I am a HUGE sci-fi fan. Having just finished the last book in the original Dune Series, Chapterhouse Dune I can now say without a doubt (not that I ever had any) that Frank Herbert is a phenomenal author and one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time. Not only does he seamlessly intermingle religion, politics, prophecy, technology, laws and governance, genetics, sociology and many many many more profound topics into one flawless epic, his writing style does so in a fashion that astounds. In some ways he is a mystery writer, not in the conventional “murder mystery”, but one such that in each book, the reader is revealed subtle clues as to the plans and plots of various characters, as well as the profound underlying themes and lessons of the books. It is not until the very end of each book, almost always within the last 10-20 pages of the 400+ page volumes, do we finally discover the full plot in all its glory, and often Herbert’s writing allows us to deduce the final conclusions just moments before it is revealed.
Chapterhouse Dune ends with several major cliffhangers. Unfortunately Herbert died before he could complete his saga (why does this always happen to the great authors, conspiracy anyone? ;-) ). His son and another author attempted to finish his works with prequels and finally two sequels wrapping up the original saga, but based on online reviews and past experiences w/ similar situations, I am choosing not to read the followups and leave the questions hanging like so. Overall while each book has its strengths and weaknesses Chapterhouse was one of the better ones, overall places so in the series:
Not that I dislike Children of Dune or anything, it just does not beat any of the others, especially Heretics of Dune whose insanely deep philosophical and political themes combined with an intense action packed conclusion make for one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time. Perhaps this ordering will change on another pass through the series. For now I’m onto a bit of Issac Asimov (who is legendary, but who I’ve never read anything by (beside the profound short story The Last Question - make sure you don’t skip to the end! )) and Orson Scott Card.