Thursday, October 21, 2021

Sisterhood of Dune

Sisterhood of Dune (Schools of Dune #1)Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson dedicate this first installment of the Great Schools of Dune trilogy to fans of the Duniverse worldwide, and acknowledge various individuals in its production, such as their spouses, publishers, editors, and beta readers. As with other entries of the franchise, fictitious in-universe quotes precede each new chapter, providing good philosophy and making the story seem genuine, espousing things such as geniuses stretching the limits of the human imagination, and giving supplemental history with the belief that although the defeat of the thinking machines was thought to bring peace and prosperity, the real battle only just began.

Sisterhood opens eighty-three years after the end of the Butlerian Jihad covered in the Legends of Dune trilogy that the Battle of Corrin officially terminated, with Faykan Butler adopting the new surname Corrino in honor of the planet, establishing himself as the first Emperor of the new Imperium. Vorian Atreides, hero of the Jihad, has disappeared, blamed by Abulurd Harkonnen for disgracing his family’s name, his clan exiled to the backwater world of Lankiveil. On Rossak, Raquella Berto-Anirul becomes the first Reverend Mother of the titular Sisterhood, and Gilbertus Albans, adopted son of the thinking machine Erasmus, establishes his own school of thought and declares his pupils Mentats.

Meanwhile, the descendants of Aurelius Venport and Norma Cenva build their financial empire of Venport Holdings, and antitechnology fervor spreads through planets of the known galaxy, setting the stage for the official opening of the story, which introduces Manford Torondo, who lost the lower half of his body to an explosion. Valya Harkonnen is also introduced, desiring to become a member of the Sisterhood, which the story reveals believes in eugenics, weeding out “inferior” populations so that the remaining humans can procreate to establish an alleged master race, a movement that once held sway in the early twentieth century before the Nazi’s use of the science deemed it unpopular.

In the meantime, Vorian Atreides wants to fade from history, though the circumstances won’t allow it, and deals with slavers who kidnap children. The current Emperor is Salvador Corrino, whose brother Prince Roderick serves as an advisor of sorts, and whose sister Anna yearns to become part of the Sisterhood as well. The antitechnology movement still holds sway over much of the galaxy, with Butlerians vandalizing memorials composed of former machines. Gilbertus occasionally converses with a sphere holding the memory of his adoptive father Erasmus, and fosters a few prominent pupils such as Draigo Roget.

In the latter portion of the novel, twins seek to assassinate Vor, who also comes to rendezvous with Griffin Harkonnen, who wants vengeance against the Atreides family for the disgrace of his family’s name at the end of the Butlerian Jihad, with an attack on a supposed remaining machine outpost occurring as well. Overall, this is an enjoyable start to the Great Schools of Dune trilogy, and while it does contain occasional pleonasms such as “end result,” it’s still a worthwhile read for diehard series fans, and while this reviewer prefers to start with series from the earliest books in their chronology, even those that haven’t read any entry of the franchise prior can start with Sisterhood.

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