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Brian Herbert / Kevin J Anderson – Hunters of DuneHere's an old, and previously published (on the now-defunct Diversebooks site) review of Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson - this is the fist half of the final book in the original Dune cycle, written to the original outline Frank Herbert planned for the book.

There are a lot of new books available in the Dune universe, most of them written by Brian Herbert (Frank Herbert’s son) and Kevin J Anderson – both acclaimed authors in their own right, now working on expanding and filling in the gaps in Frank Herbert’s epic story. But this book is different. When Frank Herbert died, he had the outline, plot etc for the finale of his epic series ready – but it laid in a safe deposit box, forgotten, for over 10 years, before it was discovered again.
So this is Frank’s original vision of how the story, which started, millions of years ago after the Butlerian Jihad, would come to closure. And boy did he have plans for his follow-up to ‘Chapterhouse Dune’ – there was enough material (so Brian and Kevin felt) for a two-volume finale...

The story follows three separate (but connected) strands. The first one is on the No-ship, which was used by Duncan Idaho, Bashar Miles Teg, and Sheena (and their rag-tag band of 200 refugees, plus a hold full of Sandworms) to escape from Chapterhouse, where Murbella is forging her ‘New Sisterhood’ encompassing both Gene Besserit and Honred Matres.
The second strand is set on Chapterhouse itself, where Murbella continues her struggle to unify these two neigh-incompatible strands of female warriors (and much more) into a cohesive, new, improved organization that can withstand the onslaught of the coming ‘Outside Enemy’, whoever or whatever this may be!
And the final story strand describes events centred around Khrone, the leader of the new and improved Face Dancers (who is controlled himself by a mysterious old Woman and Man), as he interacts with (and undermines) the last of the Lost Tleilaxu, and the stronghold of the rebellious Honored Matres, led by Matre Superior Hellica, on Tleilaxu (or whatever is left of the planet!).

The main impression from the book is that it’s a major build-up to the real grand finale, which will be Kralizec (or Armaggedon, Raganarok, or whatever you call it); the final battle at the end of History, the Darkness at the End of the Universe – you get the picture. An awful lot of Gholas of key players from the earlier books in the story are being put back on the playing field – the No ship alone holds Duncan Idaho, Miles Teg, Sheena, and newly created Gholas of Paul Muad'Dib and his beloved Chani, Lady Jessica, Stilgar, Thufir Hawat, and even Dr. Wellington Yueh. And there’s more… there are at least 3, potentially more, Kwisatz Haderaches in the game. Plus some special surprises, like the actual origin and motivation of the Honored Matres, the identity of the Outside Enemy, the story behind the Oracle of Time which speaks to navigators… hold on to your seats, it’s all here!

The concepts in the story are the same as the Dune Universe always displayed: We still have the elusive/exclusive wonder-drug Spice; we have a huge reliance on Genetic Memory and on cloning (bio-)technologies for the Gholas, who have the memories of their earlier lifes awakened when they reach adulthood; we have FTL travel through ‘Foldspace’ using ‘Holtzman Engines’ guided by Navigators; and we have the old fear and taboos of ‘thinking machines’ which stems from the original Butlerian Jihad. What also is astonishing is the reliance on hand-to-hand and non-ranged combat, despite all the technological means (‘proper’ technological weapons are only used in a larger context, i.e. to destroy planets, or in general attacks on installations).

The book is well written, engrossing, and rather fascinating (hey, an original Dune Story!). Brian and Kevin wrote it in their own voices instead of trying to emulate Frank’s writing style, which is very much appreciated, knowing how such efforts usually end up sounding fake and rather grating. They also managed to maintain the feeling (like the earlier book in the cycle) that this is, despite the machines and spaceships, essentially a Fantasy story.
The entire book is structured in sections labelled ‘X years since escape from Chapterhouse’ (thus providing a neat timeline from the last original Frank Herbert book), and come in small ‘story-bites’ from the various strands, a technique reminiscent of the way William Gibson wrote Neuromancer – admittedly a way of writing that suits my reading habits and attention span, so very much appreciated on my part… There also is an overview timeline from the Butlerian Jihad to the Escape form Chapterhouse at the back, which is very helpful for putting all the historical references into the right context and sequence, which is tricky enough with all the recurring characters living multiple lives.
There are some extra lengths to the book, with sub-stories which don’t really add anything to the overall story arc, and characters which are of no importance, so somehow I suspect very much that it might well have been possible to edit Frank’s outline in such a way to provide a more focussed one-book novel of the Dune finale instead of the two-book approach taken now. But these are minor niggles, I very much enjoyed the book, and can recommend it to everyone who wants to know how the Dune story, spanning Millenia, comes to an end. Plus you get answer to a lot of the ‘big’ questions – this book provides some major insights already, the next (and final) one will, I hope, be a real eye-opener.
The final book, titles ‘Sandworms of Dune’ (yup, those again), will be out in September 07 – I can’t wait to get my hands on it!


Title: Hunters of Dune
Subtitle: The Grand Climax to Frank Herbert’s Dune Saga Begins…
Series: Dune
Series Number: 7, Book 1
Author: Brian Herbert
Author: Kevin J Anderson
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL: http://skating.thierstein.net
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
Publisher URL: http://www.hodder.co.uk
Publication Date: 2006
Review Date: 12 July 2007
ISBN: 9780340837498
Price: UKP 7.99
Pages: 629
Format: Paperback
Topic: SF
Topic: Space Opera


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