Final installment—chronologically, anyway—in the Dune series (Hunters of Dune, 2006, etc.) begun by the late Frank Herbert in 1965 and continued by his son, Brian, and collaborator Anderson.
Thousands of years in the future, the Great Enemy that threatens humanity’s survival has been revealed as Omnius, a megalomaniacal intelligent machine that survived the Butlerian Jihad, and his independent-minded sidekick Erasmus. Vengeful Omnius commands hordes of be-weaponed thinking machines and spaceships; Erasmus has consumed thousands of human personal histories in an attempt to understand the human species. The pair have created millions of undetectable Face Dancers (they can mimic any human shape) and placed them in key positions in the Spacing Guild administration, the factories of machine planet Ix and even the Sisterhood—heir to the old Atreides empire—led by Mother Commander Murbella. They have also cloned the evil Baron Harkonnen and the baron’s old foe, Paul Atreides, whom the baron has worked assiduously to corrupt. Other than the beleaguered Sisterhood, the machines are opposed by Norma Cenva, the godlike Oracle, inspiration to the traditional spice-addicted Guild Navigators, and a spaceship containing clones of famous figures from the past, including Duncan Idaho, Paul Atreides, Leto II and the Bashar Miles Teg. Everybody agrees that events are shaping up for Kralizec, the long-foretold battle at the end of time. In true Herbertian fashion, everybody has a secret agenda; everyone dreams of defeating all opposition; and each side plots to create and control an omniscient superbeing known as the Kwisatz Haderach. Let Kralizec commence. The boys do a great job in investing the plot with heft and complexity and the narrative with pace and momentum, and conveying the sheer ferocity of the betrayals and duplicities. Less felicitous are the bland characters, whose extraordinary abilities rarely come across with much conviction.
Dune lite—but for all that, a rare, rattling page-turner that no Dune adherent will pass up.