Princess Irulan brings up the Harkonnens again, calling them Muad'Dib's "mortal enemies." Then a bunch more philosophical mumbo jumbo. This woman's starting to piss me off and she hasn't even appeared yet.
We're now in the office of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, which we know because he says "Is it not a magnificent thing that I, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, do?" You know, this isn't a screenplay; it's okay to give us information outside of dialogue so you don't get awkward lines like that. Though the description of the room is pretty vivid, if suffering a bit from Tech Marches On
with the inclusion of "scrolls, filmbooks, tapes, and reels." He's not the most subtle villain either, being very fat, prone to laughing, and the owner of a bunch of rings.
He's meeting with his nephew Feyd-Rautha and another guy named Piter, about how giving up the melange contract was a Batman Gambit
against Leto, though we don't get any details yet. A message arrives from Leto refusing to meet in person, and we learn the word "vendetta" has evolved into "kanly." Okay, now I'm just irritated. Either leave the word the same, or explain it to the reader directly, don't have the characters As You Know
like Harkonnen does about this. I have no idea how Herbert didn't see this advantage to writing a book over a movie.
Piter is a Mentat, which I guess is some kind of elite assassin, and somehow has creepy entirely blue eyes. He and Harkonnen have a bizarre conversation arguing over their plan, even though they agree that it's going well so far. Feyd-Rautha endears himself to me just as much as Paul by just being embarrassed about the the whole thing.
There's a bit more explaining the plan, though a bit more natural this time: a Dr. Yueh will soon make his move against Leto, which will alert everyone who was behind the whole thing in a necessary part of the gambit, but Harkonnen is still uneasy about it. He and Piter bicker like an old married couple some more, solidifying Piter as a Psycho for Hire
while Harkonnen's a bit more reserved in his villainy. Kind of odd as he was just introduced as a Large Ham
. And Piter's payment for his part in the plan is Jessica, so things just got pretty creepy.
Feyd-Rautha is now bored enough to ask out loud if this is going anywhere. Hee! But it does get Harkonnen to come to the point: with Piter still right there in the room, he holds him up to Feyd-Rautha as a bad example of someone who's too emotional about his work. "Precisely. You are on display. Now be silent." Suddenly he got awesome too. It's also implied that Piter's eyes are due to his being addicted to melange; maybe it won't just be a MacGuffin
When Piter's allowed to talk again, it's to outline their plan, which Feyd-Rautha doesn't know. Man, this is like watching Herbert become a better writer right before my eyes. They've already determined where Leto will move in on Arrakis, and have arranged for a failed assassination attempt on Paul by Dr. Yueh, The Mole
thanks to Harkonnen breaking his Imperial Conditioning somehow. But moving on, next they'll get Leto's Mentat Hawat to suspect Jessica, plus arranging a few uprisings to be put down until the real attack with Sardauker, the best of the best of Imperial troops. I really like this whole section; we get a good feel for the broad strokes of the plan, while the specifics like how they'll get Hawat to suspect Jessica and how they got Yueh on their side are still left to see later.
The end result will be that the Atreides will be wiped out and everyone will know the Harkonnens did it, which will somehow put them in a very good position with a corporation named CHOAM. The chapter was going very well for a while now, but for some reason it ends with more detailing of how fat Harkonnen is. Thanks, I can remember back to the beginning of the same chapter.
edited 3rd Sep '10 4:00:42 PM by Eegah