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The Butlerian Jihad (Legends of Dune): 1

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The Butlerian Jihad opens a new series of Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson's prequels to the classic Dune by Frank Herbert (Brian's father). Set more than 10,000 years before Dune, this covers the evil times when machine intelligence ruled the Old Empire of human worlds. The implacably efficient "Omnius" AI must be overthrown.

Many familiar names appear; Salusa Secundus now green and fertile, but fated to become a hellhole prison planet, is one of the free human enclaves on the fringes of Omnius's "Synchronized Worlds". So is Giedi Prime, later the evil Harkonnen HQ. Both are attacked by fearsome robot fleets and ex-human cyborg killers when Omnius makes a new expansionist push. Much space-operatic mayhem follows.

Major characters include Serena Butler, who will become the driving force of the jihad against computer dictatorship; her lover Xavier Harkonnen, heroic defender of Salusa Secundus; Vorian Atreides, son of Omnius's chief cyborg Agamemnon, convinced by slanted histories that the Synchronized Worlds are the good guys; Erasmus, an independent robot who plays devil's advocate to Omnius and conducts unspeakably gory experiments to determine the wayward nature of humanity; and Selim, a desert exile on planet Arrakis (Dune), who becomes the first man to master the dread sandworms.

Many other firsts are rather improbably crowded together here. This is the first serious export of Dune's life-prolonging spice; the first (perhaps) spice-induced prophetic vision; first forcefield body shield; and the first antigravity "suspensors" that are invented by a girl genius who may be the first Mentat--those super-gifted humans who will replace prohibited computers. She's also busy inventing the first interstellar jump-drive. Elsewhere, telepathic "Sorceresses" prefigure the Reverend Mothers of the Bene Gesserit.

Despite a few nuances like the "good" society being flawed by its toleration of slavery, The Butlerian Jihad lacks the richness of Frank Herbert's work--his psychological intensity, the multi-layered subtlety of his characters' schemes and duel-like conversations. Instead, this is straightforwardly rousing space opera, with battle, counterstrikes, kidnapping, vows of vengeance, a fateful love triangle, and lashings of gratuitous violence and dismemberment. --David Langford

Review:

House Harkonnen is compulsive reading. I certainly enjoyed meeting pardot Kynes and Liet, learning more about the Freman, as well as Gurney Halleck, Duncan Idaho and the Lady Jessica. Such vile villains...and such a fascinating description of splendid places. (Anne McCaffrey on House Harkonnen)

...a compelling story that will transport readers back to the world that changed science fiction forever (Tattered Times, Denver, Colarado)

Dune: House Atreides is packed with action, great story lines and twists within twists about favorite Dune villains and heroes. The result is a winning combination that keeps the two in stride with Frank Herbert's vision. (Beyond the Cover)

House Atreides is a terrific prequel, but it's also a first-rate adventure on its own. Frank Herbert would surely be delighted and proud of this continuation of his vision. (Dean Koontz)

Those who long to return to the world of desert, spice and sandworms will be amply satisfied (The Times)

In a word satisfying: all Dune fans will want to investigate, newcomers will be tempted, and it should promise fresh interest in the magnificent original series (Kirkus)

All these characters and themes will be familiar to fans of the original Dune novels. But new twists added by Herbert and Anderson will have fans, both old and new, turning pages. Having done their research well, Herbert and Anderson have succeeded in laying out the foundation for a new trilogy that will amplify the original novels and stand firmly as a class act in its own right. (Dorman T Schindler, St Petersburg Times on House A)

This book is written in a style so close to the original that it is hard to believe Frank Herbert did not direct it through some mysterious genetic link - maybe he did. Did I like it? Hey, I'm a Dune addict myself. I can't wait for the sequel to the prequel (Mark Graham, Rocky Mountain News on HA)

...a rousing story that juggles eight or so plot lines with ease. The first of a trilogy, the book is written so that those who have never read Dune can strat right here with the prequel. (Michael Glitz, New York Post on HA)

The author's research and passion for the material have served them well. Dune: House atreides captures the essence of Dune while illuminating further the workings of Frank Herbert's universe (Seattle Times)

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