In this third book in a series of prequels to Frank Herbert's classic novel Dune, the war of the humans against the thinking machines comes to its conclusion. In a last-ditch attempt to exterminate humanity, the thinking machines launch a devastating plague that has consequences beyond their wildest dreams.

Full of interesting ideas and a potentially fascinating plot, this novel unfortunately doesn't live up to its promise or to the legacy of the series' originator. Clumsily written, with wooden characterization, it is difficult to follow the threads of the plot as it ranges over many worlds and many years. While there's sufficient exposition for a newcomer, the motivations of most of the characters are barely discernible at best and opaque at worst.

Fans of Herbert and Anderson's novels may enjoy this book, but it's not recommended for the casual reader who's unfamiliar with the Dune universe. (Aug., 624 pp., $27.95)

Reviewed by: 
Natalie A. Luhrs