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God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert

God Emperor of Dune (1981)

by Frank Herbert

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Dune (4), Dune Saga (18), Dune: complete chronology (13)

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8,39458655 (3.66)92
Leto II, God Emperor of Dune, trades his humanity for immortality and, as the magnificent sandworm of Dune, desperately attempts to save humankind.



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» See also 92 mentions

English (55)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (58)
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
This is astonishing and heady literary science fiction! ( )
  Kharisma1980 | May 5, 2020 |
I should have stopped after the third book. The majority of this book is explaining what we've already been told in the first three books. Why bother? ( )
  Philthy | Jan 9, 2020 |
3,500 years after the end of the third book in the series, God Emperor of Dune shows us the (very long) continuing reign of Leto II -- son of Paul Atreides / part-man, part-sandworm / ruler and deity for the known universe. Leto is, to be honest, a little bored. He passes the time by noticing changes in his ever-evolving body, dipping into his ancestral memories, setting up a complicated breeding program to improve the Atreides line, keeping a *very* close eye on the universe, and getting some techies on another planet to create clones of his number one fave from the old days, Duncan Idaho. The problem is that what makes Duncan so great (his impetuousness, constant questioning, irresistible sexuality, and knowledge of the past world of Dune) also make him a bit of a liability, and Leto has to keep killing his Duncans. This very long game is all, of course, in service of the Golden Path -- a way through the complete annihilation of life in the universe foreseen by both Leto and his father. Leto's solution, as revealed in his secret journals, appears to be making the people of the universe so irritated and antsy for some personal freedom and creative control that after he is gone they won't turn to another despot / spiritual leader.

The finale on this one is pretty great, but after a bit, the reader becomes just as bored as Leto about his philosophizing and cute references to ancient Earth history. This one also continues Herbert's well-meaning but rankling exoticism of Arab and Asian cultures, and adds in some kind of weird ideas on female sexuality to boot. Still, this is a worthy and interesting continuation of this series, and I'm in so deep that I'm looking forward to books 5 and 6 to see what these crazy Atreides do next (and I hope the sandworms come back). ( )
1 vote kristykay22 | Dec 31, 2019 |
Frank Herbert’s God Emperor of Dune picks up 3,500 years after the events of Children of Dune, with Leto II Atreides now a massive human-sandworm hybrid ruling over the Empire as its God Emperor. He underwent the bodily transformation to create a period of enforced peace that would preserve humanity and redirect its worst impulses. Further, he took control of the Bene Gesserit breeding program, managing the various descendants of his sister Ghanima Atreides and Farad’n Corrino (Harq al-Ada). Further, ecological changes have turned Dune into a lush planet, with only a small area set aside for desert. The worms no longer exist and Leto controls the various factions within the Empire by carefully doling out spice from his private hoard.

Herbert uses this fourth book in the Dune series to debate the nature of rulers, religion, and historical memory. He writes, “The Romans broadcast the pharonic disease like grain farmers scattering the seeds of next season’s harvest – Caesars, Kaisers, tsars, imperators, caseris … palatos … damned pharaohs!... We are myth-killers, you and I, Moneo. That’s the dream we share. I assure you from a God’s Olympian perch that government is a shared myth. When the myth dies, the government dies” (pg. 49). Building on this, Herbert continues through debate between Leto and his majordomo, Moneo, “Throughout our history… the most potent use of words has been to round out some transcendental event, giving that event a place in the accepted chronicles, explaining the event in such a way that ever afterward we can use those words and say: ‘this is what it meant.’ …That’s how events get lost in history” (pg. 265). Additionally, Leto says, “‘The ultimate aristocrat dies within me.’ And he thought: Privilege becomes arrogance. Arrogance promotes injustice. The seeds of ruin blossom” (pg. 272). In terms of religion, Herbert writes, “‘Religious institutions perpetuate a mortal master-servant relationship,’ Leto said. ‘They create an arena which attracts prideful human power-seekers with all of their nearsighted prejudices!’” (pg. 302).

Leto has the same powers of prescience as his father, Paul Muad’Dib Atreides, and he comments on those who would attempt to shape the future, “Most believe that a satisfactory future requires a return to an idealized past, a past which never in fact existed” (pg. 380). In the future, the only “Fremen” who remain are those who attempt to copy the rituals of the ancient people without the context or meaning. Leto says, “These Fremen do not know what is lost from their lives. They think they keep the essence of the old ways. This is a failure of all museums. Something fades; it dries out of the exhibits and is gone. The people who administer the museum and the people who come to bend over the cases and stare – few of them sense this missing thing. It drove the engine of life in earlier times. When the life is gone, it is gone” (pg. 401).

In terms of this book’s place in the Dune mythos, Herbert returns to the theme of the Butlerian Jihad and its prohibitions against advanced technology and artificial intelligence, especially as Leto uses tech from Ix and must negotiate the delicate balance of powers between the Ixians, who are working with the Spacing Guild to develop an artificial substitute for the spice-derived abilities of the navigators, and the Bene Gesserit, who maintain the old proscriptions against advanced technology (pg. 175). Further, the Chapter House of the Bene Gesserit Order first appears and their name will later inspire the title of the sixth book (pg. 76).

Fans of the Dune series will find more of Herbert’s ideas on full display here and the change in time keeps the series fresh while further expanding on its message and meaning. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Aug 26, 2019 |
An unusual book, a relief in some ways after the horrors that came before it; there are horrors in here of course (not the good ones, or even those found in drafty corridors, flickering lamps, and inescapable dampness, but the common horror of being trapped in a story with hundreds and hundreds of pages to go) but Herbert's style and tone have shifted here so that the book isn't banging its head against the immensity of 'Dune'. Leto II, robbed of humanity through his sandworm transformation, and his dignity with each mention of the "Royal Cart", has given into the destiny his father spent two scattered sequels avoiding. He will preserve humanity from stagnation and dissolution, even though humanity really, really hates its medicine.

There was a lot of odd stuff in here though. Leto II, possessing all the memories of all of his family line makes grand, sweeping statements about humanity, religion, sexuality (don't even get me started), politics, war, (let's be brief -- everything) with all the confidence of a philosophy major, and with as much concision and accuracy. The guy loves the sound of his voice(s).

We get introduced to several interesting subplots, but they all peter-out 'offscreen' so to better focus ourselves on Leto's activities, which include pontification, making knowing remarks, being bored, and fucking with the heads of the few people who get near him. I mean near as in 'close proximity', however much he seems to fawn over Hwi I wasn't really convinced. She was a yes-girl with a pretty face (so hot).

But in the face of all that, this was immensely more readable than 'Children of Dune'. Even as I criticized and harrumphed, I kept turning pages. I have no plans of reading further in the series, I'll leave on what high notes are left.


Next: 'Heretics of Dune'

Previous: 'Children of Dune' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frank Herbertprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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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
Peggy Rowntree
with love and admiration and deep appreciation
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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 ....
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