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Review of God Emperor of Dune

Updated on February 10, 2018
God Emperor of Dune by jubjubjedi
God Emperor of Dune by jubjubjedi | Source

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 Muad'Dib from the previous novels has been accused of seeming 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.”

God Emperor of Dune

paperback cover art
paperback cover art

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 end when its is difficult for a reader to be 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.

© 2009 Seth Tomko

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    • profile image

      Tanja Talia 

      7 years ago

      What a rant, Dbandit! And quite an unnecessary one at that, I daresay! I agree with your (re)view of God Emperor Dune (which is, along with The Children of Dune, my favourite in the Dune series) and personally I think the scene of the Siaynock rite the most disturbing, exciting and enlightening at the same time. Of course, Leto II Atreides might be so absorbing and thought-provoking mostly to die-hard Dune fans, but never mind that. What I intensely dislike is your totally uncalled for attack on Orson Scott Card as SF author. Why is so abhorring, in your esteemed opinion, to like both the God Emperor and Ender?

    • profile image

      godawful 

      7 years ago

      what a fantastically shitty book

    • profile image

      Dbandit 

      8 years ago

      lack of action, eh? bored, eh? what about the heart pounding D wolf chase scene at the beginning? what about Idaho's climbing of the giant wall....what about the final scene where Leto is assasinated and falls off the bridge into the river and his human form, minus sandtrout skin is revealed? what about the tlelaxu assasination attempt? what about the killing of the first Idaho?....There are TONS of exciting action sequences in this brilliant, perfect sci fi novel for those with no attention span and who don't read herbert for what his true strength and passion as a writer was: his disection of the human condition and how the way we organize ourselves and implement hegimony and tyranny will eventually lead to our downfall....all of the boring "dialogues" you mentioned are the meat and potatoes of this book....there are a valuable exposition of the climactic culmination of herberts vision, namely that humanity needs to find its own path and do away with worship of heros and tyrants....of all the dune novels i find this one the MOST readable and ironically the most able to be made into a movie....its pared down and has ONE major theme....with a great, iconic main character that would be easy to reproduce with today's CGI technology....and with not just the great themes to explore but the aforementioned action sequences and many more....save your self aggrandizing carping for some shitty,obvious orson scott card novel that deserves it....leave god emperor alone

    • satomko profile imageAUTHOR

      Seth Tomko 

      8 years ago from Macon, GA

      I agree, Tanja. Ender's Game still has a huge readership, and it's only getting bigger. I saw where more and more of Orson Scott Card's work is being turned into graphic novels to reach even more fans.

    • profile image

      Tanja Talia 

      8 years ago

      Dune is the best of the best, no argument there. But I must mention Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. A must-read, too!

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