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You've got person in my worm! No, you got worm in my person!

"It is difficult to live in the present, pointless to live in the future and impossible to live in the past."
Leto Atreides II
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God-Emperor of Dune is the fourth installment of the Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert. God-Emperor of Dune was published in 1981 by Putnam, it was a best seller according to Publisher Magazine the same year.

God-Emperor of Dune skips 3500 years from Children of Dune. Leto II is ruler of the Imperium and has continued the metamorphosis he started in Children of Dune, greatly enhancing his life-span and making him Nigh Invulnerable. Leto's awareness greatly surpasses even his father's and he had an iron grip on all aspects of life in his empire in order to ensure humanity's continued survival via the 'Golden Path'. Leto has commandeered the Bene Gesserit breeding program for his own purposes, culminating in Siona, a rebellious girl who is invisible to even Leto's oracular vision. Siona is the daughter of Moneo, Leto's majordomo, he himself was once a rebel as well before seeing the necessity of the Golden Path. The cast is rounded out by Duncan Idaho, which Leto continues to task the Tleilaxu with restoring back to life over the last three millennia both for breeding and for the company he provides, despite many of them dying while trying to assassinate Leto himself.

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Just when Leto's ultimate success is at hand, Ix has sent a new ambassador, Hwi Noree, designed to seduce Leto and make him vulnerable. Despite Hwi's best intentions to betray her Ixian superiors, her very presence does exactly what was intended, for the first time in millennia causing Leto to doubt his choice and sacrifice. The other threats to the Atreides continue, the Tleilaxu are also scheming throughout, the Spacing Guild and the Bene Gesserit attempt to influence events to the best of their comparatively feeble abilities and Siona lurks ready to pounce on the tyrant she resents so much.

Will Leto's 'Golden Path' survive? Will humanity?



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God-Emperor of Dune contains examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Leto II, at the end of Children of Dune combines his body with sandworm larvae to extend his life by thousands of years and gain immunity to almost every form of physical damage, also inherits the sandworms' vulnerability to water. Of course, this is intentional and part of his plan.
  • A God Am I: Leto II, at least publicly.
  • Amazon Brigade: Fish Speakers and the Bene Gesserit.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Leto II’s enforced ‘peace’ makes Paul’s jihad look benign. Also highlighted in how the death of some historians seem to get greater focus than the plight and death of billions under Leto II.
  • And I Must Scream: Leto II's awareness supposedly exists in each of the sandtrout and sandworms produced from his body. In his words, he is a pearl of awareness locked in an endless dream.
  • Anti-Magic: Due to Leto II breeding the Siona gene into humanity, a substantial portion of the human population (including all of the Bene Gesserit) cannot be seen within prescient visions, thereby preventing the prophet's trap. No-Ship technology also applies.
  • Arc Words: "The Golden Path" defines the entire series after the second book, and only becomes more and more powerful as you fully come to realize what it means.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Leto II’s view.
    "The surest sign that an aristocracy exists is the discovery of barriers against change, curtains of iron or steel or stone or of any substance which excludes the new, the different"
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Leto II, especially when Hwi Noree is threatened.
  • Badass Army: The Fish Speakers
  • Big Bad: The Tleilaxu and Ix
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Leto II is the greatest tyrant in history; yet both claimed their actions were necessary to avoid an even greater catastrophe — the complete and total extinction of humanity. (And considering that his father Paul and Leto both share an ability to see into the future, they are probably right.)
  • Bodyguard Babes: Leto's Fish Speaker guard.
  • Body Horror: Leto II in demiworm form.
  • By the Eyes of the Blind: Inverted. Siona and her descendants cannot be detected by prescience.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Leto II
  • The Chessmaster: Leto II
  • Clingy Costume: Stillsuits. Mostly out of use by this time, but Siona needed one during her test.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: Thanks to his powers, Leto II could even foresee where to best place his forces for ambushes.
  • Compelling Voice: Leto II, thanks to carrying the memories of his Bene Gesserit grandmother.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Leto II is prepared for everything thrown at him, to the point that he’s bored.
  • Darwinist Desire: Leto II essentially confiscates the Bene Gesserit breeding program to produce the Siona trait.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The opening pages give a detailed backstory to multiple characters who are immediately killed.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The Golden Path is humanity as a whole earning theirs. However it is averted in Leto II himself who, despite his sacrifices, doesn’t get his, despite it being dangled in front of him.
  • Emperor Scientist: Leto II actually becomes the God-Emperor of the Universe to continue a gigantic human breeding program personally.
  • The Emperor: Leto II as God-Emperor
  • Face–Heel Turn: Duncan Idaho frequently dies betraying Leto II. In the end, he is partially responsible for Leto’s death, despite being in charge of protecting him. Though for Leto himself this is Just as Planned since his death is part of the Golden Path. It could also be a Heel–Face Turn if you consider Leto II the bad guy.
  • Fictional Document: The events of the story are based on Leto’s journals being found in the future.
  • Foregone Conclusion: God Emperor of Dune is written from the Framing Device of the titular Leto's unearthed memoirs. That he is dead and his reign ended is therefore known from the start, and the nature of his demise ("fragmented consciousness") is foreshadowed.
  • Gambit Roulette: More like a Gambit Casino because Leto II goes through four millennia of jihad after jihad, taking a totalitarian grip on all matters secular and religious, controlling the universal economy with his stranglehold on the spice, and carefully manipulating the bloodline stemming from his sister through the ages, all to get Duncan Idaho in bed with his great-great-great-great-great-great^? grand niece (and subsequently create prescient-immune people).
  • God-Emperor: This book was a big influence on the more modern "Memetic Divinity" aspect.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Hwi Noree. The Ixians breed and designed her to be the perfect Honey Pot for Leto. Unfortunately their attraction and compatibility with one another is so perfect that Hwi sides with Leto and betrays the Ixians soon after meeting him for the first time.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Leto II
  • Hobbes Was Right: Leto II determines that the only way to prevent an energy crisis and galactic war leading to the extinction of humanity is to establish himself as a tyrannical, semi-immortal God Emperor. Though this is a bit of a subversion, since the problem was that humans wouldn't leave their safety zone of the known star systems unless they were oppressed and forced to stay there for a couple centuries. Once Leto died, every major human civilization was then free to explore the universe again, in a bit of reverse psychology. Of course he knew it would happen that way.
    • And despite what Brian and Kevin J Anderson would have you believe with their sequels, a close friend of Frank's has stated that he told him that if he were to end the series, he'd do it in such a way where a true democracy was established.
    • You don't even need inside information to reach that conclusion, really: Leto II was quite open and fierce about his hatred of the "pharaonic model".
  • Immune to Fate: Siona and her descendants.
  • Jerkass: Siona opposes the greatest tyrant mankind has ever known, but she's also hypocritical, cruel and pointless vindictive. Nor does she admit the consequences of her actions. She does not even oppose the Golden Path once she understands it, but persists nonetheless. Which just goes to show you that Leto is cruel because he must be, Siona is cruel just because.
  • Kill It with Water: Aside from extreme old age or atomic explosions, the only way to kill a sandworm is by completely drowning them in water. Good luck finding any on a planet called Dune. This, of course, comes full circle in God Emperor of Dune, where Leto II must be killed in water for the sandworm cycle to continue.
  • King Bob the Nth: Leto II
  • Last of His Kind: Leto II, as the last of the sandworms. Later averted with his death.
  • Living Distant Ancestor:
    • Leto II has no direct biological descendants on account of his transformation, but he's raised many generations of his sister Ghanima's descendants.
    • The latest Duncan ghola is informed that many of his prior incarnations sired several children, by one of his descendants.
  • Lonely at the Top: Leto II at the height of his power laments that he has no one who can truly understand him.
  • Mundane Utility: Horse drawn antigravity wagons for farmers. Dune, for all your anachronistic needs. Justified in that Leto II intentionally suppresses all forms of advanced culture and technology except those he uses himself, as part of his plan to force humanity to evolve.
    "Have you not considered how much easier it is to control a walking population?"
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning/Heroic Sacrifice: Leto II's Golden Path.
  • Necessarily Evil: Leto II makes himself the most terrible tyrant in history deliberately, so that when he is dead humanity will scatter and never be controllable by a single power ever again.
    • A scattered humanity that cannot be found via any type of prescience is a humanity that cannot be exterminated. (c.f., Siona's initiation to the Golden Path.)
  • No Woman's Land: Inverted in that Leto II deliberately elevates women over men, save for a select few. A sharp contrast to the old patriarchal Imperium.
  • Numbered Homeworld: The planet Ix (pronounced as spelled) developed from millennia of language-development to the point that the original prefix was lost, and Ix came to be pronounced as a word rather than as "IX", or 9 in Roman numerals.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Leto II, though framed more like Necessarily Evil.
  • Orwellian Editor: Leto II, being a Kwisatz Haderach, has full access to his masculine and feminine genetic memory which stretches from about the year 40,000 back to the beginning of human awareness. What does he do with it? He has hundreds of historians burned alive for misconstruing the facts that he has personal access to. Of course, this was partly mystique-building, as he secretly rendered them unconscious first.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: Psychically-invisible Siona Atreides. Someone planned for it to happen.
  • Pro-Human Transhuman: Leto II
  • Sand Worm: Notably absent, as they're all extinct. Leto II is the closest thing.
  • Shout-Out: Leto II asks Hwi Noree if she's familiar with the philosophy of Noah Arkwright. It turns out to be a pseudonym of Leto II. It's an in-universe shout out to the Biblical character.
  • Super Soldiers: Leto II's Fish Speakers, an Amazon Brigade, become more feared than the Sardaukar.
  • Terraform/Weather-Control Machine: The sandworms managed to turn the once-lush and verdant Arrakis into a desert-world. Paul promises to transform Arrakis into a paradise through use of weather satellites, and makes good with signs of life and vegetation taking hold of the planet at an exponential rate. Unfortunately, his son Leto II realizes this is taking place much too quickly and will destabilize the universe's political and social infrastructure if the sandworms die out, so destroys the canals. He takes control of the program himself and over the next 3,500 years transforms Arrakis more steadily, only to return it to a desert world once again on his death.
  • Time Skip: 3,500 years since Children of Dune
  • Two Beings, One Body: Leto II's merge with the sandtrout/sandworms.
  • Übermensch: Leto II
  • Unobtainium: The Spice. Now even more rarer as Leto is the only source and distributor of the stuff.
  • Villain Protagonist: Leto II. Interesting in that he is only evil so that he can preserve humanity. This really comes out when you see how Siona and the novel's main Duncan feel about him, as they are virtually the only people who don't worship or beg of him.
  • Voluntary Shape Shifting: Face Dancers, though Leto and his forces are trained to detect them.
  • Warfare Regression: Lasguns are back in use, thanks to Leto banning Shield Technology to force warfare to start evolving again.
    • Then reverts back when Leto II bans shields.
  • The War to End All Wars: What could probably result if Leto didn't stick to the Golden Path.
  • Women Are Wiser: Invoked The reason the Fish Speakers are an all woman force is because of Leto's assertion that men, conditioned to violence and deprived of an outlet, will turn on their own populace, while women in the same position will turn to maternal instincts. Leto understands this because he has both male and female Genetic Memory.
    • Ultimately averted though, as women are just as flawed as men, just in different ways. They are just a more easily controlled army then men are.

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