Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert is the second novel in the Dune series. It continues the story of Paul Atreides, Muad’dib, who is now Emperor. With being emperor comes an assortment of threats, from old enemies and allies. Even the tapestry of time is incomplete despite his powers to see various threads of the future. Something lies hidden; is it a gift or a threat?
Here is my spoiler-free review of Dune Messiah!
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Previously in the Series
While this is a spoiler-free review of Dune Messiah, I am going to be unable to prevent spoilers for the previous book, Dune.
Here is a refresher on what happened in the previous book in the series.
Paul Atreides, despite his best efforts, leads the jihad he feared he would, becoming the Fremen Messiah, Muad’dib. It is a role that he feared but ultimately embraced for a better future.
With the Fremen under his command, Paul takes the fight not only to the Harkonnens but to the emperor as well. During this final conflict, Paul and Chani lose their son but defeat or gain control over their enemies.
First, the Harkonnens are destroyed. Paul’s sister, Alia, is the one to kill the terrible Baron, while Paul kills the Baron’s son in battle. The Spacing Guild has a dependence on Spice, and with the Fremen controlling the Spice, they control the Spacing Guild. Finally, to create peace between the Emperor and the Fremen, Paul bargained for the Emperor’s daughter to become his wife, making Paul the next Emperor to take the throne.
Paul remains loyal to his Fremen wife, Chani, using the Emperor’s daughter, Princess Irulan, as a stepping stone to power.
Several years pass and Paul is now emperor.
A Short Summary
Dune Messiah follows Paul once more, struggling under the pressure of being the Emperor. He worries about the various plots against him, he worries about his wife and he even contemplates his place in time and the universe.
With this much pressure on Paul’s mind, it is the perfect time for his enemies to strike.
The power-hungry do not rest and under his ruling, they are less than happy. Conspiracies start to develop, terrible alliances and several plots are being made. Despite his previous victory, despite all his power, Paul and those close to him are in even more danger than before.
Dune Messiah has the usual characters from the previous book.
Paul Atreides is present, along with his right-hand man, Stilgar and his concubine and true love, Chani. Not to mention an old enemy, the Revered Mother of the Bene Gesserit order.
However, some characters certainly deserve some attention.
Princess Irulan, the emperor’s daughter, plays a large role. As to be expected, she is most upset that Paul refuses to consummate the marriage. Being part of the Bene Gesserit order, she has political skills and keen observation. She has her motives in the story, but she isn’t so cold as to be compared to the Revered Mother.
Next, we have Hayt, a man who is made a gift to Paul from the Spacing Guild. Hayt has a serious connection to Paul and his past, all are aware of this. I wish I could say more, but I simply don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Last, but not least, we have Alia. Alia, as those who have read the first Dune book know, is Paul’s sister. She was born fully aware, having experienced several lives while her mother, Jessica, went through a ritual to become a Reverend Mother.
Now, Alia is a grown woman, who shares a similar power with Paul, although not quite to the same extent. Alia grew up with Fremen lessons, Bene Gesserit training and fierce loyalty to her family.
Personal Thoughts on Dune Messiah
I am not going to talk about writing style for this review, as I already covered Frank Herbert’s writing style in the Dune book review.
As for my thoughts on Dune Messiah, I enjoyed it. In fact, ‘enjoyed it’ sounds like an understatement, so let me explain.
Dune Messiah has that ambience and tension that is familiar with Dune but it is not more of the same either. The placement of power in the Dune universe at this point, the individual pieces at play, all make an interesting story with plenty of ups and downs.
I realized it was a shorter book than the first and something in me wondered if the quality would differ as well; it did not. It felt like I had only taken a small break from reading the first Dune book and I just picked up from where I left off.
From beginning to end, there wasn’t a moment where I felt the story was lacking. I usually allocate a certain time to reading amongst my other projects and simply getting a good night's rest, but upon reaching the last third of the book, I found myself reading into the night until the book was done.
I was happy with the conclusion.
That is my review of Dune Messiah, the second novel in Frank Herbert’s Dune series.
I suppose after giving my thoughts that it comes as no surprise that I recommend Dune Messiah. If you enjoyed the first Dune novel, you will enjoy this one. It has the many qualities of the first Dune novel, although, if I may spoil something about the book, it doesn’t feature any sand-worm riding.
I look forward to reading the next book in the series!
However, I am going to take another break from the series to review other books. In addition, this was my first review of the second novel in a book series and it gave me the idea of doing individual videos and posts consisting of spoiler-filled thoughts and discussions on books.
Of course, these blogs posts and podcasts will be labelled with spoilers, so it is directed at people who have read the books. Not only do I get to share my thoughts, but also, it promotes discussion. I would very much like to hear your thoughts on these books!
However, that’s something to talk about when I do start making those posts!
Thank you for reading this review and as always,
Good day, goodnight and happy reading!