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

Richard Houchin

The Dune series is remarkable in that each sequel gets progressively worse until it's unreadable. The first book is truly excellent. It's mantra on fear alone makes it great. The second book a very good sci-fi novel. The third book is merely okay.The fourth book is sub-par, but still interesting.The fifth book is a pain in the ass to read.The sixth book will leave you concerned about the author's health, so terribad is the writing.But hey, the first book kicks ass!


** spoiler alert ** I think this was the best of the Dune books by far. I loved the idea of the twins being a little like paul and a little like Alia only not victims of their unique traits. At least in this book they are not as much victims as both Paul and Alia. The most facinating thing about this book were the plans within plans within plans. For most of the book I had no idea where the author was going but couldn't wait to find out. The tests and torment that Leto II had to go through at Jakurutu (sp?) were very intriquing. I loved how Frank described the Spice Trance that Leto II was so afraid of. Also in this book is the crumbling romance of Duncan Idaho the golah and Alia. You see a love that could have really worked and man who truly loved a woman get ripped apart. Alia literally becomes someone else and when Duncan discovers who she's been possessed by it is the worst insult that could be imagined. Duncan also dies in an interesting way in this book. I think this was the book where I really started to like Duncan more than any other Dune character. I was very surprised by the ending of this book and what was revealed by the characaters' intentions. I only wish the author had developed the character Ganima more. It was heavily focused on Leto II. Even though I liked that character it almost seemed too much about him when his sister could have been just as interesting rather than just a plot device character. Overall I consider this book worth reading.


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.


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.



Bob R Bogle

I'm no genre-ist.What is a genre anyway? An abstract concept, not a real object or a physical thing. It's a meme pushed on the public and deployed as a precision marketing tool for cutting up segments of consumers of the written word into narrow categories. This facilitates the targeted selling of narrowly-defined flavors of books to customers conditioned to remain within their narrow pigeonholes. Like dropping smart bombs on selected communities target-rich with disposable income. Do you think it's natural for human beings to claim they're "into YA, steampunk and dystopia?" The anti-artistic genre-centric commercial infrastructure inevitably does damage to the creative process by squeezing writers into imagination-damped niches and effectively blocking readers from discovering wonderful new works which happen to not fall within their self-imposed bins of preference. Enormous hordes of ravenous readers nowadays, for example, would never even think of sinking so low as to wander near the science fiction stacks at the library or bookstore, no matter that the movies they've loved best in the last two decades have been decidedly science fictional.I mention this because in Children of Dune (originally published in 1976) Frank Herbert engaged in some marvelous experimentation with extending the parameters of what science fiction could be: experiments that he would pursue to a greater or lesser degree for the rest of his career, and which all too few other science fiction authors have since attempted to emulate. For the first time Herbert blended science fiction with literary fiction in a serious way. Children of Dune represents the first novel in which a science fiction author really tried to do this. Herbert was going all-out in an attempt to create genuine literature within his Dune universe, engaging in intense psychological character studies no less than advancing the action-adventure sequences which by tradition are central to science fiction, as well as to almost all other fashionable genres. He was deliberately angling to win respect for science fiction as a legitimate literary form. In fact, you might say Children of Dune is literary fiction that happens to be built on a science fiction foundation.How well this experiment succeeds is debatable. Some science fiction readers don't want more than a plot-driven action-adventure. Still, this novel remains popular among those who still read Frank Herbert, and I suspect that this aspect of the novel never really sinks in with most readers. In my opinion the experiment succeeds superbly, extending the series into new literary territory not seen before in Herbert's works. By itself this is abundant reason to read Children of Dune.That's the first thing to appreciate about this third novel in the Dune series.The second thing to understand is that when Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind premiered in 1977, Children of Dune had already been out for a year and was waiting on the shelves to be discovered by new converts to the genre. The Dune paperbacks were soon repackaged in a box set just as The Lord of the Rings had been, and the general public, now suddenly hungry for this genre from the wastelands, began buying the trilogy with unprecedented enthusiasm, particularly in the Christmas buying season of 1977. The original Dune trilogy was therefore a critically important factor ushering in science fiction's newfound public acceptability. The more mainstream style in which Children of Dune was written certainly contributed to this acceptance.Two principles inform the action of this novel. Various power factions are vying to control and shape the upcoming promotion of the illegitimate nine-year-old twins, Leto II and Ghanima, to the Imperial throne, and their Aunt Alia, the regent, is increasingly demonstrating frank signs of possession. Political power throughout the human-populated universe, and therefore human destiny itself, hangs in the balance. The goals of the young twins are mostly unappreciated by all the established power blocs to their own peril, the vision of Leto II for the future far outstripping anything anyone else has ever imagined. Just what this vision entails is only slowly revealed throughout the novel if, indeed, it can ever be said to be fully explicable: this theme will be best explored in the fourth book in the series, God Emperor of Dune.In a broader sense, Children of Dune is concerned with the tension between freedom and the driving urge for the control of human activity, for the self-assembling hierarchies which impose their own limits on the fate of humanity. The opposite of conservatism, Herbert argues, is not liberalism but freedom. Whenever the word or concept of control emerges in a Herbert novel, this is a red cape waved in front of a maddened bull. Controlling hierarchies are constructed of absolutes which always fail in the face of an infinite universe. Absolutes are deadly to human beings. This understanding is central to Leto's vision and, indeed, to much of the rest of the fiction that Herbert produced in his life.Children of Dune is a bridge that carries Herbert and, I would argue, science fiction collectively, into the modern era. This novel points the way to how science fiction can be enfolded into both the mainstream and into genuine literature.


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."

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


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.

Josh Cutting

** spoiler alert ** This is when I officially gave up on the Herbertverse. This was awful!!! I really do not care for the children of Mu A'dib, they're both creepy and way too articulate (kind of like Dakota Fanning) I was actually rooting for the assassins the entire book. And when the kid smears worm larvae on himself and becomes a god!?!!?!!?! Sorry folks, I checked out. I don't even care how the rest of the saga works out. No God Emperor of Dune for me, no Heretics, stop this universe, I want to get off!

Abelito Mcbride

Book Three of The Dune Chronicles was an experience like no other. After two books that helped shape the universe and introduce a multitude of characters and situations, Children of Dune brings many aspects of Dune and Dune Messiah together and goes full steam ahead into places you never thought a book could ever take you. So many little subtle things done in the previous two books come to their beautiful, mind bending fruition in this book; and, as Frank Herbert always does, he finishes each book in such a classy way, never getting too dry or too thriller-esque with his writing, and always setting up the seeds perfectly for the next book. How Frank Herbert schemed all this out I will never be able to fathom, I'm just so happy that another human has taken the effort to describe a self made world with such fluidity and exactitude. Truly inspiring work of literature right here. Take the plunge: Read Dune and you will never be the same, and you will thank yourself for it.


A Masterpiece Revisited: --- Why review a book in 2007 which originally came out nearly a half-century ago? Because I just reread it this week, and now I remember why it has always been my favorite of all the Dune books. In the unlikely event that you don't already know the story, herewith a very brief plot summary: About ten thousand years from now, on a planet that used to be an almost-uninhabitable desert but which is now slowly turning green, two nine-year-old children, a boy and a girl-- twins-- set about to rescue this world from the well-intentioned but disastrous consequences of their father's changes to its climate and government. Aided and abetted by that father himself, in disguise, this attempt at reworking history and changing the future, by in some sense changing the past, surmounts nearly countless pitfalls to set humanity on a Golden Path which will hopefully result in a philosophical paradise for meaningful growth and life. It's a far-from-perfect book, just as the entire series contains some dreadful flaws, but the series has become so classic, in spite of its flaws, that the only possible rating is the full five stars. Especially since, as stated, this is my favorite of the whole pile. The titular youngsters are Pre-Born. That is, they have almost since the moment of conception and long before birth come to full awareness not only of their own personalities but of every ancestor who ever preceded them, all the way back to ancient Greece on the original home planet. It's a real struggle to keep from going insane with all of that consciousness swimming around inside their heads constantly, and in fact their dad's sister, also Pre-Born, has succumbed to the lure of madness. But that's the least of their worries. The primary concern they have to face is the fact that in order to carry out their plan for the Golden Path, one of them is going to have to give up their humanity, to become something alien, nearly immortal, nearly all-powerful, without forgetting all of that humanity they carry around inside them all the time. Quite a daunting task! In the fourth book [God Emperor of Dune] we will learn that the transformation doesn't go quite as planned, but for now, here in the third book, it goes pretty nearly as intended, and the results are riveting. One of the many problems of this book is the inability of most readers to picture nine-year-old children with the insights, knowledge, and power that these two have. [When this book was turned into the final two thirds of an extended miniseries of the same title on the SciFi channel, this issue was circumvented by making the kids nearly-adult teenagers, played by adult actors, which made it much more palatable to most of the audience.] If you're willing to suspend disbelief in that regard, which I have always been, the story line works remarkably well, especially if you have already read the first two books in the series where you can see a foreshadowing of at least half of the plot of this one coming at you through the sands like a gigantic worm, ready to devour you. But wait, he won't eat you if you're related to him! And thereby hangs a fantastic tale.

Lolly's Library

Apart from the storyline, I liked the book. I was compelled to keep reading it and was reluctant to put it down until I finally reached the end. Having said that, I'm still quite befuddled as to what all was going on. I understand bits of it, especially the part where Leto succumbs fully to the mythos/fate/whatever-you-call-it that his father tried to run from and his aunt, Alia, was too scared to face, a course which robs him completely of his humanity. But to what end? Who is the enemy and who is the victor? What exactly is going on? I'm sure Herbert explained these things in the book, somewhere amidst the heavy wordplay he uses to explain the workings of the Dune universe, but those explanations escape me. Perhaps my perplexed psyche will be up to another reading to search for those a few more years.

Robyn Blaber

My skin is not my own! This oft repeated phrase takes the Dune story to depths that I would not have imagined. Science fiction has a terrible habit of breaking its own rules... or breaking the ONE rule, e.g. crossing the streams, reversing the polarity, etc. to solve the problems of the story's hero. Here in Dune we're still left wondering who the hero is and while we're wondering the rules of the Dune universe are taken to extreme ends (something that never happens in sci-fi), where new technology is born of the old and that technology is exploited to its fullest.When I was finished, rather than wondering what it would be like to blast an alien with a laser rifle, I was pondering the nature of monarchical governments vs. constitutional ones. The need, or lack thereof of religion in a state. The nature of time and time/space. The art of negotiation. The existence of free will. Knowledge as genetic inheritance. The power of mind... The list is endless. These books provide constant food for thought. All superb.

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