Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Children of Dune (1976)

Author: Frank Herbert  |  Page Count: 426

'When you believe something is right or wrong, true or false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments.  Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.'
-The Open-Ended Proof from The Panoplia Prophetica

More than twenty years have passed since Duke Leto Atreides of Caladan first set foot on the arid landscape of Arrakis. Much has changed in that short time. The descendants of Leto are now children of Dune.

In a manner similar to how the ducal signet ring has passed to more than one successor in that time, so too has an important part of the story’s focus. While the planet is always the largest concern, it's arguably the characters that make any book worth reading, so we have the twins, now aged nine. They explore their origins while their aunt goes ever-deeper into the political and religious realm, for reasons that she keeps secret, scheming how best to make even the most desperate situation an advantageous link in the chain of practical eventualities.

Herbert’s presentation of the twins is amazing. Their heritage gifts them with certain talents and knowledge that belies their age, accentuating the almost magical bond that exists between a brother and sister born from the same womb only seconds apart. Each is able to instinctually know what the other is thinking, or, at the very least, make an informed judgement call on how their sibling would respond to any given situation, to anticipate reactions and even to allow for the unknown. When confronted with a problem, familial or otherwise, they've more than one perspective to draw on. When they debate it’s like one mind questioning itself, excising the incorrect assumptions to leave only the correct path. However, it's a situation filled with just as many dangers.

For a time the book is heavily-weighted towards the women. The Reverend Mother role of the old religion never really went away; like everything else it changed and adapted to fit the political climate.

Previously we had a voice from the ‘outer world’ bringing change. Now there’s a voice from Dune itself, a figure from the planet’s past known only as The Preacher, passing judgement on the present situation, on the religious beliefs of the Fremen, on the ecology and on the state of rule.

I've chosen to highlight only a small part to avoid spoilers, but there’s a lot more to be discovered. For example, most of us will know how easily the mind slips into romanticising what’s past after change has occurred; the effect that has on larger concerns can be immeasurable and remain unseen by the populace who are a integral part of it. Remember also that the ‘Children’ of the title is more than literal and can be applied in a broader sense to more than just the twins.

5 divergent motives out of 5

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