01/04/2009. Contributed by Rod MacDonald
pub: Macmillan Audio. Price: $49.95 (US). 13 CDs16hrs 30 mins. ISBN: 978-1-4272-0317-5. Read by Euan Morton, Katherine Kelloren, Scott Brick, Simon Vance.
check out website: http://us.macmillan.com/chapterhousedune
We have reached a momentous moment with the publication of 'Chapterhouse Dune' by Frank Herbert as an unabridged audio book by Macmillan! Now all of the six original novels in the series have been transformed into excellent audio presentations.
'Dune', 'Dune Messiah', 'Children Of Dune', 'God Emperor Of Dune', 'Heretics Of Dune' and now 'Chapterhouse Dune'. I've been fortunate enough to have reviewed them all for SFCrowsnest! Being immersed in Frank Herbert's Dune universe from the start to the finish has been a rewarding experience and one that I can recommend to others. With very little interest being available at the banks these days, you can get plenty of interest for yourself, your friends and relatives by purchasing a series that has stood the test of time to become one of the most momentous in Science Fiction history.
Audio presentations seem to get better as the years go on. If you think it's just a matter of a person monotonously dictating a novel, then think again. 'Chapterhouse' contains a visual presentation on how the audio book is put together. Later, when you listen to the book itself, you'll understand the effort that had gone into making it. It's not just a narration, it's a performance of sound! One of the easiest things to do when listening to an audio book is switch it off and realising this, the production team has done its utmost to maintain interest and excitement.
I won't apologise for the effusive praise I've given the 'Dune' series because I think it is deserved. Scott Brick and the others do a really good job but the only way to judge is to listen to it yourself.
Now to the novel. When we finished 'Heretics Of Dune', matters were not going very well for the Bene Gesserit. Arrakis, to give the planet Dune its original name, had been destroyed by the vicious onslaught of the Honored Matres who had conquered everything on their way to dominate the Galaxy. The mother Superior, Darwi Odrade, is trying to save the Order by re-creating Arrakis on another planet, Chapterhouse, which was once green and fertile but is now being turned into a barren desert suitable for sandworms and the production of spice.
Despite the old order having been completely swept aside, the Bene Gesserit wish to return to their previous glory and along with the new spice planet, they are re-creating the old characters from the past. If you've been reading the 'Dune' series you must be familiar with gholas, essentially clones or copies of people masterminded by the now defunct race, the Bene Tleilax. This is my only misgiving about Frank Herbert's series of 'Dune' novels. The dead are brought to life and when characters die, you know their death does not have to be final. The dramatic impact is lost! The advantage is, of course, that you can have all your favourite characters back again.
Miles Teg is re-born to help in the battle against the Matres. The sisterhood also have Duncan Idaho and Murbella within a no-ship, concealed from prying eyes and extra sensory powers. Duncan once again plays a very important part in the proceedings. The story becomes a build-up to the conflict between the Bene Gesserit and the Matres. It is a convoluted build-up full of surprises, twists and turns of the plot.
One of the surprises was the introduction of the Jews who had been in seclusion for 26,000 years. Persecuted over history, they had concealed themselves for self-protection but now they had to make some difficult choices.
At the beginning of the book, you would think there could only be one winner to this contest. The result may not be quite what you expected but the ending is a bit diffuse. Frank Herbert died before he could write any more novels but using his notes, Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson have continued the story. Look out for a somewhat unusual couple introduced at a later stage in 'Chapterhouse' which some people think may be Frank and his wife.
Where do we end? A new Dune complete with its sandworms? However, despite the conclusion there was a menace waiting in the galaxy, a menace they would have to encounter at some point in the future. In truth, there seems no end or beginning to the Dune universe!
This is definitely one to recommend. I would suggest that it is listened to in combination with 'Heretics', the previous book in the series. This is a very good production which does justice to the story and adds extra elements to it. Okay, it may be a bit more expensive than the hardback copy but the experience will live with you for a long time.
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