Book Review: Sandworms of Dune

I purchased Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s Sandworms of Dune on impulse while waiting for my delayed flight two weeks ago. I’ve heard of Dune and may have played the video game of the same name when I was young, but at the time I did not connect the two together.

The read was a bit difficult due to my lack of knowledge of the prequels in which there are many. The story was dropping prominent names left and right and I had no idea who they were.

The plot follows a band of renegade Sisters out to find a new hospitable planet. These sisters are part of an organization known as the Bene Gesserit. The group uses a spice harvested from sandworms called melange to unlock their past life memories and give themselves increased strength and speed.

Melange is highly sought after throughout the races. The spice is consumed by a race called the Navigators which pilot the intergalatic spaceships used by many other races. The sisters control the sandworms and thus control the market for the spice.

So, these renegades are traveling through the universe looking for a planet to plant their sandworms. Once sandworms take root, they will consume all water on the planet and make it into a giant ball of sand.

The leader of the renegades, Sheeana, commission a project to create a Kwisatz Haderach. Kwisatz Haderach are what would be called a nexus; a person who can shape the course of humankind. To create this person, sisters “volunteer” to become gholas. Gholas are basically baby factories. The sister is inundated with melange to the point where she mutates into a womb. DNA from past prominent figures are than implanted into the womb to mature.

In this way, Sheeana is able to bring back a whole array of historical figures–Paul Atreides, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Lady Jessica, Wellington Yueh, Stilgar, Liet-Kynes and many others. Figuring things up to this point was rather confusing. Luckily, the author provides background information on each person as they are introduced.

While all this was going on out there in space, back at the home planet of the Sisterhood, Mother Commander Murbella was pulling together the resources to create a fleet to defend against the Thinking Machines. The Thinking Machines were machines created by humans to do manual labor. But, the machines started to think for themselves and looked to overthrow their human overlords.

At this point, things started to get a little bit hazy. Somewhere along the way, a race of changelings known as Face Dancers was added into the plot. The Face Dancers can change their body and facial features much like Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Unlike the changelings found in Star Trek, the Face Dancers can also acquire the memories of their victims. The Face Dancers work for the Thinking Machines and have infiltrated pretty much every top level government in existence.

There are also two other races that have a large role in the story–the Ixians and the Guild. The Ixians are a technically advanced race that can breakdown and improve on any technology if given the resource. The Guild is composed of many merchants that deal strictly in trading and construction. The personality of Guild members would closely be related to the Ferengi from DS9.

Essentially, the war becomes a faceoff between the Thinking Machines and the combined forces of the Sisterhood, the Guild, and the Ixians. The advantage is highly in favor of the Thinking Machines due to their mass production of ships and their development of a highly contagious virus. With the inclusion of the Face Dancers, there are a number of double-crosses and sabotage of course.

In the end, its up to the plucky renegade crew to save the day with the help of an unlikely Kwisatz Haderach.

Although this book could be a standalone, I felt I would have been more invested into the outcome if I had known the relationships between the characters beforehand. The book, however, did keep me entertained for the duration of the flight delay which makes it a decent read.

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