by brian herbert and kevin j. anderson
over the course of the past few months i've read and reviewed three of the "other" dune books, the ones that weren't written by frank herbert. i certainly wasn't knocked out by them but at the time i found them entertaining enough and ranked them as decent efforts. then i went back to the first of the brian herbert and kevin j. anderson dune books - dune: house atreides - and found that by comparison those other three books didn't perhaps fare as well as i thought.
which is not to say that this one is on the level of the first four dune books, which get my vote as the best of the bunch, but in retrospect this one feels much more like a dune book than those other three sequel/prequel volumes.
but about that title. for my money, though the title suggests otherwise, this book wasn't focused that closely on house atreides, or at least no more than any other dune book. the usual suspects are presented here, although the action takes place for the most part a few decades before the events of the first book of the series.
thus the baron harkonnen is still a slim, trim and dashing fellow, rather than the corpulent monstrosity we see in that first book. but he's still a pretty awful guy and as he's just been made governor of arrakis, he turns his attention to seeing how much profit he can siphon off from the spice production there. imperial planetologist pardot kynes also turns up on dune and before long finds himself being accepted into the ranks of the insular fremen.
there's also a corrino plot thread, that focuses mainly on prince shaddam and hasimir fenring's efforts to see that the former is installed as emperor sooner than anyone would have expected. back on caladan, the story deals with duke paulus atreides - grandfather of paul atreides - and his young son leto, and we also see threads that concern the always scheming bene gesserit, a young duncan idaho and a rivalry between the ixians and the tleilaxu.
a pretty interesting piece of work overall and a worthwhile kickoff to the trilogy that leads up - after a fashion - to the events of dune.