Books 1-3 of the story were excellent. After that, I feel one needs to take some serious drugs to even comprehend what’s going on. Anyone care to enlighten me?
If you’re referring to God Emperor of Dune:
-It’s a few thousand years after the last book.
-Leto has transformed into some kind of half worm.
-The universe is basically stagnant because Leto is hoarding all the spice and because he’s been particuarly adept at foreseeing hostile moves made against him and countering them. It’s all a part of his Golden Path.
God Emporer is a love-it or hate-it book, it seems. It either appeals to you because it casts the last few books into an entirely different light, or it comes off as a bunch of philosphoical rambling.
I personally rather liked it, I guess because it’s delightfully cynical and epic. IE: Paul basically screwed humanity in general when in order to get his revenge(he set humanity on a single path that would lead to extinction eventually). However, if it hadn’t been him, the end product of the bene gesserit meddling probably would have done the same thing, probably without Leto II to unscrew humanity. It’s implied that Paul realized this but couldn’t fight it.
My recollection is that all paths but the path Leto took lead to human extinction. Paul did not want to become a human/sandworm because he saw what it would do to his humanity, which he had become very much adjusted to. Leto, being pre-born, was never fully human and prepared to accept the personal sacrifice of living for thousands of years as a sandworm, and then as thousands of disembodied sand fish. Leto also had much more powerful prescience than Paul and could see much farther into the future. Paul knew that Leto would have the option to take the path he refused.
I didn’t pick up that Paul realised Leto would do it - kind of makes Paul’s refusal to do it somewhat more horrific, knowing the inhuman burden would be shifted to his son.
God Emperor is one of my favourite books, simply because the passage of time is a monstrous, palpable weight. By the time we get to Chapter House, the passage of time is incomprehensibly long and doesn’t have the same impact.
Paul knew that his son could do it, not would. But remember that Leto was pre-born, and never was a child in his mind, only in body. Slightly less horrific.
Paul Atreides is a horribly flawed hero. His decision to follow a path that would either a) cause all of humanity to be destroyed, or b) force his own son to take on the burden of thousands of years and almost complete separation from his own humanity, is a symptom of that.
His inability to rein in the Fedaykin, and instead allow the jihad to carry him along with it, is another.
As to the events of God Emperor, Leto knows that the only way to prevent humanity’s destruction is to make them transparent to prescience. His entire breeding program culminated in Siona, as proven by her ability to plan his assassination without his knowing of the details. Siona’s and Duncan Idaho’s children are the ancestors of a prescience-invisible humanity.
What Paul did to his son Leto is nothing short of horrifying. He could not stomach the idea of living for 3,000+ years to undo the Bene Gesserit breeding program that produced him, to create the anti-Kwizatz Haderach and make humans immune to prophesy. He preferred to go into the desert as a blind man and pass the buck. Leto had to choose to sacrifice his humanity, and with it all hope of intimate human contact, at the age of 9. I don’t think that being pre-born in any way mitigated his sacrifice; after all, unlike most children, he knew what he was giving up.
Leto is an amazing creation, and Herbert does a good job of rendering a character whose prescience allows him to manipulate human beings and events over a long period of time, counter to his own self-interest and happiness, fully aware that he is losing his own humanity in the process of saving everyone else’s. The character is both monstrous and incredibly heroic, which is an achievement.
Paul did not kill his son, which might have been a mercy, but he did not kill him. He did nothing specifically horrifying to him. That doesn’t make him any more likable or his overall behavior any less reprehensible. It is the choice most parents make: to avoid drastic and radical action themselves and put it off to their children for dealing with.
So when do the buggies show up?
I absolutely disagree. No, Paul did not kill his son. Rather, he left his son to an almost unimaginably difficult choice and 3+ millenia of loneliness and slow loss of his humanity, due to Paul’s own cowardice and weakness. Paul knew full well what needed to be done, and refused to do it. He also knew for a fact that Leto would have to do it or humanity would go extinct. To me, that is horrifying. I would also have to disagree that “most parents” would choose to avoid action, knowing for a fact that their child would suffer. Many parents would choose to spare their children that fate and take it on themselves.
It’s not that Paul was a malicious villain; it’s that he did not have the will to do what Leto did, and his inability to act forced Leto to act instead, and make the most enormous sacrifice one could conceive of. I think Paul would agree with me about that, and that what he did was horrible. Leto had that wild Fremen strength, which enabled him to do the hard thing that Paul would not.
In rereading the end of Children of Dune, where the sandtrout-covered Leto confronts his father, Paul doesn’t want Leto to choose the Golden Path either. It seems that he’s in massive denial and that he didn’t see clearly what the result of his choice would be for Leto. That mitigates the situation somewhat.
IIRC, Paul specifically states that he did NOT see human extinction among the possibilities, that was when he stopped fighting Leto’s golden path and started helping him
But he did foresee the “Typhoon struggle” and thought that he could eliminate it by nailing down everything with prescience. By doing that, he forced Leto to undertake it. Ironically, he also made it necessary.
But Paul had to go into the desert alone, because that is what blind Fremen did. However, he was the only one who ever came back…
Of course. Paul narrowed down his vision to only one choice, one course of action, which included his blinding. I read it described that he could only see a very small portion of the future, but in great detail. Thus, he was unable to see that his option was not, in fact, the only option-- it was the only option that would undo the violence of his jihad and lead to lasting peace. Unfortunately, the “lasting peace” was absolute certitude and an end to chaos, which doomed the human race to eventual extinction. He refused to acknowledge that the Typhoon Struggle was necessary, and the only way to free mankind from the shackles of a deterministic future. That’s why Leto, whose vision had greater scope, and who was willing to make the enormous sacrifice necessary, had to step in.
As I said, Paul isn’t a villain. He tried to do good, but he wound up going about it all wrong. The upshot was that his son had to clean up his mess. For Leto, it was horrifying, but the alternative was more horrifying.
I used to really enjoy all of the Frank Herbert Dune books, then his misbegotten son teamed up with the hack writer Kevin Anderson and buggered up the whole thing.
Leto was always a favourite character of mine and I had a lot of sympathy for him, particularly at the end of God Emperor when he fell to his dissolution in the water.
As I have never managed to finish any of the non Frank Herbert prequels and sequels, is Letos kernel of awareness in the worms ever clearly explained?
He didn’t kill his son, but he sure tried. When Leto confronts The Preacher, and The Preacher acknowledges that he’s Paul, they have a discussion about the Golden Path. Paul, horrified, does try to stab Leto, but by that point the sandworm skin has rendered him immune to both the blade and the poison on it.
It’s only at that point that Paul agrees to let Leto follow the Golden Path that he himself couldn’t take.