Title: The Butlerian Jihad

Author: Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 696

Rating: 3.5/5

This book is the start of another prequel trilogy that’s part of the Dune series, but this time the action takes place way before the rest of the books. As the title suggests, it focuses on the Butlerian Jihad, which is basically the war against machine that took place before the rest of the Dune books.

Because of that, this book was right up my street. I love stuff about robots, especially when it looks at the difference between robots and humanity and investigates some of the ethical quandaries. There were even some cracking chapter headings that stood out to me, including one that basically said that humanity was doomed as soon as it created machines that could think for themselves.

Unfortunately for us here in the real world, we’ve already done that. Although I’m not sure whether I agree with the naysayers who say that artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to humanity. It has the potential, but not right now. Give it another hundred years or so and we might be in trouble, but then I’m not convinced our race is going to last that long anyway.

But I’m digressing, so let’s get back to the book. It’s definitely not flawless, and I found it to be a definite step down after the last trilogy that I read. But in part, that’s because this takes place so far in advance of the rest of the series that there are no characters there that we see later on in time. But that’s down to the nature of the book and isn’t exactly a problem.

For the first fifty pages or so, I was a little bit worried that I wasn’t going to be able to get into this one, but it didn’t take me too long to start enjoying the characters and to look forward to reading more about them. In fact, considering that this is a long old book with a lot of pages and tiny print, it never dragged. I was coming up to page 500 after a couple of days.

There’s also a lot of really fascinating stuff here, as well as a bunch of references to Greek mythology which build on what Herbert’s father did in the original books and take them a lot further. This is particularly true for the names, and I’m a little bit bummed out that I don’t know more about the Ancient Greeks because I bet there were all sorts of interesting parallels there.

Other than that, the important thing to remember is that this is the first book in a series, and so a lot of it is dedicated to setting things up for what’s to come. That’s not a problem though, because there’s also plenty of plot and some interesting ideas on offer like the idea of psychic warfare and people and machines fusing together to form a sort of immortal cyborg.

We also get to see how a bunch of inventions and innovations came out in the Dune universe, such as the widespread adoption of spice and the creation of personal protective shields. All of this is going on in the sidelines while the main plot focuses on the war between humans and machines, and that creates a pretty epic story with a lot going on in it.

Still, it’s not the best of the Dune novels, and I’d advise going into it with caution because you kind of need to be in the right state of mind if you’re going to enjoy it. It’s also drastically different to the earlier trilogy that Herbert and Anderson worked on, as well as pretty different to the original Dune novels. It takes things off in a new and interesting direction, but if you’re expecting for more of the same then you’re probably not going to get much out of it.

So there you have it, that’s what I made of The Butlerian Jihad. Make of it what you will, but stick with the Dune series if you get chance.

Learn more about The Butlerian Jihad.