Where do I begin. Well I liked dune, although the book could be a bit slow at times I really did like the story. The fall of the house Atreides, the political schemes and the conflicts made for an epic story. All characters had their flaws and their problems but most of all they were human. I especially loved the books Baron Harkonnen who made for a good villain because Herbert gave him narrative, compared to the films cartoon villain which was nothing more than retarded.
Then 12 years after Paul overthrows the emperor and starts the Jihad with the Fremen the book Dune Messiah starts. It starts off with the plot to kill Paul who is now emperor of the universe and seen by the common folk as a diety due to his power of prescience. I loved this plot because of those involved; the Guild, the Tleilax, the outcast Revenant Mother (who Paul let live), the Facedancer. All wanting to overthrow Paul's empire and take back control over the Spice. This makes sense because if they can prove Paul is only a mortal, the empire which is build upon his godhood would crumble and allow other players to take it for their own. It is a well constructed plot that promises and interesting story. Especially the method through which they were going to try and take down Paul, through the reanimated corpse (or ghola) of Duncan Idaho. Paul ofcourse realizing it could be a trap as it was brought forth by the ambassadors of the Guild and the Tleilax but he accepted the gift because he hoped something of Duncan Idaho remained in there. Who was very dear to him as the first novel established.
The plot also involves Paul trying to produce an offspring with Chani, which is sabotaged by Princess Irulan feeding Chani contraceptives. Paul starts getting visions of a falling moon and at some point in the novel Chani switches to an old Fremen diet which should help her conceive. This of course leads to Paul being able to impregnate Chani, which he has seen would lead to her death.
Then for some reason the main plot is kind of cast out to make way for Paul to wander around the city, wonder why millions make the pilgrimage to Dune and try and guess how his empire really works. What bothers me about all this is that this empire is twelve years into the making and that he only now starts to realized how it is structured, at least that is what I guess because he makes the simple principals of his leadership and his political agenda sound like revelations. For me it breaks the flow of the book, the plot line is broken off for pages upon pages of Paul explaining these things to himself. What bothered me mostly is the part of the book when Alia is picked up by Duncan Idaho the Ghola and he has to explain the basic principles of a religion to her in a fashion that made me cringe. It is not necessarily because she wouldn't be able to understand his herself because she is seen as a major part in this religion. No it is the fact that she needs Duncan Idaho to explain it to her, whilst she inhibits the memories of her mother and all the Reverend Mothers before her. In my view those two just collide and it leaves for a totally unbelievable scene. This also applies to Paul when he realizes what the foundation of his Empire entails. Did he not learn any political lesson from his father Leto or Duncan Idaho? Did they never discuss how the Guild, House Corrino and Bene Gerresit had their grip upon the universe.
This entire mess makes me feel as if the main characters forgotten their heritage and how they came to build their empire. The idea is good, Herbert wanted to turn Paul from the hero into an anti-hero through his pompous and arrogant behaviour. But the way he flips Paul's character leaves him of all credibility and makes him nothing more but a whiny little bitch who gets his way because he just happens to rule the Known universe. The fact that this part of the book almost occupies 1/3 of the entire novel makes me severely dislike it. And not because I don't like anti-heroes or stories of political intrigue. No, Paul Atreides has no relation to his past other than his name in the novel and he has become and entire person completely. I found him to be not interesting or relateable at all and this just killed the book for me.
And that is what makes it for me fall flat on it's face, the novel ends with Paul executing the conspirators and vanishing into the desert after Chani dies during childbirth and delivers him twins. Being unable to live without his moon.
Where Dune describes the heroes journey of Paul becoming the leader of the Fremen to topple the other houses, Dune Messiah supposedly describes his own downfall and the rise of his empire. But it portraits Paul and Allia's character so poorly that I couldn't help but dislike them all the way through. Which would have worked if the story was being told through the Conspirators or those close to Paul, but not Paul himself. Like Duncan Idaho, Stilgar and Irulan.
What makes me sad is that the book unfolded this way, as I really did enjoy the first novel and I now have no desire to read the other books that Herbert wrote in this universe.
Maybe I am missed something or maybe I am drawing bad conclusion, but to me it felt as if it abandoned certain connections to the original universe portrayed in Dune.