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WesternSFA


Dune: House Corrino
Prelude to Dune #3
by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
Bantam Books, 496pp
Published: October 2001

This story concludes the prequel trilogy to "Dune," and is a direct continuation to "Dune: House Harkonnen."

As with the previous book, the storyline encompasses all three of the major Houses: Atreides, Corrino and Harkonnen; and, as was true of the preceding two books, the story does not focus primarily on House Corrino. 

On Kaitain, Shaddam is restless on his throne; he is resentful that his decisions aren't always his own.  His decisions are often dictated by CHOAM or the Bene Gesserit or the Guild; he chafes for an opportunity to put them all in their place.  And he believes he has just the thing; he just needs the renegade Tleilaxu Ajidica to finish the project to deliver a substitute for spice.  Armed with the only source of inexpensive pseudo-spice, he believes he'll finally be the Emperor he always dreamed he'd be.  So, it isn't surprising that he does not take the news well that the pseudo-spice, amal, needs continued testing. 

Shaddam is also concerned over his Bene Gesserit wife, Anirul's, failure to produce a male heir.  And contributing to his unease is the unwelcome news that his father, Elrood, did produce another male heir; his half-brother, Tyros Reffa.  Tyros lives quietly on the planet Zanovar, unaware that Shaddam has determined to use his planet as an example to the rest of the Landsraad in his quest to uncover hidden caches of spice and punish the Houses.  Under the guise of punishing Zanover's ruling House, he carpet-bombs the entire planet just to kill one man.  What he couldn't know, of course, is that Reffa was off-planet on holiday.  Reffa had always known of his familial connection to the Emperor and had never intended to trade on it.  But now that his home and family are dead, he declares war on his half-brother.  He takes the opportunity of being on stage during a play for the Emperor to declare his case.  He is dealt with summarily; almost as an after-thought for all that the authors put into the character.

Duke Leto Atreides sends his most trusted men, Thufir and Gurney, to make contact with any still-surviving underground resistance on Ix.  Their report galvanizes him to make every effort to invade Ix and return it to his best friend, Rhombur. In other news, Jessica is pregnant with the forbidden male child but the Bene Gesserit don't know it yet.  However, since her pregnancy took so long to achieve and it's so important to their kwisatch hadarach project, they order her to Kaitain until she delivers.

Fenring sees the biggest challenge to vetting the pseudo-spice, amal, is to secretly test it on a Guild Navigator.  If it passes that test, then there is nothing standing in Shaddam's way to really and truly rule the known universe.  Count Fenring decides this last critical test merits his personal involvement.  He and a Face Dancer infiltrate a Heighliner and replace the Navigator's spice reserve.  It doesn't go well; stranding Gurney, Rhombur and their invasion force in an unknown sector of space.

Liet-Kynes made a trip to Kaitain to, once again, petition Shaddam for resources to support his plan to create a paradise out of Arrakis.  And, once again, he realized that Shaddam had no intention of giving him the requested resources.  Liet-Kynes did not know, of course, of Shaddam's plan to replace spice but it made him even more determined to teach the Fremen how to manage their own planet.

Harkonnen's story in this book is even weaker.  His Mentat, De Vries, convinced him to try using an etiquette coach to teach him how to be more sociable and nicer.  It went as well as the reader of this series might imagine.  Later, De Vries then advances a plan to the Baron to kill Lady Jessica while she resides on Kaitain; away from Duke Leto's protection.  But before De Vries has a chance to do just that; a better scenario presents itself - a chance to kidnap the newborn.  And Beast Rabban is on Arrakis stirring up trouble with the Fremen but bites off a bit more than he can handle when he decides on his own to take a force to attack Caladan while Leto is on Kaitain and Thufir is the only security left on the planet to defend it.  The Baron himself had little to do in this story.

There's plenty of other nonsensical subplots in the bloated 496 pages including the Sisterhood's attempt to rediscover the no-space technology and a bit involving D'murr, the Guild Navigator and his brother, C'tair, who is still on Ix. Oh, and some totally useless information about Duke Leto's mother who had his father killed.

As with the last book, there was not a unifying theme or story arc; it was just episodic events.  It tried make a plot around major events such as the invasion of Ix, the discovery of amal and it's subsequent failure, and to a smaller extent, the birth of Paul Atreides.  But the events weren't linked and they included way too many subplots. It was boring.  ~~ Catherine Book

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For more titles in the Dune series click here
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