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


Please, make it stop.

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.

Dave Johnson

when i first read this, i really didnt understand what Herbert said. this was such a departure from his first three books that i thought it was awful. in fact, at the time, i told a friend that i didnt like where Dune was going and that i was going to quit the series after this book. long story short, i didnt quit. and, although i didnt like the book at the time, i reread this book back in '06 and i really liked it. i guess you have to understand what leto went through for his "Golden Path". he had to turn into something hated and worshiped, and he hated that. but because he knew that humanity would be extinguished without his help, he knew that his job was necessary. what i also found intriguing was how well herbert portrayed someone who knew the future. but it wasnt that he knew everything; he had to search the possible futures. and when he found a person whose future was unsearchable, he was pleasantly surprised.with all his books, herbert made amazing characters. in the end, this was a very good book, but only in the context of the next two books (which were my favorite of the dune series).


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.

Scott Taylor

** spoiler alert ** Just the usual everyday story of man becomes worm, worm rules world, worm meets girl, worm gets betrayed by girl's secret lover. Been there done that! Ok not really, but this is my third reading of the book. It does hold up. The various conversations between the God-Emperor and his subjects were entertaining, as were the excerpts from his 'Stolen Journals.' The path you see the characters tread, as they slowly turn on their master and his tightly controlled world was well mapped. Leto's struggle with his one great weakness, love, was touching. Let me expound on that for a second. Love. Though this book dwells on philosophies and ruling bodies, it has a profound thing to say about the human condition. No matter what we become, how we may develop as a culture or how circumstances around us change, there is always love. Always emotions to cloud our thinking, fire our thoughts and interfere with our best laid plans. This is a central message of Leto and his 'Golden Path' and for that I thank Herbert. Just the same. This time through I found my self wishing that Herbert had more fully fleshed out the world rather than being so narrowly focused on the Ruling Citadel in Arrakis. We could have used more political conspiracy from the earlier Dune books, and a little less Leto pontification. I am reminded of the strength of few words spoken profoundly over the weakness of a rambling diatribe where meaning is lost in a stream of consciousness. The book is not a diatribe, but at times it feels a bit heavy-handed in focus.All that being said, its a book worth reading if you liked the other ones in the series. I 'read' the BBC audiobook version which was narrated, like the others, by Simon Vance and Scott Brick. Excellent work there, and filled with nuances in the reading that convey so much more than mere words can do.Thanks for reading.


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.

Adrian Ciuleanu

Okay, this was my second read of God Emperor of Dune. Honestly, it was quite an useful read because now I understand more precisely what was Leto's goal and the exact purpose of his Golden Path. To make a long story short the Golden Path is nothing more than the survival of the human race. At the end of the old empire (period described in the previous books) the human race has become doomed beyond hope with a corrupt and decadent feudal ruling system, stagnant and with an major addiction to substance ( the spice) that influenced almost all aspects of life (transportation, science, technological advancement, religion, food, etc) across the universe. The Bene Gesserit has foreseen humanity's disaster and they hoped to avoid it with the Kwisatz Haderach, the prescient messiah who will save us all. As we know, they lost control of it and Paul Muad'dib became Emperor on his own. Paul with his ability to see the future also saw the end of humanity and acted on it and he tried to save it with his Jihad. But wiping all resistance to his rule was not enough and something more drastic was needed. Because of Paul's love for his wife and because he still had his thirst for his humanity Paul couldn't make the ultimate sacrifice. Instead his son, Leto did it. Leto transformed himself in to a half man-half sandworm creature that permitted him to guide humanity on the Golden Path journey. The Golden Path acted on several different aspects. First, he needed to free the humanity from the spice addiction, thus during a long period of time he wiped out the sandworms, which wore the only source of spice and could live only in one place: Dune. Upon his foreseen death, Leto would breed a new kind of sandworms, with conscience and more intelligent and also with the ability to live on other planets besides Dune. Second, Leto also begun oppressing humanity like no ruler, (thos the Tyrant nickname) before him. This had also several reasons behind it: he slowly started reducing the spice addiction of humanity, by the end Leto's rule people wore almost free of it and the spice influenced only a few essential aspects of life (ex: space travel) . Also oppressing the people for long enough, he created a longing to be free of him, a desire for freedom (which is basically, the Scattering, in the following books). In particular, by oppressing the ixians and tleilaxu and not destroying them entirely, forced these two factions to be more inventive, creative and eventually it will lead them to discover space travel without the need of spice and the invention of artificial spice. Third, Leto had to be sure that in the future no other will ever posses the power he had possessed and that no person, no matter how prescient, would ever be able to track down all humanity and control like he did. So, he took from the Bene Gesserit their prized breeding plan and with Siona he managed to make a new kind of Atreides, free of the prescience vision. Fourth, with his all-female army, the Fish Speakers, Leto ensured that after he was gone, these women (with their training, discipline and life philosophy) will guaranty humanity's survival and guide them along the right path.God Emperor of Dune might not by so actioned packed like the previous or the following books in the Dune Saga but it is most certainly the center one and the most important one of all.

Simon Mcleish

Originally published on my blog here in January 1999.The fourth Dune novel saw Herbert returning to the series after a considerable gap, both in internal and external chronology. This book is set several thousand years after Leto gained the throne, and he has maintained himself in a position of absolute power in the galaxy, his enforced peace being used to prepare mankind for a future event left unspecified at this point in the series. He has continued to change in response to the sandtrout he accepted as his new skin as a child, and now resembles a small sandworm more than a human being. During his long reign, and through his ancestral memories, he has experienced just about everything the human race has to offer (despite never, in human terms, developing after about his ninth birthday); any way that people manage to act which surprises him is a great pleasure. He takes a particular delight in those who rebel against him, and now in Siona Atreides, a descendant of his sister Ghanima, he has an opponent he can be interested in, for she is also immune to his powers of prescience: his spice-inspired visions of the future cannot predict what she will do. This immunity is really what Leto has been working towards in the breeding programme he took over from the Bene Gesserit sisterhood; it is needed for humanity to be able to withstand the threat he has seen in mankind's future.God Emperor is a scene setter for the final two books in the Dune series, and rather suffers from this (which may explain the lengthy gap before these last two books finally appeared). Leto is not really made different enough from those around him to be truly convincing (he should be a really alien figure), and the novel feels lacking in direction and so never grabs the full attention of the reader.


I'm not sure why I keep reading the Dune novels. I don't like them, at least I didn't enjoy the first three . . . . They're not well written (when compared, for instance, to Ondaatje's, Pamuk's, or Marilynne Robinson's works) and they're not nearly as good as Tolken's novels. Reviewers go on and on about how 'philosophical' Herbert's novels are. So as a philosophy student I should love them. But I don't. Maybe they have too much dialogue (blah). Maybe they focus too much on what the emperors/rulers/gods are doing and don't spend enough time on the normal, everyday person. (What's happening on the less privileged planets??)But I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy God Emperor of Dune. Maybe it's because I now know what to expect from Frank Herbert. Maybe . . . . But, unlike most reviewers, I am looking forward to reading Brian Herbert's works. Most reviewers of Brian's novels say he's not as good a writer as his father. But I don't think Frank is an especially good writer. SO TAKE THAT BH HATERS!!


I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! Leto is my absolute favorite character of the series ! Without giving it away, Leto has acquired a half-humanoid half-sandworm form and the book begins over 3,000 years after Children of Dune, with Leto ruling the entire "known" universe. Leto has acquired tremendous God-like power through the course of his metamorphosis from human to worm. Despite such incredible prescient powers, Leto suffers from some of the same foibles as all humans do, (loneliness, boredom) perhaps even exacerbated by his near immortality. We learn a little more about the Golden Path in this book and can not help but feel sorry for the eternally resurrected Duncan Idaho. A must read if you are a Dune fan.

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 ....

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.

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.

John Shumway

*Same review for the Dune Universe*GREAT books! VERY time consuming! Worth the time!Ok here is the deal. If your not sure about starting a series this big, here is what I would do.1. -- Read the 1st one by Frank Herbert "Dune" if you like it...2. -- Read the "Legends Of Dune" series. Its 3 books written by Frank's son Brian and a author I really like by the name of Keven J. Anderson. Its a prequel that is so far in the past that it doesn't spoil the Original Dune series in any way, and you could stop after that series and be done with Dune.. but if your not done....3. -- Go and read the "Prelude To Dune" series its also 3 books and is a prequel to the original dune series but just prior so you will learn about some of the characters in the 1st book you read "Dune". 4. -- By now you have committed enough time in the series that you probably NEED to finish it. Go back and re-read Dune, (trust me you will want to) then go on and read the rest of the original Dune series (Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, Chapterhouse Dune) Your devotion to the series will help push you through some of the parts that I think are slightly. Its worth it though!4. -- You will notice the series ends up in the AIR! Frank Herbert died before finishing the series. The authors of the prequel series (his son Bryan Herbert and Keven J. Anderson) finished the series from compiled notes from Frank, Brian's experience talking to his father about the series and both Brian and Kevin's love of the Dune universe. It is very well done. Its two books (Hunters of Dune, and Sandworms of Dune.)OK so sum up here is the order I would do the series. (which ends up being chronological except for the 1st book, even though it wasn't published this way.Dune (to make sure you like it.)Legends of Dune (series of 3 books)Prelude to Dune (series of 3 books)Dune (again since your restarting the original series)The rest of the Dune seriesHunters of DuneSandworms of DuneOk have fun.


God Emperor of Dune by author Frank Herbert is a religiopolitical novel disguised (poorly) as science fiction. 3,000 years after the events of Children of Dune, the planet Arrakis has undergone many ecological changes. It is becoming wet and green. The people live in tribal-like communities in relative peace by way of being forced to live the traditions of old, and not only on Arrakis, but around most of the galaxy. All because of the God Emperor's 'Golden Path'. Who is the God Emperor, you may ask. Why, He's only the 3,000 year old son of a Messiah, who has morphed into a giant hallucinogenic producing space-wurm with near omniscient abilities about past, present and future and proclaimed himself the God Emperor of the whole freaking universe, is all. And His name is Leto! Leto has a plan. It's a golden plan. He dominates all of space and time because He's smart -- Super Smart. And He does it all for the sake of humanity. But there are people who really don't like Him and want to assassinate His wurmy ass. This presents a problem. One, He's freaking omniscient, idiots! Kinda' hard to kill someone who knows everything in the entire space-time continuum, don't ya' think? Second, if He dies His golden path dies with Him. Damn. Well, that doesn't stop these forward thinking rebels. They're sick and tired of a tyrant telling them to live the old ways and customs of Dune's past. "Only fools want to live in the past." But wait, Leto is going to awaken the human race to a new level of consciousness! Down with the old customs, in with the new!!!!!!!!!!God Emperor of Dune is little more than 98% liberal drivel, 1% vague and blurry conservatism, a touch of bizarre Gnosticism, and 1% story. Although, I should mention that I know of many readers who have an entirely different take on his political messages. Our interpretations of his writing are obviously very subjective. Anyway, the extreme vast majority of this story is told through innumerable boring conversations Leto has with various servants who are standing in his underground chamber while he hovers on a floating cart that gets mentioned about 1,969 times. Then in the last about 20 pages of the book, something happens. I came away with a few conclusions. First, Frank Herbert was on drugs. Second, Frank Herbert decided to share his overly-common political opinions rather than write an interesting story with deep characters and conflict. Third, I want my own hovering cart. I was sadly disappointed with God Emperor because I loved the first three books in this series. I was about to 1-star this sucker until I realized: wait, this book is about a freaking giant Space-Wurm who is the God Emperor of the entire freaking MULTIVERSE. That's worthy of more stars in and of itself.

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