Thursday, January 5, 2023

[Review]—"Dune: The Lady of Caladan" is a Powerful Yet Repetitious Prequel-Sequel

The Caladan Trilogy, the most recent Dune prequels written by Frank Herbert's son, Brian, and New York Times bestselling science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson, has left me wondering: Is having a ton of prequels and sequels based on a deceased author's works necessary?

Even though I may be new to the Dune universe, I am aware that many ardent fans think the series concluded with Frank Herbert's final book, Chapterhouse: Dune, first published in 1985. Others, on the other hand, eagerly anticipate each new prequel, side sequel, or sequel. I have yet to decide which group I belong to, but in the meanwhile, I've been enjoying reading the Caladan Trilogy.  

Dune: The Lady of Caladan starts up immediately after the events of Dune: The Duke of Caladan (see my review here). Lady Jessica, the consort of Duke Leto Atreides and mother of Paul, has been called back to Wallach IX, where the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood is imprisoning her. After the death of Lethea, a former Kwizatz Mother, Lady Jessica gets assigned to be the concubine of Viscount Tool on Elegy, with strict orders to convince Tool to fund the Sisterhood. 

Meanwhile, Duke Leto Atreides goes on a political quest to become more influential in the Imperium. He has to deal with duels and marriage arrangements; everyone wants to set him up with someone's daughter. The sisterhood even sent him a new concubine, Lady Zora. Then there's the whole subplot about Baron Vladimir Harkonnen stockpiling an enormous amount of spice, which sets up events that will take place in the original Dune novel.  

The novel isn't nearly as fantastic as The Duke of Caladan, but it's better than the one-star ratings from other readers. Repetitiveness is an issue in the first half when the authors felt it was crucial to rehash the story aspects from the first book for whatever reason, and these sections are unnecessarily worded. The narrative (and tempo) build up in the second half, laying the groundwork for the third novel—leading to the original Dune. ╌★★★✰✰

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