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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
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

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Uh-Oh! Discrepancy!
Overall, i was pleased with both this book and its predecessor, House Atreides. As a rabid Dune fan, i voraciously gobble up any new tie-ins. Of course, reading the prequels prompts one to return to the originals and read them in a new light. So imagine my surprise when, on reading Dune 1 after reading House Harkonnen i find references to the "Duke's buyers"...
Published on Nov. 1 2002 by Jayme


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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, Oct. 16 2000
By 
Just Bill (Grand Rapids, MI United States) - See all my reviews
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars different brand of Dune, June 5 2004
By 
lordhoot "lordhoot" (Anchorage, Alaska USA) - See all my reviews
I think by reading the previous 150 reviews of the House Harkonnen that this is not a book written by Frank Herbert. We should be glad since Frank Herbert lies dead and may he rest in peace. However, it seem clear that many of the 150 or so previous reviewers were looking for Frank Herbert ghola to write more Dune clones.
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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars If only there were a Ghola Frank Herbert!, May 19 2004
By 
J. S. Calvert (Houston, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I won't say the Dune "Prequel" Trilogy is entirely without merit. Any of the three books is an entertaining read for a cross-country train trip or a trans-Atlantic flight, like a Tom Clancy novel would be. But most people who know and love the "Dune" chronicles cannot help but be disappointed, even angry, at these pale imitations of the originals. The most striking lesson to be gleaned from these new Dune books is the difference between a truly gifted writer and a hack; between a serious work of imagination and literary skill, and airport lounge pulp fiction.
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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Chapter after chapter of nothing, Jan. 29 2004
By 
M. Elizabeth Pietrzak "driftingcloud" (Claremont, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Question number one: This series of books is titled House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Corrino. Usually a title gives some indication as to the content and focus of a book. So far with the first two, this has not been the case. The foci are all over the map, dealing with all three houses. The first one dealt more with Corrino and Harkonnen than Atreides (yet was named after the latter); the second one seems to focus more on Atreides than any one else. Confused yet? Wait until you read these books!
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!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dune House Harkonnen, Dec 3 2003
By 
"itsrainingpenguins" (Orange County, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This book was confusing in the beginning. It was only confusing because I didn't read the first part of the trilogy: Dune House Atradies. As I got to understand the story of the book It started to get more exciting. The book has many main characters. They are: Duke Leto Atredies, Duncan Idaho, Baaron Harkonnen, Abulurd Harkonnen (Baaron's step brother), and Liet-Kynes. Duke Leto is the leader of the Atredies house. He is a good leader and his people love him. He takes care of Pince Rhomber Vernius, the leader of House Vernius. Rhombur's Home planet Ix was taken over by the Bene Tlilax sending Rhombur into exile. Duncan Idaho is a kid who goes to the Ginaz school to learn to be a swordmaster. Baaron Harkonnen is the very cruel leader of house Harkonnen. He has a rare disease that makes his once attractive figure gain a lot of weight. Abulurd Harkonnen is the step brother of Baaron. He lives with his wife on a distant planet. He is unlike his step brother. He also doesn't take advantage of his power. In fact, he doesn't use it at all. And last is Liet-Kynes. He is a fremen and is the son of the imperial planetologist Pardot Kynes. In the book he goes throught man rough adventures with his blood brother Warrick.
I would recommend this book to anybody interested in science fiction and the Dune series.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Bene Gesserit analysis of, Nov. 29 2003
By 
Heather H. "Heather H." (New Jersey, United States) - See all my reviews
We of the Sisterhood were quite suprised to see another manifesto was written with even more lack of knowledge of the great "Dune" works and the complex style of the legendary Frank Herbert. Once again we will lay out the errors in plot points and rules from the "Dune" books and also we will attach comments relating to the writing style in general.
In "Harkonnen" during the poorly written parody of the dining scene from "Dune"(file# 126-146), Liet Kynes is introduced as "Weichih" which means beloved. Later when father and son are alone he is called Liet, when Liet comes among strangers he says "To outsiders, I am known as Weichih".
In "Dune"(file#93) when Duncan asks Stilgar if he will accept his dual allegiance to him and Leto, Stilgar responds in part, "..There is precedent for this: Liet serves two masters." One of the rescued workers from the crawler(file#124) calls him Liet.(we would also note that if in "Harkonnen" Gurney and Liet meet on Salusa Secundus why doesen't he seem to know him now?) Again he is called Liet(file# 221) by Shamir in front of Paul and Jessica.
Now..which is his secret name, his troop name used only by members of his Sietch and his name of manhood that is used openly? How is it that three Harkonnen grunt troopers happen to know the details of the Fremens most sacred ritual?
Why is it that that the secret project of creating synthetic melange is still being worked on but the "Rogo transceiver" created by C'tair Pilru and used by the Guild and Leto and Shaddam IV at the end of "Atreides" is not?
In "Harkonnen" the "Bene Gesserit" mass hypnosis to confuse the Baron and his landing party is a trick that we believe would have been very usefull in dealing with the Honored Matres.
In "Harkonnen" we see D-wolves which were first seen in "God Emperor of Dune" and chairdogs which were first seen in "Heretics of Dune".
In "Harkonnen" we find can easly piece together the fact that the axlotl tanks are women connected to Tleilaxu machines.
The first hint of this is knowledge of this secret is
seen in "Heretics of Dune".
We took Sheeana into our protection because she could fit into our plans. Why would we be non-interested in Victor and his genes? Count Fenring did carry on normal conversations in "Dune" without going "U,m,m,m,m,m," at the end of every sentance. We believe that Prince Rhombur would have had a better grasp of language being a noble born so he would not say "Uh" in the beginning of almost every sentence.
The errors in this work are legion so we will not cover them all but we will hear comments from Mother Superior Darwi Odrade on the overall writing style:
With the length of each chapter being an average 8 to 11 pages in length we are left to assume that the authors must believe we have very short attention spans. Why do they feel the need to italicize what seemed like every other word to stress an important point? It must be assumed that we are not wise enought to understand what is important in the dialog of a scene.
We also became very bored with several passages that seemed to scream, "See,we read the books to! Don't you think this is clever? Remember these from the originals. Isn't this a cute way to tie the books together and throw a sop to the die-hard fans?"
The first of these occurs as we are introudced to Gurney Halleck as he is thinking about the Harkonnen places he has renamed in his mind to fit his own tastes and to amuse himself. He believes that, "a few generations hence, someone else would rename the landmarks all over again."
The second is when Dr.Yueh leaves Giedi Prime after he examines the Baron. As he is leaving he thinks to himself how glad he is that he will never have to deal with the Baron ever again.
The third is the most absurd that it even caused Reverend Mother Bellonda to have tears run down her cheeks from laughter.
It occurs at the end when Duncan and Gurney are worring about Leto after the death of his "first" son and the offer made by the Tleilaxu to create a ghola of him. Duncan is quoted as saying, "This ghola matter...I do not trust gholas."
This series of books are rapidly moving away from the great works of Frank Herbert in every aspect. We believe this is the intention of the authors, so that future books will be filled with their "new" vision of how "Dune" should have been written.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a worthy addition to the Dune universe, Nov. 4 2003
By 
Joe Sherry (Minnesota) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dune: House Harkonnen (Hardcover)
House Harkonnen is the sequel to the first book in the Dune House trilogy, House Atreides. It is set a number of years before Frank Herbert's classic: Dune. The novel spans several years and traces several characters, most specifically Leto Atredies, Vladimir Harkonnen, Gurney Halleck, Lady Jessica, and Duncan Idaho. Leto is trying to grow into both the man as well as the Duke that his father would have wanted him to be. Vladimir Harkonnen is suffering from the effects of the disease given to him by the Bene Gesserit and is plotting against the Bene Gesseritt, the Emporer, as well as House Atreides. Duncan Idaho is training to be the deadly swordsmaster that we came to know in Dune (this is actually more interesting than you might expect). Jessica is in training with the Bene Gesserit, and it is in this novel that she finally meets Leto for the first time. We see Gurney growing up under the thumb of the Harkonnen's and how he will come to be in the service of the Atreides. That's a lot of plot to cover, but that is only a portion of all that is in this rather large and detailed novel. We also have rebellions on Ix, the Bene Tleilax, the Fremen, hints of the Muad'ib, use of the forbidden atomics, and a whole lot of story.
Since the Dune prequels are written by Frank Herbert's son, Brian, as well as Kevin Anderson, the style of writing is much different than Frank's original Dune. Despite the novel's heft, it is a fast moving story with fairly short chapters bouncing from character viewpoint to character viewpoint. I would not recommend reading House Harkonnen without first having read House Atreides. There is too much detail that would be missed. Brian and Kevin are working from Frank's notes and are filling in the backstory that Frank only hinted at. This (and the rest of the House trilogy) is a worthy addition to the Dune universe. It's not the same novel that Frank might have written, but it should be an interesting one for fans of Dune
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1.0 out of 5 stars Frank Herbert they're NOT. Trite and overblown, they ARE, Feb. 1 2003
By 
k m richards (I'm better off reading the originals) - See all my reviews
I only give this book one star because it has the word "Dune" in the title. That said, this series by Anderson and Herbert's son would have been better left unwritten, but I can understand how the temptation to milk the Dune cow for profit and hoped-for glory was just too tempting to withstand. How sad. True Dune fans should be spanked for spending money to encourage them to continue
Reading the first two books (I won't be buying the 3rd...), I was struck over and over again by the gauche and under-developed grasp of plot and character development. I didn't expect the same masterful depth and richness Herbert Sr. brought to the series, but I did expect more than a shallow hack at the job.
Unfortunately, that's what I got. The plot is never more than a centemeter deep, the characters are as shallow and the writing can be extremely tedious. There are serious problems here with both the writers and editors... no one seemed capable of endowing this book with any real heart or real, believable emotional depth.
I read page after page, WANTING to make an emotional commitment to a new incarnation of a beloved old friend - and growing more and more frustrated because there was nothing but a flimsy facade to connect with... one that kept melting under my grasp.
Juvenile, shallow, trite, disappointing...can't get beyond those words. Hundreds of filler words carefully describe what everyone is wearing.... characters are wooden and incapable of capturing a reader's interest, let alone commitment... and the worst thing they could come up with for a scenario for "Beast" Rabban is killing his father? I think a 15-year-old with too much time on his hands really wrote these books.
Juvenile, shallow, trite, disappointing... ....
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4.0 out of 5 stars An improvement, but still probably only for Dune fanatics, Dec 13 2002
By 
Michael H. Siegel (Austin, TX) - See all my reviews
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My opinion of House Harkonnen is very similar to my opinion of House Atreides (see my review there). Like its predecessor, House Harkonnen is slow and has too many plot threads. Some of the most interesting ones (the fate of House Vernius; Abulurd Harkonnen's fight with his half-brother) are muffled in the huge number of stories being told -- we see Gurney Hallack and Duncan Idaho growing up, Duke Leto and Lady Jessica coming together, the birth of Feyd-Ruatha, etc. And like House Atreides, this book suffers from our knowledge of the future (spoiler warning) -- we know Leto, Gurney and Duncan aren't going to die and that Shaddam IV will still be emperor in the future.
Still, it's a decent read -- especially for Dune fanatics like myself. It fills in the history of the Imperium. And the fight between the Tleilaxu and Vernius; between the Grumman and Ecaz -- are interesting. In fact, the book might have been better had it focused entirely on these conflicts -- with Leto and the others serving merely as secondary characters.
The narrative style is improved and the higher rating I give this book is mainly due to the incredible villainy we get to see in House Harkonnen. This actually *improves* your appreciation of Dune. (Spoiler warning again). You smile knowing these monster will eventually get what's coming to them.
And, of course, I'm buying the next book -- which tells my real opinion of this one (3.5 stars).
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1.0 out of 5 stars The Show goes on -- too bad, the audience has already left, Nov. 21 2002
By 
Poshik S. (Washington DC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dune: House Harkonnen (Hardcover)
Ah... Dune junkies. The original DUNE was such potent substance that we all found ourselves grabbing the pricy hardcovers of Frank Herbert's son's concoctions off the store shelf and actually reading them, asking ourselves every 2 pages: "Why am I reading THIS?" The original DUNE series was indeed very addictive, and we all have had this little substance abuse since then. When the fake DUNE came out, I was among the first ones to buy them, in hardcover... Woe to me, all three of them.
One thing is clear: the creator of the original DUNE was an immense literary talent; his son Brian is not. The latter's only credential is that he is the son of Frank Herbert; therefore he has an inherent right to take his father's literary canvass and turn it into a cartoon series, making a few bucks in the process. These new books' do not aim at the perpetuation of Frank Herbert's intellectual legacy. Their goal is making a few bucks off our substance abuse.
I admit I may be wrong. It is quite possible the poor Brian sees himself a rightful Duke of the DUNE series with a signet on his finger but does not realize that he is out of his league. He was bright enough to understand that he could not do it alone, so he hired a writer to do it for him. For all that, as for literary collaboration of Anderson and Herbert-junior, 1+1 does not equal 2. It equals 0.
Having finished reading the prequels, I opened the original DUNE. Ah, what a pleasure it is to revel in its complexities and nonpareil multi-dimentionality!
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