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Children of Dune

Children of Dune

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Children of Dune is a 1976 science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 novel by Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert
Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Although a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune and its five sequels...

, third in a series of six novels set in his Dune universe
Dune universe
Dune is a science fiction franchise which originated with the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Considered by many to be the greatest science fiction novel of all time, Dune is frequently cited as the best-selling science fiction novel in history...

. Initially selling over 75,000 copies, it became the first hardcover best-seller ever in the science fiction field. The novel was critically well-received for its gripping plot, action, and atmosphere, and was nominated for the Hugo Award
Hugo Award
The Hugo Awards are given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards...

 for Best Novel
Hugo Award for Best Novel
The Hugo Awards are given every year by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The award is named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and was once officially...

 in 1977. It was originally serial
Serial (literature)
In literature, a serial is a publishing format by which a single large work, most often a work of narrative fiction, is presented in contiguous installments—also known as numbers, parts, or fascicles—either issued as separate publications or appearing in sequential issues of a single periodical...

ized in Analog Science Fiction and Fact
Analog Science Fiction and Fact
Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American science fiction magazine. As of 2011, it is the longest running continuously published magazine of that genre...

in 1976, and was the last Dune novel to be serialized before book publication. The novels Dune Messiah
Dune Messiah
Dune Messiah is a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert, the second in a series of six novels. It was originally serialized in Galaxy magazine in 1969. The American and British editions have different prologues summarizing events in the previous novel...

and Children of Dune were adapted into a well-received television miniseries
Miniseries
A miniseries , in a serial storytelling medium, is a television show production which tells a story in a limited number of episodes. The exact number is open to interpretation; however, they are usually limited to fewer than a whole season. The term "miniseries" is generally a North American term...

 entitled Frank Herbert's Children of Dune by the Sci-Fi Channel
Syfy
Syfy , formerly known as the Sci-Fi Channel and SCI FI, is an American cable television channel featuring science fiction, supernatural, fantasy, reality, paranormal, wrestling, and horror programming. Launched on September 24, 1992, it is part of the entertainment conglomerate NBCUniversal, a...

 in 2003. In 2002, the Science Fiction Book Club also published the two novels in one volume.

At the end of Dune Messiah, Paul Atreides
Paul Atreides
Paul Atreides is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. Paul is a prominent character in the first two novels in the series, Dune and Dune Messiah , and returns in Children of Dune . The character is brought back as two different gholas in the Brian Herbert/Kevin J...

 walks into the desert, a blind man, leaving his twin children Leto
Leto Atreides II
Leto Atreides II is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. Born at the end of Dune Messiah , Leto is a central character in Children of Dune and is the title character of God Emperor of Dune . The character is brought back as a ghola in the Brian Herbert/Kevin J...

 and Ghanima in the care of the Fremen
Fremen
The Fremen are a group of people in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. First appearing in the 1965 novel Dune, the Fremen inhabit the desert planet Arrakis and are based on the desert-dwelling Bedouin and Kalahari Bushmen. In Herbert's novels, Arrakis is the sole known source...

, while his sister Alia
Alia Atreides
Alia Atreides is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. Introduced in the first novel of the series, 1965's Dune, the character was originally killed in Herbert's first version of the manuscript. At the suggestion of Analog magazine editor John Campbell, Herbert kept...

 rules the universe as regent. Awoken in the womb by the spice, the children are the heirs to Paul's prescient vision of the fate of the universe, a role that Alia desperately craves. House Corrino
House Corrino
Imperial House Corrino is a fictional noble family from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. The Corrinos come to power after mankind's victory against the thinking machines at the Battle of Corrin , and rule until deposed by Paul Atreides approximately 10,000 years later during the events...

 schemes to return to the throne, while the Bene Gesserit
Bene Gesserit
The Bene Gesserit are a key social, religious, and political force in Frank Herbert's science fiction Dune universe. The group is described as an exclusive sisterhood whose members train their bodies and minds through years of physical and mental conditioning to obtain superhuman powers and...

 make common cause with the Tleilaxu
Bene Tleilax
The Bene Tleilax or Tleilaxu are an extremely xenophobic and isolationist society in Frank Herbert's science fiction Dune universe. Genetic manipulators who traffic in biological products such as artificial eyes, gholas, and "twisted" Mentats, the Tleilaxu are a major power in the Imperium...

 and Spacing Guild
Spacing Guild
The Spacing Guild is an organization in Frank Herbert's science fiction Dune universe. With its monopoly on interstellar travel and banking, the Guild is a balance of power against the Padishah Emperor and the assembled noble Houses of the Landsraad...

 to gain control of the spice and the children of Paul Atreides.

Context


Dune traces the rise of Paul Muad’Dib, a young nobleman in an interstellar feudal empire who takes control of the single critical resource in the universe — the lifespan-enhancing, consciousness-expanding drug spice melange. As the first book closes, Paul has triumphed. His scheming, evil enemies are dead or overthrown, and he is set to take the reins of power and bring a hard but enlightened peace to the universe.

Herbert chose in the books that followed to undermine Paul’s triumph with a string of failures and philosophical paradoxes; Dune was a heroic melody, and Dune Messiah was its inversion
Inversion (music)
In music theory, the word inversion has several meanings. There are inverted chords, inverted melodies, inverted intervals, and inverted voices...

. When the second novel, Dune Messiah, opens, Muad’Dib’s religion has sent his fanatical soldiers on an interstellar jihad, destroying the traditional structures of government and leaving billions dead. His vision of peace is corrupted by dogmatic religious bureaucrats, and his once-noble desert tribes, the Fremen, grow fat and wealthy on the spoils of war and the de-desertification of Dune.

Synopsis


Nine years after Emperor Paul Muad'dib walked into the desert, blind, the ecological transformation of Dune
Arrakis
Arrakis  — informally known as Dune and later called Rakis — is a fictional desert planet featured in the Dune series of novels by Frank Herbert. Herbert's first novel in the series, 1965's Dune, is popularly considered one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, and it is...

 has reached the point where some Fremen are living without stillsuits in the less arid climate and have started to move out of the Sietches and into the villages and cities. As the old ways erode, more and more pilgrims arrive to experience the planet of Muad'dib. The Imperial high council has lost the political initiative and is powerless to control the Jihad.
Paul's twin young children, Leto II and Ghanima, sharing his prescience, have concluded that their guardian Alia has succumbed to possession by one of her ancestors fear that a similar fate awaits them. They (and Alia) also realize that the terraforming
Terraforming
Terraforming of a planet, moon, or other body is the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying its atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology to be similar to those of Earth, in order to make it habitable by terrestrial organisms.The term is sometimes used more generally as a...

 of Dune will kill all the sandworms
Sandworm (Dune)
The sandworm is a fictional form of desert-dwelling creature from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. They first appear in the 1965 novel Dune, considered to be among the classics in the science fiction genre, and are iconic of the Dune series.In the series, the sandworms called Shai-Hulud...

 destroying the source of the spice. Leto also fears that like his father he will be trapped by his prescience.

Alia, possessed by the persona of her grandfather, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Vladimir Harkonnen
The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is a fictional character from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. He is primarily featured in the 1965 novel Dune, in which he is the secondary antagonist, and is also a major character in the Prelude to Dune prequel trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson...

, fears that her mother, about to return to Arrakis, will recognize her "abomination." Out in the desert, a new religious figure, "The Preacher", rails against the injustices of the religious government and the changes among the Fremen; with some Fremen believing he is Paul Atreides. On Salusa Secundus
Salusa Secundus
Salusa Secundus is a fictional planet appearing in Frank Herbert's Dune universe. With harsh conditions rivaling those of the desert planet Arrakis, Salusa is used as the Imperial Prison Planet, and is one of two planets on which shigawire is grown .-Dune:In "Terminology of the Imperium," the...

, the fallen House Corrino plots to assassinate the twins and regain power.

Lady Jessica returns to Arrakis and recognizes that her daughter has been possessed, but finds no signs of abomination on the twins. She plans with them to thwart Alia's plotting. Leto arranges for Fremen leader Stilgar to protect his sister if there is an attempt on their lives. Alia attempts to assassinate Jessica, but she escapes into the desert with the assistance of Duncan Idaho, preciptatating a rebellion among the Fremen. The twins anticipate and survive the Corrino assassination plot. Leto leaves to seek out the Preacher, while Ghanima, masking her memory with self-hypnosis, reports falsely that her brother had been murdered. Duncan and Jessica flee to Salusa Secundus, where Jessica begins to mentor the Corrino heir Farad'n, who seizes power from his regent mother and allies with the Bene Gesserit
Bene Gesserit
The Bene Gesserit are a key social, religious, and political force in Frank Herbert's science fiction Dune universe. The group is described as an exclusive sisterhood whose members train their bodies and minds through years of physical and mental conditioning to obtain superhuman powers and...

, who promise to marry him to Ghanima and support his bid for coronation as Emperor.

Leto is captured by Gurney Halleck
Gurney Halleck
Gurney Halleck is a fictional troubadour warrior in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. He is a major character in Herbert's Dune and Children of Dune , and appears in some of the prequel and sequel novels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.Gurney is portrayed by Patrick Stewart in the...

 and band of Fremen outlaws, who force him to undergo the spice trance at the suggestion of one of Alia's agents, who has infiltrated the group. His spice induced visions show him a myriad of possible futures where humanity has become extinct, but only one where humanity survives. He names this future "The Golden Path" and resolves to bring it to fruition. He escapes his captors and sacrifices his humanity in pursuit of the Golden Path, fusing with a school of sandtrout, gaining superhuman strength and near-invulnerability. He travels across the desert and confronts the Preacher, who proves to be his father Paul Atreides.

Duncan Idaho returns to Arrakis and provokes Stilgar into killing him. With Stilgar's neutrality now untenable, he seizes Ghanima and flees. Alia recaptures Ghanima and arranges her marriage to Farad'n, planning to exploit the expected chaos when Ghanima kills him to avenge her brother's murder. The Preacher and Leto return to the capital to confront Alia who has the Preacher murdered revealing his true identity. Leto reveals himself in a display of superhuman strength and triggers the return of Ghanima's genuine memories. He confronts Alia and offers to help her overcome her possession but she is overwhelmed by her ancestral personae and elects to commit suicide.

Leto declares himself Emperor and asserts control over the Fremen. Farad'n enlists in his service and delivers control of the Corrino armies. The seemingly immortal and omnipotent Leto is left as Emperor of the Known Universe, with Ghanima at his side.

Reception


Spider Robinson
Spider Robinson
Spider Robinson is an American-born Canadian Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction author.- Biography :Born in the Bronx, New York City, Robinson attended Catholic high school, spending his junior year in a seminary, followed by two years in a Catholic college, and five years at the State...

found the novel unsatisfying, faulting the ending as unconvincing and thematically overfamiliar.