I really did. I went into this novel with the most optimistic mindframe possible. Brian's work with the original Dune Prequels (the "House" ones) were really not that bad. I enjoyed them, to some extent, because at least he wasn't messing around too much with the Dune timeline we were familiar with. The "Butlerian Jihad" trilogy was... less impressive. It left a sour taste in my mouth. But nevertheless, I resolved to give "Hunters" a fair chance. I told myself: "I accept Frank Herbert's genius was not passed onto his son. I understand Brian will use a different literary style, with less emphasis on the complex interplay of politics, religion, and philosophy. He'll include a lot of meaningless action scenes and write at a lower level. It won't bother me".
It did bother me. A whole lot. Here why:
The * NO spoiler * parts that sucked
- He's writing for middle school kids. Seriously. The writing style is so simplistic it's insulting to an adult reader. He's basically telling us all we're morons who can't remember what happened 20 pages ago, let alone what happened in previous Dune novels. The result? TONS of unnecesary recap of previous storylines, both Frank's and Brian's. Conversations involving characters who both know the same thing, yet explain it to each other for 5 pages (i.e. the audience is dumb, let's break it down for them). And overuse of the same stupid words over and over. I swear, between his 2 prequel trilogies and "Hunters" he's used the word "esoteric" 156 times. Get a thesaurus!
- The characters are denser than blocks of wood. They're all so stupid it's insane. Remember the incredible intuitive leaps characters like Odrade would make? It almost annoyed me how easily she figured out all of Waff's secrets in "Heretics". She was a genius, easily deciphering the most complex problems with the just faintest hint. The same for Duncan and Teg: both intellectual giants in previous novels. Forget it now. These characters are so dumb they're lucky they don't forget how to breathe. How long does it take Duncan to figure out Teg can move at incredible speeds? 3/4 of the book? "Gee, Teg just disappeared and inexplicably the ship took off, with seemingly no one at the controls... oh wait, Teg is there somehow, even though I left for the bridge before him. And there's still that rumor about Teg moving at super speeds on Gammu... But how to decipher this puzzle? What does it mean? Oh well, guess I'll go mope about Murbella some more and be absolutely worthless". Gah. I almost want them to die.
- Brian just can't resist tooting his own horn by including stupid characters / places from his prequels in the new novel. There is no need for them. You don't need to reference your "additions" to the Dune universe every 2 pages. Just pretend it never happened, and move on.
- Why spend hundreds of pages developing characters when you are just going to kill them off in absolutely meaningless deaths? A major character getting swallowed by a sandworm serves what purpose? None. This isn't real life, it's fiction. If you're going to kill someone important, make it a death that somehow contributes to the plot. Sandworm digestion has lost its novelty by this point.
Now, a few * SPOILER * parts that sucked. STOP READING if you don't want to know the identity of the "SECRET enemy" (heavy on the sarcasm).
- Stupid gholas. Why so many? It's ridiculous. Let's bring back Dr. Yueh, I'm sure he has much more to contribute to the plot. Great idea. Why Brian, why? I can see Frank Herbert POSSIBLY bringing back Paul, or maybe just Gurney and Hawat. But Leto II? That seems a little much. Considering the enormous role he played in the Dune universe, it seems anticlimatic to bring him back again. Besides, Frank always seemed focused on moving humanity forward in an ever evolving metamorphosis. Even Duncan, who has ties to the past, is changed drastically in his various ghola incarnations. To bring all these original Dune characters back seems more like a cheap trick to get the audience involved again, like when a TV drama brings back a character from season 1 who was supposedly dead to get a boost in ratings.
- And, of course, robots. Damn robots. I kept praying throughout the novel "Please don't let the enemy be robots, please don't let the enemy be robots. Let it be super face dancers, or aliens, or gigantic intergalatic jelly fish, or cyborg dinosaurs in a no-death star. Anything but robots." Of course, it was robots, as anyone with a brain who read the prequels could've guessed. Of course, Omnius and the "independant robot" (god I hate that phrase) Eramus were actually Daniel and Marty. The revelation of Daniel as Omnius made me so furious I cursed Brian Herbert with eternal syphilous out loud. Perhaps Frank intended the enemy to be machines. Back in the 1980's, that wasn't such a cliche notion. But after being inundated with movie after movie (Terminator, Matrix, etc.) of the same theme, the last thing I want to read is another "man vs. machine" epic. So how does Brian decide to solve this problem when he first sees his father's secret notes? He goes and writes 3 ENTIRE BOOKS about men fighting machines, then decides to take those same machines and put them in Dune 7 & 8. Sweet. Can't wait to see what tricks the old independant robot and adorable Omnius have in store for us. Maybe Serena Butler (aka the Oracle of Time. Gimme a fricken break) will fly by on her magical wings of prescience and throw esoteric sandworms at Omnius, causing Eramus to slowly lower himself into a pool of magma while giving the "thumbs up" to an onlooking John Connor.
* END OF SPOILER *
There's plenty more to write about here, but I'm too angry / tired to go on. Suffice to say, many hardcore Dune fans will be even angier than me, and most mild fans should be reasonably upset. Will we all read book 8? Almost definetly. We need closure, no matter how terrible. Just be ready for more mindless fight scenes and moronic characters. Damn you Brian Herbert.