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Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

In our last reading, the Harkonnens successfully planted suspicion right where it would do the most damage; Duke Leto and Paul got to see their very first Spice Factory swallowed by a creature the size of Dubuque; and Lady Jessica threw a dinner party to get to know their enemies better.

Chapter 18:  The Betrayal
Chapter 19:  Paul and Jessica Escape
Chapter 20:  Yueh's Counter-Plan
Chapter 21:  Yueh's Revenge
Chapter 22:  Paul Sees the Big Picture

Even though I've read this book I don't know how many times, and even though I know how things fall out, this next chapter always seems to sandbag me.  While we're still reeling from Jessica's face-off with Hawat in the previous chapter, Leto walks down a hallway in his palace and discovers a dead man.  The house's protective shields are down, and the servants who might have given warning are dead.  Leto barely has time to realize his danger when he feels the drugged dart shot into his arm.

"What th--?  It's happening already???  But they just got here!  Leto never had a chance!"  No he didn't.  That's what everyone's been saying for the past dozen or so chapters.

Doctor Yueh, the Traitor, has finally made his move.  "I'm sorry, my dear Duke, but there are things which will make greater demands than this," he says, indicating the tattoo on his forehead symbolizing his ethical conditioning.  "I find it strange, myself -- an override on my pyretic conscience -- but I wish to kill a man.... Oh, not you, my dear Duke.  The Baron Harkonnen.  I wish to kill the Baron."  

Yueh promises to save Jessica and Paul.  He has persuaded the Baron to leave the two of them out in the desert to die, and has arranged for survival gear to be hidden for them and for Duncan Idaho to find them and take them to the Fremen.  In return, he ask Leto to extract revenge on the Baron for both of them, by means of a poison gas capsule disguised as a false tooth.

Jessica awakens to find herself bound and gagged, along with Paul.  The Harkonnens have arrived and the Baron is here to gloat over her.  The gag is important, because the Baron fears her use of "The Voice", a Bene Gesserit technique of inducing others to instinctively obey commands by pitching the voice in just the right manner.  It's a little bit like "Jedi Mind Tricks," and we saw a bit of it in her interview with Hawat in last week's section.

The Baron has promised promised Jessica to his mentat, Piter de Vries; but he now offers Piter a choice:  either take the woman he's been lusting after and leave Arrakis, or remain as the Baron's governor.  This is part of the Baron's larger plan; he expects Piter to make himself so hated as ruler of the planet that the people will welcome his eventual replacement, the Baron's nephew Feyd, with open arms.  A mentat should know when he's being manipulated like that, but Piter jumps exactly the way the Baron wants him to.

Piter has a couple minions take Jessica and Paul in an ornithopter, the one Yueh prepared, out into the desert, "as the Traitor suggested."  Both Piter and the Baron fear the possibility of being questioned by the Emperor's B.G. Truthsayer (whom we met in the first chapter), and so they want to be able to say truthfully that they did not actually kill either Jessica or her son.  Paul has been left un-gagged, and although he is not yet fully trained in the Voice, he is able to induce one of the guards to remove his mother's gag as well.  Big mistake, guys.

A little bit here about Duncan Idaho.  In the sequel, we meet a clone of Duncan and are told how much Paul admired the original, but he never seemed to me to have done much in the original book.  Re-reading it, I see that Duncan did a lot of cool stuff -- just that it was all off-stage.  For example, we are told early on that Duncan was Paul's chief fencing instructor.  His mission to the Fremen must have been exciting and dangerous, and here we are told that Duncan picks up Paul and Jessica.  Then, apparently, Duncan goes to rendezvous with Kynes, and gets captured by the Harkonnens.  He is tortured to death; all off-stage.  We aren't even told for sure it's him.  Duncan deserves better.  Just sayin' is all.

Yueh meets the Baron and demands that Harkonnen keep his part of the bargain: to free Yueh's wife from her agony and permit him to join her.  Yueh's no fool.  He knows exactly what this means; but he has to be sure that his wife is truly dead and free from the Baron's tortures.  And he wants to get his revenge.

His plan very nearly works; the poison gas in Leto's tooth kills Piter and some of the Baron's soldiers, but by chance the Baron himself is far enough away to cheat death.

Out in the desert, Paul and Jessica wait in a tent for Idaho to return.  They've found the pack of survival gear Yueh hid away on their ornithopter, along with the Atriedes ducal signet ring and a letter confessing to his treachery.  Paul finds himself unable to stop analyzing things.  The mentat training Hawat has been giving him; his mother's B.G. training in observation; his genetic potential as the possible Kwisatz Haderach, the one who can be many places at once; all boosted by his recent exposure to the spice melange are coming together and making him hyper-aware.  He experiences glimpses of the future -- of possible futures.

Paul's mind had gone on in its chilling precision.  He saw the avenues ahead of them on this hostile planet.  Without even the safety valve of dreaming, he focused his prescient awareness, seeing it as a computation of probable futures, but with something more, an edge of mystery -- as though his mind dipped into sme timeless stratum and sampled the winds of the future.
The possibilities he sees in the future frighten and repulse him.  And he sees the jihad; a galactic war carried on in his name.  "I'm a monster!" he thinks; "A freak!"  He also realizes that he himself carries Harkonnen blood; that his mother's unknown father was in fact the Baron himself.  And he sees the huge vortex of destiny ahead of him ready to swallow him up.

NEXT:  We begin Part II:  Muad'Dib

Chapter 23:  Waiting for Nightfall
Chapter 24:  Hawat among the Fremen
Chapter 25:  Help from Kynes
Chapter 26:  The Baron Adjusts his Plans
Chapter 27:  Emergency Landing
Chapter 28:  Gurney among the Smugglers
Chapter 29:  Dash Across the Sands

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 06:35 PM PDT.

Also republished by oo.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Chapters for Next Time (7+ / 0-)

    We'll be beginning Part II.  Once again, the chapter descriptions are my own.

    Chapter 23:  Waiting for Nightfall
    Chapter 24:  Hawat among the Fremen
    Chapter 25:  Help from Kynes
    Chapter 26:  The Baron Adjusts his Plans
    Chapter 27:  Emergency Landing
    Chapter 28:  Gurney among the Smugglers
    Chapter 29:  Dash Across the Sands

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 06:45:32 PM PDT

  •  We just get to like Leto (10+ / 0-)

    primarily through Kynes' eyes and then Leto is killed.  I agree, it is too quick, like an inkvine whiplash.  I am also always unhappy that the tooth fails to kill the baron, although it would make for a shorter story.

    The violent flight into the desert reminds me a bit of the christ child being taken into the desert to escape Herod.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 07:01:23 PM PDT

  •  My (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper, barbwires

    ethical conditioning: Keep your grimy mitts off my soul :-)

    And my soul has no race of men.

    When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace- Hendrix

    by Maori on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 07:31:53 PM PDT

    •  Implicataions of the Suk School (5+ / 0-)

      The book does not go into great detail about what the Imperial Conditioning of he Suk School entails; although Dr. Yueh's allusion to his "pyretic conscience" is suggestive.  (Does he burst into flames if he breaks his Hippocratic Oath?).  It's possible that the students of the Suk School undergo this conditioning voluntarily; and since the conditioning seems to be to ensure that no Suk doctor will ever take a life, that seems to make it more palatable.


      If the Imperium has the techniques to condition a man not to kill, it also has the techniques to do other things.  Indeed, in an upcoming chapter we come across a gladiator slave who has been conditioned to go limp when a certain code-word is spoken, as a safety precaution.

      And Jessica's confrontation with Thufir Hawat in last week's reading reveals that the Bene Gesserit does have advanced behavior-modifiying techniques which they use only sparingly, because they know if they use them too much, people will come to distrust them.

      You're right.  It is creepy.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 07:44:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't want to get too far ahead of the book, (7+ / 0-)

        but the Bene Gesserit do what they do because of the mission they have. They are ostensibly a religious teaching order (thus "Reverend Mother" and "Sister"), but their primary goal isn't political (although they've mastered politics in the millennia that they've been active), but genetic. They don't WANT to be out front, overtly in charge. They work best when they're safely in the shadow of whoever is actually sitting on the throne. Their goal is to mingle the Houses to create their Kwisatz Haderach, not to rule.

        Of course, it's been a LONG time since the mission began, and many of the BG have gotten USED to ruling from behind the throne.

        They only call it class war when we hit back.

        by jayjaybear on Sun Apr 17, 2011 at 08:39:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Politics (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          She nodded.  "We have two chief survivors of those ancient schools:  the Bene Gesserit and the Spacing Guild.  The Guild, so we think, emphasizes almost pure mathematics.  Bene Gesserit performs another function."

          "Politics," he said.

          "Kull wahad!"  the old woman said.  She sent a hard glance at Jessica.

          "I've not told him, Your Reverence," Jessica said.

          The Reverend Mother returned her attention to Paul.  "You did that on remakably few clues," she said.  "Politics indeed..."

          But that said, I think the B.G.s regard politics as a tool to accomplish their ultimate goal rather than their main purpose.

          "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

          by quarkstomper on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 02:33:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  sorry I didn't see this earlier (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quarkstomper, G2geek, RunawayRose

    I'll read it tomorrow - glad you wrote it, though.

  •  A great storyteller (6+ / 0-)

    I, too, am always shocked by Leto's death and frustrated by the failure of the tooth plot. Then I admire that Frank Herbert is going places that I would not have expected; which is part of this book's greatness.

  •  Not to get w-a-a-y ahead, but (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SLKRR, RunawayRose, quarkstomper, mrkvica

    interesting the way a character killed off earyl in book one becomes THE focal character in subsequent books.

  •  Yueh is not only shallow, but evil (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, quarkstomper

    He lets his desire for revenge lead to the death immediately of Leto, and [presumably] Jessica and Paul, but surely he knows what kind of treatment the Atreides troops and household can expect. And what will happen to the people of Arrakis.

    I wish Herbert had expanded the role of Duncan Idaho. Hawat is boring and predictable, but Idaho is someone I want to know, whose advice would be valuable and his company welcome. Hawat is the guy you wish would just go away.

    •  Not Just Revenge (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yueh's wife, Wanna, was a captive of the Harkonnens, suffering agonies under Piter's pain amplifiers.  Yueh's chief goal was to deliver her from her torture.  He knew that the Baron would probably kill her; but he also knew that unless he cooperated, his wife was at Piter's mercy.

      You can still argue that his betrayal was unjustified, and you may well be right; but it wasn't just revenge.

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 02:23:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  IIRC, he thinks that she is already dead n/t (0+ / 0-)
        •  He Suspects, But He Doesn't Know (0+ / 0-)

          Wanna's life is the only hold the Baron has over Yueh; as long as she is in his power, Yueh has to obey him.

          "I made a shaitan's bargain with the Baron.  And I must be certain he has fulfilled his half of it.  When I see him, I'll know.  When I look at the Baron, then I will know.  But I'll never enter his presence without the price.  You're the price, my poor Duke.  And I'll know when I see him.  My poor Wanna taught me many things, and one is to see certainty of truth when the stress is great.  I cannot do it always, but when I see the Baron -- then, I will know."

          And later:

          And Yueh allowed himself to think now, hearing the loud silence of clocks in his mind.  He had seen the subtle betrayals in the Baron's manner.  Wanna was indeed dead -- gone far beyond their reach.  Otherwise, ther's still be a hold on the weak doctor.  The Baron's manner showed there was no hold; it was ended.

          Yes, I have to admit, I have some sympathy for the miserable Doctor.  Perhaps it's because of the unrelenting condemnation Princess Irulian has for him in the chapter headings; perhaps because we see him wrestling with his conscience and come so close to admitting the plot to Jessica; perhaps because even though is plan to kill the Baron falls short of success, it catches the Baron completely by surprise and causes the Baron major inconvenience, (he loses his mentat, Piter; he is scared out of his suspensors by his brush with death; and perhaps worst, he knows this failure on his part to manage the situation will get back to the Emperor).

          "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

          by quarkstomper on Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 07:49:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Read the Dune series when I was 13 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OHdog, Limelite, RunawayRose, quarkstomper

    and I have never fully recovered. Funny how relevant it is still today. I'm an avid sci-fi/fantasy and no author has come close to Frank Herbert's masterpiece. The lust for power, human failings, politics and religion woven together...JIHAD!

  •  To awaken a ghola to its prior self (4+ / 0-)

    an external stress is applied which causes great internal conflict. The spice agony is a similar fictional construct used by Herbert.

    Paul's awakening in this last chapter is the result of existential stress as applied by the machinations against his father.

    The strictures of the Butlerian Jihad led the Bene Gesserit to perfect the human ability. In this case, it is Paul's carefully honed genetic template, in addition to his training, that lets him unlock the unknown.

    Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit.

    by cultjake on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 10:10:07 AM PDT

  •  Will Paul Rise above His Genes? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, quarkstomper

    Am enjoying the series very much, having read the book decades ago.  I'm unwilling to re-read it now, but your "refresher course" is refreshing.  Thanks!

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 12:05:04 PM PDT

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