10 April 2012

Same Old Story: A Review of Sisterhood of Dune, Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

 I am deep into Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson and non too pleased to be back revisiting this particular time in the Dune chronicles. Only 80 years have passed since the thinking machines were overthrown in the Battle of Corrin. Humanity struggles to define itself as the universe learns to live free from the bondage of Omnius and the cymeks. Not one to read a book jacket or review before I pick up a book, I had hopes that Sisterhood of Dune would be further into the history of the Bene Gesserit. I wanted to be thrown into the workings of the Sisterhood as successfully as Frank Herbert's Chapterhouse Dune.  

Once again, I am comparing the master at work to his apprentices and wishing they would leave the Dune universe alone. There appears to be a fatal flaw when creating new additions to an otherwise completed series. That flaw is the tendency to stay too close to the characters/themes/plots that marked the original. The best example is the continued exclamation of "I have a bad feeling." originally uttered by Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back that is then adapted by Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi. Taking this unique expression into parts I, II, and III stagnates the series, creating a world more one dimensional than Lucas was in all probability aiming for.

This predictability can be said of all the new Dune series. While the original 6 books had well-defined characters that we of the Dune universe embraced, the new series relies on the tried and true of the original. I don't blame Brian and Kevin wanting to take those traits into their books. The Dune universe is a complicated, highly developed world, so all encompassing that I wouldn't dream of fiddling with it. How do you add to such a world?  I feel they are afraid to really allow their creativity to shine through.  As I turn the pages of this book I am continually met with similar themes.  The Atriedes is pure of heart, the Harkonnen siblings on the hunt for revenge, the Emperor Salvador, ineffective, the first Navigator Norma Cevna, powerful but losing touch with humanity.  

What this book needs  is a better editor.  The book is heavy with repetitive descriptors and information. Tell me once why the Harkonnens want revenge on House Atreides.  I am confident I can maintain this piece of information for longer than five pages. Let's hope the next book these two write includes a new thought or character.  The Dune universe is large enough to absorb it.

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