All Eyes on Arrakis
Here, in Dune: House Harkonnen, the second prequel novel (following Dune: House Atreides) to the classic Frank Herbert Dune series, Herbert's son Brian again collaborates with bestselling science fiction novelist Kevin J. Anderson to give us the complex plots, immense political tensions, sprawling cast, and high-action sequences of the original Dune works.
Dune is the intricate saga of the desert planet Arrakis (also known as Dune), the very heart of a vast galactic empire and all its rebel factions. Dune is the only source of Melange, a spice that grants psychic powers and near-immortality to interstellar pilots.
As ruler of a galaxy-spanning empire, Shaddam IV of House Corrino continues to use his influence, assassins, and allies to keep an iron grip on his Peacock Throne. Duke Dominic Vernius, onetime leader on the mechanized planet Ix, smuggles spice, while his children, Rhombur and Kailea, remain on Caladan as guests of the Leto Atreides. Leto and Kailea have an affair that produces a son, Victor, but their relationship is filled with hidden intent and betrayal. The mystical order of Bene Gesserit witches continue to work in secret in order to breed the "Kwisatz Haderach," a superhuman psychic child that can only be created through the manipulation of both Atreides and Harkonnen genes.
The childless Baron Harkonnen, now suffering the effects of a disfiguring illness devised by the Bene Gesserit, calls back his outcast brother Abulurd in order to ensure the future of House Harkonnen. Abulurd, the only Harkonnen who retains his gentleness and integrity, lives out his existence on an ice planet as his own two evil sons join the baron in his schemes. Eventually, Leto falls in love with the Bene Gesserit Jessica without ever realizing that Jessica is to give birth to a daughter who will mate with a Harkonnen and bear the Kwisatz Haderach.
Once again, Herbert and Anderson prove that they're not only capable of extrapolating events from the original Dune series but are also extremely skilled at continuing the tradition of a visionary, multilayered narrative. This novel brims with emotionally charged, muscular prose and a wealth of absorbing subplots. The authors are completely at ease with the enthralling material as they achieve the grandeur and profound depth of Frank Herbert's captivating and far-reaching epic saga. Audacious, labyrinthine, and wonderfully readable in its own right, Dune: House Harkonnen will garner a vast readership for this prequel trilogy. Fans of the original Frank Herbert novels will welcome their return to planet Arrakis, and new readers will enthusiastically enter into the mysterious sands of Dune.
Tom Piccirilli is the author of eight novels, including Hexes and Shards, and his Felicity Grove mystery series, consisting of The Dead Past and Sorrow's Crown. He has sold more than 100 stories to the anthologies Future Crimes, Bad News, The Conspiracy Files, and Best of the American West II. An omnibus collection of 40 stories titled Deep into That Darkness Peering has just been released by Terminal Fright Press. Tom divides his time between New York City and Estes Park, Colorado.
To quote KLIATT's March 2001 review of the Bantam Doubleday Dell audiobook: Even if the Sci Fi Channel had not recently produced the Dune mini-series, Dune: House Harkonnen would still command high interest. 1999's Dune: House Atreides only whet the appetite. Though these prequels can be considered revisionist history, since we already know what will happen, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson segue into Frank Herbert's dreams without missing a beat. The title implies a focus around House Harkonnen. We do learn how much evil lurks in the hearts of men and how deeply hate and greed run. But we also watch, with pleasure and anticipation, as Leto Atreides grows into manhood in both body and mind. We watch as his retinue expands to include Dune's familiar characters.... The only frustration is that the series is not yet concluded. Highly recommended. KLIATT Codes: SA*Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Bantam, Spectra, 736p. maps., $6.99. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Jodi L. Israel; MLS, Jamaica Plain, MA , November 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 6)
As the young Duke Leto Atreides seeks to live up to his late father's expectations, his rivals plot to bring about the downfall of House Atreides. Plots and counterplots involving the debauched Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, his Bene Gesserit enemies, and the treacherous schemers of the enigmatic Bene Tleilax escalate the tension among factions of a fragile galactic empire. Though power seems to reside in the hands of the emperor and his elite armies, the fate of many worlds hinges on the destiny of a single planet--the desert world known as Arrakis, or Dune. Continuing the story begun in Dune: House Atreides (LJ 10/15/99), coauthors Herbert and Anderson reveal the prehistory of the late Frank Herbert's classic Dune novels. Strong characterizations, consistent plotting, and rich detail provide this second of a trilogy of prequels with the same evocative power of the original novels. Libraries should anticipate a demand from old series fans as well as newcomers to the world of Dune. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/00.] Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Herbert's son pairs with author Anderson to write the second book in the trilogy prequel, this exploring Leto Atreides, Jessica and Duncan Idaho on their individual and collective journeys through their Dune world. This expands wonderfully and logically the prior Dune novels created by Herbert and adds new dimension and adventures. Dune fans will find this involving and engrossing.
Second installment of the authors' prequel (Dune: House Atreides, 1999) to Frank Herbert's mighty Dune series. In the farfuture galactic empire ruled by House Corrino's Shaddam IV, the geneticwhiz, pariah Tleilaxu continue their occupation of the machine planet Ix. The exiled Ixian leader Dominic Vernius smuggles melange, the miraculous spice produced by Dune's giant sandworms; unaware of Dominic's fate, his children, Rhombur and Kailea, are guests of Duke Leto Atreides on Caladan, where they plot revenge. Against his better judgment, Leto takes Kailea as his mistress; she bears him a son, Victor, but soon the relationship sours. Warriortroubadour Gurney Halleck, first a slave on the Harkonnen home world Giedi Prime, escapes and joins Dominic. Duncan Idaho studies the art of swordplay on Ginaz. The evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen learns that the Bene Gesserit witches are to blame for his debilitating and disfiguring illness. The baron's nephew, Beast Rabban, murders his gentle, wellmeaning parents. Shaddam's assassinconfidante, Hasimir Fenring, conspires with the Tleilaxu to develop an artificial source of melange. And Leto takes Jessica, a Bene Gesserit, as his concubine, unaware that Jessica's secret orders are to bear him a daughter who eventually will mate with FeydRautha Harkonnen to produce the Kwisatz Haderach, the superman who can see both past and future.
From the Publisher
"Strong characterizations, consistent plotting, and rich detail provide this second of a trilogy of prequels with the same evocative power of the original novels." Library Journal
Read an Excerpt
WHEN THE SANDSTORM came howling up from the south, Pardot Kynes was more interested in taking meteorological readings than in seeking safety. His son Liet--only twelve years old, but raised in the harsh ways of the desert--ran an appraising eye over the ancient weather pod they had found in the abandoned botanical testing station. He was not confident the machine would function at all.
Then Liet gazed back across the sea of dunes toward the approaching tempest. "The wind of the demon in the open desert. Hulasikali Wala."
"Coriolis storm," Kynes corrected, using a scientific term instead of the Fremen one his son had selected. "Winds across the open flatlands are amplified by the planet's revolutionary motion. Gusts can reach speeds up to seven hundred kilometers per hour."
As his father talked, the young man busied himself sealing the egg-shaped weather pod, checking the vent closures, the heavy doorway hatch, the stored emergency supplies. He ignored their signal generator and distress beacon; the static from the sandstorm would rip any transmissions to electromagnetic shreds.
In pampered societies Liet would have been considered a boy, but life among the hard-edged Fremen had given him a tightly coiled adulthood that few others achieved even at twice his age. He was better equipped to handle an emergency than his father.
The elder Kynes scratched his sandy-gray beard. "A good storm like this can stretch across four degrees of latitude." He powered up the dim screens of the pod's analytical devices. "It lifts particles to an altitude of two thousand meters and suspends them in the atmosphere, so that long after the storm passes, dust continues to fall from the sky."
Liet gave the hatch lock a final tug, satisfied that it would hold against the storm. "The Fremen call that EI-Sayal, the 'rain of sand.'"
"One day when you become Planetologist, you'll need to use more technical language," Pardot Kynes said in a professorial tone. "We still send the Emperor occasional reports, though not as often as I should. I doubt he ever reads them." He tapped one of the instruments. "Ah, I believe the atmospheric front is almost upon us."
Liet removed a porthole cover to see the oncoming wall of white, tan, and static. "A Planetologist must use his eyes, as well as scientific language. Just look out the window, Father."
Kynes grinned at his son. "It's time to raise the pod." Operating long-dormant controls, he managed to get the dual bank of suspensor engines functioning. The pod tugged against gravity, heaving itself off the ground.
The mouth of the storm lunged toward them, and Liet closed the cover plate, hoping the ancient meteorological apparatus would hold together. He trusted his father's intuition to a certain extent, but not his practicality.
The egg-shaped pod rose smoothly on suspensors, buffeted by precursor breezes. "Ah, there we are," Kynes said. "Now our work begins--"
The storm hit them like a blunt club, and vaulted them high into the maelstrom.
THE POD'S ANCIENT SUSPENSORS hummed against the Coriolis howl like a nest of angry wasps. The meteorological vessel bounced on swirling currents of air, a steel-walled balloon. Wind-borne dust scoured the hull.
"This reminds me of the aurora storms I saw on Salusa Secundus," Kynes mused. "Amazing things--very colorful and very dangerous. The hammer-wind can come up from out of nowhere and crush you flat. You wouldn't want to be caught outside."
"I don't want to be outside in this one, either," Liet said.
Stressed inward, one of the side plates buckled; air stole through the breach with a thin shriek. Liet lurched across the deck toward the leak. He'd kept the repair kit and foam sealant close at hand, certain the decrepit pod would rupture. "We are held in the hand of God, and could be crushed at any moment."
"That's what your mother would say," the Planetologist said without looking up from the skeins of information pouring through the recording apparatus into an old datapack. "Look, a gust clocked at eight hundred kilometers per hour!" His voice carried no fear, only excitement. "What a monster storm!"
Liet looked up from the stone-hard sealant he had slathered over the thin crack. The squealing sound of leaking air faded, replaced by a muffled hurricane din.
"If we were outside, this wind would scour the flesh off our bones."
Kynes pursed his lips. "Quite likely true, but you must learn to express yourself objectively and quantitatively. 'Scour the flesh off our bones' is not a phrasing one would include in a report to the Emperor."
The battering wind, the scraping sand, and the roar of the storm reached a crescendo; then, with a burst of pressure inside the survey pod, it all broke into a bubble of silence. Liet blinked, swallowing hard to clear his ears and throat. Intense quiet throbbed in his skull. Through the hull of the creaking vessel, he could still hear Coriolis winds like whispered voices in a nightmare.
"We're in the eye." Glowing with delight, Pardot Kynes stepped away from his instruments. "A sietch at the center of the storm, a refuge where you would least expect it."
Blue static discharges crackled around them, sand and dust rubbing together to generate electromagnetic fields. "I would prefer to be back in the sietch right now," Liet admitted.
The meteorological pod drifted along in the eye, safe and silent after the intense battering of the storm wall. Confined together in the small vessel, the two had a chance to talk, as father and son.
But they didn't....
Ten minutes later they struck the opposite sandstorm wall, thrown back into the insane flow with a glancing blow of the dust-thick winds. Liet stumbled and held on; his father managed to maintain his footing. The vessel's hull vibrated and rattled.
Kynes looked at his controls, at the floor, and then at his son. "I'm not sure what to do about this. The suspensors are"--with a lurch, they began to plunge, as if their safety rope had been severed--"failing."
Liet held himself against an eerie weightlessness as the crippled pod dropped toward the ground, which lay obscured by dusty murk. As they tumbled in the air, the Planetologist continued to work the controls.
The haphazard suspensors sputtered and caught again just before impact. The force from the Holtzman field generator cushioned them enough to absorb the worst of the crash. Then the storm pod slammed into the churned sand, and the Coriolis winds roared overhead like a spice harvester trampling a kangaroo mouse under its treads. A deluge of dust poured down, released from the sky.
Bruised but otherwise unharmed, Pardot and Liet Kynes picked themselves up and stared at each other in the afterglow of adrenaline. The storm headed up and over them, leaving the pod behind....
AFTER WORKING A SANDSNORK out through the clogged vent opening, Liet pumped fresh air into the stale confinement. When he pried open the heavy hatch, a stream of sand fell into the interior, but Liet used a static-foam binder to pack the walls. Using a scoop from his fremkit as well as his bare hands, Liet set to work digging them out.
Pardot Kynes had complete confidence in his son's abilities to rescue them, so he worked in dimness to collate his new weather readings into a single old-style datapack.
Blinking as he pushed himself into the open air like an infant emerging from a womb, Liet stared at the storm-scoured landscape. The desert landscape was reborn: Dunes moved along like a marching herd; familiar landmarks changed; footprints, tents, even small villages erased. The entire basin looked fresh and clean and new.
Covered with pale dust, he scrambled up to more stable sand, where he saw the depression that hid the buried pod. When they'd crashed, the vessel had slammed a crater into the wind-stirred desert surface, just before the passing storm dumped a blanket of sand on top of them.
With Fremen instincts and an inborn sense of direction, Liet was able to determine their approximate position, not far from the South False Wall. He recognized the rock forms, the cliff bands, the peaks and rilles. If the winds had blown them a kilometer farther, the pod would have crashed into the blistering mountains, an ignominious end for the great Planetologist, whom the Fremen revered as their Umma, their prophet.
Liet called down into the hole that marked the buried vessel. "Father, I believe there's a sietch in the nearby cliffs. If we go there, the Fremen can help us dig out the pod."
"Good idea," Kynes answered, his voice muffled. "Go check to make sure. I'll stay here and work. I've... got an idea."
With a sigh, the young man walked across the sand toward the jutting elbows of ocher rock. His steps were without rhythm, so as not to attract one of the great worms: step, drag, pause . . . drag, pause, step-step... drag, step, pause, step....
Liet's comrades at Red Wall Sietch, especially his blood brother Warrick, envied him for all the time he spent with the Planetologist. Umma Kynes had brought a vision of paradise to the desert people--they believed his dream of reawakening Dune, and followed the man.
Without the knowledge of the Harkonnen overlords--who were only on Arrakis to mine the spice, and viewed people only as a resource to be squeezed--Kynes oversaw armies of secret, devoted workers who planted grasses to anchor the mobile dunes; they established groves of cacti and hardy scrub bushes in sheltered canyons, watered by dew-precipitators. In the unexplored south polar regions, Fremen had planted palmaries, which had gained a foothold and now flourished. He had built a lush demonstration project at Plaster Basin that produced flowers, fresh fruit, and dwarf trees.
But though the Planetologist could orchestrate grandiose, world-spanning plans, Liet did not trust his father's common sense enough to leave him alone for long.
The young man went along the ridge until he found subtle blaze marks on the rocks, a jumbled path no outsider would notice, messages in the placement of off-colored stones that promised food and shelter, under the respected al'amyah Travelers' Benediction rules.
With the aid of strong Fremen in the sietch, they could excavate the weather pod and drag it to a hiding place where it would be salvaged or repaired; within an hour, the Fremen would remove all traces and let the desert fall back into brooding silence.
But when he looked back at the crash site, Liet was alarmed to see the battered vessel moving and lurching, already protruding a third of the way out of the sand. With a deep-throated hum, the pod heaved and strained, like a beast of burden caught in a Bela Tegeusan quagmire. But the pulsing suspensors had only enough strength to wrench the vessel upward a few centimeters at a time.
Liet froze when he realized what his father was doing. Suspensors. Out in the open desert!
He ran, tripping and stumbling, an avalanche of powder sand following his footsteps. "Father, stop. Turn them off!" He shouted so loudly that his throat grew raw. With dread in the pit of his stomach, he gazed across the golden ocean of dunes, toward the hellish pit of the faraway Cielago Depression. He scanned for a telltale ripple, the disturbance indicating deep movement....
"Father, come out of there." He skidded to a stop in front of the open hatch as the pod continued to shift back and forth, straining. The suspensor fields thrummed. Grabbing the edge of the doorframe, Liet swung himself through the hatch and dropped inside the weather pod, startling Kynes.
The Planetologist grinned at his son. "It's some sort of automated system--I don't know what controls I bumped into, but this pod just might lift itself out in less than an hour." He turned back to his instruments. "It gave me time to collate all our new data into a single storage--"
Liet grabbed his father by the shoulder and pulled him from the controls. He slammed his hands down on the emergency cutoff switch, and the suspensors faded.
Confused, Kynes tried to protest, but his son urged him toward the open hatch.
"Get out, now! Run as fast as you can toward the rocks."
Liet's nostrils flared in angry exasperation. "Suspensors operate on a Holtzman field, just like shields. You know what happens when you activate a personal shield out in the open sand ?"
"The suspensors are working again?" Kynes blinked, then his eyes lit up as he understood. "Ah! A worm comes."
"A worm always comes. Now run!"
The elder Kynes staggered out of the hatch and dropped to the sand. He recovered his balance and oriented himself in the glaring sun. Seeing the cliff line Liet had indicated, a kilometer away, he trudged off in a jerky, mismatched walk, stepping, sliding, pausing, hopping forward in a complicated dance. The young Fremen dropped out of the hatch and followed along, as they made their way toward the safety of rocks.
Before long, they heard a hissing, rolling sound from behind. Liet glanced over his shoulder, then pushed his father over a dune crest. "Faster. I don't know how much time we'll have." They increased their pace. Pardot stumbled, got back up.
Ripples arrowed across the sands directly toward the half-buried pod. Toward them. Dunes lurched, rolled, then flattened with the inexorable tunneling of a deep worm rising to the surface.
"Run with your very soul!" They sprinted toward the cliffs, crossed a dune crest, slid down, then surged forward again, the soft sand pulling at their feet. Liet's spirits rose when he saw the safety of rocks less than a hundred meters away.
The hissing grew louder as the giant worm picked up speed. The ground beneath their boots trembled.
Finally, Kynes reached the first boulders and clutched them like an anchor, panting and wheezing. Liet pushed him farther, though, onto the slopes, to be sure the monster could not rise from the sand and strike them.
Minutes later, sitting on a ledge, wordless as they sucked hot air through their nostrils to catch their breath, Pardot Kynes and his son stared back to watch a churning whirlpool form around the half-buried weather pod. In the loosening powder, as the viscosity of the stirred sand changed, the pod shifted and began to sink.
The heart of the whirlpool rose up in a cavernous scooped mouth. The desert monster swallowed the offending vessel along with tons of sand, forcing all the debris down into a gullet lined with crystal teeth. The worm sank back into the arid depths, then Liet watched the ripples of its passage, slower now, returning into the empty basin....
In the pounding silence that followed, Pardot Kynes did not look exhilarated from his near brush with death. Instead, he appeared dejected. "We lost all that data." The Planetologist heaved a deep breath. "I could have used our readings to understand those storms better."
Liet reached inside a front pocket of his stillsuit and held up the old-style datapack he had snatched from the pod's instrument panel. "Even while watching out for our lives--I can still pay attention to research."
Kynes beamed with fatherly pride.
Under the desert sun, they hiked up the rugged path to the safety of the sietch.
From the Hardcover edition.