Although Dune fans will devour this book, they’ll be left hanging out for the next one.
The universe created in the original Dune novel and expanded with each new book, takes on a feeling in the mind as solid as the Marvel universe. While Dune was so well written that it stood on its own, the same cannot be said for subsequent books and The Duke of Caladan is one of those.
The late Frank Herbert’s son Brian and co-author Kevin Anderson have followed the path of many popular series – such as the Star Wars franchise – and gone back in time to before the original tale. The Duke of Caladan is set not many years before the Dune story and so the reader meets all the characters from the original and they are all familiar, comfortable and sit in the story in their expected roles.
Where new characters are introduced, various new plots are well woven into the Dune universe, fitting into the well-established intrigues and political machinations found throughout the series. Almost every Dune ‘Black Hat’ appears at some point but even this does not detract from the new story being told, as these characters seem essential to the narrative rather than being mentioned for the sake of using a familiar name. There are two principal threads: one at the imperial level with the second local to Caladan, but also having implications beyond the planet. They proceed in tandem and as the story progresses they seem to be coming together
The book suffers a problem common to many, if not most prequels however. In an effort to hold a reader’s interest, new events and storylines are introduced which were never hinted at in any of the subsequent books. These new events are major, with repercussions that impact the entire Dune universe. For these events to suddenly appear is more than a little grating.
Then the book ends with no resolution of any of the significant issues raised. It is so obviously preparing us for the next book that the title should have included Part 1. It leaves the reader unsatisfied and slightly frustrated but fans will no doubt look for the next part of this story, just like every other Dune tragic.
Reviewed by Robin Kershaw, with editing by Jan Kershaw
Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: October 2020