'Between depriving a man of one hour from his life and depriving him of his life there exists only a difference of degree.'
-Addenda to Orders in Council, The Emperor Paul Muad'dib
He also studies what happens when a thing is set in motion—a thing that takes on an impetus of its own and branches into other avenues. The one who set the ball rolling from a historic perspective gets blamed for every nuance, more so when the beliefs of the people who act in the name dictate that it be deified and that the religion should spread as far as possible throughout the stars.
The sects and orders that Muad'Dib subjugated were forced to publicly shuffle to their respective corners with their heads bowed, but pride demands redress, so the enemy of my enemy scenario becomes an option. Of course, when you consider that the most powerful players in that wounded collective include the likes of the Bene Gesserit and the Spacing Guild then you have to also factor in the secret goals of each and acknowledge them in every decision made.
For Muad'Dib there's compensation for the hard choices he must make, but the balance is cruel. Being aware that the crutch of prescience his every waking hour relies upon is both what he needs and what he fears doesn't help. Life is hard.
In some ways Messiah feels like a belated epilogue to the first book set twelve years after. Likewise, the second half feels like a lengthy prelude to the third book, Children of Dune (1976). Knowing that doesn't lessen the enjoyment of a reading but it should help prepare you for being assailed by an overpowering need to go direct to the following volume upon reaching the final page.
5 honest answers to difficult questions out of 5