2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intricate plot lines, gripping action, but VIOLENT
First of all, I think Amazon made a mistake listing this cassette edition as being read by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. It's actually read by Tim Curry, as was Dune: House Atreides.
I disagree with the other reviewers. I thought Dune: House Harkonnen was extremely well done. Especially Tim Curry's reading. When I first started listening to Dune: House...
Published on Oct. 16 2000 by Just Bill
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect Frank Herbert in this volume
I gave this book two stars based on its own merits plus one for the attempt. In all fairness, I don’t think anyone could continue Frank Herbert’s work with his expertise, and I’m impressed that someone tried. Were I to compare this with Frank Herbert’s work it would receive half a star. This was a quick, easy read that provided entertainment for a...
Published on May 17 2001 by Walk Softly
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intricate plot lines, gripping action, but VIOLENT,
This review is from: Dune: House Harkonnen (Audio Cassette)First of all, I think Amazon made a mistake listing this cassette edition as being read by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. It's actually read by Tim Curry, as was Dune: House Atreides.
I disagree with the other reviewers. I thought Dune: House Harkonnen was extremely well done. Especially Tim Curry's reading. When I first started listening to Dune: House Atreides, I wasn't sure Curry was a wise choice as reader. (I kept picturing him in Rocky Horror Picture Show, or comedic movies such as Clue.) But his characterizations grew on me...so much so that I was eager to hear this latest installment in the Dune prequel trilogy.
Curry reads with gusto, obviously hitting his stride and feeling more comfortable with the characters. It was a pleasure listening to him. (I particularly enjoyed his humming and irritating portrayal of Hasimir Fenring...or the menacing growl that is Baron Harkonnen...or the belly-laugh, slap-you-on-the-back personality of the exiled ruler of IX, the elder Vernius.)
As far as the book itself goes, House Harkonnen is a dark, violent and often disturbing tale that reveals just how evil the Harkonnens are. At times, I stepped out of my car (where I do all my audio book listening as I drive) feeling depressed after a particularly sadistic scene. But I clung to every word, eagerly awaiting the next time I'd take a drive so I could discover what happens next.
True, House Harkonnen (or House Atreides, for that matter) doesn't have the depth and density of Frank Herbert's original work, but is that really so bad? Just as there's only one C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Ray Bradbury, there's only one Frank Herbert. But that doesn't mean Brian Herbert is doing his father a disservice. On the contrary, I think Frank would be proud of his son's efforts to tell a good tale and provide background that many have wondered about over the years.
House Harkonnen offers many plot twists, sub plots and interweaving plot lines that require the listener to pay attention, but the pay off is worth it. The point of view often shifts from planet to planet and from character to character, unraveling (or weaving together as the case may be) plot threads in clever ways...all masterfully leading toward the culmination of the original Dune.
One reviewer said there's nothing in Dune about Leto's son Victor. Granted, but the existence of Victor explains why Jessica felt moved by love to bear Leto a son. Nothing short of the events surrounding Victor would have made Jessica betray her Bene Gesserit mandate to bear a girl.
Another reviewer said House Harkonnen isn't "really about anything." Not true. It reveals how and why Duke Leto Atreides got to be the man he was in Dune. It reveals why Baron Harkonnen's condition worsened without a cure. It reveals how Raban got his nickname "The Beast." (Trust me; it was a much-deserved name.) It reveals where Feyd-Rautha came from. (I keep picturing Sting as Feyd in the movie version.) It reveals the intricate plots within plots of the Bene Gesserit. It reveals the many schemes afoot among the Great Houses, and why Duke Leto was so protective of his son Paul. It reveals the origin of Gurney Halleck and how he and Duncan Idaho met and why they were so loyal to House Atreides later on.
In short, House Harkonnen is "about" many things that interested me.
Frankly, I'm surprised the reviewers weren't more kind. I thought Dune: House Harkonnen was a captivating (if often sordid) tale that kept me listening right through to the end. On one hand, knowing the end result (like what happens to everyone in Frank's original Dune) took some of the surprise away from House Harkonnen. Yet, other times knowing the end result made me think, "So THAT'S how that came about."
I was impressed with the complexity and bravado of House Harkonnen, but didn't give it five stars because I thought a few of the plot lines were overly contrived...and a few of the violent scenes were gratuitous. Can the Harkonnens truly be that evil? Would Raban really kill his own...? (You'll have to read the book to find out!)
I can't wait for the third installment...and hope Tim Curry reads that one as well.
4.0 out of 5 stars different brand of Dune,
I found both House Atriedes and Harkonnen books to be relatively interesting and fast paced. Its pretty obvious that they were not written by Frank Herbert so why are so many people whining about it. The new series appears to be written in totally different style. But I thought it was pretty well written. There are four different plot lines, Duke Leto's, events on Giedi Prime and House Harkonnen, events on Dune and events with the House Corrino. And of course, them little sisters of the poor. But the book was never confusing and the authors managed to intergrate all the plotlines very nicely. You have to read each book in order to get the most out of them but overall, its an entertaining reading material. Nothing serious and nothing really deep.
If someone wrote a spin off series on Middle Earth and people whine that he doesn't write like JRR Tolkien, is there any logic to that? There is only one JRR Tolkien and sadly, there is only one Frank Herbert. I think this series have to judge on its own merit and not on the merit of the original series.
2.0 out of 5 stars If only there were a Ghola Frank Herbert!,
I won't detail all of the failings of the narrative - the inconsistencies with the original series, the sometimes absurd plot development, the gaping holes and internal inconsistencies in the story. Other reviewers have dealt with these at some length.
My biggest beef with these three books - all of them - is how poorly written they are (especially "House Corinno"). One would have hoped that more of Frank Herbert's literary ability would have found its way into his son's genes than apparently did. (Call the Bene Gesserit, quick! We need a new breeding program here!) The dialogue is often stilted, the character development shallow, and the structure fragmented, episodic and jerky. In contrast to Frank Herbert's elegant, even serene construction, Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson have unfortunately adopted the hyperactive "jump-around" style so beloved of today's writers of second-rate entertainment fiction.
Most disappointing to me was the shallowness of these new books. Frank Herbert's "Dune" books were books of IDEAS more than books about events and action. A great deal of their narrative was occupied with people's THOUGHTS, at least as much as with their actions. Brian Herbert's & Kevin Anderson's books, by contrast, are almost entirely devoid of thought, ideas or philosophy and are entirely preoccupied with who is doing what. At best, this makes their books entertaining, something with which to while away the hours. But they are simply not in the same league with the original Dune books. For the newcomer to the world of Dune, moving from "House Corinno" to "Dune" will be like moving from Harold Robbins to Steinbeck or Hemmingway.
Reading my way through these three books, I frequently found myself wishing that one of the Tleilaxu had been around when Frank Herbert died, to grow a Ghola Herbert in their axolotl tanks. These prequels might have really been something in the hands of a gifted writer.
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect Frank Herbert in this volume,
This review is from: Dune: House Harkonnen (Hardcover)I gave this book two stars based on its own merits plus one for the attempt. In all fairness, I don’t think anyone could continue Frank Herbert’s work with his expertise, and I’m impressed that someone tried. Were I to compare this with Frank Herbert’s work it would receive half a star. This was a quick, easy read that provided entertainment for a few hours and let me again enjoy the world of Caladan, Dune and the Atreides dukedom.
Unfortunately, the characters were shallow and the short chapters, which bounced from subplot to subplot (in fact, I don’t think there really was a plot, just lots of subplots), became tedious. Some themes, such as Duke Leto’s concubine’s disgruntlement with her status and plotting for marriage so she could be a duke’s wife and attend high court functions in full regal costume and ensure her son the dukedom (breath) were [not very good]. C’tair’s efforts to free the planet Ix from the Tleilaxu were irrelevant. I mean, who cares about Ix? The Harkonnens were well represented as a disgusting house of animals but lacked the scheming trickery for which the Baron is so well known.
I did not find the depth, political maneuvering, and religious genius here that Frank Herbert gave us. With Herbert’s books my mind was able to see everything he wrote; but with this book it was often just words and no internal pictures. There are too many discrepancies in characters and times between this book and Frank’s books.
Please, if you intend on reading Frank Herbert’s Dune series, start with Dune. Let Frank fill your mind with pictures and let him show you the harsh world of Dune and the honorable Fremen people and especially the ever-conniving Bene Gesserit. You’ll better understand the Atreides power at acquiring loyalty. Don’t go into Frank Herbert’s books with the characterizations given by this book. Come back to this later, if you like.
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than House Atreides,
This review is from: Dune: House Harkonnen (Hardcover)I loved the last book, but this one packs an even greater emotional punch. The authors are definitely making the Dune universe both complex and personal.
This book gives some insight into some of the events that made Leto Atreides what he was up to the time he met Jessica. The family of Harkonnens (the book follows both good and bad ones) gains depth.
Tragedy weighs heavily toward the end of the book, but it left me wanting to know what comes next.
2.0 out of 5 stars if you're going to write a prequel, keep your plot straight!,
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reading,
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps it moving,
2.0 out of 5 stars Chapter after chapter of nothing,
Question number two: How many repetitive, meaningless phrases can you think of? Here are a few of my favorites that get over used in this book: "the room smelled of lubricants and chemicals," "the tart coolness of the cidrit juice," "an archipelago of rocks," (wait an archipelago is a series of small islands...I guess it's better not to ask), "the oily liquid." It gets even better when you are continually reminded of people thinking and talking about their "plans within plans" and "tricks within tricks" and "wheels within wheels" and "plots within plots" I don't want to read dialogue where people say that they are clever, I want them to be clever. Oh, here's an original and clever description of a fat man direct from the book: "the roly-poly appearance." Let's not forget the timeless passages that put us in mind of a future more than 10,000 years from today, where they will still use lovely phrases like "jury-rigged systems."
Question number three: What are some of the silliest things you can think of? How about raseals, clabsters, whale fur, or an elecran (a water/electricity elemental)?
Question number four: How well can you represent diversity? Here we get to see each diverse culture simplified down to one export: whale fur, spice; or one biome: forests, swamps, desert, ocean, islands. Arrakis has been purported to be a oddity in the universe, having a most extreme and individual climate. Might we safely assume that every other world could spawn at least half as much diversity as our earth?
Herbert junior and Anderson are trying too hard to give us as many new and different exotic worlds that the entire book (and the prequel cycle) loses its focus, and is especially lacking in the core of the story because, well there is no core of the story. The book is like layers of an onion, and you can peel back layer after layer, but what you are left with when you get to the last layer is nothing.
The characters lack any real personality. They all continuously talk about the same things. Every thought, decision, or concern either involves a reference to the "thinking machines" and "the Butlerian Jihad" or refers to the "dirty Tleilaxu" or revolves around "the Bene Gesserit witches" and "their damnable breeding programs." All the main characters seem to have much the same opinions about these and other metaphysical issues that you would be amazed that they are supposed to be in conflict with each other. Sure they take different courses of action (the Harkonnens kill for pleasure, the Atreides try to make choices that reflect an honor bound system) but they all have they same opinions about the greater universe at large, and there is no uniqueness among them that can be attributable to varying cultures. Even the Fremen seem to have a much wider grasp on the workings of the entire Imperium than was ever suggested in the first three Dune books of Frank Herbert. If everyone knows everything, where is the conflict?
It's a joke the way they describe how Rabban began to be called "Beast Rabban" and just as trivial to learn how Leto would first be called "Leto the Just."
Again, as with their other two books I have reviewed, they rush through every scene, every event, every important moment, and everything becomes snippets of the real meat, and we never get any real meat.
Look at the specificity of this quote: "He applied chemicals to his face and hands to leach the remaining color from his already pale flesh, and smeared wrinkling substances on his face to give himself the gray-skinned, shriveled appearance of a Tleilaxu overlord." Couldn't they do a little research and find a more specific agent that would make your face turn gray/pale? Nope...let's just call them chemicals...and "wrinkling substances" to make your skin wrinkle...as if it would have an immediate effect anyway...when you read lines like this, you realize just how amateur these writers are...
There is also no continuity from chapter to chapter. They can't even remember what they wrote previously and we get more repetition where we don't need it. The first time we come to Dominic Vernius' hiding hole, it is described with rugs strewn about to make it feel more like home. Three years later we are back in the same place, and the writers feel compelled to write that it "is strewn with rugs to make it feel more like home."
Frank Herbert originally intended to write Dune as an ecological treatise based upon the character of Pardot Kynes. When he realized that he didn't have a compelling story, he approached the issue from a different angle and we got Dune. These two writers should have realized that if Frank didn't want to write these prequels because there was no core conflict, then they either should have avoided the subject like the plague, or they should have created a core conflict. Instead they have given us many short and rather meaningless conflicts, conflicts that do more to dilute and distort the Dune universe than enhance it. Chapter after chapter of nothing...little bits and pieces of little meaningless events. There is no grand arc to the story, no grand scheme to any of the writing.
Question number five: Why should you read this book? Well, if your life has no purpose and you just want to fill it up with meaningless drivel, here are 700+ pages of it. Or maybe you are just a true sicko like this reviewer, and feel the need to read everything Dune out of respect for the original series by the Elder Herbert. Either way, enjoy!
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good attempt at a Dune book...,
This review is from: Dune: House Harkonnen (Hardcover)The book itself is very good, and the characters are very Dune-ish, but that doesn't make it Dune. If you're a hardcore fan of Dune, then its worth a read, but newcomers should not take this as a true example of what is so special about the Dune series.
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Dune: House Harkonnen by Kevin Anderson (Hardcover - Oct. 3 2000)
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