Another entry in the latter-day Dune saga, this one beginning a trilogy about the origins of the Bene Gesserit, Mentats and Swordmasters.
Eighty-three years after the defeat of the thinking machines at the Battle of Corrin, Emperor Salvador of House Corrino rules the human empire. On the jungle planet Rossak, Raquella Berto-Anirul—the first and, so far, only Reverend Mother, able to access all the memories of her female ancestors—has formed the Sisterhood to train women to achieve their full potential physical and mental powers. On Lampadas, Gilbertus Albans teaches his students to become Mentats, human computers with extraordinary powers to make statistical predictions and uncover hidden associations. His great secret is that he keeps the brain of the evil thinking robot Ersamus in a cupboard in his office. Josef Venport, heir to a vast interstellar trading empire, employs the narcotic spice from Dune to turn humans into Navigators able to find safe pathways through the higher dimensions of foldspace. War hero Vorian Atreides, having retired to a remote planet, soon finds himself on Dune itself, hunted by the vengeful descendants of the disgraced Abulurd Harkonnen and also by his siblings, half-human, half-machine warrior creations of his father, the feared mek general Agamemnon. The Butlerians, anti-technology fanatics feared by everybody up to and including the emperor, are poised to begin a new crusade against scientific progress of any sort. Characters and plot are thus beautifully set up, the timing is precise; alas that the prose drones in the usual flat, affectless manner, while the characters for the most part lack personality and distinction. McDune, sure, but the universe conceived by Frank Herbert is so vast, complex and fascinating that the magic lingers, and even Herbert-Anderson detractors will be hard put to resist the allure.