Chapterhouse: Dune
January 16, 2023 5:43 PM - Subscribe

The 6th book in the Dune series, the novel chronicles the continued struggles of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood against the violent Honored Matres, who are succeeding in their bid to seize control of the universe and destroy the factions and planets that oppose them.

Description taken from Wikipedia for my own reminder. Here are the first and last paragraphs of the wikipedia summary:

The Bene Gesserit find themselves the target of the Honored Matres, whose conquest of the Old Empire is almost complete. The Matres are seeking to assimilate the technology and superhuman skills of the Bene Gesserit, and exterminate the Sisterhood itself. Now in command of the Bene Gesserit, Mother Superior Darwi Odrade continues to develop her drastic, secret plan to overcome the Honored Matres. The Bene Gesserit are also terraforming the planet Chapterhouse to accommodate the all-important sandworms, whose native planet Dune had been destroyed by the Matres.

Awed by her [Murbella, the HM who became a BG] physical prowess, the remaining Honored Matres are forced to accept her as their new leader. Odrade is also killed in the melee and Murbella shares with Odrade to absorb her newest memories, as they had already shared prior to the battle. Murbella's ascension to leadership is not accepted as victory by all the Bene Gesserit. Some flee Chapterhouse, notably Sheeana, who has a vision of her own, and arranges to have some of the new worms that have emerged in the Chapterhouse desert brought aboard the no-ship. Sheeana is joined by Duncan. The two escape in the giant no-ship, with Scytale, Teg and the Jews. Murbella recognizes their plan at the last minute, but is powerless to stop them.
posted by rebent (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Slow and steady wins the race, for a 🪱 as much as a 🐢. happy to bring the dune club into the last book written by Frank Herbert.

Why did I read this book? Why did I read all these books? They are terribly written. All the parts where the writing should slow down and explain are glossed over. The most minor, insignificant details are written about for page after page. And yet, like a foot long 🥪, there's just enough mayo and vinegar to make me finish it.

Brilliantly, the sandwich changes every few bites. the same ingredients are used in different combinations, just to see what will happen.

In the final book, Duncan is old and Leto Sr is in a baby clone body. In the previous book, Duncan was a teen clone, and Leto Sr was a very old man. The whole series had these wonderful combinations of characters, and I like to imagine that Herbert had a list of characters and relationship combinations he was checking off.

The books also played with multiverse theories. Every book saw the world end in a cataclysmic change of society... But then that next social order would be cataclysmized itself.

There are many ideas about time. Paul saw the future and overcame the present. But then knowing the future locked you into it, so folks hid from the future. But it turns out you can change the future by seeing it - in seeing, it locks a certain future into being. So let's breed babies that are invisible to future vieion.

There are also so many different ideas about history and the rise and fall of nations, the value of a single being, a society, a universe, a technology... A belief.

All in all, it was a good way to pass the time but not a good use of my time.
posted by rebent at 6:01 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]

Congratulations! You have reached the end of Dune.

Some people will tell you that there are additional books, based on Frank's notes and written by his son. I beseech thee, ignore those people. You finished it. Proceed no farther.
posted by jordemort at 7:00 PM on January 16 [13 favorites]

It has been forever since I dipped into these books, but... was this the one with the space Jews? *squinting* oh, yes, this was the one with the space Jews. Oh man. That was... yeah, that was a moment.
posted by phooky at 7:02 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]

I loved the entire Dune series as a young teenager and it took a long time before I started to feel differently. Everyone lays into the Dune sequels and their excesses so comprehensively that I feel no need to add my own gripes to the pile.

But at age 13, Chapter House Dune was the coolest thing I'd ever read, and the lack of any continuation was painful. And I have a soft spot for Dune Messiah to this day, wanky as it is.
posted by Lorc at 1:20 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]

It's been a long time since I read this, but I do recall loving the last two books for their desire to go further, be more batshit, do something new, that wasn't in other books of that era I'd read (the Heinleins and Asimovs and Nivens). Even PKD's weirdness was clearly coming from his mental illness. This may not have "worked" by technical measures but i remember it being at least interesting.
posted by kokaku at 4:30 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]

These last two trade on the world building from the earlier four books. It does feel like we are just finishing some kind of Algebra problem.

This is the Opera part of the space opera. The characters are hollow because they are concepts, and the concepts are thin because they're characters. It's kind of like the Star Wars prequels, or Jack Kirby's New Gods, or the DND campaign when all the characters are at level 20.

And I think the lack of new world building leads Herbert into a trap of using actual Jews and bringing them 30,000 years into the future.

On the one hand it's kind of an "F U, Jews will always exist, you jerks"

And on the other hand it's like wait a minute you're telling me this is just Battlestar Galactica?

It seems unfinished, like we should have gotten some kind of Jewish -Roma-Mongol traveler culture who Scatters

Because aren't the novels at this point trying to make some kind of point about the futility of maintaining Eternal Empires, and offering Jews up as some noble alternative to that? It all gets pretty weird, and I don't think it works.

But superheroes are mega fun. Love these books.
posted by eustatic at 9:36 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]

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