Book Review: ‘Chapterhouse: Dune’ by Frank Herbert

Chapterhouse: dune Frank Herbert

Chapterhouse, Schmapterhouse:

Another disappointment from this year was the conclusion to Frank Herbert’s Dune series. Six books in total, five were brilliant examples of a functional blend of narrative and philosophy, examinations of political ideals, religion, death, and human nature. Chapterhouse: Dune, the final installment, was, quite frankly a bore, an uninspiring punctuation mark to an otherwise memorable cycle.

Perhaps Herbert knew he was nearing the conclusion of his life, and utilized this final chapter to deliver a number of his previously untouched upon ideas as possible, though at great cost to the narrative value of the story. There is no doubt that he had a talent for merging the two for over half a million words worth of dazzlingly imaginative science-fiction, but reading Chapterhouse: Dune displays a major divergence from form.

Just Sort of Petering Out:

What I had expected to be a satisfying, well-wrought conclusion instead revealed itself to be a trudge through Bene Gesserit posturing, hot-headed Honored Matres, and an unusual focus on sexual bondage. Not BDSM, but sex as a tool for enslaving men and women. An intriguing, and potentially relevant concept, but one that would benefit from being integrated into a commanding tale.

A few worthy ideas are explored, such as the relationship between sex and love, the nature of identity, and optimism in the face of annihilation, but they are all submerged beneath chapter after chapter of literary tedium. The blood just isn’t flowing right, and feels like it’s growing stale in the veins.

Simply a Sixth Conclusion:

But, even though this story is the official conclusion of the Dune series, Herbert did demonstrate throughout the other books that there is no actual end to a story. If you read Dune and only Dune, it is a good stopping point. You do not need to read the sequels, as they follow other characters over spans of thousands of years. Each entry in the series can function as a stopping point, a complete work that does not suffer from the need to have another subsequent story follow it in order to support it.

The point is clear. People were around for a long time, and so long as they are persistent little buggers, they will push onward, whether free, wild, bound to ritual, subservient to tyrants, enamored by prophets, addicted to spice, mutated, scattered, or whatever else might come their way.

And regardless of how I feel about this book, Herbert and his mind will always be enshrined in a place of respect within my mind.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Undersized Shai-huluds