Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on March 13, 2020
Things get weird in Children of Dune. This book is definitely a turning point for the series, and is thus often a point of debate among fans.

What's the setup? Minimal spoilers. After the events of Dune Messiah, Paul-Muad'dib is missing and presumed dead. His sister Alia is effectively a religious emperor commanding the universe from Arrakis via Paul's church. Paul's Children Leto and Ghanima become the titular focus of the series. Their prophetic rise to power will define the shape of the universe to come. Children of Dune caps off the tale of Paul-Muad'dib, with the narrative clearly moving to follow other characters. Most fans therefore say that the first 3 books of the Dune series form their own, stand-alone trilogy. You may notice that I'm not really describing a villain or a plot here - I'm sure fans will argue, but there really isn't one. The central conflict of the book is Leto confronting his own future - and that of humanity at large. Can Leto stand up and confront his destiny, or will he take the easy path and doom the universe to a terrible fate?

Children of Dune starts to get weird. Not that the first two books were lacking in audacious concepts, but this one has a definite "jump the shark" moment toward the end. I won't spoil anything, but if you thought Paul-Muad'dib was overpowered, Leto takes quite literal leaps and bounds over him.

Should you read Children of Dune? It's been a long time since I've read the Dune series, and I'm rereading them now in preparation for the upcoming film. Right now I still stand firmly in the camp of saying it's okay to stop at Dune. Messiah and Children of Dune add a lot more philosophy than plot development, in my opinion. Not everyone who reads Dune is going to want to follow 4+ more books of philosophy and politics, as opposed to the more tech-heavy romp of the first book. It's definitely true that Children of Dune caps off the story of Paul-Muad'dib, so if you really want to see what happens to that character, you should read at least through the end of this book.

Should you keep reading past Children of Dune? The most divisive book of the series is up next - God Emperor of Dune. Some say it's impossible, some say it's the greatest book they've ever read. It's worth noting that the series continues much more in the vein of Messiah and Children. The dividing line is whether you're happy with the weird twists that the ending of Children takes. I'm buckled in, and I'll find out how I feel again. But so far my opinion is unchanged - Dune stands on its own, and its sequels are more interesting for people who enjoy thinking about politics and philosophy than for the narrative itself.
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