The End of Spice

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Chapterhouse DuneFrank Herbert (Dune #6) 2/5

After 17 years, I finally finished the series. And yeah, I had some issues.

The review I wrote immediately after reading is this:

Just one big confusion. The plot is interesting, what there is of it, there isn’t much, however.
The characters are completely interchangeable.
But the main issue are the inner thoughts. FH is famous for having characters deliver their inner thoughts in his Dune novels, but this was too much. Constant constant constant addition of inner thoughts, switches between characters and even characters with more than one inner voice (who then argue with each other).
Also, it made my head hurt.

And I still believe this. But let’s start from the beginning.

First of all, despite the ending, and the trouble I had with the 6th book, I LOVE THIS SERIES. I give it 6 out of 5 stars. I LOVE THIS WORLD. Frank is a god, and no amount of objective analysis will ever change my mind. No amount of my personal annoyance with the last book will change my mind either.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business.

The second part of the Dune series, books 4, 5 and 6 take a significant left turn from the first three books, so don’t let that confuse you when you start reading book 4. And among these last 3 books, books 5 and 6 go even more crazy. It’s no secret that I LOVED book 4. It’s strange and deep and philosophical and just so god damned strange that I could not put it down. Book 5 was strange in a different way – new characters, new worlds, new threats, but I could follow it.

Then we finally got to book 6.

Here we follow the remnants of the Bene Gesserit who are trying to rescue the giant worms after the destruction of Arrakis. They are also trying to survive the constant attacks from the Honored Matres. Some old characters are here as well, the indestructible Duncan for one I was glad to see.

There isn’t much plot – the Sisterhood and the Matres are trying to outmanoeuvre each other while individuals are just trying to survive. But this lack of plot is not a problem for me, what was a problem was the writing.

Frank Herbert is famous (infamous) for his addition of a character’s inner thoughts to the page. We all remember Dune. But here he took it a step forward. Where in the earlier books his thoughts-POVs were limited in number per chapter, here it’s a free for all. Every single character on the page can be (and often is) given an inner voice and very rarely are we told whose thoughts we are hearing. I found myself having to go back in the text to make sure I knew whose thoughts I was reading. And let me tell you, I was wrong so many times. I HATED that.

Despite this massive issue, there are still great insights to be had in this book. In standard Frank Herbert fashion, we get political analysis of different modes of government with a special emphasis on administrations and its pitfalls. We also get an insightful look at the position of an individual within a ruling class and subjugated classes. This was always his strong point and here he continues to shine.

Too bad we need a map and road signs to read the rest of the book.

I think I’ll give this book another try when I’m older and wiser. Right now, I gotta go with my gut here and say I didn’t like it.

Oh, and I almost forgot – there is a cliff-hanger ending (sort of) and I know that Brian wrote the continuation and I do own the books. But I also feel that it would be a perfect way to end this series here. There are so many questions but that too is in keeping with the overall theme of the series. It is not here to give you definitive answers, but to make you think. Having a tidy ending to the series would be out of character for Frank, so yeah, I almost feel like not reading Brian’s last two volumes.

I will read them despite all that because I’m a junky and I have to have my Dune fix.

The spice must flow.

Some quotes:

“Laws to suppress tend to strengthen what they would prohibit.”

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“Show me a completely smooth operation and I’ll show you someone who’s covering mistakes. Real boats rock.”

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“Your habits always come hunting after you. The self you construct will haunt you. […] We are addicted to the self we construct.”

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