In my last book review, I commented that it had taken me quite some time to finally give this second trilogy of prequels a chance because the previous series left a lot to be desired. The Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson duo was, in my humble opinion, not up to the task of tackling an enormous project such as Dune. Hence, you can imagine my surprise when I realized that Dune: The Butlerian Jihad more than lived up to the hype. I even went as far as to claim that the book would have made Frank Herbert proud. . .
Thus impressed by the first volume, I was eager to read its sequel. Unfortunately, Dune: The Machine Crusade is a major disappointment. How, after writing a very good opening chapter in this saga, the authors could come up with such a letdown, such a lackluster effort, I'll never know.
Other than seeing a number of plotlines that will ultimately converge in Dune, this book basically falls short on ever level.
The characterizations are, for the most part, mediocre. Vorian Atreides, Xaver Harkonnen, Serena Butler, Iblis Ginjo, characters that were so interesting in the previous novel, become cardboard characters with absolutely no depth. The new concepts such as Omnius, Erasmus, the Titans, the Cogitors, etc, lose all their appeal. The potential was definitely there, but poor execution by the writers precludes anything good from emerging from those ideas.
Like the characterizations, the dialogues go nowhere. And since you don't believe in the characters, the whole "religious" aspect of the Butlerian Jihad doesn't fly too high. And since that "holy war" is the driving force of this series, you can imagine what negative repercussions this has on the tale. There is an expression: "All killer, no filler." Well, Dune: The Machine Crusade is just filler. Nothing special at all. . .
The events chronicled in this novel span a period of more than a decade, which makes for a very sluggish pace in various portions of the story.
The only aspect of this tale which continues to be interesting is the revelations that shows how the Zensunnis and the Zenshiites will become the fearsome Fremen of Arrakis.
All in all, quite a disappointment. Probably as bad as Dune: House Corrino. I will read the final volume, but will have absolutely no expectations. . .
The final verdict: 7/10