God Emperor of Dune (Dune Chronicles #4)

ISBN: 0441294677
ISBN 13: 9780441294671
By: Frank Herbert

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About this book

Centuries have passed on Dune, and the planet is green with life. Leto, the son of Dune's savior, is still alive but far from human, and the fate of all humanity hangs on his awesome sacrifice... "Rich fare...heady stuff." --Los Angeles Times

Reader's Thoughts

Marcus Bird

This is one of the best books I have ever read. I don't say that lightly. There are so many layers to this book that work. Firstly, the idea behind accurately conveying a nigh immortal being's state of mind (a being with the memories of countless people) is no easy task, I found myself fully understanding the main character, the God emperor Leto. Frank Herbert explores so much mental territory here, the ramifications of cloning people, sexuality and gender roles as it relates to war and peace, existentialism and self-actualization, etc. What was powerful was the way that his character had troubles coming to grips with an inability to do physical love, but the writing gave you that hunger in his mind, the desire he wanted more. Also, the unpredictable nature of his "worm" body created a slowly escalating fear in me as the reader as time passed. Page after page I waited for him to snap. It was riveting. Highly recommended read.


Please, make it stop.

Eric Allen

God Emperor of DuneBook 4 of the Dune ChroniclesBy Frank HerbertA Dune Retrospective by Eric AllenWhat do you say about the book that was so completely terrible that it so turned you off of the series that you refused to read the four books that came after it for over a decade? This book is bad in a way that few things achieve. Oh, yes, there are worse things than this book in human history, and I do not mean to cheapen the horror of those atrocities, but when it comes to complete and utter failures in fictional exploits, this is amongst the worst. By this time in his career, Frank Herbert's Dune series had sold multiple millions of books. He was a veritable gold mine for his publisher, and so, he had the power and influence to basically get anything he wanted from them. As a result, God Emperor of Dune is pure and complete insanity. Oh, but its not just normal insanity, oho no. Its a special sort of insanity. Its the sort of insanity that happens when you give crazy way too much money, power, influence, and creative license. I like to call this kind of crazy, George Lucas Syndrome. Allow me to explain. In 1977 George Lucas, a rookie filmmaker, under huge budget constraints, and with heavy studio influence, managed to produce one of the greatest movies of all time. Though Star Wars was well recieved by the world at large, his distributer still placed very harsh budget constraints on the following two films. These movies were a great illustration of the concept "Art from Adversity". Despite all of the people telling him no, all the limitations of special effects technology, all of the problems with budgeting and studio executives trying to change his work, he managed to produce one of the most lucrative franchises in movie history. He was viewed as a filmmaking genius by many... and then he made the prequels. He had unlimited funds, was no longer constrained by the limits of special effects technology, and most importantly, everyone on earth was utterly terrified to tell him no, because he could very easily take his goldmine of a series elsewhere and be just as happy. When you take the adversity, the thing that CLEARLY created the art to begin with, out of the picture, you are left with a man who is completely insane, making movies that are also completely insane. What does this have to do with Dune, you ask? Plenty. You see, having sold millions of copies of his first three books in the Dune series, Frank Herbert had enough clout with his publishers that he could have taken a dump on a blank piece of paper and they would have published it, because they were utterly terrified that he would take his series elsewhere. And so, when he handed them the manuscript for God Emperor of Dune, NO ONE SAID ANYTHING ABOUT HOW TERRIBLE IT WAS TO HIM!!! They published it because he wrote it, it had Dune in the title, and people would buy it, read it, and claim to love it because of it.So, this leaves the question, was Herbert balls out insane from the beginning, and simply constrained by his publishers and editors to create art for his first three books? Or did he just do a crapton of drugs between book 3 and book 4? We may never know the answer for sure.Why is this book so bad? Well, lets find out, shall we?I can't put enough quotation marks around the word "story" here, so I won't even try. 3500 years have passed since the events of Children of Dune. Leto Atreides II has become a giant sandworm with a human face and arms... Yeah, I'll give you a minute to wrap your mind around that. You good? Ok, moving on then. The ENTIRE plot of this book revolves around Leto talking, and talking, and talking, and talking, and talking, and talking, and talking. He talks about being a sandworm. He talks about what it means to be a sandworm. He talks about why it's important that he has become a sandworm. He talks about how being a sandworm fits into his plans. And through all that talking, HE NEVER MANAGES TO TALK ABOUT WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT TO THE PLOT OR WHY I SHOULD CARE!!! And then he dies, easily killed by his utter arrogance in believing that mere humans could never possibly rise up against him.The Good? Nada. In fact, skip this book if you plan to read this series. Your life will be better for it. You miss absolutely nothing that the next book does not readily explain in a few sentences, and you don't have to wade through all the complete fail that this book embodies.The Ugly? First of all, while Herbert's views on women were pretty apparent in his previous works, he is openly sexist in this book to a huge and offensive degree. He has some extraordinarily strange views on the roles women play in society, what they want out of life, and how their thoughts and feelings differ from those of men. He devotes a large section of the book to explaining in great detail why women are inferior to men, veiling it behind the guise of praising them as a gender. Nice try Herbert, but you FAIL to hide your complete contempt for women in general. Every woman that I know that has read this book has come away from it TERRIBLY offended. Women beware, this book basically says that you're the scum of the universe and the source of every problem that man knows. If this sort of thing offends you, and believe me, I'm a guy and it offends ME, steer clear of this book.Not only does Herbert put forward some very offensive ideas about women, he also puts forth some very offensive views about homosexuals, soldiers, and pretty much all humanity in general. Women get the worst of it here by far, but soldiers and homosexuals come close on their heels. He seems to have great contempt for pretty much anyone that is not exactly like he is. This is an actual line from the book. I have not altered it in any way. "All soldiers are homosexuals at heart." There are so many layers of offensiveness buried in those six little words that I could write an entire essay on that alone. Needless to say, it is offensive to every party mentioned in multiple ways. It takes true talent and bigotry to imbue such a short sentence with so many layers of insult to so many different people. And let me say right here and now, so that there is no mistaking Herbert's views for my own, though I may come from a strong Christian background, I have no problem with gay people. My philosophy on life is that everyone should have the freedom to live as they see fit, and it is not my place to tell them that they are doing it wrong, regardless of my own personal feelings on the matter. I have worked with gay people all my working life and you know what I've learned about them? They're people. Just like everyone else. Doing their best to live their lives in a world that is not very accepting of them. They deserve to live their lives just like everyone else.Every character in this book other than Leto exists for one purpose and one purpose alone. To ask questions that facilitate even more talking from him. Let me describe to you every scene in this book. Leto rants for about thirty pages on his morality and plan for humanity. Someone is confused by his complete insanity and asks him a question. He then goes on at great length explaining the answer. The other character is still confused and asks another question, which facilitates yet another long and boring rant from him. These characters have no personality. They have no motivation. They have no plans or desires of their own. They exist within the plot for one purpose and one purpose only, to give Leto an excuse to further explain Frank Herbert's insanity.Leto is still not a sympathetic character. He has more personality here than he did in the previous book, this is true, but here he is even more loathsome because of it. I'm sorry, I do not sympathize with a grotesque mockery of humanity who goes on, and on, and on, and on about he's the only hope of said humanity, and as such has the right to severly subjugate all life in the universe under his strictures and rule. He was not a likeable character to begin with, and here, he has become a loathsome tyrant that it is impossible to sympathize with. So why should I care about a book that is, primarily, about him talking at GREAT LENGTH about his own personal philosophy? I don't. I really, REALLY don't. He's a terrible character, and as an extension of that, any story revolving around him is also terrible.Herbert STILL does not seem to feel the need to explain what motivates Leto to do what he has done, and why I should care about it. These are basic elements of the plot of this book and the previous one that are COMPLETELY LEFT TO THE READER'S IMAGINATION. IF you want me to care about your character and the story revolving around him, you have to tell me WHAT he is doing, WHY it is important, and most importantly, WHY I SHOULD CARE!!! These are basic storytelling elements that Herbert completely FAILED to employ.In conclusion, this book is awful. It's a special kind of awful, the sort of which you will rarely find in fiction. It's basically a thinly disguised excuse for Herbert to give his own philosophies on life. If you want to write a book of philosophy, by all means, go ahead and do so. But don't try to tell me it's the next installment of your epic science fiction series. This book gets ZERO stars, but since the rating does not show up here on Goodreads with zero, I threw one up there. It feels FAR longer than it actually is. It centers around a character that is completely and utterly loathesome, without a SINGLE redeeming characteristic, and I'm supposed to feel for this character? Yeah, sorry Herbert, but no. I don't. I really, REALLY don't. This book is terrible in a way that few books are. And worst of all, it's boring. I can forgive bad writing. I can forgive a bad story. I can forgive wooden characters. It is my opinion that one of the truly unforgivable things that a storyteller can do, is to tell a boring story. Only the most hardcore fans of the Dune series will likely be able to find any enjoyment here, to any casual readers I typicaly recomend that this book be skipped over, because it really is THAT bad. Check out my other reviews.


Useful background book to read if you've ever thought you might like to rule the Universe. It's a really terrible job.


Painful and unrewarding. Listen: if you read Dune 1-3 and want to hop into the maelstrom of Dune 5, let me just tell you what happens in God Emperor. Just give me a call and I'll sketch it out. It'll take 2 minutes and you'll thank me later. Or, hey, be crazy and read it like I did.I'm pretty sure Brian Herbert wrote it and Frank knows it sucks. In Dune 5 and 6 the characters continually refer to the period in human future history covered by this book as "[number redacted due to spoiler:] years of boredom." I am not making that up.


Some will say this is the worst book in the series, while others will say it is the best. I'm part of the second group.You will need to forget the characters you've learned to love, because they're gone. You will also need to forget Arrakis and its people, because they've changed drastically. That doesn't matter though. To me, Dune was always about exploring the minds of incredibly intelligent characters. This book is nothing but that, centering around an all-seeing God and his grand plan for humanity.A good description I've read of the book before mentioned how Leto II is not only a God and an Emperor, but also a Saint and a Martyr. This is important. This is an enlightening and entertaining, but also a tragic story that you won't fully understand until the last few pages of the book.It's a book that stands on its own. It's similar to the first book in that it has to establish a completely new cast of characters. Because of that, it feels as if it is infused with new life, as opposed to dragging out the story of the first book as the second and third books did.So if you're like I was a few years ago, wondering if you should even bother reading the last few books of the series after reading all the comments saying that they are absolute trash, this review is for you. If you enjoy Herbert's brilliant writing and characters, then this is definitely worth a read.

Irving Karchmar

I think that God Emperor Leto II, the man who turned himself into a giant sandworm in order to save humanity, and thereby lived for 3500 years, is my favorite character in fiction, science or otherwise. Of course, a being with that long a life, and with "other memories" going back through the entire history of mankind to the first stirrings of cellular awareness, is a remarkable achievement. His insights are lucid and insightful, and one I remember, about all armies being rape armies, is especially poignant today in the light of all the rape and abuse charges in the US Military. Truly a remarkable part of the best series in sci-fi.


There is something leaden about this book. Plot-wise, the previous Dune books were driven by crisis brought about by change. God Emperor of Dune centers around stasis - stasis imposed by a tyrant for the supposed good of humankind. Herbert is once again wrestling with some fascinating and complex ideas, but the philosophical pay-off doesn't quite balance the sluggish pace, the almost cartoonish outlandishness of Leto II's physical form, and the tedium of Leto's self-pity and his repeated waxings poetical about his wealth of ancestral memories. Still, if you're into Dune and can withstand the above, worth reading for the odd places Herbert ventures.

Kyle Holden

A very good read. Herbert's use of dialog and overall language forces the reader not to focus on what the author is saying but what the author is leaving out. I was a little disappointed in the ending; thought it could have had more detail or substance, but overall a very enjoyable read.


It never ceases to amaze me when I re-read Dune, so many new layers in both content, social statement, and economic perspective are revealed. Frank Herbert's third piece in his masterpiece series is not only a fascinating tale of a man who willingly sacrifices his humanity to save what is humankind, it is a tale of the dangers in short-sighted pursuits of purely monetary gains. There are so many layers, I cannot hope to describe them all here. Read the books for yourself, and be aware that Herbert wasn't just telling a story -- he was criticizing human society and our tendency to destroy ourselves with our own short-sightedness.

Carlos LavĂ­n

Dune was the first book I ever bought with my own money. I read it when I was somewhere around 14 or 15 and was simply astonished by Herbert's ability to create this whole new universe with its new sets of religions (basically what every great sci-fi writer (I'm looking at you, Dan Simmons) excels in doing) and the planetary-ecological issues.I learned to love that book, and to this day keep on getting excited by the pure greatness of it when I remember scenes such as the time Paul is tested by that old Reverend Mother (Mosheim?), the moment when the Duke died trying to kill the Baron or when Paul finally takes down the shield wall and waltzes himself into the throne room occupied by that Corrino emperor (I forget how to spell his name). The litany against fear is worth the entire reading of the book. Even the closing lines, with Jessica talking to Chani about their roles, that book was majestically written.That being said, I didn't like God Emperor, just as I did not like Children. Dune Messiah I thought was a decent sequel to the amazingness that was the first book. To me, the series basically jumped the shark when Leto II dressed himself in the sand trout Venom-like symbiote suit.Every single review that's been written about this book touches the fact that the plot was nearly inexistant, so I won't elaborate much on that. If we take out that 20% (I'm being extremely generous today) that the plot actually represented in the book, we're left with rants of Leto II and Moneo explaining the Golden Path and how it is completely necessary to save humanity. And a couple observations/lessons on the complexities found in the fine art of keeping people under control (ruling them), at times even feeling like Herbert was trying to pull a modern The Prince on us.That, by itself, doesn't sound as such a crappy deal for a story. It could be a slow one, but at least an interesting one. Explaining the view Herbert had on the vices that exist between humans organized as a society and what exactly it would take to get rid of them. And, to pack the extra punch, we'd have the tormented soul of a 3500~ year old being, who has had to do unspeakable things to make sure humanity reaches this "golden" stage of "freedom".Hell, to me that would sound like quite a decent and interesting book. Herbert was on to something trying to turn the Dune series into this direction (haven't read Heretics nor Chapterhouse yet, I most likely will, out of respect for the first book, but I'm not expecting much).The whole tragedy in this was the execution of the book. The actual result was a series of circle-going repetitive rants, going over and over into how much Leto II suffers and how stagnation is the worst of sickness that could infect humankind and how the sacrifice he's been doing these last few millennia by keeping people "prisoners" in the lethargy they find themselves in tries to make sure that they will learn their lesson and never be like that again.100 or 200 pages of that, plus another 100 of actual plot, would have made an excellent book. But 400 pages of that, well, shit just got insanely slow. And also (maybe this is due to my own short comings), I found that some of Leto's "philosophical" rants didn't really have the deep undertone that one would expect to accompany them (with Leto saying things like "Enemies strengthen you, Allies weaken", and the book giving it an aura that implies he is spilling out pearls of wisdom only made accessible by his long life and infinite memories), or sometimes they felt like they weren't relevant in any way to what was going on and were merely thrown out as cheap philosophy.Granted, how on Earth Herbert would've been able to pull off a wise 3500 year old god-like character is something that escapes me, but using such cheap "deep" lines certainly didn't help.(view spoiler)[And again, with people falling in love-ish after 5 seconds of word interchange and a couple hours fucking. I mean, Hwi and Leto falling in love on first sight I guess would be explainable, since she was engineered by the Ixians for that. But Hwi calling Duncan "love" after a night having sex? Seriously?! "Hot thing", "sweet cheeks", "cutie pie", all acceptable. "Love" was idiotic. (hide spoiler)]Think I'll give the Dune series a bit of a couple months rest before I start Heretics (I'm sure as hell staying away from Brian's books, I can tell you that much). I'd also like to revisit this book, I don't know, maybe 5 years from now. Hopefully I will get some deeper meaning out of it than the one I got this time around.But I doubt it.2.5/5, mostly out of respect for the first book.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>


Is it philosophical? Well if repeating the same point over and over again is philosophy, then this is about as philosophical as it gets. I'm going to reveal what it's all about, ready? Stagnation is bad. If you enforce stagnation for long enough people will get sick of it. So in order that there will be less stagnation in the future there has to be a lot of it now.That's it. That's the whole book in a nutshell.Leto drags out this same (dubious) argument at every opportunity, which is every couple of pages, because he has designed the empire around this idea. Did I mention that it gets repetitive? One positive thing I will say about the book is that the God Emperor shows us what sacrifices ideological commitment can demand of us. That and some of the characters was what kept me reading this book long after I got the point.

Melee Farr

I just finished this one and liked it almost as much as the first, which is really saying something. I have to say that Leto disgusted me at first ... gave me the willies just reading about him, kind of like squishing a snail, but by the end of the book, I felt dreadfully sorry for him, and had a reluctant respect for the lonely choices he made. I'd certainly have never made those sacrifices. I have a pile of quotes from the wise Mr. Herbert to add here ....

Dorian D-W

God Emperor of Dune is marginally more inteligable than Children of Dune, its predecessor, but only just. As usual Herbert waxes philosophically about religion, power, and history, though in this installment he adds a generous dollop of hermenuetics to the mix. At several points I questioned Herbert's sanity.Still, there are a number of redeeming points to the novel. As always, Herbert's language is beatiful. The characters are esquisite, and Herbert's philosophies are thought provoking at the very least.But by far the masterpiece of this book is the God Emperor himself, Leto Atreides II. No longer the wandering boy from Children of Dune, Leto II has been walking his Golden Path for 3000 years, and changed almost unrecognizably because of it.Now part sandworm, Leto II bears the hallmarks of his shared memories -- the wisdom of Paul Maud'dib, the calm self-assurence of the Lady Jessica, and even a touch of the grotesque Baron Harkonnen. Who Leto II really is, though, is the lonliest being in the universe. While others squabble around him, plotting and scheming, Leto II must navigate the narrow path through history to ensure the survival of the human race. Only he can recognize the significance and necesity of his actions, however cruel or tyrannical they may seem to others. The ironic humanity of Leto II is what makes this book accessible and a good read.

Jed L

Once again I will make the same critique that I made for the two books that followed the original Dune: for a book set on a foreign planet full of interesting settings, cultures and people far too much of the book is spent sitting in boring council meetings, assemblies and receiving rooms. I loved the first Dune. I loved it because it had complex characters with complex motivations running around doing fantastic things in a setting that was beyond my imagination. New creatures, new sights and sounds and foods and language all of it with characters that were amazing to read about and deep with insight and intelligence. This book, along with the second and third Dune books, keeps the interesting characters. But instead of having them do much of anything, they instead just talk endlessly to each other. This book was a little bit better than the previous two (far better than the second) as there was more action and more exploration of the newly created planet, but not enough. There were no major journeys. No treks. Very little fighting. Instead just endless dialouge and thoughts. I can take a little of that, even a moderate amount. But when talking and thinking becomes the focal point of a book it no longer becomes an adventure. It becomes philosophy. It becomes a tome. There is a place for philosophy and the first Dune encompassed that place perfectly. But these later books are too weighed down. I am going to continue to be hopeful for the fifth and sixth book, but at this point I think Herbert caught himself in a rut and will write himself out on a philosophy high instead of writing his characters into new and exciting planes of exploration and adventure.

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