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Paul of Dune    by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson order for
Paul of Dune
by Brian Herbert
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2009 (2008)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Paul of Dune, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson fill in the period between the end of Frank Herbert's Dune and Dune Messiah, interpersing the progression of Paul Muad'Dib's disturbing jihad (already moving beyond his control) with intriguing insights into the life of a pre-teen Paul Atreides (the part of the story I enjoyed most, though the action of the primary storyline speeds up towards the end).

As Paul the Emperor finds himself carried along by the tide of events - and his big picture perspective increasingly seems to allow him to ignore horrific acts and injustices carried out in his name - Princess Irulan writes her popular histories, delving now into the life of the young Paul Atreides. Readers join her in discovering hitherto unknown episodes. We see Paul dealing with his father's betrothal to Ilesa Icaz (a political alliance), and watch in horror as wedding guests are massacred in an attack by Viscount Moritani (who has secretly allied with the Harkonnens). Later in the book, there's a sense of déja vu in a similar treacherous attack on a festive occasion, one for which the earlier mayhem was a catalyst. The Moritani attack is followed by attempts on Paul's life - resulting in a meeting with his grandmother and an exciting jungle escapade - and by Duke Leto's revenge.

While the backdrop to the story is the tsunami of Fremen jihad - and the reactions of Paul and all those close to him (in particular Gurney Halleck and Stilgar) to his lack of control of it - there are many subplots, mostly treacherous ones. Shaddam IV sees the birth of his only grandson and continues to plot from exile on Salusa Secundus. Wily Count Hasimir Fenring and his brilliant wife Margot raise their precocious daughter Marie (actually Margot's by Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen) on Tleilax - and plot to one day make her Empress. The Tleilaxu build an army of gholas and fine tune their own Kwisatz Haderach - against whom Marie proves her mettle. Paul puts flamboyant Swordmaster Whitmore Bludd in charge of his massive Citadel building project, which is a huge success. Alia finds a playmate, Caladan comes under attack, and a deadly long-laid plan comes to fruition.

Paul of Dune is quite a story (really two stories which echo across time). The authors take readers repeatedly into the mind of the fanatic, from individual Fremen fighters to the extremely ruthless Muad'Dib himself. He seems to not only have taken the position that any end justifies the means with humanity's survival at stake, but he has sunk into a kind of apathy in terms of making any attempt to control followers like Korba from pursuing their personal ambitions by destroying innocents. Though I find the older Paul much less likeable than the younger, I very much enjoyed Paul of Dune (a must read for series fans), which does an excellent job of bridging the years between his conquest of Arrakis and control of an empire.

Audiobook Review:

As always, Scott Brick does a fine job of narrating (through fifteen CDs) this latest unabridged audiobook in the Dune epic. Though I identify his voice most closely with that of Duke Leto Atreides, he carries the other characters well in a variety of accents, making the villains appropriately sinister, all the Fremen distinct, and even managing the female roles (always difficult for a male narrator) well.

This time I especially liked his unique diction when speaking as Gurney Halleck and as Hasimir Fenring. Whether reading the pages, or listening to the CDs, Paul of Dune is a great story, and well worth your time.

2nd Review by Serge Fournier:

In Paul of Dune, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson continue to extend and fill in the gaps of Frank Herbert's classic series, with two interwoven stories that in some ways echo each other.

Readers follow Paul through two parts of his life: as a new Emperor, driven by his visions of human destiny, embarked on an ever more violent jihad; and as an adolescent learning his metier from his father's example and from hard experience.

The story is well told; it captures the reader's attention and provides enticing details that intertwine well with events covered in other volumes of this long-running series. And the pace is rapid enough to be called a page-turner.

Overall, Paul of Dune is well worth the reading time, providing excellent entertainment value.

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