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


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.

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.


More of what you’d expect from a Dune book. Full of all the plotting (plans within plans!), pithy philosophical tidbits and giant worms you could ask for. As per usual I was perplexed just as often as I was enthralled by the loaded conversations and veiled schemes permeating this story. As with the previous three Dune books, this one doesn’t quite live up to the original. However, it gains some major points for not having Jabba the Hutt as the protagonist. Anyone who survived God Emperor should find something to enjoy in this one.


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.

Dave Johnson

wow, i thought this book was really great. i actually liked this even more than some of the earlier books (that may sound strange to some people). thousands of years in the future, this takes place on a world that has change a LOT since the first dune. many of the old landmarks are gone, the worms are strange and different, and the fremen are even more wild than they were before. what i loved the most about this book, though, was that it told a story from the bene gesserits' point of view. in the first three books, they were almost an enemy, something to fear and dread, but in this book and in the next one, you really identify with them and really sympathize with their past and their plans for the future. another turn that i really enjoyed was the obvious scif-ishness of it. it seemed even "more scifi" than some of the other books, which i liked. (i like all the books)if you've read any of the other ones, i have to say that its still good, and i think its VERY good.


** 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.

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.


ive always felt that frank herbert was a pretty bad write, yet the dune universe is so fascinating and unique that his dune books are still worth it (i feel very similar about HP lovecraft by the way...)i must say that i felt this one to be just a huge waste of time though, and it definitely did not make me want to read part 6. dune 5 takes place thousands of years into the future from the first four books, which doesnt matter since nothing has changed really, which makes it really tedious if you ve read the other books recently. its too bad that herbert didnt use the chance of the huge leap in time to introduce some new concepts into the series, instead its just the usual raving about breeding programs and deception, nothing you dont know from the other books already...the reader is as much left in the dark about the whole point of anything as any of the characters in the story, which are all pretty opaque and unlikeable anyways. the end is another letdown, after the book finally takes up some pace towards the end there is no real conclusion... i guess i would have to read the last part of the series for it to make any sense, but im not sure i will invest my time in that...


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


This is my absolute favorite Sci-Fi book that completely blew my mind when I first read it. It is much more then just a means of entertainment. It is perhaps one of the most revolutionary commentaries on the anthropological analysis of the usage of language, sexuality, ecology, economics, religion, and military power all tied together. I first read this book before any of the earlier books in the Dune series by Frank Herbert. Because it occurs thousands of years after the earlier books, it can be read by itself as a stand-alone novel. For those who are in the military or who enjoy understanding the military-mind, it is essential reading along the lines of Orson Scott Card's masterpiece, "Ender's Game". However more importantly this book touches on the complex socioeconomic dynamics of culture showing how the masses are manipulated by military leaders and politicians through the usage of sex, ideology, violence, and religion. It essentially demonstrates Frank Herbert's incredible mastery of human psychology/sociology from a multi-cultural viewpoint along with his mastery of Judeo-Christian theology that echoes into our own times long after his death with a clear understanding of what makes Islamic Jihadists tick in their single-minded pursuit of holy war. This books is basically what inspired me to become an anthropologist and to explore the world of Islamic extremists which for me has been a truly eye-opening experience and a rude awakening and awareness of a world that is not sheltered but rather raw and painfully vulnerable on a daily basis to chaos and the extremes of human nature. This book (and Chapter House Dune) mirrors this and thus far has been a potent guide to understanding and adapting to the reality of religious extremism as well as constructing methods of dealing with it in a productive, non-violent manner. I hope that for others this book will set off this light-bulb, especially those young men and women endeavoring in a military and/or political career. I only hope that the right lessons are learned from it.


My favorite of the series so far (with the possible exception of the first book) although not enough for another whole star. I liked that it focuses on the Bene Gesserit since most of my favorite characters in the series have been Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers. The series continues to have interesting things to say about religion and the way it influences people and the way it can be used to manipulate. It also explores the power of sexuality and reverses the male/female dominant/dominated dichotomy in interesting ways.

Jeremy Preacher

I had read the first three Dune books many, many times, and the fourth one once, and decided I may as well try to get through the last two. (I had heard they were pretty terrible.) I was definitely pleasantly surprised.Heretics is probably not the book anyone was expecting, which probably led to most of the ill-feeling about it. It's much less a philosophical work and much more an action-adventure story, and I'll tell ya, the sex gets weird. It's not so much a gender-politics thing (although I reflexively flinch every time someone uses the word "whores") as a sex-as-power, power-corrupts sort of deal. That being said, there are some typically interesting characters and situations (although I sort of roll my eyes every time Herbert reveals that some group is following a many-thousands-of-years-old Earth-based religion.) Short version: if you like the Dune books but are avoiding this one because of the bad press, take a look at it. It's not on par with the early ones in terms of depth, but the universe remains fascinating and it's a pretty decent story.(I also understand God Emperor much better now - it's not exactly a novel in itself, it's a bridge between the familiar Empire setting of Dune and this drastically different political and social setting of the later books. That doesn't make it an easier read, but it makes me dislike it less.)

Peter Greenwell

It's an improvement over the book before it, though I will add, it's a marginal improvement. It's certainly a touch more enjoyable. However alas...once again, we have faceless characters who do little more than have short, sharp dialogue constructions with one another. I found myself skimming through some of the literary square miles of endless talk to get to where something actually happens.I love the cover- the girl Sheeana dancing before the sandworm. Evocative. Shame it's the most evocative thing about this book.


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.

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.

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