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God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert
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God Emperor of Dune (original 1981; edition 1982)

by Frank Herbert

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Member:gcoupe
Title:God Emperor of Dune
Authors:Frank Herbert
Info:Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (1982), Paperback
Collections:Your library
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Tags:science fiction

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God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert (1981)

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In the 4th book of the Dune trilogy, Leto II has outlived everyone he knew and seen his way into a new life on Arrakis. 3500 years have passed and Arrakis is now a lush, fertile land, populated by people who only know the stories of when it was covered in deserts. This book doesn't have quite the same tone as the last 3 books had - those books were always looking at different plots from different points of view, and every word spoken or movement made was analyzed by every other character. That is toned down in this book, but although it is interesting to see where the boy-turned-worm emperor has ended up, the plot still moves slowly and there isn't actually a lot of action in this book.
  GretchenLynn | Jun 14, 2016 |
The seemingly immortal God Emperor Leto II has ruled his Empire for more than 3,500 years, his lifespan lengthened due to his decision in Children of Dune to merge his human body with sandtrout, the haploid phase of the giant sandworms of Arrakis. His continued evolution has slowly transformed him, altering his human form into what he calls a "pre-worm." His body has come to resemble a small version of the ancient sandworms of Arrakis — ribbed, elongated, and covered in scaly sandtrout; his face remains, as do his hands and arms, but his legs and feet have atrophied to be of no use whatsoever. He moves from place to place on a large cart of Ixian manufacture that shields him from harming moisture and bodies of water, and it is later revealed that his brain has gradually diffused into the rest of his body, becoming a series of nodes throughout his whole form. The sandtrout skin makes him virtually impervious to harm, even allowing him to survive lasgun fire.

During his long reign, Leto has enforced a state of peace throughout his multigalactic empire, both through tight control of his enormous (but limited) hoard of the spice melange and the military might of his Fish Speaker army. The old Imperium is basically non-existent; the Landsraad has ceased to exist, and only a few remnants of the Great Houses survive. The Bene Gesserit and Spacing Guild have endured, although both have been forced to adapt to Leto's absolute control over melange and his powerful prescience, and CHOAM has been reduced to a shadow of its former self. His reign is considered by many to be depraved and despotic, but he is confident that his actions will ensure the survival of the human race.

Leto battles an incessant struggle with boredom and loneliness that overwhelms him because of his everlasting life, close-to-absolute prescience and loss of humanity which renders him incapable of physical intimacy (and to a lesser extent, the awkwardness of his transformed body); few people realize the burden that he carries as he deems subjects useful as long as they serve a purpose to the "Golden Path" (the end justifying the means). He maintains a small and reclusive system of government, and as God, he chooses not to share the inner workings and purpose of his decisions or any sympathy for his cause, as he knows that humanity wouldn't be able to grasp the concept.

Leto has employed a series of gholas grown from the cells of Duncan Idaho, the faithful Swordmaster of House Atreides. Duncan functions both as the captain of Leto's guard, and as a familiar face to calm Leto in his moments of distress. They remind Leto of his family, and he feels that he owes Duncan for his service and devotion to House Atreides. Over the centuries, a significant number of the gholas have attempted to assassinate Leto through various means after struggling with the conflict between their intense loyalty to House Atreides, and the moral disgust triggered by the repression and stagnation Leto has forced upon the Empire. These feelings, compounded with the uneasy doubt caused by being millennia out of their own time, drives some of the Duncan Idaho gholas insane.

Leto's "Golden Path," as he calls it, is a millennia-spanning attempt to produce a human who is invisible to a watcher gifted with prescience. This breeding plan, begun with the marriage of Leto's twin sister Ghanima to Farad'n Corrino, has resulted in Leto's majordomo Moneo Atreides and his daughter Siona. Moneo has served Leto faithfully for the majority of his life, having been a rebel until he was shown the Golden Path in a test by Leto. Siona is the leader of a group of rebels seeking to overthrow the God Emperor, and locate his hidden hoard of melange. Unbeknownst to Siona, Nayla — her close friend and de facto bodyguard — worships Leto, and is under orders to protect and obey Siona in all things while reporting on her rebellious activities. Although Leto knows the important purpose of Siona, as long as she doesn't serve the "Golden Path" she would be expendable, and he would have to take measures for the breeding paths that he would have to take to replace her.

During a raid on his Citadel, Siona and her friends steal, among other things, a series of excerpts from Leto's private journal. Unknown to them, Leto is aware of their activities and allows them to continue. In perusing some of the items and documents stolen from the Citadel, Siona learns that Leto remains capable of love, and plots to use this as a weapon against him. At the same time, the new Ixian ambassador, Hwi Noree, is sent to the court of the God Emperor. Immediately entranced by her beauty, grace, and purity, Leto begins to be tortured by the knowledge that he and Hwi are separated by his continued transformation. For her part, Hwi desires nothing more than to serve the God Emperor, and she quickly becomes a confidante, finally expressing her love of Leto. The latest incarnation of Duncan is also captivated by Hwi's beauty, but is rebuffed by Leto, who warns that Hwi is his alone.

Because of his intense feelings for Hwi and the fact that she had never appeared in his prescient visions, Leto realizes that she is a trap, trained and sent by the Ixians to weaken him. However, he is unable to send her away, and she gladly accepts his offer to remain. It is revealed that Hwi had been grown inside an Ixian no-room — a device that shields its occupants from prescient view — from cells of a former Ixian ambassador, Malky, who had been a cynical and roguish friend of the God Emperor.

Through discussions with Moneo and Leto, Duncan learns about Leto's transformation, the Fish Speakers, and the oppressive measures Leto takes to maintain his absolute control over the Empire. He begins to grow more agitated and restless, though he continues in his duties, defending the God Emperor from an attack by Tleilaxu Face Dancers. Duncan struggles with feelings of inadequacy, and the confusion and disorientation that result from existing in a time alien to him. Duncan meets Siona, and though the two of them are coldly formal to one another, they eventually unite to kill Leto and end his tyrannical rule over mankind.

Leto and Hwi decide to marry, and lead a wedding procession from Leto's Little Citadel to Tuono Village, where Duncan and Siona have been sent. While crossing the Idaho River, Siona orders Nayla to cut the supports of the bridge with a lasgun, spilling Moneo, Hwi, Leto, and a number of courtiers into the jagged rocks in the canyon below. Nayla obeys, despite her fanaticism toward the God Emperor, believing that the instructions are a test of her loyalty. Leto survives the fall, but is immersed in water, and his body begins to dissolve, just as did the sandworms of ancient Dune. In a final conversation with Siona and Duncan, Leto reveals that Siona is the embodiment of the Golden Path, a human completely shielded from prescient view. He explains that humanity is now free from the domination of oracles, free to scatter throughout the universe, never again to face complete domination. After revealing the location of his secret spice hoard, Leto dies, leaving Duncan and Siona to face the task of managing the empire.

The major themes explored in God Emperor of Dune are the cyclical patterns of human society. Using his ancestral memories, Leto II can recall the tyrannical fashions from Babylon through the Jesuits on ancient Earth, and thus builds an empire existing as a complete nexus encompassing all these methods. The empire differs from the historical tyrants, in that it is deliberately designed to end in destruction, with the hope that humanity will never succumb to such patterns again. Leto II personally explores the emergent effects of civilization, noting that most hierarchical structures are remnants of evolutionary urges toward safety. Thus, by forming a perfectly safe and stable empire, Leto II delivers a message to be felt throughout history.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Didn't like it the first time through in the early 80's. Read it again, and see why I struggled. It's not a quick or easy read, but had some good and thought-provoking parts. I've picked up the 5th book now and will begin it soon, but frankly, if it drags as much as this one, I'll call it quits. I was so in love with the early ones that I find it hard to give up on these.

The whole story probably encompasses a few weeks in time. The only real action happens in the first pages, and from then forward, it's a long series of conversations and personal interactions. Long...

My fingers are crossed for an improved book 5... ( )
  bicyclewriter | Jan 8, 2016 |
The best of the post-Dune series. ( )
  Lukerik | Oct 8, 2015 |
In my opinion, the least interesting of the novels of the Dune Saga.
  turtlesleap | Aug 2, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frank Herbertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
DiFate, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holland, BradCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennington, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siudmak, WojciechCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stuyter, M.K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Webber, Phil H.Author photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
This morning I was born in a yurt at the edge of a horse-plain in a land of a planet which no longer exists.

Tomorrow I will be born someone else in another place. I have not yet chosen. This morning, though - ahhh. this life! 

When my eyes had learned to focus, I looked out at sunshine on trampled grass and I saw vigorous people going about the sweet activities of their lives.

Where ... oh where has all of that vigor gone?

~ The Stolen Journals
Dedication
To
Peggy Rowntree
with love and admiration and deep appreciation
First words
Prologue -

Excerpt from the speech by Hadi Benotto announcing the discoveries at Dar-es-Balat on the planet of Rakis:

It not only is my pleasure to announce to you this morning our discovery of this marvelous storehouse containing, among other things, a monumental collection of manuscripts inscribed on ridulian crystal paper, but I also take pride in giving you our arguments for the authenticity of our discoveries, to tell you why we believe we have uncovered the original journals of Leto II, the God Emperor.
The three people running northward through moon shadows in the Forbidden Forest were strung out along almost half a kilometer.
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AR 5.8, 22 Pts
------------------

Centuries have passed on Dune itself, and the planet is green with life. Leto, the son of Dune's savior, is still alive but far from human, and hte fate of all humanity hangs on his awesome sacrifice ....
-----------------------------
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0441294677, Mass Market Paperback)

Centuries have passed on Dune, and the planet is green with life. Leto, the son of Dune's savior, is still alive but far from human, and the fate of all humanity hangs on his awesome sacrifice...

"Rich fare...heady stuff." --Los Angeles Times

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:23 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Leto II, God Emperor of Dune, trades his humanity for immortality and, as the magnificent sandworm of Dune, desperately attempts to save mankind.

(summary from another edition)

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