I've finished book four: God Emperor of Dune. A couple thousand years have gone by and Leto (the son of the main character of the first book) is now almost completely a giant worm. He's created an empire where he is the godhead. There aren't crimes, but sins. His army is made up of only women. Computers are banned. So is interplanetary travel. Where dunes were, water and foliage now reign. Oh, and he keeps bringing Duncan Idaho back over and over and over again.
He has sacrificed and done all of this to create year after year of "Leto's Peace."
To save life as they knew it, Leto had to follow the Golden Path which meant 1. turning into a worm and 2. being a peace despot.
And in the end? Leto's fate is to be killed with water (wicked witch = worm), which will start the process of bringing sandworms (mini-Leto's) back to Dune and re-making it the Dune we all love. And both Leto and the reader know this the entire time.
So when Leto falls in love? You're all: how many sacrifices does he have to make? And...she is marrying a giant WORM. Also, his army is kind of upset because Leto has been telling them they are his only "brides." Uh oh.
But he is a god, so he can do that?
Per Dune usual, there's lots of talk about power, fate, choices, and what a god is exactly.
The reader also got to see the domestication of men at the hands of women. As Leto says, "Domestication is a thing that females know from eons of necessity...To tame, to fit into some orderly survival pattern. Women learned it at the hands of men; now men learn it at the hands of women."
I feel evil laughter coming on.
Now, wherever you fall on the is-Leto-a-divine-being-or-not debate (he dies...can you kill a god?), there is no doubt that he shaped the universe (as emperor of bunches of planets). It makes one consider how each of us has been manipulated by un-payed-attention-to sources: "...and holding people planetbound keeps them out of mischief. It does something more important that that. It fills them with a longing to travel. It creates a need to make far voyages and see strange things. Eventually, travel comes to mean freedom."
Reading the Dune series is more than just reading. It is swimming around in another world made by words that have snuck off the page and created rolling dunes as far as the eye can see.
"If we deny the need for thought...as some do, we lose the powers of reflection...if we deny the flesh, we unwheel the vehicle which bears us. But if we deny emotion, we lose all touch with our internal universe."
Frank Herbert via Leto
Frank Herbert via Leto