ghola literally do nothing for a whole night and then Stilgar gets pissed because the ghola basically farts through his mouth (literally no, but that’s about what his dialog means to me).  Why is he even in here?  Who gives a shit about Jessica anymore?  Who cares about this minor Corrino dickwad?  Why does Ghanima have to marry her brother even though she’ll be having kids with the Corrino boy?  Does anyone really care about this kind of on-paper-bullshit-for-pomp in the fucking future?  Herbert certainly doesn’t give us a reason to give of said shits or believe any of it, that’s the problem.  This book tries to be timeless but really it’s antiquated.

So, sadly, with Children of Dune we see largely the same problems with the second, the adding of shit.  This, however, is compounded with the bulkiness and unnecessary extension of dialog that plagued the original and made it such a pain.  You can’t take a lifeless, see-through plot and hope to beef it up with a lot of nothingness.  It reveals your flaws as a writer, which in this case was the inability to be original and the sure as hell lack of having really anything to do with sci-fi other than some space ships and shit you already mentioned in the other books.  This one is so lacking and so boring it makes boring bored of itself.  Herbert, in a way, is like Bram Stoker.  He wasn’t a good writer, he never was, he never should have started.  For some reason sci-fi fans needed that one big thing, even though they already have tons of awesome writers who had been around much longer and who had much better grasps of creativity (Pohl, Anderson, Vance, etc.).  Herbert is a fucking fluke.  He should have never gotten popular.  Think these shitting Dune books are any good?  Go read his short stories, and then realize that’s the same guy writing this.  Next one coming soon, when I have the required insanity level to give a shit about it.


Written by Arkus the Evil Dictator

Frank Herbert: Children of Dune
Score: 1.5 / 5