The beginning of the 4th prequel trilogy, written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. As with most of their prequel novels, this book highlights the backstory of the main characters of Dune. The book focuses on Leto Atreides, the father of Paul Atreides. The two subsequent books will be focused on the Lady Jessica and Paul Atreides himself. The trilogy as a whole will lead directly into the events of the first film. This specific book takes place 2 years prior to the original novel.
As with all of their previous Dune works, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have produced a rich world based on the notes of Frank Herbert. The story revolves primarily on the planet Caladan, the Atreides homeworld, alongside some other areas of interest. The society and customs of the original Dune is largely preserved.
As you can tell from the title, the main character would be Duke Leto Atreides of Caladan. However, other characters also have a similar appearance time to Leto, mainly Lady Jessica and Paul Atreides. Whilst the plot revolves around the action of Leto, his concubine and son also have a significant present in this particular book. It’s similar to the Prelude to Dune trilogy where each book is named after a specific house, but the novel themselves are all interlinked with each other. Expect a similar arch with Lady of Caladan and Paul of Caladan.
There were multiple different stories and political conspiracies taking place throughout the story. This novel primarily focuses on two particular stories: Betrothal of Paul Atreides and the Caladan Drug.
The first story is about Duke Leto trying to find a match for his son (instead of getting a wife himself). However, Paul is currently seeing visions of a girl which he can not explain. He thinks she is the chosen one and this betrothal plan is not for him. Nevertheless, he would like to make his father proud. What starts of as a simply journey is eventually forced into a dramatic family drama with conspiratorial undertones and is then replaced by another arc: the Caladan drug.
Members of the imperium have started to become addicted to a drug which is believed to originate from Caladan and is hence dubbed “the Caladan drug”. Leto and Paul eventually head into the forests of Caladan to uncover the illegal drug operations and stop any more distribution of the trade, where they come face-to-face to a man who I’m not sure how to spell since I’ve been reading from an audiobook. Epic showdowns ensure.
This book was a largely enjoyable read. I admit I was out of focus in the beginning because I attempted to multitask whilst listening to the audiobook, which made me miss certain parts of the story. Towards the middle and end, I manage to direct my focus and my whole attention to the book and finally manage to have a storyline in my head. That being said, I only had a few criticisms from the book.
The first one was Paul’s reaction to his father potentially marrying a noble woman. When Paul assumed the betrothal was his father’s, he raised his voice towards Jessica saying “How can he do this??”. He appeared to be wholeheartedly against his father getting a legal wife. Paul appears to have forgotten the fact that the entire reason Jessica is a concubine in the first place is so Leto can potentially secure a wife from a noble house. This is the custom in the Duniverse. In the flashbacks of Paul of Dune, there was a red wedding scenario when Leto Atreides attempted marry a noble woman. Even after that event, he decided not to marry Jessica because of the potential need for an alliance with another house, even though he implied he wouldn’t do so. If the latter was really the case, he would have married Jessica right there to settle the matter once and for all. Leto Atreides would rather have his 14 year old son be married instead of first securing a wife himself.
The upcoming movie itself takes place two years later and Paul does not have any over-the-top reaction when Jessica explains the nature of concubines to Paul:
The Bene Gesserit provide concubines to the Noble-born. Leaving them free to marry for political advantage. We’re companions. Bodyguards. Counselors. We bear extraordinary children. We say we exist to serve. (she hesitates) But that’s not all we do. — Lady Jessica
Paul’s hyper-acute mind is already tunneling into the problem. A flash of insight. He stares at her, shocked.
You control the bloodlines of the Great Houses. You’re breeding them. — Paul Atreides
The second was the ending of the book. The book ends on a cliffhanger. This is because the Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson prequel books are always released in a trilogy format and are designed to be read in a specific order. This means the first book alone with not have wrap-up conclusions and one should not read the second or third book without having read the prior book. The first drafts for the second book in this trilogy, Lady of Caladan, appears to have been more or less done and so one can expect the next book at some point next year.
We finished the 1st draft of DUNE: THE LADY OF CALADAN, and just received the good news that our first novel in the series, DUKE OF CALADAN, is the #7 bestseller on Publishers Weekly’s SF&F list. Thanks to all of you! — Brian Herbert
- The main stories revolve around the betrothal of Paul Atreides and the Caladan drug.
- Leto Atreides, Paul Atreides and the Lady Jessica all receive a similar amount of book time.
- I can’t remember any of the other storylines due to my own lack of focus in the beginning.
- It is the first of the 4th prequel trilogy of books.
- My only primary critique was the overreaction of Paul on his father potentially marrying. It felt so out of place.
Overall, the book was an enjoyable read with a lore-rich world in an already established universe. This expanded book would have been a great filler in anticipation of the Dune movie, if it hadn’t be been delayed. If you’re already a fan of Dune and would like a new material to read, then this book is worth it. For newcomers to Dune, you will near to bear in mind that the story in this book is incomplete. I would recommend the previous books (scroll down to “Franchise”) first.
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