Thursday, July 7, 2022

[Review] - 'Sands of Dune' by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

Other readers have suggested countless times that I should read the science fiction series Dune. I'm sure everyone on Earth has at least heard of Dune or seen the overly-hyped 2021 film adaptation, and they know Dune is a weird story about the fight over "spice" that originates on the desert planet Arrakis (otherwise known as Dune.) I attempted to read Frank Herbert's Dune around 1989 or 1990 after watching 1984's cult adaptation directed by David Lynch but lost interest midway. Maybe there were too many characters and backstories for me to keep up with, or perhaps I was too young for the story. Whatever the reason was, I never took an interest in reading Dune until Denis Villeneuve's remake became a thing. Then I bought one of the newer editions with the movie's poster on the cover. And I've been on page 171 since March 19th. No, I'm not bored with it. It's quite the opposite. I like what I've read so far and intend to finish it by summer's end.  

Now let's talk about Sands of Dune (Tor Books; 176 pages), the newest installment in the ongoing Dune expanded universe co-written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. If you didn't already know, Brian is the son of the late Dune creator Frank Herbert (1920-1986), who teamed up with Kevin J. Anderson in the late 1990s to create prequels to his father's Dune saga. As of this writing, they have published 13 prequels with a 14th, The Heir of Caladan, scheduled for release in October 2022. There are two sequels - Hunters of Dune and Sandworm of Dune, and two short story collections - The Road to Dune and Tales of Dune (ebook).

Sands of Dune consists of four novellas - The Edge of a Crysknife, Blood of the Sardaukar (previously published in the anthology Unfettered III), The Waters of Kanly (previously published in The Road to Dune and the anthology Infinite Stars), and Imperial Court.

The Edge of a Crysknife is set between the prequel novels Navigators of Dune and House Atreides. It's an origin story for Shadout Mapes, a Fedaykin warrior who'll become the head housekeeper in the Imperial Residence when Atreides takes control of Arrakis in 10,191AG.

Blood of the Sardaukar takes place during the events of the original Dune. The story chronicles the life and times of Colonel Bashar Jopati Kolona of the brotherhood of the Sardaukar, the undefeated elite troops of Emperor Shaddam IV.  

The Waters of Kanly also takes place during the events of Dune. The story explores Gunny Hallek's quest to avenge Duke Leto Atreides' death by killing as many Harkonnens as possible. 

Imperial Court is set between Navigators of Dune and The Edge of a Crysknife, ninety-seven years after the Battle of Corrin and the end of the Thinking Machines and nine years after the formation of the Spacing Guild. The story showcases the hatred between House Atreides and House Harkonnen.  

Final Thoughts

If you're new to the world of Dune, I wouldn't recommend beginning with Sands of Dune, which features four random tales set before and during the events of Dune (the original novel, not the fictional planet). You need some basic Dune knowledge before tackling these short stories. Even though I'm roughly a Dune newbie, I know enough to understand this richly deep world and its characters.

The strongest and best story is The Edge of a Crysknife, a love story and an origin tale for Shadout Mapes, a character I'm familiar with from Dune and the two film adaptations. Blood of the Sardaukar is an intriguing look at the life of a Sardaukar. Another returning character, Gunny Hallek, takes center stage in The Waters of Kanly, a tale of revenge. Imperial Court is my least favorite of the four because I know very little about the events before the story. Nevertheless, it's a well-written story that details the blood feud between the Atreides and Harkonnens.   

Overall, Sands of Dune is more or less a companion book for die-hard Dune fans. Are these stories must-reads? Probably no, but they're entertaining little reads that give just enough taste of "spice" to quench your Dune cravings until the next prequel comes out. 

1 comment:

  1. I have to confess that I haven't read any of the prequel novels. I read the original books and loved them up to God Emperor of Dune. After that, they seemed to be less gripping and I lost interest after a bit. I might try the prequels though as I did love the first ones in the series.


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