I read Dune in February of last year, at the insistence of a few friends. And I loved it. But I waited to read the second book, Dune Messiah, because few sequels are as good as the first one. I finally gave in, and actually finished the book two weeks ago but couldn’t pin down my thoughts on it. I finally found a chance to talk about the book with a friend and while I can’t say I loved it as much as I did Dune, I will be excited to start the rest of the series after my Wheel of Time reading challenge is over.

Dune Messiah

Dune Messiah follows the life of Paul Atreides after the violent revolution that happened at the end of the first book. He is now emperor, his sister Alia is a priests of her own church, his wife is trying to trick him into getting her pregnant, and the woman he loves can’t bear the heirs he needs to secure his rule. Paul is also leader of the jihad, spreading his rule over millions of people on other planets. Yet despite all his religious, political, and psychic powers, Paul cannot stop the horrible future he has foreseen for himself and his people.

Dune was full of action and battles, while Dune Messiah focused much more on political strategy. And there was a lot of political maneuvering in this book. Paul’s wife is part of a conspiracy by the Reverend Mother’s to breed Paul and Alia and create a powerful child they can control; the religion that has grown around Paul and Alia is something neither of them want to deal with, yet pilgrims come to them every day seeking help; and powerful (and hidden) enemy tools have come into his life for reasons he could not foresee.

Yet while I love a good political story, I found Dune Messiah to be much less interesting and not as well developed as Dune. The first 90% of the book was completely devoid of action, and consisted of Paul and Alia avoiding their responsibilities as leaders. The last 10% I really enjoyed, because everything the book had been leading up to finally happened. The ending was extremely exciting, but it took me a few months of reading to get there.

I’ve been told the next two books are much better, and I really hope they are. Dune was an amazing book, with a society that was superbly developed and detailed. Dune Messiah added nothing to that society or the character development, and felt more like a placeholder between the first book and the rest of the series. I would recommend this book to someone reading the series for the first time, but after I’m done I only plan to reread Dune.