the Little Red Reviewer

plans within plans within plans – Dune read along part III

Posted on: July 23, 2011

walk without rhythym. . . .

Hi Everyone, and welcome to the final section of our Dune read along. Hope you enjoyed the ride!    Our last group of questions was kindly supplied by Grace, and she came up with some great ones!

Here are the questions, and my answers are after the jump:

1.  What is your reaction to finally learning the identity of Princess Irulan?  Do you think that her convention added to the story?
2.  Were you satisfied with the ending?  For those reading for the first time, was it what you expected?

3.  On both Arrakis and Salusa Secundus, ecology plays a major role in shaping both characters and the story itself.  Was this convincing?  Do you think that Paul would have gone through with his threat to destroy the spice, knowing what it would mean for Arrakis?

4.  Both Leto and Paul made their decisions on marriage for political reasons.  Do you agree with their choices?

5.  What was your favorite part in this section of the book?
6.  One of the things I noticed in the discussions last week was Herbert’s use of the word “jihad.”  What do you think of Herbert’s message about religion and politics?

 

 

1.  What is your reaction to finally learning the identity of Princess Irulan?  Do you think that her convention added to the story?

I’m a total Dune-head, so none of this was a surprise for me. Although we don’t “meet” Princess Irulan face to face until the last scene, we’ve been getting her input and commentaries the whole time. Her commentaries often feel like they are observing everything from a distance, she often uses the phrase “it is said”, or “people say”, perhaps to infer that she herself didn’t witness the scene she is talking about, perhaps she was never involved in the things that she’s discussing. And I get the impression that all of her writings were written later in her life, perhaps after the death of her father. It’s most interesting, because she practically biographies Paul, but she never really gets to know him, even though they get married. Really takes the phrase “political marriage” to a whole ‘nother level. And of course, Paul can’t not be aware that if he were to have a child with Irulan the Bene Gesserit could make another tick mark in their book of genetic breeding. Marrying Irulan and refusing to have a child with her is a great way to screw the Bene Gesserit . . . just one more power play.

 

If you’ve ever seen the 1984 movie, the opening is narrated by Princess Irulan, and you see her face while she’s talking, so later in the film when you see her you know exactly who she is.
2.  Were you satisfied with the ending?  For those reading for the first time, was it what you expected?

It’s a great ending! Passion, action, fear, kidnapping, political maneuvering and bargaining, power plays up the wazoo, everything about it is just excellent. The end of the novel puts the epic into Dune!
3.  On both Arrakis and Salusa Secundus, ecology plays a major role in shaping both characters and the story itself.  Was this convincing?  Do you think that Paul would have gone through with his threat to destroy the spice, knowing what it would mean for Arrakis?

The ecology aspect of the novel is so subtly wonderful. You start reading this book and you think it’s about a family that has to start new someplace else, and political betrayal and wars between noble houses and such. Nope, it’s about coming to grips with ecological systems. I hope everyone had the chance to read the appedices at the end of the book, the first one talks about Pardot Kynes and his near fanatical love for understanding how ecological systems work. I wish that portion had been worked into the novel proper, because it’s just brilliant. For me the ecology aspects were very convincing. I’d love to see more of that kind of world-building depth in books that are written today.

Would Paul have gone through with his threat? I sure hope so. Everyone sees him as this dumb kid from a nearly dead House, if he’s going to show he’s got power, then damnit, he needs to show he’s got some power! I said it before and I’ll say it again, who would have ever thought such a shit kicker little planet would have been the center of the Empire?

4.  Both Leto and Paul made their decisions on marriage for political reasons.  Do you agree with their choices?

Well, the way Paul did it, he never has to sleep with his wife. All he has to do is show up for a ceremony, say some stuff, maybe kiss her on the cheek. He never has to have children with her. In a sense, it’s a brilliant power play, he still gets to be with the woman he loves, yet his wife’s house is bound to his house. With Duke Leto, he wanted to be with the woman he loved, but to keep himself open to aligning with another house he never married Jessica. . . yet a royal princess never came knocking either. Hmmmm, do I agree with their choices? Since they both stayed with the woman they loved (and she loved him back), then Yes, I agree. It sucks for Irulan, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

5.  What was your favorite part in this section of the book?

Umm, everything! I think my favorite part is the end, when Baron Harkonnen and the Emperor finally figure out who exactly this Muad’Dib guy is. Those two just keep getting surprised over and over again. Alia is wonderful when she’s with the Emperor, she treats him like an equal, and I think he’s half flabbergasted and half amused by her that he lets her get away with it all. Their conversations are hilarious, he’s almost treating her like a favorite granddaughter.

On a sadder note, Paul realizes that he’s either going to be the leader and friend of the Fremen, or their religious prophet. He can’t be both. Stilgar will either be his friend and ally, or his worshipper. It’s got to be very lonely to be a prophet. You’re surrounded by people who worship you, but none of them are your friends.

 
6.  One of the things I noticed in the discussions last week was Herbert’s use of the word “jihad.”  What do you think of Herbert’s message about religion and politics?

On a tangent, I’d like to answer a slightly different question by drawing attention to the appendix that talks about the Religion of Arrakis, and also the earlier attempt to bring together all of the religions of the Empire. I get the impression that most of the Empire’s religions have grown out of Old Earth religions.

Herbert talks about the Commission of Ecumenical Translators, which came about after the Butlerian Jihad (there’s that word again). At their first meeting on old Earth, the C.E.T. Were able to immediately agree on a common goal, and I’m quoting this directly from the book:

 “We are here to remove a primary weapon from the hands of disputant religions. That weapon – the claim to possession of the one and only revelation”.

Think about that for a moment. How different would our world be if folks of different religions weren’t running around claiming their truth was the only truth and everyone else was wrong?

 

 

 

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10 Responses to "plans within plans within plans – Dune read along part III"

I must admit I have not read the appendix yet, guess I should. I like what you say about Dune’s world building depth. No, I guess one doesn’t see all that much nowadays.
It is true, the end really shouts “epic”, it is obvious that there is more to come although it was sort of a finale.
I think precisely because the Princess is a Bene Gesserit that Paul will not get away with not having a child with her. I believe she is capable of manipulating him into it.

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At the same time, remember that Paul has powers greater than a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother. I think he could out-manipulate if it came down to it.

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#6: this is probably completely irrelevant, but I was thinking about this today.

How would this work if everyone could agree on something for a day?
A: Impeccable logic, I have to say “You’re right!”
B: You’re right as well!
A: I think I like your last logic summation a little more than mine today.
B: Well, your revelation is more interesting than mine.
A: Both views are valid! Group hug!

Then, of course, C would decide that religion without conflict was boring, and manufacture a machine that tattoos stars on people’s bellies… and it would start all over again. :P

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Niiiiice. The Sneetches is my favorite Dr. Seuss book.

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ahh, the Sneeches. Brilliant! and this is possibly the first time, ever, that Suess and Herbert are together?

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I am only partway through the appendices. I had gotten involved with other stuff and only finished Dune in the wee hours of the morning and could literally not keep my eyes open any longer. I mustered up enough energy to get my post up but that was it. I have my own opinions about the religious stuff which I’ve shared already all over the place and it will be interesting to me to see if the appendix about that changes my thoughts.

I love appendices, by the way. There is something “old school” about them that thrills me. I don’t mind that the information given in them couldn’t be worked into the story just because they always seem like a wonderful bonus. I was thrilled when I heard Dune had them.

I too knew about Irulan because of watching the films so many times. I did theorize elsewhere (completely based on having NO knowledge of the other books) that Irulan could conceivably know so much of what she knows about the history of Maud’Dib IF she were to go through the ceremony to drink the water of life with either Jessica or Paul and could thus get that shared memory. I doubt that it what happened, but I thought the idea was kind of fun to think about.

I’ve said before that I love the structure of putting information before a chapter and the way Herbert does it with brief, tantalizing revelations from Princess Irulan is just brilliant. I felt like I knew and understood so much more about her from these excerpts and thus I did not feel cheated by her “on screen” presence being so limited.

I’ve also shared elsewhere that I consider her a heroic figure for her willingness to enter into what could only be a very dire and depressing situation. She shares that with Paul, the ability to see what is the “right” thing to do in the situation and embraces it despite the promised pain and loneliness that will result. I found that very powerful.

Love Alia. She isn’t around much but she is a bit more than in the film (and I loved her in the film). Her lines are great and I think it is fascinating to watch her confound, annoy and horrify those around her. I got goosebumps reading her warnings that her brother was coming. I could almost here it as, “My brother is coming, and he’s pissed!”.

One thing I haven’t mentioned elsewhere is how much I like the name “the Beast Rabban”. As a tilte/name it conveys so much even though he is largely an off-screen character. Something about the name is cool, in that evil sort of way.

I really appreciate you coming along with us, taking a leadership role in the group read with the questions and also with your enthusiasm for the book. I am so glad that I share that enthusiasm. This has been a fantastic experience, something I’ll write more about in my “formal” (I type that jokingly) review of the book later in the week.

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I too like the appendices, especially since they are more than just an index or glossary or foreign words.

have you ever read any Steven Brust? In a lot of his books he starts the chapter with a local saying or idiom or some such that always comes into play during the chapter.

I had a great time with this too, was happy I was part of your first read of Dune! :)

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I loved this comment: power plays up the wazoo. I’ve had a long day in a hot apartment packing stuff. Thanks for making me laugh! I really needed it.

I really enjoyed your observations about Princess Irulan. You make a good point that she writes about Paul but that it appears that she doesn’t really know Paul. This makes the whole marriage even sadder. But like Carl has said, she accepted this situation with style and class.

One of the reasons I was surprised to find out that Paul marries her is that I didn’t feel that she was writing from her own experience, but from what she learned and from what she heard.

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I love the addition by Ali of the Sneetches. I kept thinking of the “haves” and “have-nots” as I read Dune. The wealth is distributed quite unevenly, with the ones with the most knowledge and power over the source having the least. So glad Paul is doing something about that!
It is pretty satisfying whenever anyone realizes that Paul, who they think is dead, is the famous Muad’Dib, especially the Emperor.
I started the Appendix, but it was so very technical. I think it’s something I need to read in the morning rather than at night. Maybe with a snack to nibble on.

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TBM – Paul married her for purely political reasons and to pretty much trap the Emperor AND the Bene Gesserit in their own games. He never even has to be in the same room with her, never has to kiss her, never has to talk to her, and I don’t think he ever does (it’s been a while since I’ve read Dune Messiah, so don’t quote me on that!). She never gets to know him at all, and practically ends up living the life of a nun.

Shelley – I’m with you, i do my best heavy reading first thing in the morning, coffee in hand!! the appendices on ecology and religion aren’t too technical once you get past the first few paragraphs.

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