Hunters of Dune

I finished reading Hunters of Dune, Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson's attempt to wrap up Frank Herbert's Dune series. The elder Herbert had the bad manners to die before completing the series, leaving his fans with a cliff-hanger of monstrous proportions. His son and Mr. Anderson have picked up the threads where he left off.

The first thing you will note as you read Hunters of Dune is that Brian and Kevin are not the writers Frank was. For one thing, their style is completely different, which is jarring when reading what is, essentially, the last chapter in the Dune saga. However, this is forgivable and is better than the alternative, which would be for them to attempt to imitate Frank's style and fail at it.

Overall I found this book rather tedious to read. Where the original Dune books contained many subtleties, leaving the reader to piece together the significance of certain events, Hunters possesses no subtlety and spells out details for you, sometimes more than once. This is a complete pendulum-swing away from the original works and it detracts from the new book.

The plot of the new story is not bad, but I feel a little ripped-off that there's still another book to come. Not much seems to happen in this book, and when it does happen there are few surprises. The characters sometimes seem to be playing their parts like train-cars on a rail: ok, this is the part where I subdue the resistance, this is the part where I gather my forces, this is the part where I conquer my last enemy, etc. There don't seem to be any real challenges for the heroes despite the real Enemy's seeming omnipotence.

And the identity of the real Enemy is a let-down to me as well. I won't give it away but I feel that this book exists to legitimize the other Dune books written by Brian and Kevin, rather than to wrap up Frank's epic. I'm not convinced that the Enemy was originally conceived to be who B&K have said it is. I have a sneaking suspicion that Frank's original plot has been altered in this regard.

As for my recommendation: only read this book if, like me, you are a sucker for finding out what happens. I've dutifully plodded through the last few Terry Goodkind books because I hate leaving the story hanging, and this book is a lot like those: I am reading it because I have to know how it ends. I will buy the next instalment, Sandworms of Dune, but only when it comes out in paperback.

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