My first reaction upon finishing Sandworms of Dune was that, unlike Hunters of Dune, it at least it has a plot. In Hunters of Dune, we learned that the Ominous Threat™ is actually the Thinking Machines from the Butlerian Jihad. This reveal came out of nowhere. The struggle between man and machine is a classic sci-fi trope, but it’s not a theme that appeared at the forefront of the Dune saga. In fact, in Dune, it appeared that humanity had solved the problem thousands of years before by replacing computers with Mentats.
I haven’t read Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s Butlerian Jihad trilogy so I’m probably missing some important context. However, requiring readers to have read a prequel trilogy seems like a poor storytelling choice. Sandworms of Dune needed to do more to show me how the “man vs. machine” thread fit into the Dune saga. I fell in love with Dune because of its complex characters and political intrigue, but Sandworms of Dune boils down to yet another struggle between men versus the machines. Evil robots don’t provide many opportunities to explore the themes of religion, charismatic leadership, and corruption that made Frank Herbert’s works so rich with meaning.
Fortunately, in Sandworms of Dune, the gholas have all grown up and actually do something. Unfortunately, most of them don’t do anything particularly interesting. Which brings us back to the original question: why werethese gholas resurrected? Sheeana claims it’s to help the coming battle with the Ominous Threat™. Yet, they seem largely secondary to the conflict. Admittedly, some of the ghouls have some nice character moments. Dr. Wellington Yueh struggles with guilt for betraying Duke Leto in a previous lifetime. He has nothing to do with the larger plot, but his scenes provide us insight into the Yueh, which I appreciated.
Overall, I’m glad Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson wrapped up the Dune saga and gave it a proper end, even if the ending doesn’t live up to hype. It would have been a tragedy if we never learned what happened at the end of this epic saga.
This concludes my journey through the Dune saga… until Denis Villeneuve’s planned film adaptation comes out.