by brian herbert and kevin j. anderson
if you read frank herbert's first two dune books, dune and dune messiah, then it probably didn't escape your attention that there was a significant gap between the two. at the end of the first book paul atreides and his fremen forces have defeated the emperor and claimed the planet arrakis for their own. as the second book takes up, atreides is now the emperor himself and is reluctantly presiding over a bloody jihad that has already killed billions and which he seems powerless to stop.
which is where brian herbert and kevin j. anderson's paul of dune fits into the larger picture. i haven't read any dune books for quite some time and i only read a few of this duo's books back, so i was surprised to see that they've now written about twice as many as frank herbert's original six volumes.
paul of dune essentially spins two main stories, though each contains the usual myriad of plot threads that readers of the dune series have come to expect. the main story deals with what happened during that missing decade or so between the first and second books. it's a passably interesting version and worth a look, though given what would come later in the series it seems that the authors laid it on a little thick with the new emperor's lapses into tyrannical behavior.
the other story, and the one that didn't interest me nearly as much, finds us hearkening back to the days just before dune takes place, with a variety of incidents that take place in the life of young paul atreides. not bad stuff really, but for my money the authors could have jettisoned all of it and focused primarily on that other plot strand.
having only read one or two of these ancillary volumes before and not having read any dune books at all for quite some time i couldn't help wondering if this one would hold my interest. aside from the aforementioned reservations, i'd say that it did for the most part. it didn't match up to the first four of the "real" dune books, my favorites of the lot, but for serious fans it's probably worth a look.