Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles, #2)

ISBN: 0441172695
ISBN 13: 9780441172696
By: Frank Herbert

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About this book

Dune Messiah continues the story of the man Muad'dib, heir to a power unimaginable, bringing to completion the centuries-old scheme to create a super-being. "Brilliant...It is all that Dune was, and maybe a little bit more." --Galaxy Magazine

Reader's Thoughts

Noor Jahangir

I downloaded Dune Messiah as soon as I finished reading the orginial. Dune is one of the best books I've read, but I found Dune Messiah somewhat lacking the energy of the first.At the end of Dune, Paul Atriedes, known as Muad'dhib by the bedouin Fremen, defeats Emperor Shaddam IV and his families arch-nemsis, Baron Harkonen. He marries Shaddam's daughter, Princess Irulan, to give legitmacy to his own rule as Emperor.This signals the beginning of the Fremen Jihad which sweeps across the universe and the religion of Muad'dhib, with Paul and his powerful sister Alia as its godheads, takes grip of every world the Fremen conquer. This all happens in between Dune and Dune Messiah.The second book is just as well-written, but it lacks the energy and vitality of the first. I think this is because Paul does little but sit in his fortress brooding about the things that are happening around him, trapped in the path layed out by his own spice-enhanced prescient abilities, unwilling to break free because to do so could plunge the universe in darker times.If you've read the first, you are likely to want to read the second. The only reason to do so is to find out what happens to the characters you fell in love with in the first book. Otherwise I wouldn't really recommend this one.


I post this review for three first books of the Dune series, since i cannot divide my impressions and comments among these novels. I want to write regarding Dune, Dune Messiah, and Children of Dune as a whole. No spoiling.The main assessment is GREAT, it's must to read for everyone!There were few small weaknesses, globally i can remember only one - sometimes the text looks monotonous: intrigues, conversations, reflections, intrigues, conversations, reflections... but they were almost all interesting. And philosophy in this book rescued me from rare boredom.Anyway, plot is really interesting, and after the first half of every book it becomes so catchy, that it is difficult to stop reading. I may say that the plot was able to amaze me not once. For me Dune and Dune Messiah aren't two novels, but one. The second completes the first. So, it's a great idea to read further.Now characters. Really vivid, original, and different. I liked much that they are not one-sided. Worthy to be highly praised, Herbert didn't lapse into manicheanism. Heh, there are no good, but there are some bad. I like this great realism. Central characters are sufficiently depicted to understand them very well. One also moment to emphasize - characters are developing and changing. There are some extremely interesting changes, especially in Children of Dune.The best feature of the first book is culture. Herbert has minutely depicted how the absence of water affects the society.But the strongest aspect of all three books is philosophical. There is a plenty of profound, sagacious, and very interesting ideas. First of all, political and social issues. As a theorist of power and politics, i may say that Herberts' thoughts about power are noteworthy. And all his philosophical contemplations can be useful - mostly as a source of further reflections.

Christy Ford

What a mess. The Paul character is depressing and unrecognizable, the plot (and plotting) is vague and uncompelling, and there really isn't much to like at all - particularly compared to the tight plot and crisp ideas of it's predecessor.Don't give up entirely however, book #3 is a much better presentation. There is little enough plot in this one that you can probably skip directly to Children of Dune and not be overly lost.


I must confess my heart sank when I began reading this, the sequel to Dune, to find it seemed to be, not just more of the same mind games played between key characters that its predecessor relied on, but also relatively devoid of action of any kind. There was the usual psychological power play conversations indulged in by powerful individuals who were either human computers, psychics, drug users with heightened prescient awareness, shapeshifters or revenants, in fact nary an ordinary human being among the lot of them. How would it be possible for the reader to make an empathic connection with beings who are palpably superhuman?And yet it didn't take long for me to be sucked into this Machiavellian and claustrophobic world of bluff and counter-bluff, political machination and character assassination. It is all patent nonsense, of course, but even though the individuals involved, from Paul Atreides the galactic Emperor to Bijaz the dwarf with a memory like blotting paper, are rarely if ever attractive personalities I found myself increasingly intrigued by how the shifting allegiances and startling revelations would allow the plot to be satisfactorily solved by the final pages. And, despite the twisted logic, it is indeed resolved in a rather satisfying way.As befits a Dune novel there is a lot of cod philosophising and mystical pretentiousness. The eco message of the first novel has been replaced by occasional meditations on the morality of near-absolute power combined with jihadism which I feel is inadequately addressed except in a very oblique way: for example, what morality is there in the acquiescing in the deaths of billions of beings on other worlds, and how does that impact on our sympathy with the apparently well-meaning elite who presided over it? I also am not persuaded by the pseudo-scienctific and technological attributes of this universe; and I regard the Dune novels as really fantasy which happen to be placed in a science-fiction setting. Still, Herbert's attempts to create a plausible apparatus for his future scenario are largely consistent within its parameters (the literary quotations heading each chapter, the historical legacy emanating from the Earth of millennia ago which allows the incongruous mix of once competing religions and beliefs on worlds unaware of and uninterested in their original context, and so on).Central to Herbert's plot is the concept of prescience which, combined with genetic predisposition, is bound up with the use of the 'spice' melange (in truth an addictive drug). This is clearly a product of ideas prevalent in the sixties, and must have been, as much as it remains now, a laughable proposition to most readers. Providing the reader accepts this premise (and it is a big proviso) Dune Messiah ends up an optimistic tale despite its atmosphere of Oresteian tragedy.

Taro Shijuukara

Well. That wasn't as good as the first book.Let's start with lack of action; this is sometimes forgivable but seriously, 90% of the book is meetings: conspiracy meetings, counter-conspiracy meetings, meetings about meetings. It's like a Conspiracy Theory Story with very little payoff in terms of action.At best, it feels like an in-between of the first book and what I expect the third book to be. The writing and story has matured since Dune; we'll see how it goes beyond.Honestly though once again the women fall flat. I mean, Chani's nearly the same as in Dune and I know very little about her, her motivations and desires. Hell I still don't know what she looks like, other than "elvin faced" (thankfully he didn't use that term in this book). Alia's probably the best developed female character and she's hard to comprehend.And Paul. I'm bitterly confused, and perhaps I lost the message of the book, it seems just beyond my reach (and that's not an intentional meta-reference). But he at once detests the empire he was unwittingly unleashed across the universe and at the same time viciously protects his line of power. Perhaps from the vacuum that would replace it?Again, it just feels like ends are left for the next book in the series. So all in all, a reasonably readable book, just too long and inert to stand on its own.


I really liked Frank Herbert's classic science fiction novel Dune when I first read it a few months ago --so much so that I named it one of the best books I read that year. But upon finally getting around to the sequel, Dune Messiah I'm pretty disappointed. It's really boring.Don't get me wrong, I can see some of the impressive literary clockwork that Herbert assembles in the book. Where Dune told the story of Paul Muad’Dib's rise to the Emperor, controller of the universe's only source of the coveted super spice "melange," and general badass dude, Messiah tells the story of his downfall. It also follows through on one of the more interesting concepts introduced in the first book: Paul's spice-induced ability to foresee the eventual species-wide extinction of humans and the hard choices he has to make in order to steer history towards a lesser evil. Indeed, Messiah fast forwards to a point where Paul's fanatic followers have propagated a holy war that has destroyed entire planets and left over 60 billion people dead in just a few years. By those measures, Paul is the worst monster history has ever created, yet he has to bear the mostly private burden of knowing that he's killing all those people to save the race as a whole while simultaneously trying to outmaneuver his political opponents and crafty assassins. Angst!The problem I have with Messiah is that it suffers acutely from a kind of talking head syndrome. It's not until the back sixth or so of the book that anything interesting happens. Dune had sword fights, skirmishes, Paul and his mother tromping around the deadly desert of Arakis meeting and learning about the Fremen, and all other kinds of adventures. Messiah devotes literally dozens of pages at a time to sitting in a room listening to conspirators talk to each other. And then talking about what the talking means. And then thinking about what the talking about the talking means. It's terrible and jarring to see how Herbert has switched gears so abruptly from fascinating adventure and world building to stark exposition and naval gazing.Not that some of the ideas aren't interesting. The way that Paul must grapple with his precognition and how he has to grasp at things to try and leave humanity on the path to survival in the wake of his inevitable fall is a complex and fascinating idea, for one. And I liked the idea of how his strengths are the things that ultimately do him in --sometimes literally. It's just that I wish Herbert had found ways to make this story less tedious in its execution.Is the third book any better? I'm on the fence at this point.


1.5 Stars, really. I was fantastically underwhelmed by Dune Messiah, especially after coming off the particularly good Dune. Whereas the first book in the series seemed well-structured and thought out, it’s follow-up seemed to rely much more heavily on cobbled together circumstances, none of which seemed nearly as dire as they were being made out to be.The first book was thick with detail, intonation, and suggestion, but in spite of this, the careful reader always had a clear understanding of the implications of actions and events and where the narrative was progressing. In the sequel, though, the intonation and suggestion remained (the detail, not so much) but there was no real thing to connect these elements to—nothing substantive in the narrative department.Dune Messiah begins twelve years following the conclusion of Dune and the Jihad has taken place and Paul and his Fremen followers rule the universe. Would that this meant anything to the reader. There’s simply no effort made to explore what this means or what the implications are. It simply is. We also find Paul increasingly stricken by his powers of prognostication, and I think Herbert does a decent job of trying to emphasize the pain and stress suffered by one who sees future outcomes, and how reliant you can become on these visions. Still, while the novel tells us on one hand that Paul essentially sees all things, the plot hinges on him not seeing some things (although at times he seems clearly aware of them). At other times, his visions are incomplete—flawed. There really seems no consensus on where his power lies or whether he uses it appropriately or not.Lastly, the relationships between characters (which was such a strength in the first novel) are hardly addressed at all. Relationships that would necessarily be strained to the breaking point are only hinted at. Motivations are unknown. Emotions are not expressed. In a novel where all the characters live inside themselves, there can be no communication between them. And if that’s the state of the relationship, then who cares?I’m debating whether or not to continue with this series. I’ll likely try to read through Children of Dune, but if I start reading it and see more of the same that existed in Dune Messiah, I’ll be hanging this one up for good.


I don't normally look at reviews of a book prior to writing my own take on it, but sometime I just draw a blank after finishing a book. Some books are harder to review than others, sometime because I feel ambivalent about them, sometime I don’t fully understand them, and sometime I don’t know the reason, they just are. After finishing Dune Messiah I feel like I need some kind of launching pad to start off the review, some inspiration or perhaps I will resort to simply ripping off somebody’s review wholesale (unfortunately Cecily has not reviewed this one yet so I'll pass on the last option ;)Dune, as you are undoubtedly aware, is probably the most famous sci-fi novel of all time. Dune Messiah is like Frank Herbert’s equivalent of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” album in that it has to follow up a once in a lifetime mega hit and is doomed to come up short. Having read the book I do not get the feeling that Frank Herbert was feeling under pressure to match Dune’s success. Perhaps authors are not subject to the same level of pressure as pop stars. At around 340 pages Dune Messiah is about half the length of Dune, it is also very different in tone and pacing. It starts off twelve years after the events of Dune. Our literally know it all hero Paul "Muad'Dib" Atreides is now Emperor of the known universe and is having a suitably heroic melancholic time of it on account of the jihad which caused billions of death in his name. In the meantime powerful enemies are ganging up to snuff him out because he is too powerful, he is literally a know-it-all thanks to his oracular powers, and nobody likes a smartass. His wife concubine can not have a baby because his legal wife slipped her some contraceptive (and oracular powers apparently do not cover food additives). To make matters worse (or perhaps better) his dead teacher Duncan Idaho is returned to him as a sort of clone (ghola) with a suspicious mission and a new highly ominous name of Hayt. With all the odds stacked against him how can he survive? With panache of course!The first third of the book is very interesting with all the aforementioned odds being piled up against Paul, then the pacing of the book begin to sag with a lot of ruminations and philosophizing by the major characters and my mind drifted off to parts unknown. After a rather dry 100 or so pages the plot revives quite a bit and the climax is quite thrilling (if not exactly unpredictable). This book clearly has a lot of depth, themes and subtexts, unfortunately its profundity mostly escaped me as profundities tend to do. One of the Amazon reviewers mentioned that the book is so profound wh8ile reading it he frequently had to stop to think about what Herbert was really saying. The stoppages I made are mostly to do with thinking about my options for lunch and other mundane things.The two central characters are less compelling than they were in the previous book, Paul is all broody and miserable, his sister Alia goes through mood swings between being supernaturally sage, overly shrill and a teenager with a crush. Hayt/Idaho is pretty cool though, is he or isn’t he? Of course he is!For me Dune Messiah acts as a slightly dull (but not too shabby) bridge to go on to the original trilogy’s grand finale Children of Dune which is brilliant by all accounts and I am looking forward to reading soonish.


** spoiler alert ** I hate to give a bad review to a book that is still considered a classic, but it really failed to live up to its predecessor. The original Dune featured a rich, textured universe populated with dynamic individuals and cultures, and part of the wonder of the book was the way the various cultures clashed with one another, and with those individuals who straddled multiple cultures. It was within this dynamic that Herbert inserted his messianic myth. Dune Messiah on the other hand, extends the tale but jettisons so much of the unique cultural background. Instead we have new characters to fill the gaps. Unfortunately, we don't really get any flavor for the sociology of the Guild or the Tleilaxu other than what we are told directly by the characters. The other element of the story, Paul Atraides' existential angst as a pawn of fate/destiny, I didn't find to be that compelling either. Still, there are some great scenes (the Face Dancer in the home of the disgruntled Fremen) and some interesting interactions (between Paul, Duncan and Alia).

Jeff Yoak

This book was every bit as terrible as I remembered. I was committed to not abandoning it as I did last time because I want to delve a little further into the Dune series. Dune is one of my favorite novels. Even through there is precedent, it is hard to accept that sequels can be such a complete reversal.Dune is a strong story about an interesting life. A minor weakness of the book is that it is asserted, but never shown, that the events unfolding will impact inter-galactic empires, create a holy jihad and cause the rise of a major religion centering on the main character. This fails to hurt the book because of none of this actually happens within the confines of Dune, aside from a minor scene at the end that crowns him. This event, in itself, is consistent with the plot.Dune Messiah starts with having accepted that all we were told to expect has happened and then wallows in the religious weirdness it creates. Very little happens. I'm not sure it is possible to recover from here, but will try Children of Dune before giving up.


I finally read Dune Messiah, the second book in the Dune series, after years of only having read the first book.Excellent. Dune and Dune Messiah, together, form a reasonably complete story. Some of it is invalidated and/or retconed by subsequent books (I'm reading Children of Dune right now), which is unfortunate, but in reading Dune Messiah, it's obvious that many elements of the setting, which seem like standard Space Opera color, such as the feudal system, were carefully chosen so nothing would get in the way of the issues that Herbert was highlighting: Struggling against destiny (prescience), choosing the lesser of many evils, the power of human genetics and genetic memory, the footprint of man on an ecological system, and the psychological power of religion, along with a healthy dose of politics and duty, feminine and mascline power, and explorations into human potential. It's surprising how little of the details of the setting turn out to be color; nearly everything seems to be carefully chosen to highlight the themes the author is working with.I particularly enjoyed the bits with the ressurrected Duncan Idaho, not to mention seeing Alia get a little happiness. I like seeing my Abomination women get a little happiness. :)If you're intimidated by the whole series, but felt that Dune was oddly incomplete, you can read Dune and Dune Messiah and reach a reasonable stopping point. In fact, the continuation seems a little weak, something I'll go into in more detail when I talk about Children of Dune in a later entry.


Es imposible compararlo con el primero, en todo sentido, no obstante, es un libro de ciencia ficción muy entretenido, con personajes nuevos e interesantes, y una trama llena de intrigas y giros inesperados. Un final abierto nos da pie, a seguir leyendo, voy por el tercero.


Once upon a time, a man named Frank Herbert wrote a book called Dune. It was a pretty good book, full of complex religious symbolism and interesting, flawed characters. It sold well and won a number of awards. I can imagine Mr. Herbert wondering, in the wake of Dune, "How can I milk as much cash from this universe I've created as possible?" Enter Dune Messiah.Don't get me wrong, this is still a decent book. It's not crap by any means. By Dune's standard, though, it just doesn't measure up. It feels like the halfhearted sequel to the blockbuster, like Herbert wasn't really giving it his 100%.You can almost hear the "DUN DUN DUNNNN" whenever Paul is in danger. This is usually followed by Paul using his prescient abilities, or his mentat abilities, or some ability that happens to manifest itself at an appropriate time, to emerge from the conflict unscathed. In essence, Paul is like Superman: you can't kill him, and he manifests some new ability at the drop of a hat if it moves the plot forward, so you're never really worried that he might be in danger unless he wants to be in danger.Overall, this is one of those books that make you wish that the author had just let the series go after one book.

Melee Farr

I'd have been amazed if this one was as phenomenal as the first, and it wasn't. It was, however, Frank Herbert, who surprises me with his philosophy and world vision all the time. Compared to Dune, though, this book just lacked a lot of protein. Perhaps it's because the incredibly rich new world of Dune/Arrakis was already in place, and I wasn't the wide-eyed, amazed traveler through it any longer, but it wasn't the page-turner of the last for me. Still, I'll read them all, and wish Frank Herbert was around so that I could buy him dinner and pick his brain.

Scott Gray

It's hard to add anything to what's been said about Frank Herbert's "Dune" in the 45 years since it first appeared. "Dune" was already a classic when i read it in 1981, and unlike many SF books from the cusp of speculative fiction's New Wave, its impact remains as timeless now as it did then. Herbert grounded his sprawling tale of imperial politics and ecological revolution in a character story worthy of Tolstoy, downplaying the nuts-and-bolts aspects of his milieu's technology in a way that prevents "Dune" from seeming stale, even today.As with many of the most seminal works of speculative fiction and fantasy, the most amazing thing about "Dune" is how close it came to never seeing print, having been passed over by twenty publishers before being initially picked up by a nonfiction small press. In the canon of F&SF, there are few books whose importance literally cannot be understated. "Dune" is one of those. Without it, the world of imaginative literature would not be the same.I break with a lot of Herbert fans in my complete dispassion for the later "Dune" books, including the capstone of the original trilogy, "Children of Dune". To anyone who hasn't read the books, my recommendation is always to read "Dune" and "Dune Messiah" back to back as one continuous narrative, with the sequel bringing Herbert's vision to a satisfying and heartbreaking end.

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