Heretics of Dune (Dune Chronicles #5)

ISBN: 0441328008
ISBN 13: 9780441328000
By: Frank Herbert

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About this book

With more than ten million copies sold, Frank Herbert's magnificent Dune books stand among the major achievements of the human imagination. In this, the fifth and most spectacular Dune book of all, the planet Arrakis--now called Rakis--is becoming desert again. The Lost Ones are returning home from the far reaches of space. The great sandworms are dying. And the children of Dune's children awaken from empire as from a dream, wielding the new power of a heresy called love...

Reader's Thoughts


One of my favorite Dune books. I think I preferred it to the first one, even, though I couldn't have enjoyed it without what came before.


A return to the more character driven than philosophy driven style of God-Emperor. This is probably a reflection of a return to more 'regular' characters, with mortality, and more base drives in their concern, rather than the heavy mantel that the so-called Tyrant (as he is known in this book) took upon himself. Exploration of the Bene Tleilaxu, gholas, and what happened to the people who left in the Scattering, the Fish Speakers and the various other groups that arose in the previous novel. Reading these books is an amazing journey, an overview of a massively intricate civilization, spread across hundreds of worlds, thousands of years, and millions of peoples with all of their petty groupings and graspings. The ever-present Bene Gesserit overseeing all (or so they think), and we oversee them. Brilliant, awe-insipring, and just generally inspiring!True science fiction, with enough tech, space opera, and individual focus to please all. I've already started reading the next one.

Guilherme Gontijo

Quando comecei a ler esse livro tive a curiosidade de conferir alguns reviews na página dele. Para minha surpresa muitos estavam o qualificando com notas entre 01 e 03 estrelas. As justificativas apresentadas para tal infâmia eram as de que Frank Herbert havia se perdido após a primeira trilogia de Duna e tinha se vendido ao mercado de editoras e publicações. Alguns chegaram a afirmar que apenas o primeiro livro valia alguma coisa e que os demais eram pura perda de tempo.Não tenho como não discordar de uma opinião tão egoísta por parte de alguns fãs. Creio que os reclamões sejam os mesmos que vivem dizendo que o primeiro disco da sua banda favorita é o único bom. Pessoas frescas que querem dar a história o rumo de suas cabeças inférteis. "Heretics of Dune" é uma magnum opus em muito melhor do que o livro anterior ("God emperor of Dune"). Muito acontece nesse livro e algumas cenas são o que podemos chamar de mindblowing. Se você quer explicações fáceis para tudo o que acontece em uma história, sugiro que vá ler Turma da Mônica (que é ótimo, por sinal). "Heretics of Dune" é, mais do que um simples livro, uma experiência em proporções bíblicas sobre a sobrevivência da raça humana e alteração do curso de auto-destruição da mesma."Philosophy is always dangerous because it promotes the creation of new ideas." - Frank Herbert

Lily C

This book made me appreciate how the Dune series, spanning several millennia, creates an interwoven story of how history, mythology, and religion evolve over time. Like the rest of the Dune books, Heretics elicited a mixture of feelings from me, not the least of which is confusion - which perhaps is fitting for a book full of characters who constantly make guesses, calculations, and/or leaps of faith in the dark. But also like the earlier Dune books (before Children of Dune, anyway), I was really drawn into the stories of several people, especially Miles Teg. I was happy to see a character showing some Atreides backbone and loyalty, which I thought had been long lost. I also liked how this book focused on the Bene Gesserit, making them less inscrutable and more relatable, as well as on other female characters. However, I felt that the portrayal of the Honored Matres was a little over-the-top, and at times borderline misogynistic in the way it narrowly defined the ways in which women become powerful. Partly because of this, and partly because the plot seemed to drag on without sufficiently sharp motivation, I enjoyed this book less than I initially expected.


For the longest time, I had no idea that Frank Herbert had written more than four Dune novels. There's no really good reason for that, except that I had bought the first four books and read them, and that was that. And it really wasn't a bad place to end things.There was some interesting stuff here, but... meh. Dune is so good that it's an awfully hard act to follow.

Adrian Ciuleanu

First thing let me say that I've read this book three times over the years and in my opinion Heretics of Dune is one of the best books in the saga, up to par with the first one. While the previous book, God-Emperor was quite philosophical heavy and some might say action-less, the fifth book is nothing like that and returns to original form, with lots of action, different character focus, various plots, combined with the mysticism, religion and philosophical discourse we were used to. The events in the book are some thousand years after the death of Leto II and this time the main focus of the book is on the Bene Gesserit. Old players like Bene Tleilaxu, the Guild, Ixians and Duncan Idaho (who is yet again resurrected as a ghola) are still present. However, we also have some new ones, like the Priests of Rakis and the Honored Matres (which are the main evil characters of the book). All of them have their different schemes and goals, they plot and fight against each other and it all culminates with quite an unexpected outcome. But, the best thing I liked about this book is Miles Teg, Bene Gesserit’s veteran Bashar. He is my favorite character from all Dune books.Heretics of Dune is a must read and people who by any chance stopped reading the saga after God-Emperor of Dune are making a grave mistake.

Jimmakos Gavagias

It was excellent.Plot,action,fantasy everything was perfect.There is a minor problem in the first chapters to get used to the new characters but when it's over you cannot let it.

Dorian D-W

Heretics of Dune makes a strong return to one of the themes that made the original Dune so good: political intrigue. With the absolute power of the multi-millennial Atreides dynasty (a central theme of books 2-4) finally broken, the Bene Gesserit, Tleiaxu, Freman and Ixian actors are able to return to center stage. Also introduced are the mysterious Honoured Matres, returning from the scattering seeking to undermine the delicate political balance. As in Dune, Herbert masterfully weaves the grand galaxy-spanning power-struggle together with individual, intimate tales of those involved. At one end of the spectrum is Teg, Mentat-Bashar, former supreme commander of the Bene-Gesserit forces called out of retirement for an assignment which will test his loyalty, resolve, and morality. At the other end Sheeana, orphaned girl who can talk to the sandworms. You'll fall in love with both characters, and many more.Unfortunately, though this novel started so well it concluded in mediocrity. The ending was acceptable, but nothing special. After spending so much time exploring the workings and motives of the different factions vying for power, the ending came suddenly, without having fully traversed all the open avenues. Perhaps Herbert has left that for the conclusion of his hexology.


it was a mistake to take a long break in this series. i was going strong a few years ago, and plowed through books 2, 3, and 4. but i took a two and a half year break, and came back, and another few thousand years had passed in the story!still, i really am into this series, even though as it goes on it seems to be less and less about the characters and plot, and more and more about the large concepts of how the human race functions as a group (or groups), specifically as it pertains to religion, bureaucracy, and economics. sometimes it's hard to follow, but i find it interesting and compelling. thanks to elisabth for getting me started all those years ago.


It speaks volumes of this book that up until the last six pages I had absolutely no idea what the endgame was; yet throughout, I was riveted to the page. Herbert's ability to introduce you to a pre-existing world with all of its complexities and idiosyncrasies without telling you a damned thing is at its best in Heretics of Dune, which delineates the decline of the God Emperor's vast domain over which he reigned as a Tyrant for 3500 years. Organizations at varying degrees of the grotesque, clandestine and corrupt compete for supremacy against each other as well as those returning from "the Scattering," a vast exodus of mankind after the Tyrant's fall. A young girl named Sheeana, who can control the Sandworms, comes to notice, and then power on Rakis. Duncan Idaho is reincarnated yet again. And still, the march of the Atreides family through history continues on, and the mankind continues to advance along along Leto II's "Golden Path," the enigmatic course of action by which he has safeguarded mankind from ultimate catastrophe and, thus, extinction. An excellent and worthy episode in the series.

Simon Mcleish

Originally published on my blog here in February 1999.Another few thousands of years have passed since the events of God Emperor of Dune; Emperor Leto is long gone, though a tiny part of his awareness lives in each of the great spice worms which have re-colonised Arrakis, turning it into desert once again. Freed by Leto's death, humankind has begun a massive expansion, colonising new planets in no-ships, devices incapable of being tracked by the prescient; they themselves, carrying genes from Siona, the final link in Leto's breeding plan for humanity, also invisible to these watchers. (One of his aims was to make it impossible for anyone to set up a tyranny over the whole human race again, by letting colonies be founded that would be impossible to trace.)Of the various power groupings in what is now known as the human core when Leto died, only the Bene Gesserit and the Bene Tleilax still retain much power; each has continued to pursue their own agenda, through religious and psychological manipulation and biological engineering respectively. But they are now facing a massive challenge: people from the Scattering are beginning to return, having made new discoveries and developed new abilities.The substance of the book is about organisations with an incredibly lengthy tradition (many thousands of years longer than any organisation in existence today) and a virtual monopoly of political power having to work out and implement changes to ensure survival in the face of a rapidly changing political and technological situation. This scenario is well developed, with a role for action as well as thought (though the action is sometimes used to cover up weaknesses in the plotting). If the scenario interests you, so will the book. If not, you will probably not get far into it without giving up.


** spoiler alert ** Ahh, finally Herbert rights the ship and gets the train back on the tracks. Refreshing after God Emperor... This is easily my second favorite book of the series, only to the original Dune. We get to learn a lot more about the Bene Gesserit and the Tleilaxu. The Honored Matres get introduced and towards the end of the book, you figure out what they are all about. One of the best characters of the series, Miles Teg, is introduced. Watch out, Teg will F you up. Duncan Idaho comes back for this millionth iteration. However...this book has a shitty ending. It just...ends. C'mon, Frank, 50 more pages to flesh out the ending and this one had the potential to equal Dune.


The guards ushered Frank into the office. As usual, the Reverend Publisher was seated at her desk, writing.So many lives touched by her decisions, he thought."Well?"She looked up. He had promised himself that he would not flinch before the fire of her gaze, and once more he broke his promise.The rest of this review is in my book What Pooh Might Have Said to Dante and Other Futile Speculations

Bob R Bogle

[Nota Bene: As Frank Herbert's last two published novels in the Dune series, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune, along with the unwritten Dune 7, in fact comprise a single story that happened to be divided into three parts, I'll post the same review for both of the two published volumes. This review contains no spoilers.]During the first half of his literary career, Frank Herbert focused most on coming to terms with what it meant to be conscious. The evolution of his thinking on the subject can be traced from real-world events which happened to him in his youth, through his earliest published science fiction stories, crude as they were, and on into novels like The Dragon in the Sea and the stories that would coalesce into The Godmakers, and certainly The Santaroga Barrier and Destination: Void. This line of thinking reached its fruition in the novels Dune and Dune Messiah.Having expanded his understanding of the full spectrum of consciousness about as far as it could go (although admittedly he never stopped tinkering with the subject), in the second half of his career Herbert refocused his attention on how the limitations imposed upon individual consciousness – or perhaps it might be better to say the limited perspective encompassing a single human lifetime – leaves humanity ill-equipped to confront an infinite and ever-changing universe. In effect we end up in a continuous crisis mode, always vainly insisting that the world of tomorrow conform to the expectations of yesterday. We're persistently and comically always shocked to discover our assumptions are wrong. Elsewhere I have described this aspect of Herbert's thinking, the human failure to deal with, or even to recognize, the implications of an unbounded universe, as an absolute-infinity breach. This theme begins to emerge in Children of Dune and is especially prominent in God Emperor of Dune, for a final surmounting of the absolute-infinity breach is the primary target of Leto II's Golden Path. But we also encounter the concern in Herbert's final trilogy: Heretics of Dune, Chapterhouse: Dune, and (by implication) in the unwritten Dune 7.It is a hallmark of Herbert's imagination that he pursues an ever-elaborating expanse of concerns, always tracing a spectral pathway across a continuum of broadening bandwidth, chasing after considerations of widening implications across grander and grander scales of magnitude. An original interest in a fleeting moment of hyperconsciousness ultimately led Herbert into defining consciousness, hyperconsciousness and subconsciousness in all their aspects and dramatizing what he had learned and concluded in his stories; likewise his contemplations of the diverse implications of the absolute-infinity breach. And it might be added that he pushed his spectral analytical approach through time as well, so the Dune saga becomes probably the most temporally discontinuous series ever written. The first three novels take place roughly around the year 21,200 AD. The drama of God Emperor of Dune unfolds 3,500 years later, and that of the last three books (Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune are difficult novels, and attempting to distinguish them as separate novels, or independent from the unwritten Dune 7, is an artificial and arbitrary exercise) takes place an additional 1,500 years after that, placing us circa 26,200 AD.As the primary goal of Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune was to shatter the innate mythmaking in humanity that compels us to conservative convergence, these last three books are intended to unveil the consequences of living in a multiverse that has become irreparably divergent. This divergence followed in the wake of the downfall of the God Emperor and the subsequent Scattering of humanity not throughout multiple star systems or galaxies, but across multiple universes which are discontinuous with one another. Any threat can now come upon our heroes and heroines from any direction, but with all the eggs no longer in one basket, no matter what catastrophe might befall locally, the whole story can never come to a final end.In Heretics of Dune (1984) and Chapterhouse: Dune (1985), the Bene Gesserit has recovered substantially from the tribulation of the era of the God Emperor, and now we're allowed a far more intensive view of the inner workings of the Sisterhood than ever before. But the Bene Gesserit and the remnants of the old Imperium, as ever, are confronted by a host of power-hungry enemies, new and old, in the usual style of Herbert's Machiavellian plotting. It is these plots-within-plots that seemingly all other reviewers have focused on, and I'll forego doing the same here.Herbert said it wasn't until he was writing Children of Dune that he came to understand that an important role of an author was to entertain his readership. That will come as surprising news to some of you who like Herbert, and not to some of you who don't. But it's important to note that the word "entertainment" carries different connotations for readers than it does for hacks or more seriously-aspiring authors. Entertainment is something that is doled out to the action-adventure-thriller crowd, to those who love reading or going to the movies in no small part for the sheer escapism of the thing. Now I'm not overly bigoted about this. There's nothing more boring than a book that's, well, boring. But I think what Herbert was getting at was that as he matured as a writer he came to see, as many writers do, that plot per se is less interesting than character, no matter how many car chases or lasgun exchanges are involved.I for one can't separate a reading of the last books of the Dune series from knowledge of what was going on in Herbert's life as he wrote them, which he did, by that way, at an absolutely furious pace. This happened to be during the most stressful part of his entire life. His wife, Beverly, had been dying for ten years, and the last two years of her life were especially painful for her and for her husband, both physically and emotionally. I believe that, had he lived, Frank Herbert would have easily written the Dune 7 novel to complete the series. I am less sanguine that he could ever have written another coherent novel after that one.By the time God Emperor of Dune was published in 1981, and with the signed contracts for the later Dune novels in hand, Herbert was financially secure but, as I've suggested, he was suffering from increasing emotional instability. Furthermore, I can't help believing he was struck by a supreme irony, which is that, like Paul Maud'Dib, he now found himself hemmed in by the conservative mythology of his own image which he himself had created. To this day you can still see this in reviews of his later books, wherein readers who were born after Herbert's death still bemoan the fact that his later books are not like Dune in style. Everyone wanted, and continues to want, Frank Herbert to write books that seem like quote-unquote Frank Herbert books: everyone wanted, and wants, Herbert to remain frozen unchanging in 1965. But in his later years Herbert, with his financial security, felt free to try to break out of that myth regardless of the demands and expectations of his fans, and for this I applaud him. I'm sure he did have basic plot elements in mind for the last three books of the series – call this the "entertainment" necessary to bring the masses along – but it's quite obvious that he had already grown more interested in character development than in weaving such masterful webs of palace intrigue anymore.Herbert wanted to change course, but he had not yet found a new direction. I see hints of this in Children of Dune, in which Duncan Idaho tells Alia about the practice of setting out blocks of marble in the desert to be etched by the blowing sand of a Coriolis storm. Idaho argues that the sculpted pieces produced are beautiful but they are not art, as they are not carved according to human volition. But in the latter books it is Sheeana who creates an abstract sculpture she calls "The Void," which is art. How might these two kinds of sculpture compare? What is the symbolic significance of Sheeana's abstract work? The question is particularly relevant, it seems to me, when Sheeana's piece is recognized as a symbol set in tension with a Van Gogh which, at the end of Chapterhouse: Dune is carted off into a new, uncharted universe. Clearly, I think, the matter can be read as a form of self-psychoanalysis undertaken by the author. "The Void" is the primitive and unformed new expression welling up inside him; the old and familiar, even conventional Van Gogh has been let slip away with a fond farewell.A kind of quantum uncertainty pervades Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune which are, after all, a single story occupying multiple volumes. We do not have enough pieces to interpret this story or to fairly critique its parts, which must therefore remain finally unadjudicated and unjudgeable. This is because the unwritten Dune 7 was also to have comprised a full third of the complete tale. We can see that Herbert was bending writing to a new direction, and we can hazard some educated guesses about (entertaining) plot elements that would have informed the third book, but we can never know. The best we can do is ponder any written records or notes that Herbert may have left behind as poles in the sand to mark the path he intended to follow. Anyone who possesses any such notes, it seems to me, can be a good steward to the memory of Frank Herbert only by publishing them in unexpurgated form: lacking that, Herbert's career accomplishments can never be properly assessed. And that is an injustice to an important 20th century American writer.

Herman Gigglethorpe

This one is hard to review. I really like the Dune series, and I enjoyed this one quite a bit while reading it. However, there are some things that bring it down to a 3.*SPOILERS*The main problem is the weird sexual theme to this book. Although one can understand the Honored Matres thing to an extent (a less subtle splinter group of the Bene Gesserit), does it really have to be this distracting? What makes it worse is that Duncan Idaho's "hidden Tleilaxu power" is that he can do hypno-sex too! At least the Bene Gesserit kept it more in the background. I wondered how much of a pervert Frank Herbert was after finishing this. It's almost as though he fantasized about his own fictional characters. . .I liked this book, but this makes me want to stay away from Chapterhouse Dune.Another thing is that the way Miles Teg gets his powers is a stretch even for this series. A new probe from the Scattering tortures him enough to somehow give him super-speed and the power to see no-ships? I know Dune is big on the superpowers, but at least the Kwisatz Haderach and Bene Gesserit stuff is well-established from the first book. Frank Herbert also never explains why Sheeana can talk to the sandworms, if I remember correctly. Does Leto II just have a special relationship with her?The book is a bit slow paced, though not to the point where it turned me off completely. Frank Herbert as usual provides the political intrigue and assassinations that every Dune book needs. There's some more action in this than in God Emperor (never technically completed that one, but that was because I had other things to do at the time. I just remember Leto II monologuing a lot), since Miles Teg and Duncan Idaho get to fight on occasion. Not to mention Arrakis/Rakis is burned to a crisp at the end. The technology changes to the series shake it up a bit too. No-ships can avoid detection, new hunter-seekers mean that the characters fight with guns instead of sword fighting with the shields, and of course the chairdogs are so weird that they fascinate me.This is an entertaining book overall, but the bizarre sexual themes can turn many readers off, which is why I couldn't make it a 4 or 5.A drinking game for this book (pick only one condition):-Drink every time Muad'Dib is misspelled as Maud'Dib, at least if you're reading the Ace Science Fiction printing (the one with the blue cover). I don't know if other editions have this issue.-Drink every time the words "powindah" and "whore" appear.

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