Dune Messiah (Dune #2) – Frank Herbert

Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Ace Books
Pages: 285
Release Date: October 1969

Book Two in the Magnificent Dune Chronicles–the Bestselling Science Fiction Adventure of All Time


Dune Messiah
 continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known–and feared–as the man christened Muad’Dib. As Emperor of the Known Universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremens, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne–and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence.


And even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s dynasty…

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Dune Messiah is an incredibly different novel than its predecessor, Dune. Taking place twelve years after the events of Dune, Dune Messiah digs into the nitty gritty of Paul’s rule as emperor by taking a philosophical approach to it. 

As with Dune, Herbert throws his readers into the deep end with no floatation device. Dune Messiah is a difficult book to situate yourself in, especially if you haven’t read the previous novel in awhile. New characters, new cultures, and new technologies are introduced with little to no explanation. For the first half of the novel I felt like I was drowning in this world.

Dune Messiah is a philosophical novel. I took a couple of philosophy courses in university and hated them. So, Dune Messiah was a difficult read for me to get through. Twelve years later, Paul is more than just an emperor, he’s seen as a god. After reading countless reviews for Dune Messiah and interviews with the author about the novel, Herbert said that he wanted readers to see Paul as a warning of the dangers of seeing powerful people as godlike. This is a central tenet to the novel hence the many heavily influenced philosophical conversations. Where Dune is full of action, Dune Messiah is slow as Herbert takes considerable time trying to get his point across.

What I enjoyed most about Dune Messiah is the heavy foreshadowing. Maybe foreshadowing isn’t the right word since Paul’s ultimate fate is told to readers directly within the first few pages. Readers get to experience Paul’s downfall firsthand and witness the consequences of his actions.

Overall, Dune Messiah is a difficult read if you’re not a fan of heavy philosophical debate. The ending of the novel sets up what is to come in the future making me cautiously optimistic.

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Have you read Dune Messiah? What did you think?

6 thoughts on “Dune Messiah (Dune #2) – Frank Herbert

  1. Great review! I felt very similar about the book – it leaned too far in the other direction from Dune, and like you I just found to to be too much info without enough grounding. I’m a huge fan of philosophical-leaning scifi but somehow I just couldn’t engage enough without something tangible on which to rest the “issues” that are debated. I’ll be curious to hear what you think of Children of Dune, if you continue the series. That’s the one I put down 1/3 through… I hear so much good things about God Emperor, but I never made it there. Before someone starts throwing things at me – Dune (#1) is a top 5 ever book for me, started my love of scifi. The ones that follow just never grabbed me the same way.

    Really enjoy your reviews, thanks!

    1. Thank you! I will be continuing with Children of Dune, I had already bought it before reading Dune Messiah. I’m still interested in the world. This isn’t the first time I hear that God Emperor is really good, so fingers crossed I can get through Children of Dune 🤞🏻

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