by brian herbert and kevin j. anderson
in hindsight i realize that it might have been best to read the first three books of the dune series before trying sisterhood of dune. that's the first three books chronologically, as they play out in the dune universe, not the first three to be written. it's a trilogy that chronicles the war between men and intelligent machines that constitutes the butlerian jihad, an era only mentioned in passing in the "proper" dune books, as i recall.
while the title sisterhood of dune suggested to me that it would be focused primarily on the bene gesserit, who play such an important role in the series, that's not entirely the case. their formative years are covered here, in a book that commences about a century after the events of the aforementioned jihad, but a number of the other groups, schools or whatever you want to call them are covered as well, including the suk medical practitioners, an early version of choam and the spacing guild, the human computers known as the mentats, and the swordmasters school.
if that wasn't enough we see a continuation, more or less, of the man vs. machine theme, as the fanatical anti-technology crusader manford torondo wreaks havoc on a number of fronts. we also are presented with a variety of sub-plots that deal with early ancestors of the atreides, the harkonnens, and the ruling corrino family. there's even a short foray to the planet which gave the series its name - arrakis aka dune - where we encounter the fremen, or as they're still known in this day and age - the freemen.
which is a pretty full plate and i've probably missed a few stray ingredients here and there. it's a reasonably entertaining look at the formative years of various entities that make up the dune universe but it's obviously pretty far removed from the world of frank herbert's original books. not surprisingly, what i found the most interesting were those all too brief segments that did actually take place on dune. the big downsides for me this time around, various characters - including torondo - who seemed just a bit too villainous and all around blackhatted to be entirely believable.
ultimately, i found sisterhood of dune reasonably diverting, but i don't see myself ever coming back around for a re-reading, something i've done countless times with the first four of the frank herbert volumes.