Book Review – Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

In which we discover Paul Atreides and absolute power mix as well as orange juice and toothpaste, leaving a bitter aura long after they’ve left.
Messiah is like a requiem to the book before, deserting the hopefulness and revolution of the first for melancholy, deception and holy war.

The first Dune novel is an essentially perfect masterpiece, so it stands to reason that any sequel in its wake is going to feel lackluster in comparison. Messiah is by no means a disappointment, but it does suffer from frustrating monologues and pacing.

Paul is especially frustrating, going on introspective roundabouts for several of his chapters. Granted, anyone would probably do the same if they were directly responsible for an out-and-out religious war. But it’s not like he makes much of an effort to stop it, either.
While it fits with the series’ theme of power being the ultimate corrupter, it’s still depressing to see such a likeable protagonist become the villain of their own story.
The peripheral mystery revolving around the manipulative shapeshifter Scytale, the metal-eyed ghoul, and Paul’s sister Alia is more interesting to me, and offers a nice reprieve from Paul’s self-made funeral party.

Herbert’s writing is always intelligent. Every sentence has meticulous place and deeper meaning, or double meanings. In short, even though it has issues the original didn’t, it is a thoughtful and haunting novella about the dangers of putting one man on a god’s pedestal.

General – 4/5

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