Dune: The Butlerian Jihad

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Dune: The Butlerian Jihad

Postby Hunchback Jack » Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:21 am

This is a short review I wrote on Amazon about 5 years ago, just after I read (or didn't read) TBJ.

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Awful. Just plain awful., August 20, 2004

[*----]

I found the House prequel trilogy to be entertaining enough, even though it lacked the depth and complexity of the original Dune novels. So I expected this novel to be of about the same caliber.

I was mistaken. The Butlerian Jihad was bad enough that after reading over half of it, I chose not to finish it. And I *always* finish books.

Part of the problem was the complete lack of recognizable elements from the Dune universe. Granted, the story is set thousands of years before the original novels, but even so, more common elements would have made the story more interesting to Dune readers.

Instead, we have a fairly typical futuristic SF milieu, with the remnants of free humanity fighting for survival against an evil AI who wants to destroy them all. The planetary battle of the first few chapters is unremarkable, and could have been lifted from any Star Wars novel. The main characters are just fleshed out enough to play their roles in this space opera, and are motivated by the most basic values and ideas. There are no inquiries into ethics or morality, no challenging of the characters' ideas.

This in itself would not be intolerable, if it weren't so tedious to read. The Butlerian Jihad is made up of many, many very short chapters, alternating between different points of view. Each chapter progresses its plot line just to the point where the reader's interest is recaptured, and then, frustratingly, ends. I found this book a chore to read, and the lack of original plot or complex characters did not make the effort worthwhile.

I will not be reading the other books in this series, and I hope the forthcoming "Dune 7" books do not suffer from these problems.
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Re: Dune: The Butlerian Jihad

Postby SandChigger » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:03 am

Thanks for reposting this here. :)

Hunchback Jack wrote:Part of the problem was the complete lack of recognizable elements from the Dune universe. Granted, the story is set thousands of years before the original novels, but even so, more common elements would have made the story more interesting to Dune readers.

I guess I was kind of the opposite, in that one of the (many) problems I had with this book and the two sequels was the ham-handed attempts to connect everything with familiar Duniverse elements. The two periods are separated by 100 centuries, yet they try to set up all of the main, familiar features over a period of only about one century.

The incompatibility of Legends-period elements like "vroom-vroom" FTL and exploding bimbombs with the later Duniverse was another biggie. ;)
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Postby Hunchback Jack » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:43 am

I guess what I meant was that the first half of the first book didn't have any elements that made it feel like a Dune novel. It just read like any sub-par SF book for teens.

Not having read any further, I didn't get to the parts where all the Dune-era elements sprang into existence with little or no transition. But I would have found that equally annoying.

HBJ
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Postby Omphalos » Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:35 am

I worte a review of this series too. HATED it!
Something is about to happen, Hal. Something wonderful!

-James C. Harwood, Science Fiction Writer, Straight (March 5, 1956 - May 25, 2010)



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Postby Hunchback Jack » Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:00 am

I found and read your Legends review after posting this one, Omph. Your disappointment in the series definitely came through. :) I try to review every book I read, but my reviews aren't nearly as analytical - or, frankly, as good - as yours, Omph.

Going back and reading this review was interesting for me; clearly I thought as little about the prequels then as I do now (i.e. after reading the Dune 7 novels). I wouldn't change a word of the original review (other than the last sentence :) ).

I want to emphasise that the statement about finishing books is telling. My threshold for not finishing a book I've started is *insanely* high. I've read all sorts of uninspiring crap just to be sure I wasn't missing anything worthwhile. So the fact that I dropped this book after getting halfway through says something.

Not that I'm telling you anything you don't already know. :)

HBJ
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Postby Freakzilla » Thu Mar 19, 2009 4:52 pm

I'm so far beyond hate there's no word to describe it.
They were destroyed because they lied pretentiously. Have no fear that my wrath
will fall upon you because of your innocent mistakes.

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Postby Omphalos » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:12 pm

Hunchback Jack wrote:I found and read your Legends review after posting this one, Omph. Your disappointment in the series definitely came through. :) I try to review every book I read, but my reviews aren't nearly as analytical - or, frankly, as good - as yours, Omph.

Going back and reading this review was interesting for me; clearly I thought as little about the prequels then as I do now (i.e. after reading the Dune 7 novels). I wouldn't change a word of the original review (other than the last sentence :) ).

I want to emphasise that the statement about finishing books is telling. My threshold for not finishing a book I've started is *insanely* high. I've read all sorts of uninspiring crap just to be sure I wasn't missing anything worthwhile. So the fact that I dropped this book after getting halfway through says something.

Not that I'm telling you anything you don't already know. :)

HBJ


Thank you. I appreciate the kind words and the compliment. :D
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