Heretics of Dune
by Frank Herbert
Produced by Macmillan Audio
Read by Simon Vance
What makes the original Dune series by Frank Herbert a classic in all science fiction is the fact that Frank Herbert created not only a story, but several religions, cultures and conflicts. Every book in the series works around the politics of these and yet still has something to say about today's society (no matter when that "today" is).
This audiobook production is read by Simon Vance. His reading not only keeps the listener in the complicated and twisting storyline but his vocal qualities create great characterizations that at times the production seems like a multicast recording.
The Heretics of Dune presents another view in the "Duneverse" this time exploring the meaning and purpose behind the emotion (and all that goes with it) of love. The heresy, which all the heretics presented in this book are guilty of, is Love. The Bene Gesserit have a breeding program in which the genetic line of the Atreides is preserved. No Bene Gesserit witch is allowed to fall in love. After all that is what Lady Jessica did in the original novel, and that created a Kwisatz Haderach, a being that could be in all places at once, and later the tyrant, God Emperor, Leto II.
The book takes place 1,500 years after the reign of Leto II. Arrakis, Dune has returned to being the desert planet, thanks to the sandtrout of Leto II's destruction bringing back the sandworms from extinction. The planet is now called Rakis. Another planet of note, Geidi Prime, former homeworld for House Harkonnen is now known as Gammu.
The empire fell into chaos before the return of the sandworms, due to the scarcity of spice. This created the "Scattering" in which many of the population sought the extreme edges of the universe to find other sources of spice or to expand the location of humanity. As the books opens many people have returned and have changed. There is a new force to deal with, the Honored Matres, they are very similar to the Bene Gesserit but the Matres use sex as a weapon and force of rule. The Bene Gesserit and Bene Tleilax see this as threat and somewhat team up to fight these Honored Matres.
The Bene Gesserit have been using gholas of Duncan Idaho through the years but the Tleilaxu always assassinate the ghola. A ghola is a clone that is capable of full memory of their past self. This time will be different, the Bene Gesserit have a plan. But, as it seems so do the Tleilaxu. They have "programmed" the ghola to kill the Bene Gesserit "imprinter" that tries to imprint him to guarantee his loyalty to the Bene Gesserit.
In the meantime on Rakis, a child is discovered by the priests that can control the sandworms. The Bene Gesserit hear of this and immediately take over Rakis, in order to make the child, Sheeana, a Reverend Mother, and maybe to breed with the Duncan ghola.
The Honored Matres also find this out and seek to destroy the ghola and the girl and Rakis. So with many battles to ensue we are introduced to a retired Bashar, Teg, who is brought out of retirement to not only guard the ghola but to awaken his memories due to Teg being the exact likeness of Duke Leto I. After awakening the ghola Teg, Reverend Mother Lucilla, who was supposed to imprint Duncan before the awakening, and Duncan are discovered on Gammu and have to go underground to get to Rakis. Teg is captured and tortured by the Honored Matres but during the torture some strange powers are awakened in him. He is able to speed his body and mind outside the normal flow of time, and able to destroy all occupants in a Honored Matres stronghouse. He then steals a no-ship (which is a ship undetectable by all, including prescience vision) and takes Lucilla and Duncan to Rakis.
With many plots entangled into one final outcome this book is yet another great representation of the "Duneverse" created by Frank Herbert.