[Book Review] Dune: House Atreides

After hating Chapterhouse: Dune, I put off reading this one until now. Boy, was I wrong.

General Information

Dune: House Atreides
Dune: House Atreides

Author: Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Original Publication Date: August 2000
ISBN: 0-553-58027-2

Premise

(From Amazon.com) Dune: House Atreides chronicles the early life of Leto Atreides, prince of a minor House in the galactic Imperium. Leto comes to confront the realities of power when House Vernius is betrayed in an imperial plot involving a quest for an artificial substitute to melange, a substance vital to interstellar trade that is found only on the planet Dune. Meanwhile, House Harkonnen schemes to bring Leto into conflict with the Tleilax, and the Bene Gesserit manipulate Baron Harkonnen as part of a plan stretching back 100 generations. In the Imperial palace, treason is afoot, and on Dune itself, planetologist Pardot Kynes embarks on a secret project to transform the desert world into a paradise.

High Point

Reverend Mother Mohaim’s revenge. Too damn sweet.

Low Point

Let’s face it, it’s not Frank Herbert. I’d almost call it Dune Lite. It doesn’t achieve the depths that made Dune such a powerful book, but it’s still facinating to see the origins of characters that we’ve come to love.

The Scores

Originality: Another prequel? 3 out of 6.

Imagery: To be fair, the authors actually do better than Frank Herbert on the imagery, since he tended to be more inward-looking. 4 out of 6.

Story: I’m basically at a threshold point when it comes to prequels. You know what’s going to happen and you’re pretty sure which characters will live and which will die. It’s the journey that most interesting and this book manages it well. 4 out of 6.

Characterization: The authors really know these characters backwards and forwards, which is necessary since it’s what these books are all about. 6 out of 6.

Emotional Response: It’s hard to get too worked up since you know the ultimate outcome. 3 out of 6.

Editing: Spot on. The chapters can be frighteningly short, but that doesn’t detract too much. 4 out of 6.

Overall: I enjoyed the book. It was fun to see old characters in action. If nothing else, it reaffirms your feelings about them (good or bad). 5 out of 6.

Total: 31 out of 42

Additional Notes and Comments

If you’re interested in what’s in TheAngryMob’s review queue, check out my What’s Coming page.

TheAngrymob

6 replies on “[Book Review] Dune: House Atreides”

  1. Harry the Dirty Dog says:

    wasn’t impressed.

    You liked it? I guess I didn’t mind it. I very much agree with your comment on emotional response – it’s hard to get excited if you know what’s going to happen. The book is very exciting and interesting with lots of new stuff that simply didn’t raise a response in me – it all left me fairly cold.

    I don’t know, the whole thing didn’t sit right with me, I read it more because it was there, rather than because it was good or enjoyable or anything.

    I’ve read House Harkonnen and simply haven’t bothered buying House Corinno because I don’t think it’s worth the effort.

    I think Dune is one of those series where I wish I’d read the first book and nothing more.

  2. UncleJam says:

    Timely review

    Just a few days ago I was in Barnes & Noble debating whether I
    should get this (and the subsequent two) book.

    On the one hand, I really enjoy the Dune universe, though some of
    the later books are a little hard to reread.

    On the other hand, I’ve been burned by Kevin J. Anderson before and
    I’m not too keen to be burned again.

    On the gripping hand, I can’t quite imagine Dune as written by
    anyone other than Frank Herbert. Even if this series and the Butlerian
    Jihad series are based on his notes, it’s just not the same.

    Damn it, I’m still pretty much undecided. Maybe I’ll pick it up when I
    can find nothing else to read.

    (I didn’t notice the other books in the series on your review list. Are
    you not going to do them?)

  3. AveryRegier says:

    The writing is not up to herbert’s standards
    I’ve just recently read through the entire Dune series from House: Atreides to Chapterhouse: Dune, then backing up to the Butlerian Jihaad.

    In doing so, I’ve noticed a bunch of inconsistencies between the prequels and Herbert’s books. Here’s just a few I can remember off the top of my head:

    1. Jessica and Yueh met six years before the events in Dune, but the prequels have them meeting well before Paul was born.
    2. The Harkonnen no-cave was built during Leto’s reign according to Heritics, but was built by the Baron Vladimeir in the prequels.

    Overall, Anderson’s writing just doesn’t match up well against Herbert’s. For instance, he we would tell you from a God perspective what a character’s traits were, but then the actual dialogue of the character didn’t match up that. Frank Herbert showed you the characters by their words, actions, and thoughts. Herbert’s writing tend to build up the characters for universe shaping events at the end of the book. Anderson tries to do this some, but generally doesn’t pull it off nearly so well.

    Overall, I will continue to read the prequels as they come out because I like the Dune universe. However, I would love to see what Herbert would have done with the same time periods. I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to or dreading when Anderson tackles the sequel to Chapterhouse and tries to take the Dune mythology to the next level. Herbert left some great hints that make you think.

    • coyote says:

      Re: The writing is not up to herbert’s standards

      The Harkonnen no-cave was built during Leto’s reign according to Heritics, but was built by the Baron Vladimeir in the prequels.

      I was always a bit disturbed by the Harkonnen null-sphere, although I could also accept that Leto let it proceed because he foresaw a day it could play a pivotal role.

      But construction during this era? Impossible – the null sphere was basically a stationary null ship, and there was no need to make the tremendous investment in such ships until you had a tyrannical prescient ruler and at least some people who would remain invisible to the ruler at all times.

      Putting a null sphere in this era is at least as shocking as Hannibal attacking Rome with jet aircraft launched from a nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

  4. TheEndIsNigh says:

    Anderson’s quality
    Overall, I didn’t mind this prequel trilogy nearly as much as Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy; I credit Brian Herbert for keeping this from total suckage, but it’s a bad sign when I can tell which author of a collaboration is writing a chapter based on whether he understands basic premises of the universe he’s dealing with. I think it was in House Corrino rather than this one that Anderson managed to completely destroy his credibility (not that he had much to begin with), by having an ON-PLANET shipyard for Guild Heighliners. I can’t even count the number of ways that’s stupid, but I’ll start with: even if the things ARE engineered to be able to handle gravity, on any planet that humans are equipped to wander around on the surface, planetary curvature is going to be a factor; the ends of the thing are going to be above breathable atmosphere. I also had continuity issues with the Navigators being mutated from normal humans within each generation, rather than as an evolutionary process over hundreds or thousands of years, but it’s been sufficiently long since I read the original that I may just be misremembering that bit.

  5. Trekkie says:

    The Dune House and Machine Jihad series
    I’ve enjoyed both of the series in their current run immensely.

    The House Atredies, House Harkonnen, and House Corrino were a fun romp. I agree on the ‘prequel’ idea being ‘well you know what happens’ but for this it was far enough in the past of the Dune series for me that it was good. Plus they had characters you hadn’t heard of, as well as those you had. They weren’ tput into ‘ oh my god how can they survive’ type situations very often that Star wars seems peppered with that would make me not have an emotional investment in.

    The entire Ix storyline was great.

    The insight into the Reverand Mothers is interesting.

    Also I’m halfway through ‘The Machine Crusade’ which is part two of the Butlerian Jihad series. That is so far in the past you really only know one thing – humans win. It’s very interesting and has had me up nights late I shouldn’t have been reading because I enjoy the story line that well.

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