Children of Dune (Dune Chronicles, #3)

ISBN: 0441104029
ISBN 13: 9780441104024
By: Frank Herbert

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About this book

The desert planet of Arrakis has begun to grow green and lush. The life-giving spice is abundant. The nine-year-old royal twins, possesing their father's supernatural powers, are being groomed as Messiahs. But there are those who think the Imperium does not need messiahs...

Reader's Thoughts


Paul Atreides is presumed dead, and his sister Alia reigns as regent in his place. Leto and Ghanima, the twins who were born at the end of Dune Messiah, are to be the new rulers when they come of age, but their lives are marred by dangerous political intrigue, superstition, and suspicion. Like Alia, they were born with the conscious memories of all of their forbears, and think and act like adults despite being only ten years old. Are they, as the Bene Gesserit believe, Abominations? Or do they hold the keys to the salvation of Arrakkis (and perhaps the universe)?If you enjoy novels where it is easy to decide which characters to like and trust and which ones are evil, this is definitely not for you. There are wheels within wheels, and characters who were likable in previous volumes may turn out to be direst enemies. On the other hand, if you're a fan of political intrigues and ruthless characters and fascinating meditations on the intersection of religion and politics, this will be right up your alley. Reading this series is a bit like getting wrapped up in the BBC production of "I, Claudius."

JR Johnson

It would be a disservice to other readers to review this book because it took me months to complete it. I picked it up regularly, but never did I gain any momentum while reading. Children of Dune sought to expand the universe of Dune as a primary goal, rather than as a mechanism to understand the magnitude of Paul's impact. Instead of being sucked in, I was turned off by the constant references of new, never-before-seen Freman religious terms.And another thing...Leto and Ghanima are creepy. Once Leto ceases being creepy, he becomes scary. There is no hero here, and the protagonist I wanted (Farad'n) never materialized. It feels like Herbert is mythologizing an actual religion and I was bored. At this point, I'm not sure if I'll continue on with the series.


The classic biblical conundrum - are the sins of the father really inherited by the son? Yes, CoD went a lot further in analyzing religion and society than the previous book which I found interesting, but more interesting was the current day metaphor with society's "progress" without regard to the costs involved. Who is going to pay for our excesses today, and how will they go about fixing them?The Preacher seemed a powerful figure at the beginning of the story, but by the end I almost felt sorry for the old guy. Leto striking out to redress the mistakes of both his father's and aunt's reigns looks to be an interesting story I'll enjoy following. I can't say I agree with his views that he will bring an era of thousands of years of peace, but it will be interesting to watch him try. CoD is not something to be read lightly as you can get through several pages and realize you are completely lost. I've found myself rereading sections quite a bit. On that thought, I'm going to take a break for a little bit before continuing the series as I find it to be somewhat exhausting.


See for the full text of the book I wrote about Herbert.While I truly believe Frank's story that he envisioned the three books as a whole from the beginning, I found this one to be much less compelling than the first two.After this, they were all hack work for money. If you liked the Dune books and want other Herbert, I recommend The Santaroga Barrier and Under Pressure. A few of the others had some good ideas, but were much less compelling as stories.


”I must not fear.Fear is the mind-killer.Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.I will face my fear.I will permit it to pass over me and through me.And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.Where the fear has gone there will be nothing......Only I will remain." If you have read at least Dune you must be familiar with the above “Litany Against Fear”. I don’t know about you but it gets old very fast for me. When it shows up in Children of Dune I read it like “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.” – SHUT UP! Fortunately it only appears once but Mr. Herbert still sneaks in the odd snippet here and there whenever I am feeling too complacent.To my mind the Dune series really finishes with this third volume. It ties up all the loose ends nicely and ends on an optimistic and suitably poignant note. Come to think of it the very first Dune novel feels very complete within itself, and you could read it as one of the greatest standalone sci-fi novels of all time (or one of the most overrated if it doesn’t do it for you).So the Atreides are at it again with their mystical shenanigan. These Atreides are so damn verbose 24/7, I swear none of them is capable of speaking like a normal person. I can not imagine how they say “pass the salt” at dinner without mentioning the cosmic ramifications should the salt passing project not be successfully concluded. That said Children of Dune is actually quite an entertaining read, much more so than Dune Messiah which often had a soporific effect on me when I was reading it. Children of Dune focuses on the two Atreides kids, Leto and Ghanima (or non-kids because their heads are stuffed full of their ancestors’ memories and it makes them super weird). Their father, the legendary Paul Atreides A.K.A. Muad’Dib walked off into the sunset of the Arrakis desert nine years ago, very pissed off about what the world has come to thanks to his leadership. He is now presumed dead as the Dune desert is deadly and not conducive to a pleasant stroll after dinner.The planet Arrakis has come a long way since we first encountered it in Dune the terraforming project is going well and water is more abundant with plants appearing in some areas, other areas of the global desert is becoming moist. Rains and clouds are often seen and early in the novel eight Fremen drown in a flashflood. When you have a culture based on the scarcity of water this development really turns the world upside down. The cultural and social ramifications of Arrakis becoming more watery are the most fascinating aspect of the book for me.The book starts off slowly (as most books do) with the introduction of the Atreides twins and ambles along pleasantly enough. At almost exactly the half way point Mr. Herbert suddenly shifts gears and the novel becomes much more plot intensive and relatively fast paced. Exciting things are certainly afoot in the second half the the novel; featuring a murder plot involving tigers, a possession that makes you fat, the birth of a sort of Duneman superhero and many spoilerish things that I won’t mention (probably said too much already – sorry!).All in all a fun read, there is plenty of subtexts and philosophy to think about if you want to (I had my brain switched off, it’s my standard mode). The theme of religion and fanaticism is ever present. I don’t know if I will go on to read God Emperor of Dune and the subsequent volumes. I am afraid of coming across the Litany Against Fear again.

Eric Allen

Children of DuneBook 3 of the Dune ChroniclesBy Frank HerbertA Dune Retrospective by Eric Allen.This book is a bit of a hard one for me to rate, because parts of it are so good, while others are so not. Everyone likes to say that Dune Messiah is a bridge between the events of Dune and Children of Dune. However, most people do not realize two things about this series. First was that Herbert meant to stop after Dune Messiah. And Second, when he finally decided he had more story to tell, seven years had passed. Looking at the series as a whole, now, it seems that way to some people, but at the time that these books were published, it was not the case. Dune Messiah was meant to be the end, not a bridge of any sort between better books in the series.Children of Dune follows many swirling plots throughout the empire to remove the titular Children from their places as heirs to Paul "Muad'dib" Atreides. His sister Alia has become possessed by the old Baron Harkonen, and is actively trying to bring the monarchy down and take power for herself. The heir to house Corino is plotting to take the throne in other ways. The Bene Gesserit have their own plots, as do the Spacing Guild, and a hundred other people or groups.In the midst of all of the chaos and plotting, a blind preacher appears out of the desert, calling down the religion that worships Paul as a god, and preching defiance of Alia, and a return to Fremen tradition. Many think that he is Muad'dib returned to them from the desert where he wandered off to die, but many question why he would return only to tear down the religion and empire that he, himself, built.The twin Atreides heirs plan... something, and in carrying out their plans accomplish... something, but the book never really bothers to tell us what, so it's probably not all that important.Everything comes together when all plots fail, and young Leto assumes the throne after doing... something, which allows him to do so... for some reason... I guess, bringing about changes that will change the face of Arrakis for a time, bringing a storm through the known universe, but which will result in peaceful calm once it is through.The Good? There is a lot to like in this book. The political intrigues, all the back dealing, and plotting, and maneuvering are really well done and play out to a wonderful conclusion. There's a lot of real tension through many scenes as various factions play off each other for control of Arrakis, the spice, and the empire. Alia's fall into insanity is really well played out, and she makes a very good villain. The story is epic in scope, much like the first book, encomassing huge changes in the empire, and there are a lot of great character interactions throughout the novel.The Bad? The twins are, frankly, not characters. Hell, they're barely even plot devices. They're not even that, they're more like stage props. They have absolutely no personality of their own. Their motivations are, for the most part, a complete mystery to the reader. They just... do things, without explanation of why, or how, or why it's important to the plot. They don't act like real people. They merely exist within the plot to facilitate the needs of the story and for no other reason. AND HALF OF THE ENTIRE BOOK IS FROM THEIR POINTS OF VIEW!!!The twins are creepy, and weird, and say and do things that just make no sense, because they have no context, because the author couldn't bother himself to give us one. For example, there's one part where the twins, who have access to the memories of all their ancestors, "play the mother father game" wherein they take on the persona, from those memories, of their parents... for some reason. And this serves some purpose... I guess. Now, I could see if they were curious about the parents that they never met, and wanted to know more about them. But that would require them to show something resembling human emotion, or motivation, two things that they do not appear to have. They constantly complain about being treated as children, and constantly show themselves by their behavior to BE children. And that is the extent of their personalities, and the vast majority of their dialog in the book.When the main protagonists of the story are so lifeless and devoid of personality that they are basically only props wheeled out when the plot needs something to happen involving them, it's very hard to care. Any tension and drama revolving around the twins is completely meaningless, because they're not characters. They don't act like real people. They have no personality or motivation. So why should I care when they are in danger, or when a big choice is placed before them that could impact the entire empire... for some reason? I don't, because Herbert failed to realize that just because these are Paul's children, does not automatically mean that I care about them. They are not developed as characters at all, and because of that, each and every scene that they appear in is awkward and creepy, and all tension revolving around them is non-existent. If you want me to care about your characters, you need to treat them with a little more care than you do the scenery, and expounding upon their motivations and plans even just to the point of showing that they even HAVE motivations and plans would go a long way toward making them sympathetic. I mean, all I'm asking for is a paragraph here and there that makes these children feel like real people, with real emotions and motivations, and plans that aren't completely left to my imagination. Is that so much to ask? I mean, I'm the reader here, not the writer. I'm not supposed to be filling these things in myself. That's the writer's job, and he failed spectacularly to do it.All the epic events in the universe, frankly, become boring and a chore to read through when the people at the center of everything have to take twelve steps up just to be considered wooden. When you have no connection to the characters, the story itself becomes meaningless and dull.In conclusion, while this book does have some MASSIVE flaws in the characters and their motivations, it is still an exciting book full of some very excellent political plotting and intrigues, as well as inner turmoil within the empire. Alia slowly going insane and power hungry is really well done, and the Preacher wandering out of the desert to try and right the wrongs that were done in the name of Muad'Dib gives a really interesting view on the way mob mentality and religion sometimes go hand in hand for the worst possible outcome. There's a lot to enjoy in this book, but on the other hand, there's a lot that's hard to get through, and so I can only give this book three stars. It was far from a horrible book, but at the same time, the main protagonists don't even qualify as plot devices most of the time, so it's also far from a great book. It was merely ok. I just felt that, being the followup to two such well crafted stories with a strong central protagonist, this book was a little weak with the lack of one.P.S. Thank you to all my faithful readers out there for putting up with this review not quite making it out before my end of the month deadline. The ice on the stairs up to my front door proved to be rather treacherous, and I slipped and broke four bones in my right hand, making typing up my column for you all this month a very painful and frustrating experience. I ended up having to dictate it to my brother who is now typing it up for me, so if you see any typos, blame him or my eidtor. Haha. Thank you all for reading, and I will try to have a few more reviews written up for you this month than I was able to get up last month. Check out my other reviews.


The Dune books just got weirder and weirder and I didn't much like them. I LOVE the first one and have read it a bazillion times. I read each of the later books and never wanted to read them again. I didn't like what they did to the characters I loved (and hated) and I didn't like the new characters introduced.I'm sure there are lots of Herbert fans out there who loves the rest of the series and think they are the most amazing things ever. I'm not one.


The play of politics on Dune is the subject which will serve to compel or fail to do so, in this episode of the Dune Chronicles. Herbert's interest in character development begins its slow decline, and readers may well find that the new cast of characters (or characters who, while nominally the same, are cast in entirely new roles) does not compel the way the first two books' personalities did. This is both the beginning of a new story and the conclusion to the old one. As such, it may be necessary (if, for some, painfully dull) reading, as a component to the story of the first generation of Atreides on Dune.


Children of Dune are growing up in an endlessly complex word. It is suitable to call them children of Dune because their destiny is woven with those of this harsh and magical planet. They are faced with a bloody heritage and their supernatural abilities are hardly enough for them to cope with the cruelty of the universe they live in. More will be needed than the power to look into the future...Prescience is not enough, because in that path lies the danger, as they can see by observing the fate of their parents and aunt. They are not copies of their parents, they see a need to make their own decision and yet they know too well how much weight presses on them...makes you almost hate their father for living them such a legacy ...and forget how much you sympathized with him. After all, wasn't he also a little more then a child when he became a man that sees in both future and past?The twins that are the protagonists of this novel are both fascinating and disturbing. The connection they have with one another is touching. They are kids and they are not kids because they remember the past...Not having a past is precisely what makes one a child...and still they posses the vulnerability and innocence of children. This makes the story even more heart breaking for me. Herbert's writing is somewhat overwhelming, but I always keep coming back for more. It's hard to say something coherent about it really. The first book of the series Dune is a monumental feat, if it was architecture it would be the pyramids, if it was a painting it would be Starry Night- it is just one of those things you can say a lot about and you have a feeling you'll never get to the core of it...The sequels are so different- I mean I don't think that the quality of his writing diminishes. On the contrary, the sequels are just as good as the original. Every new book is a whole new world- and what a world it is. However, the first one is the first the first kiss, impossible to be forgotten.


Obviously this book is not as good as the first two in Frank Herbert's series. It has definite failings, including a tendency to meander into overcomplicated musing on the nature of prescience. Maybe it's just me; perhaps I'm bored of the whole prescience thing. I was hoping for something different, something new, which Frank Herbert could unleash his genius upon.Taken as a whole with the previous to books, I find the plot to Children of Dune somewhat contrived. After Dune I was really smitten with the idea of a greener Arrakis. But behold! Here comes the children to dash away Lyet-Kynes dreams as if it were a sandcastle. Apparently a green Arrakis isn't good enough for the Fremen: they must be made to suffer the /desert/. Either the author is trying to allude to a similar situation in our own society with its lack of traditional, harsh environmental pressures to "naturally select," or maybe he found that without an arid, desolate Arrakis, the Dune series is kind of hard to sell.Besides somewhat of a reliance on deus ex machina for the solution to the conflict, Children of Dunes is a solid novel: it is nearly as entertaining as the first two books and, as is to be expected from Frank Herbert, encompasses a wide scope of human dilemmas. From a personal standpoint I think I would have liked to have concluded the series with the second book. Children of Dune seems to be more of a starting point for another series of Dune books than a conclusion to a trilogy.

Megan Baxter

This may be heresy, but I think this is my favourite of the Dune books so far. I found Dune interesting, but oddly opaque. The second book was more accessible, but didn't really grab me.Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

Kevin Beary

3rd book , great series but the least pleasureable of the 3 books. I liked these books , not just for the story , but for the authors explorations into religion , socio-politics , technology and science , philosophy etc ; but in this book he became a bit obtuse and was difficult to follow decreasing my pleasure. I am not afraid of difficult books , but when you stack existential abstractions upon eachother endlessly , it all becomes unwieldy and meaningless. There was much more profundity and lucid prose in the first two books. My strained brain aside , the story line was pretty cool and sets a strong foundation for the next three books. I do look forward to them. I still gave this book a 3 , which is a GOOD in my book 1- Bad2- Not so Good3- Good 4- Very Good5- Wow !


Man, I keep reading these things cause I hear number four is pretty f'd up in an entertaining way, but after this one I'm beginning to wonder if it's possible for Herbert to write an entertaining book. Well, won't that be egg on my face...Also: You know how when you read any given fiction, no matter the quality, you manage to find one character who you like/can emphasize with/who you're sort of rooting for to not get totally screwed over by whatever's happening. Man, not the Dune books. I came to realize in reading this one that if I turned a page and it said "And then a giant Sandworm ate everyone, everywhere, everywhen because time is a singular point that human perception must move beyond in order to assume the greater nonassumption of perpetual Bene Gesserit Golden Path fear is the mindkiller blah blah blah the end" I really wouldn't have cared at all and instead felt minor relief, if also some disappointment that the f'd up events of the fourth book no longer existed and I'd wasted my time.

Simon Mcleish

Originally published on my blog here in December 1998.The third of Herbert's Dune novels marks the end of the first section of the series, with thousands of years now set to elapse before the next novel, God Emperor of Dune. With the exception of the classic first book, Children of Dune is probably the best of the series.The psychological centre of this book is an investigation of what it would mean to be one of the "pre-born". These are three of the four descendants of Duke Leto Atreides and his concubine Jessica, the culminations of a centuries long breeding programme set up by the sinister Bene Gesserit sisterhood. The pre-born, their consciousnesses enhanced in the womb by the addiction of their mothers to the drug melange, break through into a new world as they gain access before birth to the accumulated memories of their ancestors.There are distinct problems with this idea. Clearly, there is no feasible mechanism to pass on memories following the conception or birth of the child - which depends on the sex of the ancestor - but Herbert often seems to assume that all the memories from the whole life of the ancestor becomes available. Apart from this, it is difficult to think of a way in which the memories could be stored physically in the body and become part of the genetic inheritance of the children - it's a Lamarkian rather than Darwinian form of evolutionary biology. Also, the total number of ancestors would be huge - even going back a thousand years would produce tens of thousands, and the pre-born have memories from several millennia in the past. Just to store a full set of memories physically would be a feat, but being able to sort through, access and comprehend them is even more unlikely.For the purposes of the story, these difficulties are virtually ignored. The main concern of the characters is with "abomination", where the pre-born personality is taken over - possessed - by one of their ancestors from what is described as "the clamour within". One, Alia, sister of the former emperor Paul and regent to his children, has fallen victim to the strong personality of her grandfather, the evil Baron Harkonnen who was the villain in the first novel in the series. The other two, Paul's twin children, undergo a variety of tests and rituals designed to find out whether or not they are abominations.An important character in the book is the Preacher, a blind old man who comes to the capital to preach against the policies of Alia's regency and the way the religion centred around Paul has decayed in the few short years since the Emperor was blinded and walked out into the desert. Most people, including Alia, believe that the Preacher is Paul himself.The fact that the pre-born and Paul also have a degree of prescience, knowledge of important possibilities in the future, is the other main mystical element in The Children of Dune. The conflict between their visions and the failure of Alia to receive new vision cause them to be the subject of many political plots and schemes, which are elements common to every book in the Dune series.The two elements in which Herbert interests himself in most of his novels, not just the Dune series, are politics and psychology (particularly the psychology of religion). Here, these elements are skilfully woven together, the peg of the general abhorrence providing a natural way to do this. This is why the book works rather better than some of his others, which make the weaving together seem rather artificial.

Oleg Kagan

I listened to two of the 14 discs and decided that I did not want to muster the resolve to sit through the rest of them. Finding Dune Messiah lackluster, I went into Children of Dune in a pessimistic mood and perhaps that sealed its fate. Or maybe it was that the first two discs (roughly 60 pages) were so full of Herbert's characteristic descriptions of micro-interactions that a plot barely peeked through. I don't typically read fantasy because the genre tends towards unbearably long descriptions that slow a book's pace to a crawl. Science fiction books, on the other hand (probably given their pulp action-adventure roots), tend to be fast-paced throwing practically everything aside for plot. Though I enjoy character development and don't mind a variety in pace, my preference is solidly with the latter genre. Unfortunately, by this third book, the Dune series has shifted too much to the fantasy mode, akin to drudgery for me. That is why I quit.

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