I started reading another book right after Dune but it proved too dense for me to keep up my motivation to get past the first third. What I read of this book was good, but I just kept finding other things to do instead of continuing to read it. This went on for quite some time and was exacerbated by the fact that I got a new computer that was actually enjoyable to use. So lo and behold I just finished my first book in over a month and it was the sequel to Dune, Dune Messiah.
Dune Messiah was different than Dune in many ways, but in my opinion it was just as good. I found these two books to be similar to how Empire Strikes Back compares to A New Hope. The second book was darker and definitly had more of an open ended ending that really makes you want to see how things will turn out in the third installment. I want to say that I actually liked the second book more than the first in a lot of ways. Overall, I think the first was better because it had so much more breadth, which, while not often better, was done better than almost any other fantasy book I have read.
Many people do not like Dune Messiah because of the antihero status that Paul takes on. I heard that before reading this book, so I was aware of the critque, and to be honest I did not really find that to be a negative at all. The way I interpreted many of the actions of Paul, were as someone who was trying to make the best of a situation that he saw as inevitable due to his oracular powers. There were things set in motion during the first book that foreshadowed most of the outcome in the second, so I did not really understand why people would say it took a hero and brought him down. It is said that Dune Messiah is a cautionary tale of the abuse and corruption that goes along with absolute power. While I see this point of view, I actually thought Paul should the inner conflict of someone with power that usually gets ignored when you view such a person from the outside. If you only focus on the Jihad in his name you do not fully appreciate the decision making process he goes through nor the pain he feels for what goes on around him. This was mentioned repreatedly in Dune as he tried to find a way out of what he saw to be his fate. Therefore, I found this to be a really fitting sequel as well as a great book on its own. I am really looking forward to reading the third book.