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Book Review: ‘Princess of Dune’ by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

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Brian Herbert continues the story his father started almost 60 years ago with Princess of Dune (a Dune prequel), a collaboration between Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. Princess of Dune reveals the backstory of Chani and Irulan, the two women who shape Paul Atreides and the galaxy’s destiny in the Dune series. 

[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Tor/Macmillan for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of Princess of Dune contains some spoilers!]

A tale of two princesses in Brian Herbert’s new novel

Two years before the events of Dune, the story Princess of Dune shows us some pretty formative events in the lives of Chani and Irulan. The text presents two parallel stories that take place on different planets but are interconnected in meaningful ways both now and in the future.

Irulan is the first princess of the Imperium. Her father had no sons, which made her marriage more important to the Imperium than her ruling ability. Still, Irulan wants to be a good empress and does all she can to understand the nuances of politics and diplomacy. She attends meetings and offers her thoughts and advice to her father. Yet, at 26, she is getting too old to keep dangling as marriage bait. Irulan wants to be taken seriously, and she wants to have her future settled. She knows she can be a good ruler if only given the chance.

Chani is the daughter of Liet-Kynes, the planetologist of Dune. She is a proud Fremen, and while the Fremen have no royalty, her father’s position is highly respected, and Chani is as close to a princess as it comes. But this doesn’t mean she’s a pampered pet. At 14 years old, she is an accomplished fighter who has earned the respect of her people. Still, she wants to do more to deliver them from the tyranny of the Imperium.

Both women aim to benefit their people but have opposing ideas. Later, they will become significant to the future of the Imperium and Dune, but they are still growing in their roles. This is where the foundation is laid for all the intrigue later in the Dune series.

Princess of Dune characters that you can feel for 

I didn’t care for Dune. I found Frank Herbert’s style very dry and dull. Even scenes that should have been highly charged and emotional felt flat and removed. Luckily, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson are better writers. I cared about the characters they created. However, some were dislikable. I found Irulan quite entitled and repulsive, but I cared about her. She felt authentic. Even if I didn’t like her decisions, I understood her motivations.

princess of dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Chani was someone I was able to root for. I liked the character; her young age allowed me to forgive some of her mistakes and rash actions. Especially since she was willing to learn from those mistakes, Chani became a powerful character who made the story. Chani and the third princess of the Imperium, Wensicia, are the two characters that draw you through the narrative and make you keep turning pages, eager to see what will happen next.

Princess of Dune provides greater appreciation of Chani and Irulan

Dune was first published sixty years ago, and while it’s not had the success of some other book series, it has dedicated fans that have kept the world alive for over half a century. It’s fortunate that fans discovered Dune, as without them, it may not have become the franchise it is today, with over 20 books, three movies, and a TV series (so far). And then the world would have missed out on some great stories.

Princess of Dune is a very enjoyable story that I immensely appreciated. Discovering Chani and Irulan’s characters before Dune’s events was very satisfying. It made them fuller characters and gave great insight into their actions and choices later in the series. Anyone who likes Dune will love reading about these powerful women. Fans of the Dune movies should check out Princess of Dune, even if they don’t read Dune itself. It will give them a greater appreciation of Chani and Irulan and their stories, and that’s always a good thing.

Rating: 8/10

The novel Dune by Frank Herbert and its accompanying series are widely available in bookstores , including Princess of Dune (FMI visit Macmillan Publishers) We would love to hear your thoughts if you have already read this book! Get in touch with us on social media via @Mycosmiccircus or on The Cosmic Circus Discord. Additionally, don’t forget to catch the release of Dune: Part Two in theaters today!

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Luna Gauthier

I've always been a bookworm and fantasy is my favortie genre. I never imagined (okay, I imagined but I didn't think) that I could get those books sent to me for just my opinion. Now I am a very happy bookworm! @Lunagauthier19 on Twitter

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