Review of God Emperor of Dune
God Emperor of Dune
Leto's Tyranny of Boredom
Given the slow pace and lack of action, Herbert’s fourth Dune novel does not match the effort of the others.
Death of the Sandworms
Even though the previous three Dune novels are freighted with slow-developing political conspiracies they never reached the standstill that God Emperor of Dune languishes under for the vast majority of its pages. Most scenes consist of characters being summoned to speak with government officials, often the God Emperor Leto himself. As is the case with the new clone of Duncan Idaho, though, the read never gets to see much of what is happening or understand why. As such, the real suspension of disbelief for the novel is not about terraformation, a man turning into a sandworm, multi-generational breeding programs, or even a space travel, but that a novel with little worth telling could stretch over so many pages.
Leto’s personal evolution into a higher being and his subsequent micromanaging of a galactic empire are allegedly for benevolent goals, but since the reader does not know what is at risk or what imperils the future of humanity, it is easier to be frustrated with the lack of information rather than concerned. Leto spends most of the novel trying to defend—in either bored or self-righteous tones—his interplanetary breeding and eugenics program. Though Paul from the previous novels has been accused of being distant and lacking humanity, Leto is an inhuman egomaniac that is only interesting when his subhuman instincts take over; Moneo calls these circumstances the emergence of “The Worm.”
The Spice Must Flow
Other characters could have rescued the novel but none are up to the challenge. Siona is an insufferable brat who sulks when she is not plotting mostly harmless rebellions. The timid Moneo refuses to stand up the Leto and does not share his vision that convinced him become the manager of Leto’s tyranny. Hwi is allegedly a candidate for sainthood, but the reader never witnesses her do anything especially benevolent; she just claims to want to learn about Leto’s loneliness. Duncan—as clueless as the readers—stands the best chance for helping the audience get a foot in the door, but he blunders around and complains without taking action until the very end when its is difficult for a reader to be suddenly engaged and interested in what Duncan thinks.
The novel is ultimately disappointing since it centers on characters making speeches at one other—real dialogue is lacking—or characters trying to defend their morally objectionable actions through references to a vague threat that never manifests in the whole novel. It is hard to feel sympathy for a tyrant, especially one that spends his time explaining how superior he is.
- Review of Heretics of Dune
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