Dune by Frank Herbert is established worldwide as one of the best sci-fi books out there. Terms like Arrakis, Spice Melange, Fremen or spice worms are famous and I have to say that I personally love this particular fictional world. However, Dune is just the main book, there are many others set before or after the original.
I’ve decided to read all things about Dune (again, did so when I was like 10) plus some new that weren’t available back then. True, it was a bad idea to proceed with this plan during exams, it even cost me a failed one, but the good news for you is the result: a review of Legends of Dune, a sequel of three books set a long way to the past before the actual Dune as most people know it.
Legends of Dune were all written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. It is undeniable that their style is very different from Frank Herbert – many people hate it and yet others adore it. I’m indifferent, basically because I’m a huge fan of Dune and I don’t care that much about a particular writing style.
Enough of the initial crap, let’s have a look at the background of the books:
There are three notable “species” in the universe:
- intelligent machines lead by an AI called Omnius
- Titans (or Cymeks), former humans whose brains had been extracted and can now use various robotic bodies
- humans, either united in the League of Nobles or dispersed across individual worlds
Ominus rose to power thanks to a huge mistake by one of the original Cymeks called Xerxes. It is a vast consciousness which is regularly updated across its dominion by specially customized ships. They travel across the Synchronized worlds and make sure that all forms of Omnius are as much updated as possible.
Omnius keeps a lot of human slaves throughout his empire. Some of them are really slaves, others manage to become their supervisors and there is yet another group – human trustees. These few humans with special privileges adore the machine way of life and are proud to serve. One of them is Vorian Atreides, son of the head Cymek Agamemnon and also the founder of the Atreides lineage as we know it from the original Dune.
Omnius doesn’t necessarily want to exterminate all humans, but he wants to regularly expand his dominion and does not take original inhabitants into consideration. Humans naturally defend themselves and that’s what the war is all about.
Their brains are thousands of years old. They initiated the downfall of the old Empire (I believe that’s where authors point to our current near future) and rose up as total dominant rulers of the known universe. I’m talking about the 20 original Cymeks led by Agamemnon.
Unfortunately, one of them, Xerxes, gave his computers too much free will and Omnius emerged. The AI then quickly took the upper hand and although its programming prevented it from exterminating Titans, they were enslaved and forced to do Omnius’ bidding ever since.
It’s hardly a surprise that Titans have always wanted to return to their dominant position and their wildest dream is Ominus with his entire realm reduced to rubble and enslaved humanity doing their bidding; Titans and Cymeks in general scorn humans and they only utilize them for their own purposes (which includes, but is not limited to killing for fun).
A lot of human worlds is united in the League of Nobles, an interplanetary version of the United States. Their central planet is Salusa Secundus, the major source of imperial Sardaukars in the vast future. The League of Nobles has a Parliament and is ruled by the family of Butlers.
Humanity has suffered countless attacks from the machines during the eons, but things have become more stable lately – thanks to Tio Holtzmann and his development of generators which melt any AI that enter its field. Politicians had gladly forgotten that there is a war out there and focused on their petty differences and personal gains instead.
There are several notable groups in the human part of space, such as:
- Sorceresses of Rossak (predecessors of the Bene Gesserit)
- Swordmasters of Ginaz
- Genetic Engineers of Tleilaxu
As already mentioned, there are also humans dispersed on the so called Border worlds who haven’t joined the League and in some cases, they do not intend to do so either. Consequently, their level of development varies from usual to prehistorical; but these worlds might get targeted by Omnius as well thanks to their vast resources.
None of the three “races” have a major technological advantage and all of them are also forced to use space drives bordering on the speed of light, thus space travel takes weeks to months (forget about instant travels provided by the Guild).
Now we know the background and it will be my pleasure to provide my reviews of Legends of Dune, which include:
- The Butlerian Jihad
- The Machine Crusade
- The Battle of Corrin
Thank you for reading!
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