Gorgon Heap: Keep reading. The best is yet to come. I am a self-admitted Dune fanatic. I’ve read the entire heptology through at least 7 times, and I LOVE Children of Dune. Why? Because Leto II is one of the most fascinating characters in fiction, for me.
The Golden Path was Leto’s plan for saving humankind from the killing box into which Paul Atreides’ prescience led it. Paul, by becoming the wild Kwizatz Haderach, was able to defeat the Emperor and realize the Fremen’s dream of turning Dune into a paradise. This had the unfortunate consequence of the near-extinction of the sandworms. The sandworms were the key to the production of spice, without which there would be no interstellar travel, no Bene Gesserit, no superannuated leaders-- no human society could survive.
Leto saw this, and he and his twin Ghanima came up with a plan. Leto, using his superior body controls and in the thrall of a spice overdose, becomes a symbiote with the sandtrout. This melding makes him incredibly powerful and long-lived; he is the emperor for 3265 years. During this time, he allows the worms to go extinct and rules via his spice hoard and his extraordinary prescience. His goal is to breed, using Atreides genes with a liberal sprinkling of Duncan Idaho, Fremen, Harkonnen and Corrino, a race of humans who are invisible to prescience, so a situation like the one Paul created can never happen again-- in a sense, eliminating the possibility of another Kwisatz Haderach and thereby saving humanity from extinction forever.
The outcome, we learn in God Emperor, is Siona Atreides, an arrogant, self-centered, obnoxious bitch who Leto cannot predict or see with his prescience. She assassinates him by causing him to fall from a bridge into a river. The worms on his body separate from him, and he “dies.” Dune is becomes desertified again, and the cycle begins, with a difference-- Leto’s awareness is suspended within each of the new worms, in an eternal dream. There is a Scattering, and hard times for people, but in the end, the scions of Siona and Duncan populate the universe. Thus is Leto’s dream realized.
Leto is so fascinating b/c he gives up not only his adulthood (he takes on the worms at the age of 9), but his humanity AND his eternal rest in peace. The guy gave all that a being could give to save humanity, only to be known for all time as The Tyrant. Paul knew of the Golden Path, but turned away from it in horror-- he didn’t have the courage to make such a sacrifice, so he left it to his son. The pathos is incredible.