Review of Dune: The Machine Crusade, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
KVM''s review rating: ***** (excellent)
The Machine Crusade continues the Dune prequel trilogy and picks up where the Butlerian Jihad leaves you hanging. We get to know more about the Cymeks and Omnius in this book, and the irascible self-aware robot Erasmus makes regular diabolical appearance.
Tying in more with the original Dune series, we also start to glimpse the formation of the mysterious Spacing Guild with the creation of the Holtzman Effect (though much more on that in the following book), tension between Atreides and Harkonnen (and also their close bonds), the colonization of Arrakis (Dune) by the Zensunni wanderers, sandworm riding, and the founding of the Melange Spice trade.
In fact, there is SO much in this book, it''s hard to keep it all straight. The authors do a wonderful job of constantly tying in the original Dune mythology with new and interesting precursor work. As with the The Butlerian Jihad, it was a pleasure to read this book on its own merits and from the point of view of lifting the veil of the original Dune series genesis.
The extremely interesting and dynamic characters of Vorian Atreides, Xavier Harkonnen, and Serena Butler have aged, and the Great Jihad grinds on, with heavy losses on both sides. A religion has sprouted up around Serena and her brutally machine-murdered child, and free humanity rallies around it to fight the "demon machines." The interplay between Vorian and Seurat, his one-time machine friend before being "freed" of machine and cymek influence, continues to be a melancholy jaunt that fosters memories of classical Greek tragedies.
All in all, The Machine Crusade
is a great sequel in what is really one long narrative through the entire voluminous series (each book is nearly 600 pages long, but WELL worth the reading time).