Dune, by Frank Herbert, is an exceptionally enticing story, which offers an exceptional science fiction adventure. Read it to believe it.
This certainly made up for "City of Illusions". I admit that the end lost me, but then again, dreams are not supposed to make sense all the way.
There is a persistent feeling of urgency about this story. Haber's conceit and grandiosity is apparent soon enough, and the more the book advances, the more anxiety how beholden to Haber Orr is it caused me. It almost tips into impatience about how passive Orr is.
And that might be part of how genius the book is. Because for all intents and purposes, Orr is a god. THE god and creator of the world inside those pages. And the story itself shows us what Orr himself puts in words: that an unbalanced god that is not part of his own world and tries to meddle with prejudice ultimately destroys everything.
There is much more. A recursiveness that gets reeeeally tangled and confusing at the end. Either a god that dreams himself and more gods into existence (a little help from my friends), or maybe that other dreamers already existed, and even, maybe, that the dreamer was not the one we thought (specially from halfway in). The way we keep coming back to the importance of human connection (the one thing Haber maybe had right, even if he denied it in his own dealings), the fact that "the end justifies the means" implies that there is and end, as if history, or mankind, or the world wouldn't then march on, and as that is not truth, then there are only means.
This was a ride and a half and I did not expect it to be this good or turn out this serious.
You know everything HAD to have gone to pot for the ship to end in one body, sure. I was ready for an action/adventure sci-fi romp, and in a way, it is that. What surprised me was how hard it goes into the social issues inherent in colonization, how it explores the notion of identity and how it can be more than one thing, going double for entities that work more like a hive. "I'm at war with myself" is a very psychological statement that seems to be a theme for many characters, and ultimately gets very literal in this sci-fi set up.
There is also the constant coming back to the duality system of belief, the idea that fate is as it's tossed, and so you might as well choose your step, one after the other (sounds a lot like Taoist beliefs to me, plus the idea of hitzusen). What I found interesting is how it delves into thoughts and intentions vs actions, and obliquely (or at least, what I took from the whole sample of characters) how in the moment of truth you don't know who will be that will make the selfless choice (because when it comes right down to it, sometimes people don't even realize it was the moment of truth till it passed), but also, that past choices define next ones, but not in the way one would suspect (because sometimes, the feel that you chose wrong might make you very, very set and vigilant to choose differently afterwards)...
Aaaand, yeah, I got right down philosophical. I think it was all that loooong interrupted chat between Toren and Anaander Mianaai. It made me go "oh, shit" in so may directions. Very interesting.
I'm too old for these slap-you-kiss-you-romances. I just... well, the fact that I wanted to bonk their heads (preferable against each others, because there could be nothing equally stubborn hard) whenever they turned that one-upmanship fest they had going with the world towards winning over the other, instead of pooling knowledge and resources, influenced my rating a lot. It's is a personal thing (I just want people to love each other and be tender), and a big caveat if you are looking at those stars, so heads up there. I'm very aware that their stubborn pride is exactly in character, and a failing that brings them many problems as well as the quality that makes them succeed. It just made me want to yeet the book and howl.
Also, the fact that I can quote Lessa's worry about coming back as "He'll shake me again". NOT FUNNY. No one would take that lightly if you put "punch" there.
Now, that out of my chest... Dragons: yeap, good, exactly why I'm here. Timetravel: huh... that was not expected, and suddenly this is a lot more interestingly unique (even if much was a foregone conclusion).
I'm likely to read the next install of this series because I can see the problems coming with that other queen, but I want to forget a bit these two logger-heads before that.