Children of Dune is the third book in the original six-part Dune saga, written by Frank Herbert and published in 1976. Children of Dune was the first hard-cover science fiction best-seller and was nominated for a Hugo Award.
Children of Dune skips some time from Dune Messiah and follows what has happened to the Atreides Imperium after Paul Muad'Dib walked off into the desert. Paul's sister Alia rules as Regent in the name of Paul's son Leto II, however her increasing paranoia leads her to continue to consume more and more Spice, exposing her as a pre-born to increased risk of possession and "abomination". Alia pressures the similarly pre-born Leto II and his sister Ghanima to do the same in order to use oracular vision to suss out threats to their empire.
The Lady Jessica and Gurney Halleck also returns to Arrakis to assess the condition of her daughter and grandchildren. Meanwhile, a plot is emerging on Selusa Secundas, where the remaining House of Corrino plans a move against the Atreides twins in a scheme to re-take the throne. A mysterious preacher has also emerged to challenge the religious message of Alia's priesthood and her rule.
Will Leto II and Ghanima be able to inherit the future from their lost father and ailing aunt?
Children of Dune contains examples of:
- A God I Am Not: As "the Preacher", Paul actively works to destroy his own godhead. Also a case of Unwanted False Faith.
- A Million Is a Statistic: Alias continuation of Pauls jihad.
- Ancient Astronauts: A variant in that humans themselves fill this role, with the Bene Gesserit purposely spreading myths based on heroic and religious archetypes throughout fledgling colonies to make use of the people there later.
- Animal Assassin: A daughter of the deposed Emperor develops a plot to assassinate Paul's children Leto II and Ghanima with conditioned Laza Tigers.
- Anti-Villain: Farradin Corrino is built up as the villain. The ending reveals that he becomes a trusted companion of Leto II, and that he is the one whose quotes have been peppered throughout the novel.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Leto II uses this on Stilgar to make him realize the true depths of decadence the Fremen have fallen to as a result of achieving their vision of Paradise. The narrative illustrates this beautifully by treating readers to Stilgar's internal monologue while musing on the reasons Leto chose to phrase it like that.Leto: "Have you noticed, Stil, how beautiful the young women are this year?"
- Because Destiny Says So: Paul and Leto II's battle of visions. Paul locked himself into a terrible path, which necessitated Leto II taking a worse one with even more personal sacrifice.
- Blessed with Suck: Alia has access to the genetic memory of all her ancestors. Unfortunately, this includes her grandfather, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.
- BrotherSister Incest: Children of Dune, while treating incest as a theme, does not create such feelings Leto II and his sister Ghanima. Ghanima says "I will not bear your children, brother," to which Leto replies, "I love you, my sister, but that is not the way my thought tends." They do end up marrying each other, but it is nonsexual and actually meant to invoke pharaonic-archetypes of ancient Egypt.
- BrotherSister Team: Leto II and Ghanima are twins, as well as pre-born. This makes them the only people capable of mutually understanding each other in the entire universe. Paul and Alia to a lesser degree.
- Came Back Strong: Leto II after his spice trial at Shuloc.
- Casual High Drop: Leto II demonstrates his new post-transformation abilities by leaping off a cliff and into a canal.
- The Chains of Commanding: Alia cannot bear their weight.
- Character Tics: The Baron apparently tapped his fingers during anxiety or boredom, as shown in Children of Dune when Alia becomes possessed with her ego-memories of him.
- Creepy Twins: Leto II and Ghanima, though they come off that way more to the reader who can watch in on their "games."
- The Creon: The Bene Gesserit play this trope on an organizational scale. They do not believe that assuming direct control of the empire will be beneficial to them, and instead conduct extremely elaborate (millennia-spanning) schemes to remain advisors to the emperor while controlling the empire only from the shadows.
- Culture Chop Suey: A classic example. Millennia of galactic colonization have created completely new unrecognizable ethnicities and modified versions of current Earth religions.
- Darwinist Desire: the Bene Gesserit actually have Darwinist Desire Matchmaking. They've been secretly manipulating the marriages of all the members of the noble houses to produce the Kwisatz Haderach, a being capable of omniscience.
- Dead Guy Junior: Paul named not just one but both of his sons after their late grandfather, though one (son) had died by the time the other came along. Oddly, they're both named Leto II.
- Death Faked for You: Leto IIs gambit, which involves hypnotizing Ghanima so even she thinks hes dead.
- Deconstructor Fleet: For The Chosen One, the Messianic Archetype, and hero tropes in general.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Leto II.
- Either/Or Prophecy: Paul and later Leto II can see possible futures and must choose the best one to carry out.
- Emotions vs. Stoicism: The Bene Gesserit stress emotional control at all times as both proof of humanity and a basic survival tool with the Litany Against Fear. Unlike Vulcans, they're more than happy to use emotion as a tool to manipulate others — their emphasis is control, not denial
- The Emperor: Alia as Regent
- Face Your Fears: The Litany against fear promotes doing this whenever possible.
- Fake Memories: Ghanima creates false memories to convince herself that Leto had died as part of a prophetic plan.
- Foe-Tossing Charge: At the finale of Children of Dune, Leto II fights his way through Alia's elite guards before smashing down the door to her chambers, his extreme strength (due to sandworm-based enhancements) allowing him to basically sweep them aside. Since he was dragging his sister along during all of this, it means his Foe-Tossing Charge was one-handed!
- Galactic Superpower: The Empire that reigned from the Butlerian Jihad to Leto II's planned Scattering.
- Good Stepmother: Irulan is for all intents and purposes Leto and Ghanima's stepmother, being married to their biological father, Paul Atreides, and loves them as if they are her own children.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: A twofer, actually. Baron Harkonnen is father to Jessica and grandfather to Paul. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun in Children of Dune, when his genetic memory-self possesses Alia.
- Meaningful Name: Ghanima, Leto II's twin sister. Her name means "spoils of war," because despite his seeing-the-future-vision, he'd never realized his wife was having twins. "Ghanima" also comes with added connotations of an object that is no longer being used for its real purpose — or for any meaningful purpose at all, in fact.
- Memory Gambit: Ghanima hypnotizes herself to believe she witnessed her brother being assassinated by Laza tigers, when in actuality he had escaped.
- Old Retainer: Gurney Halleck now serves the Lady Jessica.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: A Bene Gesserit's "ancestral egos" can become troublesome. Alia finds this out the hard way.
- Regent for Life: Alia (she didn't start out that way, but shit happened).
- Seize Them!: When Leto knocks the door to Alia's room off its hinges and enters her presence along with his sister Ghanima, Alia shouts at her guards to "Seize them!" Leto picks up the 1,000 lb. door he just came through and throws it at the guards.
- Split-Personality Takeover: Alia gets taken over by the memory-construct of her dead grandfather Baron Harkonnen. It doesn't end well.
- Unusual Euphemism: "An adult beefswelling" is used as a rather... unfortunate euphemism for "erection".
- Voice of the Legion: The billions of ego memories within genetic memory-awakened individuals can appear like this, especially to the pre-born.
- The War to End All Wars: Kralizec; in the oldest Fremen beliefs it is the Typhoon Struggle, the war at the end of the universe.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: The pre-born, due to awakened genetic memory in the womb, never develop a personality of their own and are entirely intelligent even before birth.