Skip to Content

Children of Dune

I have found that each of Dune's sequels have their own distinctive character, and each tends to explore one of the many facets of the original book. Dune Messiah places a heavy emphasis on the dangers of prophecy, with the the main 'threat' to the characters being the ever tightening noose of Paul Atreides' visions. In Children of Dune, however, there is once more a strong focus on the politics and intrigue of the setting; with the rival powers of the galaxy, suppressed during the reign of Muad'Dib, once more resurgent after his departure into the desert.

As usual with Herbert's writing, the politicking and universe are well realised, but the story is made far stronger and more human by the fact that the centre of the power struggles are Paul's own children, and that they face as much danger from the ambitions of their own family as that of outsiders. In common with all the sequels, the writing never seems to flow quite as effortlessly as the masterpiece that is the first book, and the characters' motivations can feel at times opaque, but Children of Dune manages to make you think, as well as being a thoroughly enjoyable read.

As the story progresses, and Paul's son Leto II shows signs of following in the footsteps of his father, Children of Dune becomes the first of the books to leave the reader with many questions of what if: What if the 'first' Leto II have survived instead of being killed as a child? What if Paul had followed the visions that his son Leto shared, instead of choosing a different path? What if his sister Alia had been able to withstand the other memories with which she shares her consciousness? Few other book series that I have read invite so much speculation and leave so many unanswered questions, contributing to the deep feeling of realness that the setting possesses.

Children of Dune is also an effective cautionary tale on the dangers of placing absolute power in the hands of human beings. Perhaps my favourite character of the book, The Preacher, is widely believed to be Paul Atreides returned from the desert, but every sermon he gives is a bitter condemnation of his family and how they have betrayed his legacy for their own ends. This shadow from the past is an at times painful reminder to the surviving characters of how far they have sacrificed their own ideals for wealth and comfort.

Children of Dune is not the masterpiece of Dune, but it's a thought provoking and enjoyable read nonetheless. Like Dune Messiah, personal circumstances meant I wasn't able to give it the attention it deserves, but I still loved reading it again nonetheless.