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Children of Dune Book Review

Children of Dune Book Review

Children of Dune is the third & final entry in Frank Herbert’s self-styled ‘magnificent Dune trilogy’ (confusingly, he did of course go on to write three more Dune books).

And, for the most part, Children of Dune represents a return to form after the breathtakingly uninteresting Dune Messiah.

A host of exciting characters from the original Dune novel return, whilst new characters such as Paul’s Atreides’s children, Leto II and Ghanima, are surprise highlights.

Meanwhile, the Atreides reign of Arrakis is beginning to wane – their influence spent.

Herbert’s writing style continues to frustrate, however – often getting in the way of what is a decent story.

End of an Era

There’s a sombre undertone to Children of Dune. House Atreides is weary in the absence of its leader Paul Muad’dib, whilst the planet Dune itself has been altered irreversibly from an endless desert to lush greenery.

Liet Kynes’s dream of a Dune full of water, plants, and vitality has come to fruition, but it’s all gone horribly wrong. Dune’s worms are dying, fenced in by the little remaining desert. The all important Spice therefore, is in increasingly short supply.

Meanwhile, the cult of Muad’dib has been corrupted, co-opted by opportunists, merchandise sellers, and other untrustworthy riff-raff. 

Verily, is Children of Dune an end of an era. It’s nostalgic for a long-forgotten past, as the new slowly, reluctantly, erases the old. This ennui permeates through the novel, and it’s a tone that works really well.

Herbert’s third novel also manages to strike a solid balance between its two predecessors.

It succeeds in being an intellectual book (which Dune Messiah largely fails) whilst telling a compelling story not dissimilar to the first book. Leto’s II’s own journey mirrors his father’s, providing some great callbacks to the original novel.

And whilst it’s not perfect, Children of Dune provides a satisfying end to the trilogy, echoing elements of a Shakespearean tragedy.

Herbert's Writing Style Still Frustrates

Herbert is a frustrating writer. 

He’s highly intellectual, clearly, and as a big fan of philosophical novels, I can respect that. But he has a tendency to let esoteric ideas and tyrannical prose get in the way of the story & world-building.

This is a problem for all but the most patient readers.

Vague meandering and extended monologues, continue their tyrannical reign in Herbert’s third novel, which is massively frustrating.

Unfortunately, if you didn’t like the writing style in Dune or Dune Messiah, you’ll have the same difficulties with Children of Dune.

Conclusion

Children of Dune is a solid entry in Herbert’s Dune universe. As ever, it’s thought-provoking and atmospheric.

And yet I can’t help but feel that I like the idea of Dune, more than I like Dune.

The world-building is undeniably excellent, but there’s a fog that settles over the reader of Herbert’s writing. Its vagueness has a tendency to get in the way of the plot. The dialogue is grand, but inauthentic. Motivations are unclear and sometimes illogical.

But one thing Dune cannot be criticised for is its depth. And whilst, at times, Herbert’s trilogy threatens to stumble over its own ambition, its scope has to be commended.

It’s very flawed brilliance.

3/5

Dune Messiah is available at Bookshop.org in paperback and hardback. 

Meet the Blogger Book Tag

Meet the Blogger Book Tag Blog Header
Meet the Blogger Book Tag Blog Header

My thanks to Rebbie Reviews for tagging me in the Meet the Blogger book tag – and to Bibliomavens as the original creator of the tag.

Do check out Rebbie’s answers and consider giving her a follow.

Anyway, here are the all-important rules:

  • Nominated bloggers can nominate ten other bloggers.
  • Use the same questions from the tag.
  • Tag the original creator (Bibliomavens) and the blogger who tagged you

Meet the Blogger Book Tag

Questions

Who is your all-time favourite book character?

"I have no idea what's awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing."

Dr. Bernard Rieux of Albert Camus’s The Plague (which is, coincidentally my favourite book).

Rieux is a doctor caring for people in the Algerian port town of Oran, following the outbreak of a deadly plague.

He’s a rational humanist icon, shunning the various loony factions of Oran proclaiming the plague to be a punishment for their sins, or the plague-deniers we’ve all become quite familiar with during COVID times.

Love this guy. He’s my top boy.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which book would you take with you? (Survival books do not count)

Really simple answer – The Lord of the Rings!

It’s epic, highly re-readable, and beautifully written.

Besides, all of my editions of The Lord of the Rings include the all three books – winning at life!

What’s your most unpopular book opinion?

Super lengthy books (700+) are usually a sign of poor editing, rather than complex writing.

What’s your weirdest bookish habit?

I dog-ear books* so that I can find my favourite passages more easily at a later date.

#SorryNotSorry

* I will never do this to another person’s book – just my own!

What character would you bring to a family event as your fake partner?

Marian Halcombe of The Woman in White, hands down.

She’s witty, gives zero flips, and is one of the strongest female characters in fiction, let alone Victorian literature.

Number one Marian Halcombe fanboy right here.

Check this out 👇

"‘our endurance must end, and our resistance must begin, to-day. That mark is a weapon to strike him with.’"

Marian Halcombe, The Woman in White Share

What made you decide to start a book blog?

In March 2020, I was placed on the UK Government furlough scheme. 

I work in marketing and wanted to work on my digital marketing skills such as running a website, measuring SEO & analytics, and so on.

I spent some time researching hosting, web security, best practices, and all of the behind-the-scenes things and finally launched TfA in early April, 2020.

I used to run a sports blog called Baseline Sport (yep, it’s still live!) whilst I was at university. It gave me the blogging buzz, but I hadn’t done enough research to make a proper success of it.

These days I’m a more accomplished writer, and combining my marketing experience with my love for books – it just made sense!

What about reading and books do you love the most?

Whilst I do enjoy the escapism offered by books, the main thing I look for is perspective.

Experiencing lives I’ll never live… visiting places I’ll likely never visit (especially the fictional ones!), and expose myself to points of view I’d either not considered or do not agree with. 

It keeps you honest.

What is your field of study/desired profession/current profession?

I hold a Master’s in English Literature and now work in marketing as a content marketer! Essentially, this means that I write words that make clever people sound even more clever!

My dream is to work in marketing for the RSPCA or either of the two phenomenal book-related charities; The National Literacy Trust and BookTrust. All three do amazing work – do consider supporting and following them.

What are some book recommendations that became your favourites/obsessions?

Somewhat suspicious of it being ‘a bit too YA’ , I was quite resistant to read The Hunger Games at first, but a friend gave me a copy and I devoured it in one sitting! (The only other book I’ve read in one sitting since The Great Gatsby).

My father-in-law also recommended Andy Weir’s The Martian, and whilst it took me a while to pick up a copy and read it, it’s easily the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read.

What is the book you shove down everyone’s throat?

The Sound Mirror – it’s somewhat of a running joke that myself and author Stu Hennigan are on commission for getting people to buy it (we aren’t!)

It was my 2020 Book of the Year and easily one of the best books I’ve read in years.

Get a copy – I’m not shilling; it’s just genuinely phenomenal.

Even if you haven’t been tagged in this Meet the Blogger Book Tag, feel free to give it a go and post a link to your answers below!

Winter in Tabriz Book Review

Winter in Tabriz Sheila Llewellyn Book Review

Set against the backdrop of the 1978/9 Iranian Revolution, Winter in Tabriz by Sheila Llewllyn is a truly remarkable novel. In fact, it’s a very strong contender for Tales from Absurdia’s 2021 Book of the Year.

Winter in Tabriz is passionate, packed with beautifully written prose, and possesses a gut-punching ennui that lasts for quite some time once the final page has been turned.

Here’s why.

Love and Longing in Tabriz

Winter in Tabriz is one of the most beautifully written novels I’ve read in years.

There’s an unassuming warmth to Llewllyn’s prose that could draw any reader in. It’s like being regaled by an old friend – capturing that trusted and earnest sincerity. Some writers just have that innate ability to transform ink on the page into tangible people and places, and Llewellyn is one of them. 

The four main characters; Damian, Anna, Arash, and Reza are real people with real lives. The reader is privy to their inner lives in a way not not too many writers are able to achieve. We get to know their hopes, fears, loves, anxieties, grief, and political alignments in a manner that gives Winter in Tabriz a strong identity.

You needn’t be familiar with the Iranian Revolution either – Damian and Anna aren’t either. Through their deepening relationships with the Iranian Poet Arash and his older, more streetwise brother Reza, the reader’s world expands in line with their readings of the unfolding political crisis.

The novel is told through an expertly crafted framed narrative – with Damian brooding over the previous few years, alone, in an isolated German village. 

Poring over his own diary entries from his time at university in Berkeley, Anna’s in Oxford, and their collective experiences in Iran, the story knits together in a smart, revelatory manner. It’s a phenomenally immersive way of writing.

How Winter in Tabriz Negotiatates the Complex Politics of Iran

For many years, Iran was run by the Shah – a secular monarchy that moved away from traditional Islamic rule, in favour of more seemingly Western values. It was, regardless, a regime that enforced censorship and brutal policing. 

However, during the 1970s a movement gained momentum to return to a more traditionally Islamic rule of law – with those loyal to the then-exiled Ayatollah Khomeini attempting to bring about enough civil unrest against the Shah, that Khomeini might return to the country and take power.

The subject is far more complex than this, with a huge amount of division between those who identified as Iranian, Persian, and Azerbaijani. But in essence, Iran was largely in two camps, those who remained loyal to the Shah and his allegedly secular politics, and those who wanted to see Iran become an Islamic Republic under Khomeini. 

(Incidentally, Against The Compass has a great list of books on Iranian politics, should you wish to read more about this.)

Anyway, Winter in Tabriz covers the events of the Iranian Revolution through the eyes of two westerner translators, Damian and Anna, who find themselves in Iran in 1978 at the boiling point of the revolution. Damian through love, and Anna on a journey of emotional exorcism following a death in the family.

Thankfully, the novel doesn’t exaggerate for the reader’s consumption – Winter in Tabriz is a novel about the everyday. Sometimes, it’s simply about how four people in lockdown amidst civil disorder are able to negotiate the conflict simply to acquire food and drink whilst people are rioting in the streets. 

But it’s more meaningful than this too. Llewellyn’s novel is cartographic in its construction. The streets of Tabriz are lovingly detailed, from the university to the bazaar – the city’s hub of cultural and economic exchange.

It’s a remarkable journey, and a highly educational one at that.

Conclusion

The amount of research that has gone into this novel – which Llewellyn reveals in the appendices – is simply staggering. Llewellyn even draws upon her own experiences as a Westerner abroad in Iran during this exact period. 

And it shows – this is a novel that is highly authentic. It rewards its reader with a rich understanding of the cultural politics of a nation. 

It is, in a single word, remarkable.

Seriously – do not sleep on this book. It’s fantastic.

5/5

Winter in Tabriz is published by Sceptre Books and is available at Bookshop.org in paperback and hardback. 

Full disclaimer: A review copy was kindly provided by the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review.