Frank Herbert's seventh Dune novel
is Frank Herbert's
bestselling SF novel, which was followed by another five books. Although some
felt that the sequels did not match-up with the first book, others came to the
conclusion that his latter books got deeper and deeper, and are much better.
Almost everyone who has read all the books, will agree with me,
that of all the books in the series, the sixth book gives the strongest
suggestion that the story is not yet finished, because it ends with
a real cliffhanger.
This page is about ideas with respect to the seventh book that Frank Herbert
might have written would he not have died. It is not about Hunters of Dune
and Sandworms of Dune, the two books by Brain Herbert (the son of Frank
Herbert) and Kevin Anderson. Most of this page was written long before Brain and
Kevin started to write their Dune novels. So far, I did not read any of their
novels, so I am not in the position to make any judgement about these.
I am not sure whether I am going to read the two books, but if I do, it will
only to look for any inconsistencies that they have introduced. Although the
say that their books are based on the notes that Frank Herbert left behind,
I am afraid that they have introduced elements from their own prequels.
(Read more on this.) I still hope that one day they
will publish the Dune 7 outline and notes that Frank Herbert wrote and stored on
two 3.5" floppies.
I am simply not interested in their "interpretation" of those notes, independently
of whether they have written a great novel. I simply want to study those notes
myself, also realizing that the final novel that Frank Herbert would have
written would probably have deviated from those notes on some essential points.
Spoiler warning: This and related pages contain materials which could|
spoil your fun of reading the books, and figuring out things by yourself.
What follows are my personal thoughts on the subject. In order to write an
interesting plot, an author takes great care in revealing the facts bits by
bits. Only a careful rereading of a book can result in a good overview of the
facts. I have spend considerable time to study the last books, and although
I have tried to avoid speculation, I cannot deny that what follows does contain
my own interpretations. I am always open to ideas from others, so feel
free to email me. I would like to acknowledge
the following people for sharing their ideas and sending me
- Andi Coons
- 'the sherlock', for reminding me of the cells in Scytale's chest.
- Greg, for bringing up the discussion of the Golden Path.
- Trevor Davel. Comments.
- Nandor Gyerman. Comments.
- Vaibhav Joshi. Comments.
- Dustin T. Comments.
- Sean Lacy. Comments.
- Joel "Phaedrus" Wolfe. Comments.
Did Frank Herbert intend to write a seventh Dune book?
I have always believed that last two books that Frank Herbert wrote
before his death were going to be part of a trilogy, and that he
already had written down the global outline of the third book of
Although not everybody agrees on the issue whether he was going to write
more books, almost everybody feels that no one can replace him in doing so.
For a long time it was the firm belief of his son, Brian Herbert, that we
should allow the completed works speak for themselves. Or to quote Herbert
from the books himself:
Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife - chopping off
what's incomplete and saying: 'Now, it's complete because it's ended here.'
Some people believe that there was not going to be another book, as
they have come to the conclusion that Daniel and Marty at
the end of the last book, are Frank and Beverly in
disguise, especially from reading the last sentence of the book, where
"Gholas. He's welcome to them."
And although this interpretation is strengthed by the Eulogy for Beverly
by Frank in the back of the book,
it would not surprise me, that he has put this in, with
the thought in mind that he might not be able to finish his last book
in the series. The death of Beverly might have been too much for him.
The definite answer on this issue was given in the
official Dune books web site,
where it said (now removed):
Shortly before his death, Frank Herbert had begun work on
DUNE 7, and he had discussed writing possible future Dune
projects with Brian. Because of the beautiful and moving dedication
to Beverly Herbert, Brian's mother, in Dune: Chapterhouse, for ten
years Brian felt that the story should stop there, even though
the last novel ends on a cliffhanger. In 1996, though, two
safe deposit boxes were discovered that Frank Herbert had
sealed before his death. Inside those boxes, Brian discovered
the full and complete outline for DUNE 7, the final Dune novel
Frank Herbert had intended to write, which wraps up all the
story threads from the previous six books.
The Dune Chronicals
Looking at how the Dune series is spread out over time,
we see that the first three books play in the same time frame,
each separated by only few decennia at most. The fourth book however
takes place about 3500 years after the first three books. And the
fifth book takes place about 1500 years after that. The
sixth book follows shortly after the fifth. In a sense, the last
two books are the closest together with respect to the story line.
Supposing the seventh book would follow the sixth closely,
the series can be seen as two trilogies with one central book
to connected them. This results in the following structure:
Alternatively, the seventh book could have been placed in the far future,
maybe another 2000 years later. But there is reason to believe that
Herbert had three book closely following each other in mind, when he
started writing the fifth book.
- Dune Messiah
- Children of Dune
- God Emperor of Dune
- The heretics of Dune
- Chapterhouse: Dune
- ... Dune ...
Duncan and Sheeana
Although they are not in the center of action, I still believe that
the two central persons in the last two books are Duncan
Idaho and Sheeana Burgh. All the others, how
important they may appear, are not at the core of the story. Both of
them are 'created' by Leto II, the Tyrant.
Sheeana is long awaited sandrider predicted by the Tyrant, who can 'speak'
with the worms, in which there is a pearl of consciousness of the Tyrant.
And as Odrade expressed it: "He didn't predict events, he created them."
Because the people who went into the Scattering took with them their
believe in the Tyrant, she is destined to become a focal point of religious
power. The Bene Gesserit who realized this all to well, planned to use
Sheeana to regain religious control of much of the known universe.
It was also the Tyrant, who by making a ghola of original Duncan Idaho
over and over, assigned such an importance to him, that he would
be made into a ghola over and over again. The Bene Gesserit plan was to
bring them together (breed them), and through the loyalty of Idaho to
the Atreides (now the Bene Gesserit), control Sheeana.
But their attempt in controlling history, as they wanted to do before
when creating the Kwisatz Haderach, failed again. Finally, at the end of
Chapterhouse: Dune, Duncan Idaho and Sheeana are together
outside the control of the Bene Gesserit. In my opinion, the seventh
book should continue their story, with Sheeana being the main character.
It is after they have escaped that Murbella realizes that Sheeana will
instrumental in the next step of the universe and sees her in the line
of Muad'Dib, the Tyrant, and the combined Honored Matres and Bene Gesserit,
resulting in "The bitter medicine of a Sheeana future".
At the end of Chapterhouse: Dune, Murbella is left behind
on Chapterhouse, as being the joined head of both the Bene Gesserit
and the Honoured Matres, who outnumber the Bene Gesserit at least tenthousand
times. Although it will not be an easy merge, I think they will merge at
the end, and there is not much of a story in this. Other things,
which might be interesting, are the children of Murbella and
Duncan Idaho. Will they share his abilities to see the net?
And maybe have his memories? (It still surprises me that the
Bene Gesserit did not manage to get at least one cell from Duncan before
he disappeared with Sheeana.) Murbella, when thinking about
Duncan's escape, remark: 'He thinks he's escaped!'.
I wonder whether one of their children going to be able to contact
Duncan again through the latent net awareness.
It is also likely they will create another ghola (clone) from
Teg, as analysis of the last battles might give significant proof
that he did have special abilities. The BG are clever enough to
figure out that Teg did fool them, although they missed it during the
heat of the battle. To breed Teg with one of Duncan's children
is also something I would try in the long run.
Another interesting story-line might be on how they find out
about Daniel and Marty, and all the other kind of powers from
the Scattering. There is reason to believe, in my opinion, that it
were Daniel and Marty (or others of their kind) who send the
Honoured Matres back to the Old Empire. But for what reason?
But most clearly, Murbella is aware of the bitter medicine of
a Sheeana future, and one of her goals should be to prepare
the Bene Gesserit for this medicine, which might proof to be a bigger
challenge than merging the two sisterhoods together.
Daniel and Marty are two New Face Dancers, who by gathering enough memories
and experiences of other people ("taking personas" as Daniel expresses it),
became free individuals, masters of their own. For this reason Paul Wouters
came up with the phrase 'Master Face Dancers'.
Note that also the New Face Dancer that replaced Tuek in Heretics
of Dune starts to act on his own, and was slipping out of control
of the Bene Tleilax.
From the books it is not clear whether they were made by the original
Bene Tleilax or by any from the Scattering,
but it is clear that they share the ability of New Face Dancers, made
by the original Bene Tleilax. Realizing that the Scattering is probably
at least tenthousand times bigger than the Old Empire, it is rather likely
that they were created by some Bene Tleilax offspring in the Scattering.
Although Daniel and Marty seem to live in a simple garden, they must
be rather powerful, because they seem to control some number of planets,
because Marty is saying that she already had picked a planet for no-ship
with which Duncan and Sheeana escaped. They also state that they have
studied (and controlled) both Tleilax masters and Bene Gesserit reverend
mothers. They have the ability to see from a far distance, and to manipulate
no-ships in folded space, or at least Daniel does. These additional abilities
must allow them to effectively control big groups of people. They also seem
to have an extended knowledge of all kinds of technology ranging from
miniature Holtzmann generators to Futars.
It is not clear, how many of these Master Face Dancers there are, and
how much of the people in the Scattering they control. Also, it is
not clear what their goals are. Do they want to control the Old
Empire? Did they send the Honoured Matres back into the Old
Empire, and if so, why? Did they create the Futars? What is their
relationship to the handlers of the Futars, which also seem to be some
kind of Face Dancers as well.
Sheeana Burgh is definitely a very interesting person. She is one of
those wild things that happen, a unique independent personality, with
great charisma. She has some of the originality of an artist, which
has been suppressed a long time by the Bene Gesserit. Soon she became
the object of worship. The Bene Gesserit soon realized her ability
and did everything to include her in their sisterhood. Although she
became a reverent mother very early in her life (the youngest ever),
she remained an independent person, creating strange pieces of art
in her Desert Watch, and teaching men sexual techniques to enslave
women. It is not so strange that she would finally try to escape
the Bene Gesserit and go her own way. In the 43th chapter
of Chapterhouse: Dune we read:
Sheeana abruptly felt that she had won a chance to become the ultimate
artist, filled to overflowing and presented with a blank surface
where she might create as she wished.
An unrestricted universe!
It is Murbella who realizes the "Bitter medicine of a Sheeana future".
From this it is not clear whether Sheeana herself will be the bitter
medicine or that it will be something that comes into being because
of her acts, just like the Jihad that occured when Paul became the
Messiah. It is not clear to me, how she will be this bitter
medicine? Will she become a worm, just like the Tyrant? She
did consider this option in Chapterhouse: Dune. But she did
not have to flee to do this, or would she, as the worms had been
destroyed before? What would be consequences of this? She also does
not need to become a worm to live 3500 years, because we know that
Reverend Mothers are able to stop their aging.
She also took the Van Gogh painting Thatched Cottage in Cordeville with her.
There is also a certain parallel between Siona (from God Emperor of
Dune) and Sheeana.
It is hinted (in a chapter in Dune Heretics, where Waff meets
with the Honoured Matres), that they used some revelations from the
Bene Tleilaxu from the Scattering, in the making of the last Duncan
Idaho ghola. (It is clear that they did not trust their brothers
from the Scattering much.)
Is this the reason why the Duncan Idaho ghola has similar abilities
with respect to seeing the net? Duncan was made from cells of the original Duncan
Idaho and other Duncan Idaho gholas. He says that he does not have cells from
all previous gholas, but he claims to have memories of almost all of
them after he became sexual bonded with Murbella. There is something
strange in his cells, which the Bene Gesserit cannot explain: not all
of his cells have the mark of Siona. (Could it be that the added some
New Face Dancers abilities to his cells?) It is clear that the Bene
Tleilaxu did imprint him with their whistling language, so that they
could control him. They also gave him a sexual imprint, with a
command to kill the first Bene Gesserit who would try to imprint him.
(Was he intended to be the Theilaxu instrument for killing Sheeana?)
They also improved his prana-bindu reflexes, and made them even better
than most of the other people.
The question is how Duncan will evolve. Will he learn to master
his new skills, which he has just started to develop? Does he have
the same abilities as the Master Face Dancers to control the net?
Will he work together with Sheeana, or go his own way? Did he only
join forces with Sheeana, so that he could escape, or is he really
attracted to her?
There are several sub-plots in the last two books that are kind
of left open at the end of Chapterhouse: Dune. This Jewish
family with the wild Reverend Mother is one, but an even clearer
one is Scytale. Somehow I get the feeling that the story
would not have been much different without him. But I have to
admit that there would be a lot less (in a literary sense) without
them. Herbert does create some additional suspense through
this character, but it is more of a decoy (with nothing behind)
then anything substantial. Also, his most important card,
the cells of Paul, Stilgar, and all the others, which he
carried inside his chest, has not been played yet.
It would be interesting to see what would happen if some of the
old characters would be recreated. They will be reawakened in a very
different world. I think the cells were of great interest for the
Bene Gesserit to recover some of the 'blood lines' they had lost.
I doubt whether any of the recreated characters would be able to play
an important role again, except maybe for Leto II if his cells
would be modified like Duncan's. They idea of all the worms becoming
a collective consciousness controlling the 'net' would be a really
stunning thing. Yet, I feel that this type of story-line would be a
little to simple for Frank Herbert.
The Golden Path is one of the central themes
of the fourth book of the series, but plays an important role in
most of the books. The Golden Path is the path (in history) that
will ensure the ongoing existence of the human race. It is that
path which prevents stagnation of the human race.
When Leto II died at the end of the fourth book
he considered it to be established. It was established through
the Scattering, and the fact that the off-spring of Siona were
invisible for prescience. The goal of Leto II was that never in
history again one person would be able to control all humankind.
Or that the "seeking machines", as mentioned in The God Emperor of
Dune, would be able to find all of humankind to destroy them.
However, in the last two books it turns out that there
are some people who can see no-ships, and who do control large
amount people. First of all there is Miles Teg
who can see the no-ships. Then there is Duncan Idaho
with his strange abilities. And last but not least, Daniel and Marty,
who could control large amounts of people through
there control over the 'net'. (large indeed, if it were them who
send the Honoured Matres back into the Old Empire.)
Although, Sheeana, Duncan, Teg, and the others escape the grip of
Daniel and Marty, some doubt has been raised whether the Golden Path
is still save.
Here are some possible titles for the seventh book:
(This list should not be taken very seriously, but any additional
suggestions are welcome.)
- Dune: Resurrection
- Reawakening Dune
- Worms of Dune
- God Emperores of Dune
- Dune: Legends
- Dune Revenant
- Dune: Saints & Gods
- Dune 7: Advent (Review)
- Hunters of Dune