Navigators Of Dune: Book Three Of The Schools Of Dune Trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (book review).


‘Navigators Of Dune’ is the third book in ‘The Schools Of Dune Trilogy’ and the 13th prequel to ‘Dune’ by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, so if you’re new to the series, don’t start here. The story begins with new emperor Roderick Corrinno gathering warships to attack Josef Venport’s homeworld in revenge for the killing of the previous emperor, Roderick’s brother, Salvador. Venport controls the Navigators. These are spice evolved monsters whose space-spanning vision is essential to galactic trade. His worst enemy is the anti-technology fanatic Manford Torondo and his Butlerian hordes. He would like peace with the Emperor so they can team up against Manford.

Meanwhile, he sends Cymeks, gigantic warrior machines controlled by Navigator-style brains, to attack the Butlerian stronghold of Lampadas. They nearly get Manford himself but he’s saved by loyal Anari Idaho. The Cymeks are being developed in a Venport controlled laboratory which has also recently acquired the memory core of the evil robot Erasmus, rescued from the Mentat headquarters by Anna Corrinno, the Emperor’s younger sister. She’s madly in love with Erasmus and is delighted when he gets a human body, a ghola of his old pal Gilbertus Albans, founder of the Mentat order.

Elsewhere in the galaxy, evil rotten Valya Harkonnen, now Mother Superior, is ruthlessly cleansing the Bene Gesserit of undesirable elements and plotting the murder of the Atreides clan. She is keen to get on with all of this as fast as possible. Unfortunately, Valya’s beautiful sister, Tula, didn’t enjoy murdering her young Atreides husband in the last book, ‘Memtats Of Dune’, and has rather gone off the idea of mass slaughter, unbeknown to Vorian Atreides who is tracking her down for revenge.

So there’s a lot going on. The book is not short on plot and I don’t want to give it all away. There’s plenty of action and a range of characters but not a very wide range. Good guys are thin on the ground while monomaniacal bad guys and gals are thick underfoot and dominate the story. The only heroes are Vorian Atreides and his great-grandson, Willem.

Reading ‘’Navigators Of Dune’ and its predecessors in the on-going prequels to the classic original is a painless experience. The story trots along nicely and the prose has clarity. The chapters are short and the point of view character switches every time and nearly every time we get a summary of what that character wants and who he hates. The repetition gets a bit tedious but does keep it all clear in your head.

There are odd glitches in the writing. In a scene where the Emperor is talking to Vorian Atreides, it reads ‘Roderick ran a hand through his own hair’. This clarifies that he didn’t run a hand through Vorian’s hair but seems clumsy. Later, we read of ships that will ‘form a formidable defence’. Again, this isn’t terrible but a good editor might have changed one of the words as the sound repetition is odd. All writers make these little mistakes and editors exist to pick them up but more slip through nowadays, even in books from major publishers, as editorial staff are reduced to cut costs. I think the sheer length of modern novels is also a factor. You can’t scan 500 pages as closely as you could 120.

‘Navigators Of Dune’ is a run of the mill space opera that might sell a few thousand copies without that last word linking it to the classic original. As part of a mighty franchise, it climbs the bestseller lists leaving better books in its wake. But it’s not bad and, to be fair, rolls finally along to a gripping climax. If we gave stars, I’d give it three and recommend the whole series for reading on a long slow sub-light speed journey to Alpha Centauri, though I don’t think you’d finish it before you got there.

Eamonn Murphy

December 2017


(pub: TOR/Forge, 2016. 448 page hardback. Price: $27.99 (US), £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-76538-125-5)

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