Heretics of Dune (Dune Chronicles, #5)

ISBN: 0399128980
ISBN 13: 9780399128981
By: Frank Herbert

Check Price Now


Currently Reading Dune Fantasy Favorites Fiction Sci Fi Sci Fi Fantasy Science Fiction Sf To Read

About this book

The planet Arrakis is becoming desert again. Lost ones are returning home from the far reaches of space. The great sandworms are dying, and the children of Dunes children awaken from empire as from a dream, wielding the new power of a heresy called love.

Reader's Thoughts


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.

Eric Allen

Heretics of DuneBook 5 of the Dune ChroniclesA Dune Retrospective by Eric AllenHeretics of Dune is a bit of an odd book in my experience. The first time I read God Emperor of Dune I was so put off the series by it that I refused to pick Heretics up for almost an entire decade. When finally I did pick it up, reading through the entire series again with the hope that age had given me new perspective on life to keep God Emperor from sucking so hard, it was probably my second favorite book in the series. It had characters I liked, things actually happened in it, and the story was pretty enjoyable with a huge OMFG DID THAT REALLY HAPPEN moment at the end. In comparison to God Emperor, Heretics is a friggen masterpiece. Of course, just about anything is a friggen masterpiece next to that abomination.I have read this book several times since, and I remember enjoying it each time. However, this time, I made a bit of a mistake. I read Fragments by Dan Wells immediately before picking up Heretics, and that was so much better written, with so much more interesting characters, in a much more interesting setting, with a better story that is told better in every way than Heretics of Dune. And so, this time around, all I could think of was how mediocre it was, how it wasn't as well written as Fragments, how the characters weren't as interesting as the creations of Dan Wells, how the story was so distractingly vague and didn't seem to be going anywhere. And after this experience, I have come to the conclusion that Heretics of Dune can either be a very good book, or a soul-crushingly mediocre one depending on what you read immediately before picking it up.We begin after another 1500 year jump into the future. After the fall of the God Emperor due to his own stupidity, arrogance, and lack of any enjoyment factor for anyone reading the books in which he appears, humanity scattered to the nine corners of the universe, multiplying and finding new planets to call home. Why this could only happen AFTER the death of the God Emperor is anyone's guess, but whatever, I'm sure it made sense to Herbert as he was writing the book and who am I to tell Herbert what is stupid in his own universe? After the Scattering people are beginning to return to Arrakis, called Rakis now, and the surrounding part of the universe, bringing with them the Honored Matres. These women are a perversion of the Bene Gesserit, ruling their people through the power of sex. No, I'm not kidding. In fact, the book goes into extensive and graphic detail on this point, and let me tell you... Herbert ain't no sex writer, that much is for sure. The Bene Gesserit see them as a threat because ... and some girl is born on Rakis with the ability to ride the worms and this is important because ... and the Bene Gesserit have cloned Duncan Idaho yet again to do ... and they make an alliance with the Tlelaxu where they are clearly the underdogs because ... Do you see what I keep saying about Herbert leaving WAY too much of what would make his books make more sense vague and up to the reader's own imagination instead of giving us clear character motivations and explanations on the import of certain people and events that bring us into the story?The Good? In a story that literally spans across thousands of years, Herbert bridges these books together with a common character, Duncan Idaho. It's not the same Duncan in every book, but he's got the same memories and personality so it works to hold the series together. Though he's more of a minor character in the first three books, he becomes a more central figure as the series progresses and all other bridges to the earlier volumes are washed away. He works pretty well in this role and is probably one of the more entertaining characters in the series for his penchant for saying the exact thing that will most piss people off in any given conversation.The scope of the story, spanning across thousands of years shows Herbert's true visionary powers. That he was able to concieve of a story spanning so great a time, and account for the passage of time, like the names of planets changing, and show the long term effects of decisions made in the distant past by long dead characters, speaks to his prouesse as a storyteller.At last, after three books of nothing but plots, within plots, within plots, wrapped in layers upon layers of intrigues, Herbert brings some much needed action back to the series. It's not that I don't like the political intrigues. Herbert is excellent at writing them. It's just that when that was ALL that there was to the story, it started to get a little stale. When characters do nothing but plot, and plot, and plot, and NEVER DO ANYTHING ELSE, it gets boring. People stop caring if anything is going to happen next, because they've seen that it isn't going to. When I first read this book, I loved the ending, because the last 25% of it is basically just non-stop action, which was something I was craving from this series since the first book ended, being a teenaged boy at the time and all.The Bad? Although Herbert's sexism is not as pronounced in this book as it was in the previous one, it still comes out. Nearly every female character in this book is described by the size of her breasts, or by the attractiveness of her figure. The whole women perfecting the art of sex to enslave their followers thing is just a little too far over the top for my taste, and shows, once again, that Herbert thinks women are the scum of the universe. His mommy must never have held him as a child or something... There's thinking you're better than women because you happen to have been born with a dick, and then there's the complete and utter hatred that Herbert seems to have. He's in a class all of his own.This book is not very well written. In fact, it's almost downright terribly written. Herbert used to be able to tell a coherant story, but as his career meandered on, he became less and less able to do so. The plot of this book, frankly makes no sense, it goes through several reversals, keeps the readers completely in the dark on the motivation and reasons behind generally everything going on, and skips over serveral key scenes without even referencing them or what went on during them. This book needed a lot more editorial influence than it got. Herbert really needed to sit down with a good and experienced editor and work through the plot for a few months before setting to work on the final drafts. These are things that could easily have been fixed, and I'm completely baffled that they weren't.Characters do things that make no sense, because their motivations are never made clear to the reader. As such, their actions have no context. When we don't know what drives a character to do what they do, anything that they DO end up doing is confusing and pointless. Emphasis and importance are prescribed to certain people or places for no apparent reason because the author never saw the need to explain his own story to us or elaborate on all of the vagueness. Being vague is not bad in and of itself, you can build up mysteries in your stories to ratchet up the suspense and keep the readers interested. That's NOT the problem here. It's that NOTHING--N O T H I N G--is explained. Not who characters are, why they are important, why they do the things they do, why those things are important, what is going on, why any of that is important, why I should care about any of it, and so on. There's building up mysteries and plot twists, and then there's leaving the readers in the dark to the point that they begin to wonder if even YOU know what you're talking about. Characters start doing wildly irrational things and I can't even tell if it's in their character to do so or not, because they're not developed well enough as people for me to know anything about their personalities. Nothing that happens in this book feels as though it was part of a flowing narrative where events move seamlessly and flawlessly along until it all comes crashing down at the end. Instead it feels like a whole lot of different scenes that have nothing to do with each other being tied together by the fact that they just happen to occur around the same characters. This book is a monumental failure to tell a story right from the foundation on up, and the worst thing about it is that it could have been fixed with just a little editorial influence. It didn't HAVE to be this bad. But Herbert had to come down with that whole George Lucas Syndrome thing and well, here we are, with a book that desperately needed an editor in the worst way, and never got one.During almost every single scene in this book I was constantly asking one of the following questions. Why is this important? What does this have to do with anything? Why is this scene even in the book at all? What is going on, and how does it relate to anything else? These are questions that I should never find myself asking during a story. A narrative should be cohesive, with every single scene serving a purpose to the whole, flowing seamlessly from one event to the next and culminating in an epic climax. The entire story of this book is so disjointed and nonsensical that I was constantly trying to figure out how any given scene was supposed to relate to any of the others. And on top of that, several key scenes seem to have been cut near the end. On one page, Teg is plotting a bloody revolution to escape whatever planet he was on. And on the VERY NEXT PAGE, he's on Rakis waiting for a sandworm to arrive with some little girl whose importance STILL has not been touched upon by ANYONE at the very end of the book. I can make GUESSES at her importance to the plot, but Herbert holds her up as a golden child to be worshiped by all, but never tells us WHY. There was CLEARLY a deleted sequence here and the lack of it had me flipping back to see if my book was missing pages. Do you see what I mean when I say this book is disjointed and none of the scenes lead into any of the others? A good 30 pages seems to be completely missing from the published draft of the book.The Ugly? Duncan Idaho: Teenaged Sex God... Need I say more? Okay, people, I've likely said it before, and I'll say it again, as many times as I need to for the point to sink in. Pedophilia of ANY sort is NOT COOL. Now, imagine if you will, that Duncan Idaho is not a fourteen year old boy, but a fourteen year old girl, and the sex temptress forcing herself on him is a man rather than a woman. Does this scene start to feel a little more uncomfortable to you? It should. It should have been just as uncomfortable to anyone as it is. Pedophila is pedophila, whether the victim is male or female. It is just as wrong either way, SO WHY IN THE HELL IS AN UNDERAGE BOY BEING RAPED BY AN OLDER WOMAN SO ACCEPTED IN FICTION IN OUR SOCIETY!?!?! It is just as bad when it happens to a boy as it is when it happens to a girl, and nothing that you can say will justify it. Pedophila is pedophila. It's the same damn thing, and I shouldn't have to explain why it is to anyone. This is a double standard that has both baffled and angered me for just about as long as I can remember. A young girl has an older man force himself on her and it's horrible and unthinkable, the same thing happens to a boy with an older woman and everyone is like, "good for him." NO!!! NOT GOOD FOR HIM!!! That's called pedophila, AND IT IS WRONG!!! Just because a woman is far less likely to sexually assault a teenaged boy than a man might be to assault a teenaged girl doesn't mean that it doesn't happen, and that it's not just as wrong when it does. Sexual abuse toward ANY child, male or female, is still sexual abuse, and guess what, having sex with a fourteen year old, no matter how many lifetimes of memory he might have, qualifies as sexual abuse.This book has no protagonist. A Protagonist is the hero of the story, the one around whom the events of the story unfold. A Protagonist is a surrogate for the reader, a character that we can project ourselves onto and imagine having all those fantastical adventures as. They will be faced with some sort of conflict, and be tried and tested, coming to the very brink of ruin before finally learning and growing as a person and overcoming all opposition. Not every story is the same, I will grant you that, and not every story has to follow that exact pattern, but typically, there's at least a central figure in the story around whom events are woven. There's a main character that is vital to the plot, and without whom there is no story. Not so with Heretics of Dune. There are characters in this book. Some of them do things, though the vast majority of them only take up space, but the book isn't really ABOUT any of them. Without a strong central figure to identify with, we're left with the fragmented plot and the terrible writing to draw us into the book, and as they were both awful, what are we left with? Is it so much to ask that a fictional story I'm reading actually BE ABOUT SOMEONE? This is a concept as old as stories themselves, so why do so many authors these days have trouble identifying to the readers who their book is about and why we should care about them? Say what you will about Stephenie Meyer, but she at least knows who her books are about, and how to tell a cohesive story surrounding them. I mean... they SUCK, but at least they're put together better than this crap.Anyway, despite liking this book in my younger years, I found it terribly written, convoluted, and far too vague for comfort. None of the narrative seems to flow along, and it feels something like a shattered stainglass window rather than a clear picture of a story. None of the character motivations are clear, and far too many plot points are left entirely to the reader's imagination. There is far too much pedophila going on for comfort here, and the fact that I never see anyone bring that point up about this book has me feeling a little nervous over where society is going. Despite bringing some much needed action back to the series, this book fails to entertain because it is written so poorly, and the plot reads like a map for a roadtrip planned out by a crack addict. Compared to God Emperor of Dune, it was a masterpiece. Compared to anything else, it's pretty much crap. Check out my other reviews.

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.


It must have been difficult for Frank Herbert to write this book. It's the first book of the original Dune Saga that does not deal directly with Paul or Leto II. We can clearly see that Herbert studied the effects of history on societies. There are lots of changes between "God Emperor of Dune" and this's even a completely different universe! For thousands of years, Leto II was ruling a vast Empire and trying to save humanity by setting on the Golden Path. Since then, that peace and structure has decayed. The mass exile that followed the famine times also had a profound impact. The Tyrant may be gone, but the universe still feels his stranglehold.The author's fascination for sex is both interesting and disturbing. There are two reasons for this. First, the story takes place in a future that is very far away. Humans (as well as different groups) have a very different understanding of sexual energy. The second reason is tied to the first. Because humans have gained a different understanding of sex, they are now explaining it without even referring to previous theories on sex (the ones of our time, for example). In a way, Herbert is extremely successful in describing a possible future and immersing the reader in the philosophies of said future. The only problem with this, is that it could quite unsettling.Even though i thought it was a bit boring to read a book that had nothing to do with the original Atreides, it was interesting to learn about some of the other factions that vie for power, notably the Bene Gesserit but ESPECIALLY the Bene Tleilax. In this novel, we finally obtain a lot of information on how the Bene Tleilax function (as well as the secret to their infamous Axolotl tanks).Last but not least, we have the people from the Scattering. Those are the people that have exiled themselves after the death of Leto II, and they are returning. Their leaders, calling themselves "Honored Matres", are a "bastardized form" of the Reverend Mothers. They are basically wielding the powers of sex in to gain power. This isn't their only weapon. They come with an arsenal. In order to survive their attack, the Bene Gesserit, along with the Bene Tleilax, might have to use some uncommon tactics...All in all, this was an interesting novel. It revealed a lot more information from different perspective (even though the narration was a bit Sisterhood-centric). I did not find it as interesting as "God Emperor of Dune", but it give an interesting ;look at how the world would change after being ruled for so long.

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.


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.

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.

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.


Finally! I haver been dreading reading this book for ever so long, and now the alarm bells seem to have been superfluous. Lulled into a false sense of doom and with jangling nerves fostered by the utter metaphysical crap that were the second, third and fourth books of the Dune series, and God Emperor of Dune was singularly mind-numbing, this gave my jangling nerves rest.What's different? Well, there's still a lot of obscure talk, but some of it finally is relieved with some actual ACTION! Things HAPPEN, people DO things, there's a lot of running around, shouting, shooting laser beams and wild martial arts contests at superhuman speed. There are also a sect of women who have achieved the highest amplification of orgasm and use sex as a weapon. There are still the Bene Gesserit sisters strutting around like they're the cat's whiskers. And we actually get to get OFF Dune the Planet for a change. Good fun!

Andrew Wright

This is the point where the Dune series begins to irrevocably plummet downhill. Once Herbert introduced the idea of animal sex slaves into the mix, I was done really. Or rather, I should have been done, but unfortunately, I read the next one too. My advice to everyone is to stop this series at God Emperor of Dune and to go no further.


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...


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.


** 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.

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.

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.)

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *