Well here it is the book that either ticked you off or brought relief. Many Frank Herbert and Dune Fans were offended by the conclusion of this book. Yet there were also many that were relieved to see that the many unanswered questions from "Chapterhouse Dune" were finally answered, at least started to be answered. Herbert and Anderson have put the final Dune book which was simply title "Dune 7" into 2 books. The two authors are working from the many notes and highlights left behind when Frank Herbert passed away in 1986.
Okay at this point I should warn anyone reading this that from this point forward there will be spoilers. This will be a review of the book with a bit of discussion as to whether or not the series is continuing in the direction Frank Herbert intended. So if you don't like to know the ending until you read it then you may want to come back to this posting.
First of all let's give a synopsis of what goes on in "Hunters of Dune:"
There are many different plots and subplots going on in this book. In a sense it is a return to the plots within plots and secrets within secrets that Frank Herbert introduced to the reader in the original "Dune" book. Another aspect of this book is that it is filled with lots of excitement and action much like the first book. However one of the many aspects of Frank Herbert's writing compared to the writing of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, is that of the big action scenes. Frank Herbert was a bit like Shakespeare in that the main actions or sometimes death and destruction would happen "off-stage" or better yet, in the reader's mind. Like for example the destruction of the planet Rakis (Arrakis, Dune), this only gets mentioned and the no-ship moves on. However when it comes to Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, especially Anderson, they have to write the action out and fill with all sorts of scenes. In fact that is just what they do in the opening of this book, to give a complete writing of the destruction of Rakis as seen through the ghola memories of Miles Teg. This also explains why the book that was originally called book 7 is now two novels.
The book takes place on several areas and planets in the universe, with the bulk of the action happening within the wandering no-ship, beyond the known universe where "the enemy" is getting ready to attack humankind, the Bene Gesserit home planet, Chapterhouse and Tleilax, the home planet of the extinct Tlielaxu masters and now under the rule of the Honored Matres.
The story as left off in the last book by Frank Herbert is that after the the God Emperor died the Universe was at a standstill with no more spice. Humanity scattered to the far reaches of the universe to find alternatives to the spice and to spread out the home base of humanity. The Honored Matres return to the central universe spreading destruction in their wake. They have two main enemies they wish to destroy. They are the Bene Gesserit and the Tlielaxu Masters. The reason they want to destroy the Bene Gesserit is so they can learn how to adjust their body chemistry to combat the biological weapons thrust at them by the great enemy. They no nothing other than conquer and destroy and diplomacy is not a choice. The reason they destroy the Tlielaxu Masters is because the the Honored Matres are formed from Bene Gesserit and the God Emperor's Fish Speakers and the freed women that were destined to be Tlielaxu Axlotyl tanks. This is how the Tlielaxu create the gholas and the spice substitute, turning the women into tanks for growing life or for chemical processes.
The half Bene Gesserit and half Honored Matre Mother Commander Murbella, is trying to combine the forces of the Bene Gesserit and the Honored Matres in order to destroy the enemy that will soon be coming to destroy humanity. She is met with much resistance from the Honored Matres who feel there is no way to destroy the enemy. Since the Honored Matres are the ones that alerted the enemy of the presence of humanity, they have first hand knowledge. The Honored Matres also have stolen some weapons from the enemy and use these to destroy on their escape across the universe. These "Obliterators" were used to destroy Rakis and are at times used to threaten the Bene Gesserit. Eventually Mother Commander Murbella does destroy the rebel factions of all the Honored Matres and prepares to do battle with the enemy.
In the meantime the escaped no-ship continues to try and find refuge from the war between Honored Matres and Bene Gesserit while at the same time avoiding the tachyon net set out by the enemy to capture the no-ship. The enemy wants the no-ship because the Kwisatz Hadderach is onboard, however we are not let on to know which passenger is this super-being. The ship is populated by Sheanna, the Bene Gesserit that can control the sandworms, The Mentat ghola Duncan Idaho, the Miles Teg ghola, Bene Tlielax Master Scytale, several renegade Bene Gesserit witches and 4 Futars rescued from the Honored Matres on Gammu. The Futars are a mysterious half cat half human being created to hunt and destroy Honored Matres. They are created by Handlers who are later found out to be Tlielaxu Face Dancers. Scytale also holds a great secret. He carries a null entropy tube, containing cells carefully and secretly collected by the Tleilaxu for millennia, including the cells of Tleilaxu Masters, Face Dancers, Paul Atreides, Duke Leto Atreides, Lady Jessica, Chani, Stilgar, Leto Atreides II, Gurney Halleck, Thufir Hawat, and other legendary figures dating back to Serena Butler and Xavier Harkonnen from the Butlerian Jihad. The Bene Gesserit on board the no-ship which has been named the "Ithaca," debate and decide to bring back gholas of Paul, Jessica, Chani, Stilgar, Liet Kynes, Thufir Howat and Leto II. But an attempted assasination on Leto II and a warning from prescience to Sheanna puts a stop to the further growing of gholas.
On Tleilaxu the Face dancer, Khrone working for they mysterious Daniel and Marty, grow gholas of Baron Harkonnen and Paul Maud'dib. This gives Daniel and Marty the backup for a Kwisatz Hadderach in case they can't catch the Ithaca. Yes it turns out that Daniel and Marty are the enemy. Which, and here's the jagged little pill, in turn they turn out to be the Evermind Omnius and The independent Robot Erasmus, who were "defeated" in the Butlerian Jihad.
This brings us to the point that creates a bit of turmoil among Dune fans. Many fans have a hard time accepting that the enemy is robots. But if you look at it this way it may be a little easier to swallow; They are not just robots but thinking machines. The entire Dune universe is based on the idea that there are no computers and that thinking machines were defeated in the Butlerian Jihad. So I ask what better enemy than one that humanity has forgotten and even taken for granted.
Well the entire run of the Dune Univers will be coming to an end in August of 2007 with the release of "Sandworms of Dune" so until then, try not to be mad at Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson. In my opinion they have made the Dune universe more fun and brought it to a point where we, as fans aren't left wondering.