As the no-ship Ithaca flees through space, the heroes of HUNTERS OF DUNE finally meet the Enemy who followed the violent fanatics, the Honored Matres, back to their universe. The thinking machines vanquished by Serena Butler's jihad were not destroyed, only driven into exile - and now, tens of thousands of years later, they are back. Can the resurrected heroes on board the Ithaca save our race from annihilation?
Longtime collaborators Herbert and Anderson set themselves a steep challenge and, in the end, fail to meet it in this much anticipated wrapup of the original Dune cycle (after 2006's Hunters of Dune). A large cast scattered across the cosmos must be brought together so that the final, all-powerful Kwisatz Haderach may be revealed in the ultimate face-off between humankind and the machine empire ruled by the implacable Omnius. Though pacing is brisk and the infrequent action scenes crackle with tension, only two minor characters gholas, who are young clones with restored memories, of Suk doctor Wellington Yueh and God-Emperor Leto II acquire real depth. Everyone else is too busy reacting to mostly irrelevant subplots like sabotage aboard the no-ship Ithaca, a plague devastating the planet of Chapterhouse and the genetic engineering of marine-dwelling sandworms. The lengthy climax relies on at least four consecutive deus ex machina bailouts, eventually devolving into sheer fairy tale optimism. Series fans will argue the novel's merits for years; others will be underwhelmed.