Third in the Dune prequel series from originator Frank Herbert's son Brian and collaborator Anderson (Dune: House Atreides, 1999, and Dune: House Harkonnen, 2000). Duke Leto Atreides plans to attack planet Ix and drive out the occupying genetic-whiz Tleilaxu, while his concubine Jessica must travel to the imperial capital, Kaitain, to give birth to her child—not the daughter she was ordered to bear by her Bene Gesserit superiors. The Emperor Shaddam grows crueler and less restrained as his conspiracy with the Tleilaxu to develop a synthetic substitute for the miraculous spice “melange” advances. Shaddam's coconspirator Ajidica, the Tleilaxu Master, has tested “amal” on himself and obtained a superhuman brain boost; better still, the imperial Sardaukar troops stationed on Ix are already addicted to amal, so that now they'll obey him rather than the Emperor. The Emperor's agent, Hasimir Fenring, isn't convinced that amal will be an effective substitute for melange and demands more tests. Regardless, Shaddam squeezes the Great Families to reveal their secret spice stockpiles; once equipped with amal, he can destroy planet Arrakis—the sole source of the natural spice—and hold the galaxy to ransom. The plot heads for one of those black-comic moments where everybody's holding a gun to somebody else's head.
Even though the cracks are beginning to show, and the sheer narrative power of the superb original series is lacking, Dune in any guise is as addictive as the spice itself.