Dune: The Duke of Caladan by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

details
Title: Dune: The Duke of Caladan.
SeriesThe Caladan Trilogy #1.
Writer(s)Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
Publisher: Tor Books.
Format: Digital Copy.
Release Date: October 13th, 2020.
Pages: 320.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
ASIN:  B082RT5ZJJ.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

thoughts

There’s something both exciting and dreadful at the idea of revisiting characters and worlds set before the stories that are known and loved. On one hand, the thrill of discovering more about them is a high that all fans want deep down. On the other hand, the deception of unnecessary plotlines can tarnish one’s memory of all the good things associated with their favourite stories. But no one can stop these stories from being told and one can only pray that the result will be satisfactory. In anticipation of director Denis Villeneuve’s movie adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, fans were gifted a variety of brand-new world-expanding content including the first book of a brand new trilogy written by the authors who had taken on the mantle of building up the Dune universe, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. This time around, they present to us a prequel trilogy set a year before the classic masterpiece and exposes the politics, values, and stakes that defined House Atreides.

What is Dune: The Duke of Caladan about? The story follows Leto Atreides, Duke of Caladan, father of the Muad’Dib, and ruler of Caladan. Surrounded by his bound concubine Jessica and their fourteen-year-old son Paul, he persuades those around him of his sense of leadership as he works to earn the ire of House Harkonnen’s favor while sniffing and dodging the traps laid by his enemies who fear the rise of House Atreides. Juggling both his responsibilities as a duke and the well-being of his loved ones, he finds himself in the midst of political machination and a mysterious drug war that holds a grip over his reputation and the safety of his family and himself. The question remains if he can handle the pressure of the Imperium or succumb to the assault of his adversaries.

“The first responsibility of a Duke is the safety of his people.

— Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

It is highly recommended that readers pick up the original Dune novel before exploring this brand-new prequel as the authors build upon prior knowledge of upcoming tragedies and prominent characters, focusing little on introducing them but rather dissecting established bonds. In this story, fans will be able to witness firsthand how Leto Atreides operates and note down the very qualities that make him an ideal role model for the little Paul in the future. On top of better understanding his appreciation of loyalty, honour, and authority, this book exposes his interaction with his concubine Jessica and son Paul, further establishing the type of relationship that they value and maintain. The former isn’t portrayed as insignificant as readers watch her walk a fine line between respecting the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood and secretly embracing her love for Leto. The latter isn’t yet the legendary man he will turn out to be but a boy coming to terms with his faith in becoming a duke like his father. Fans will inevitably have some kick out of reacquainting themselves with these characters as it serves as a great refresher for a movie to come but won’t find the authenticity that was originally brought up by Frank Herbert.

Unfortunately, it’s the run-of-the-mill narrative that makes this a bit tedious. Set a year before the decisive events in Dune, the story explores a myriad of subplots while setting up the antagonists of this trilogy. Among many others, love is a recurring theme, explored first through Jessica’s character and her role as a concubine and responsibilities as a Bene Gesserit, and second through Paul’s predicament of a marriage alliance to establish House Atreides in a powerful political position for the future. While nothing’s wrong in infusing the narrative with a bit of emotional conflict, these sequences never really grab the reader’s attention. Often times, these authors foreshadow crucial events in Dune rather than build an organic and self-created life event. The story also tends to skip around between multiple narrative threads to focus on different schemes at play, highlighting the ongoing and eventual problems that the noble family of House Atreides has to deal with as they prepare for their mission on the desert planet Arrakis. This forces the story to play on with the objective that readers are to accept their realization rather than embrace these moments and connect with characters and events.

Dune: The Duke of Caladan is a nostalgic trip revisiting House Atreides as they rise to power before the events in Dune.


EXHIBITA
Thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me a digital copy for review!

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32 comments

  • I had briefly toyed with picking this up (probably from the library) because I always wanted to know more about Leto, but if the plot is tediuos, I’ll probably give this a pass and stick with what I already know of Leto from Dune itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I don’t know… the original novel, and the two sequels are just so good, and always felt reading more is more likely to just lead to disappointment… there are so many “good enough” sf books, why water down THE Dune?

    Liked by 1 person

      • I despise them. I probably would say nothing about them if it were their personal works on discussion (on second thought, I doubt that, I’d still comment) but what has me is that they are taking somebody else’s work and polluting it. I can’t forgive them for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Your evaluation of this book is a great deal kinder than mine was for the first couple of books this duo produced, particularly where the excessive telling vs. showing took over the narrative. Since then I have never looked at any of these prequel or sequel books, because I knew that on that way lay madness… 😀 😀
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • What you noted of their writing is something that hasn’t changed, if it gives you an idea. 😉 I too think that I’m better off just making Dune a reread here and then rather than pursue on with the books produced by BH and KJA hahah 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I enjoyed the review but there’s a good chance I’ll never get this far. Perhaps through a personal flaw I have a real hard time picking up books that are continuations of a well known series/universe but by different authors, unless it’s a universe that was originally created as a collaborative multi-author series. I just can’t help but feel they often get watered down and lose their magic, very similar to how it’s so often best to watch the first movie and not bother with any of the endless stream of sequels spewed out. But enough being negative, you did a great job with the review and I hope folks who pick this book up are able to get past my prejudices and enjoy the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I read and finished Dune for the first time last year, I told myself that maybe it’s safer that I stick to that masterpiece, rereading it here and then but with the hype for Villeneuve’s movie, I was too curious to discover for myself what Brian Herbert and KJA wrote up this time around. I think post-mortem writers of beloved characters or worlds (like Sherlock) don’t work for me much. I’m sure completionists and people who just want to revisit this world with a new story will enjoy this though. Thanks for reading, Todd! 😀

      Like

    • I haven’t been to a bookstore in forever! Glad to hear that Dune is getting some exposure though. And yes.. prequels released after the original series are always best read after… Publication release over narrative chronology, always! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • This sounds safe to read. 😁 I think my son might like it also. I will grab him a copy for his birthday and then he can read it and tell me if he thinks I will like it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 👏👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

  • I have loved all of the Dune prequels that I have read so far. I found them mostly easier to understand than the original, because it has such a philosophical bent to it. Possibly, if I were to live so long as to have time to reread the original, I might understand it better. But I think once I go through the rest of the volumes on the Butlerian Jihad and the various schools of Dune, I will probably have read more of the story than I can remember by then.

    Also, don’t forget that even the original Dune had multiple narrative threads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad to hear from someone who adores what BH and KJA have created so far in the Dune saga. I hope you get the chance to try this one as well in the future, further expanding the Dune stories for you.

      Yes, it did have multiple narrative threads but I preferred its multilayered narrative to what is built here. The political and philosophical undertones of those threads were just much more intriguing to me than in this new book.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my review and sharing your point of view on the ongoing Dune universe.

      Like

  • Great review Lashaan! I haven’t read the original books, but it definitely sounds like a great story 😊 I love when a universe is so complex that there’s the possibility to add a whole new series of books to the original story! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! 😀 I highly recommend the original Dune novel by Frank Herbert. I’m usually cautious when other authors embark on a series and try to recreate the same magic as the original author but I can’t say that it’s ALWAYS bad though. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • To be honest, I think it’s difficult to write a successful prequel to any series. It’s like a task with a huge amount of restrictions, because obviously everything has to fit in with the main series. Furthermore, the fans will have a lot expectations, which might be difficult to meet. And perhaps it takes away the option to use your own imagination and speculate what might have happened in the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. And I think the authors here fell into that trap where they thought it would be a good idea to foreshadow a lot of elements from the original Dune story here. It doesn’t help that they also picked a period (ONE year before the main event) to start their prequel trilogy. I feel like they’ve put themselves between a rock and a hard place right there.

      Liked by 1 person

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