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Literature / Legends of Dune

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Everything in the universe contains flaws, ourselves included. Even God does not attempt perfection in His creations. Only humankind has such foolish arrogance.
Cogitor Kwyna - Dune: The Butlerian Jihad

The Legends of Dune trilogy is a set of prequels set in the Dune universe, set during the Butlerian Jihad that was mentioned frequently in the original series, mostly in the context of a prohibition on technology. The story follows a human-machine conflict with humans as part of a 'League of Nobles' versus a sapient computer Omnius that has control of a machine empire. The Legends of Dune series is written by Frank Herbert's son Brian Herbert (Managing Partner of Herbert Properties LLC, the holder of Frank Herbert's intellectual property) and Kevin J. Anderson.

The story establishes the major families that we come to know in Frank Herbert's original Dune series, including the Atreides, Harkonnens, and Corrinos (the Butler family, which later changes its name). The events in this trilogy also setup for the author's attempt at a conclusion to the original series, Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune.

The trilogy also plants the seeds regarding the great schools of the Dune universe, including sub-plots that lead to the formation of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, Spacing Guild, Suk Institute and the Order of Mentats, the great schools are the focus of a subsequent sequel trilogy Great Schools of Dune set after an eighty-year Time Skip from the Legends series.

The Legends of Dune series consists of:

  • Dune: The Butlerian Jihad (2002)
  • Dune: The Machine Crusade (2003)
  • Dune: The Battle of Corrin (2004)

The Legends of Dune trilogy contains examples of:

  • All for Nothing: Abulard's sabotage during the Battle of Corrin to prevent Vorian from killing the 2 million hostages Onnius has deployed as a human shield. Abulard had no way of knowing that Erasmus already covertly sabotaged the human shield to rescue his surrogate son Gilbertus and so destroys his career and legacy for nothing.
    • Hunters of Dune retroactively reveals the entire Butlerian Jihad was ultimately this, as Omnius' last ditch-transmission managed to successfully deposit a copy of his program in one of his deep space probes. The Thinking Machine Empire thus rebuilds in secret on the other side of the universe for the next 15,000 years and long after the heroes and sacrifices of the Jihad have been ground to dust by history.
  • Awful Truth: The prequel timeline has the Jihad proper launched by the cold-blooded murder of Serena Butler by her trusted, supposedly personally loyal bodyguard, followed by the galaxy-wide dissemination of a faked video of Omnius torturing her to death in a cynical attempt to manipulate a rallying humanity into a war of extermination instead of a slave rebellion. She had actually attempted to bring about a ceasefire and a potential end to the war, which was the direct trigger for her betrayal.
    • This Trope also prevents Vorian Atreides (who learns the truth thanks to the late Xavier Harkonnen) from revealing it to the League government or the public after The Machine Crusade. Revealing Serena was actually murdered, not martyred, and that the Grand Patriarch was a corrupt traitor would only break the spine and spirit of the Jihad — and ensure they'd fall to Omnius. It also prevents Vorian from revealing the similarly Awful Truth behind Xavier's 'treason' for killing Iblis (which was actually done to avenge Serena and stop the Grand Patriarch's corruption).
  • Batman Gambit: Vorian's endgame in Navigators of Dune after his and Wilemn's attempt to get Tula on Chusak fails. With Valya and Tula now ensconced on Wallach IX and under the protection of the Sisterhood, he knows there's no way the Atreides will be able to get them now. Thus, he needs to make Valya come to him. So, Vorian selects Corrin as the site of his trap both because of its isolation (to minimize collateral damage) and because of its importance to Harkonnen family history and the feud. He then leaks details of his presence on Corrin, knowing Valya will eventually hear them and come after him personally (and uses that interim to prepare groundwork for the trap).
  • The Battlestar: The Ballista-class battleships are the main warships used by the League Armada in the prequels. Besides formidable weaponry, they carry 20 troop transports, 15 shuttles, 50 patrol craft, and 200 kindjal Space Fighters. Each one also has a crew of 1500. They are later equipped with Deflector Shields and Holtzmann drives.
  • Brain in a Jar: The prequels have brain-jar villains riding around in giant war machines (just because they can), who cause the Butlerian Jihad through poor programming of their computerized inside "man" and wind up as minions/slaves themselves. Besides the Titans (giant war machines ), are the Cogitors, humans who gave up their bodies to spend millennia contemplating the mysteries of the universe. As a group they have declared themselves neutral in the war where humanity is being exterminated like rats.
  • Broken Pedestal: Voiran becomes to Abulard by the ending of The Battle of Corrin. That disilliusionment and bitterness plays a major part in sparking the Atreides-Harkonnen feud.
  • Combat by Champion: Near the end of The Navigators of Dune, Vorian Atreides lures Valya Harkonnen to the ruins of planet Corrin in order to settle their feud once and for all. While Valya initially has no intention of fighting fairly, bringing several Sister commandos with her, the salvagers of Corrin force the other Sisters to watch on the sidelines. Valya proves to be the superior fighter and pummels Vorian, but her final death blow is stopped by Korla, the so-called Queen of Trash, who doesn't want to be involved in the death of a Jihad hero. Korla orders Vorian to flee the planet in his ship, her people holding the Sisters at gunpoint.
  • Canon Discontinuity: While Norma Cenva and Aurelius Venport are mentioned in the original novels, they are portrayed very differently in the prequels. Aurelius is described as an egotistical man in the original novels, who claimed Norma's invention as his own and demanded that she bear him five children, eventually being destroyed by his own realization that his accomplishments would never match his ego. In the prequels, Aurelius is a kind man, who cares deeply for Norma long before they begin a romantic relationship, while being her mother Zufa Cenva's lover. Eventually, Aurelius and Norma begin a relationship, and he finances her scientific work on the Holtzman field. He and Norma only have one child (although he may have produced more with Zufa), and Aurelius is killed shortly after, not by his own sense of inadequacy but as a result of a fatal misunderstanding, when he and Zufa are rescued from cymek captivity by a Titan named Hecate. Zufa assumes that Hecate is one of the evil Titans and unleashes a deadly psychic blast that kills herself, Aurelius, and Hecate. It's possible that Leto II was basing his knowledge of Norma and Aurelius on hearsay from biased sources, since there's no indication that one of his ancestors personally knew either one.
  • Cassandra Truth: Vorian did not kill Griffin Harkonnen during Sisterhood of Dune and Valya naturally refuses to believe him. It then later gets neatly subverted and then play straight during the final confrontation on Corrin. Vorian repeats his innocence, Valya's own Truthsayer confirms he's not lying...and Valya still refuses to believe him, rationalizing it as Vorian having poisoned her own Trusthsayer. A disgusted Vorian rightly calls her out on this, citing it as proof that her desire for vengeance at all costs has consumed her.
  • Clear Their Name: In the aftermath of The Machine Crusade, Vorian is determined to clear Xavier's name and legacy and to help Abulard be proud of his Harkonnen heritage. Vorian and Abulard plan to have Xavier formally, posthumously exonerated once the Jihad ends and the political climate improves, but this plan goes to hell after the Battle of Corrin. Vorian abandons the plan, as Abulard's actions during the Battle makes it impossible to rehabilitate the Harkonnen name (and he's also determined to punish his disgraced protogee for his cowardice and betrayal).
    • 80 years later during the Great Schools Trilogy, though, Vorian eventually admits that as angry as he was with Abulard, he should have at least kept his promise to clear Xavier's name. He owed his old friend that much and now it's not only too late, but it's only added to the Atreides-Harkonnen feud.
  • Cloning Body Parts: In the prequels the early Tleilaxu were known as suppliers of transplantable organs that they grew on trees. However, while they did do that it didn't provide enough organs to meet demand during the Butlerian Jihad so most of their products were a side of their slaving business.
  • Cruel Mercy: Vorian Atreides intervening to commute Abulard's sentence from execution to banishment at the end of The Battle of Corrin. Vorian does it partly to honor Xavier's memory and their friendship one final time...but also because he knows forcing Abulard to live in exile and branded an even worse coward and traitor than Xavier is a far worse punishment than death.
  • Cycle of Revenge: The opening salvos of the Atreides-Harkonnen feud in the Great Schools Trilogy. Vorian even grimly cites the Trope in his reflection after Tula Harkonnen murders Orry Atreides and his brother vows bloody vengeance. Vorian fears his and Xavier's descendents have started something neither family will ever be able to stop. Indeed, the closing scene of the Trilogy sees Wilem working on a plan to kill Valya's surviving brother to avenge Vorian's dishonorable 'murder' at Corrin. The reader knows Vorian's fears have been realized and that the cycle will continue for the next 10,000 years.
  • Deus Est Machina: The backstory suggests humanity once created machines so advanced that life became incredibly easy and comfortable. It is implied that humans (or at least a large number of fanatics) became so abhorred by their perceived over-reliance on intelligent machines (and advanced computer technology in general) that they initiated the Butlerian Jihad, a violent purge of all Artificial Intelligence and advanced computers. When the Jihad ended, it became a crime by religious and secular law to create advanced computers (the chief commandment resulting from this war is that "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of the human mind"), with all of their functions in calculation and space travel adopted by specialized humans (who arguably become a human form of this trope). The prequel novels which detail the Butlerian Jihad as a more straightforward Robot War against oppressive ruler A.I.s did, of course, piss off the fans most mightily.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Vorian admits during Sisterhood of Dune that banishing Abulard and leaving him in exile, in hindsight, was this. There is no forgiving Abulard's cowardice and betrayal in his eyes. But while Vorian knew Abulard would never forgive him, Vorian expected the grudge would die out after several successive generations. He genuinely didn't foresee that Abulard's descendants would keep the grudge alive and burning 80 years later and long after the inciting incident — or that they'd target his own descendents.
    • Dorothea going to Salvador Corrino and informing him of the Sisterhood's access to illegal computer technology in Sisterhood of Dune. She knows the outlawed machines are there thanks to Other Memory, but she's so determined to take advantage of this knowledge as fast as possible that she leaves Rossak without thinking to secure the evidence. Thus, Dorothea didn't consider the Sisters would anticipate her actions and destroy the evidence...or what a weak, impulsive man like Salvador would do once she couldn't produce the goods.
  • Dramatic Irony: Valya Harkonnen's grand goal during the Great Schools Trilogy to restore the lost fortunes of House Harkonenn and punish the Atreides for their betrayal during the Battle of Corrin 80 years later. She succeeds in the short run, but her actions don't end the feud and ensure the parallel ascension of House Atreides to avenge their losses and protect themselves. In the long run, the reader knows Valya's actions have only started a chain of events that will ultimately, utterly destroy House Harkonnen 10,000 years later during the original Dune.
    • Likewise, Valya is absolutely disgusted that her sister's carrying an Atreides child. 10,000 years later, the original, pure Harkonnen bloodline will be wiped out and leave only those of the mixed Atreides-Harkonnen bloodlines like Paul, Alia, Leto II, and Ghanima.
  • The Emperor: Just after the Battle of Corrin that finally ends the Butlerian Jihad, Faykan Butler (grandson of Xavier Harkonnen), who, at the time, carries the titles of Grand Patriarch and Interim Viceroy, combines both offices into Emperor, transforming the League of Nobles into Imperium. He then announces himself as Emperor Faykan Corrino I, changing his surname to commemorate the battle. Interestingly, Faykan's wife Jessica Boro-Ginjo is one of the last descendants of the fallen Emperor of the Old Empire (before the Time of Titans), meaning all of Faykan and Jessica's descendants are continuing that old line as well. Faykan's son Jules is known for supporting the creation of the highly controversial Orange Catholic Bible. Jules's oldest son Salvador turns out to be a weak and incompetent Emperor, mainly concerned with appeasing the Butlerian fanatics and increasing his own wealth and power at the expense of the Imperium. After his death caused by Josef Venport, his more competent younger brother Roderick takes the throne, however reluctantly, and proceeds to strengthen the Imperium and the authority of House Corrino. He also institutes the traditions of Royals Who Actually Do Something. It's under Roderick that the Spacing Guild is founded on the ashes of Venport Holdings.
  • Emperor Scientist: The cymek titans, who were philosopher kings and scientists, particularly ones that dealt with robotics, cybernetics, and artificial intelligence.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Josef Venport's title isn't "Director". It's "Directeur".
  • Faking the Dead: Vorian Atreides at the end of The Navigators of Dune thanks to Valya Harkonnen's sabotage of his ship and his own timely detection of the sabotage, resulting in the ship blowing up without him in it.
    • Vorian also did this in the hopes it would satisfy Valya's blood lust, end her feud, and ensure the safety of the rest of the Atreides family. Without knowing Vorian survived, Wilenm is determined to avenge his murder and immediately begins formulating plans to assassinate Valya's surviving brother. Ironically, he's doing it because, despite Vorian's pleas, he thinks Vorian would have wanted this Harkonnen treachery and dishonor punished.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: In The Great Schools of Dune trilogy, Valya Harkonnen develops a unique fighting style that combines the style she developed with her brother, the fighting style on Rossak, and the training of Ginaz Swordmasters. After becoming Mother Superior, she trains the style to the other Sisters, which eventually evolves into the prana-bindu technique millennia later. The surviving Sorceresses of Rossak even use precise telekinetic pushes to help them maneuver and stay balanced.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Achieved via the use of the Holtzman generators, folding space nearly-instantaneously to the destination. However, in order to avoid getting atomized on the way, Spacing Guild Navigators are required to envision the safe passage (since computers aren't allowed). The prequel novels show that a more conventional means of FTL travel was used before the invention of space folding, which took weeks-to-month to get from star to star. It was largely phased out after space folding became common, although it's mentioned in Sisterhood of Dune that non-critical cargo is still sent by (relatively) slow ships (i.e. using conventional FTL drives) in order to cut costs (this is before they start building the enormous Heighliners).
  • Foreshadowing: The long-range probes that the Omnius on Giedi Prime dispatches early on during The Butlerian Jihad. As will be later revealed at the end of Hunters of Dune, one of these Probes will ensure Omnius' survival after the Battle of Corrin and lead to the reborn Thinking Machine Empire over the next 15,000 years.
  • Frame-Up: Played with in The Machine Crusade when Iblis frames Omnius for Serena's death to revitalize the Jihad and reclaim his political power. Iblis technically has no way of knowing what exactly happened on Corrin, but this scheme was structured to produce two possible outcomes (see Xanatos Gambit). Thus, the 'evidence' is tailored to function either as a standard Frame-Up or as Framing the Guilty Party.
  • The Fundamentalist: Rayna Butler in The Battle of Corrin.
  • He Knows Too Much: This Trope is part of what motivates Xavier to kill Iblis at the end of The Machine Crusade, though it's actually an inversion. Despite his assurances that he just wants to go quietly into retirement, Xavier correctly anticipates that Iblis will kill him before they reach Salusa Secundus. After all, the Grand Patriarch can't risk Xavier exposing the truth about his corruption and role in Serena's death at this crucial juncture.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: In-Universe, Iblis attains this following his murder at Xavier's hands and he joins Serena and Manion as Martyrs of the Jihad. This Trope also prevents Vor from clearing Xavier's name and revealing that the murder was actually to stop Iblis' corruption and to avenge Serena's murder. Exposing the truth would break the spirit and spine of the Jihad.
  • Hope Spot: The end of Vorian's storyline in Navigators of Dune. Vorian hopes that faking his death will satisfy Valya and end the blood feud between their families for good. Unfortunately, even with Vorian 'dead' and declaring the feud is over, Valya just can't let it go. She immediately begins working on other, non-lethal ways to hurt the Atreides Family moving forward. Likewise, Wilem Atreides immediately begins working on a plan to kill Valya's surviving brother to avenge Vorian...
    • Before that, Valya's own Truthsayer confirms on Corrin that Vorian didn't murder Griffin. For a moment, it looks like this might finally snap Valya back to reality and make her realize the ensuing bloodshed was pointless and unnecessary...and then she immediately goes back to blaming Vorian anyway and finding way to get around her Truthsayer's testimony. Vorian even lampshades that he didn't really expect this was actually going to work and is too tired to be disappointed.
  • Humongous Mecha: Cymeks used large mechanical bodies with multiple limbs and devastating weaponry, with their Brain in a Jar plugging into special sockets, allowing them to control the bodies as easily as if they were their own. 80 years after the end of the Jihad, Venport Holding scientists recreate the technology and start making more cymeks using the brains of failed Navigators in order to counter the mindless hordes of the Butlerian fanatics.
  • Hyperspeed Escape: Happens a few times in the prequels. Not so much in the main novels due to the Guild's monopoly on interstellar travel. Notably, Norma Cenva is able to do this even without a ship, as her powerful Psychic Powers allow her to fold space at will, unlike every other Navigator.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Rayna Butler and her cultists, oh so much.
    • For example, the Butlerians hate machines, yet use spaceships (which she and her successors justify as as a necessary evil to combat the greater evil). This hypocrisy/paradox gets pointed out In-Universe repeatedly both during The Battle of Corrin and throughout the Great Schools Trilogy.
    • Valya Harkonnen also embraces this Trope during the climax of Navigators of Dune after her own Truthsayer confirms Vorian's not lying about not being responsible for Griffin Harkonenn's death earlier in the Trilogy. Valya still refuses to believe it. She instead insists Vorian poisoned her own Truthsayer and comes up with later insane rationalizations (like that Vorian used Loophole Abuse to kill her brother while keeping his hands clean, or that he's convinced himself of the 'truth' and thus didn't technically lie). Valya's hatred of the Atreides is so great that she literally can't conceive or accept the possibility that Vorian didn't kill her brother.
  • The Kingslayer: Josef Venport becomes this after his role in the assassination of Emperor Salvador is revealed.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The Battle of Lampadas in Navigators of Dune. The Imperium forces hang back in secret and let the Butlerians and Venport forces bloody themselves before moving in for the kill.
    • However, this also ironically wasn't the original plan. Admiral Harte had been actually been previously dispatched to Lampadas to take care of the Butlerian forces returning from their attack on Kolhar. However, while the Admiral's flotilla is en route, Venport approaches Roderick to strike a peace bargain. Roderick manipulates Venport into launching an attack on Lampadas, knowing that with their Navigator capabilities, they will get there before Harte (whose ships use conventional FTL drives). Manford and Venport can then weaken their forces and Harte, as Roderick hopes, takes advantage of the unexpected situation to cripple the Butlerians and Venport Holdings in one stroke.
  • Like a Son to Me: In The Battle of Corrin, Vorian comes to regard Abulard Harkonnen as a surrogate son given his strained relationship with his own biological children. This is also part of why Vorian refuses to forgive Abulard for his actions during the titular Battle and exiles him in disgrace. He sees Abulard's 'cowardice' not just as a betrayal of humanity, but a personal betrayal of him.
  • Long-Lived: Vorian Atreides, the founder of what would be later known as House Atreides, and Gilbertus Albans, the first Mentat. Both of them used to work for the machines and underwent the Longevity Treatment created during the time of the Old Imperium (now forgotten), giving them potentially centuries of healthy living. The same is implied for the Cogitors and the Titans, given that their brains survive for far longer than normal human lifespan.
    • This ironically is what gets Gilbertus killed during Mentats of Dune. Unlike Vorian, his longevity isn't public knowledge and so Gilbertus has taken steps to disguise it (ex. makeup). However, the charade's losing its effectiveness and Gilbertus knows he's either going to have to fake his death or 'retire' very soon. Before he can do so, however, one of Manford Torondo's lieutenants finds photographic proof of Gilbertus' presence at Corrin and is able to deduce his real identity from testimony the surviving Corrins gave about Erasmus' human 'pet'. While it's all technically circumstantial evidence, the fanaticism of the Butlerians and the Truthsayer abilities of the proto-Bene Gesserit help seal Gilbertus' fate (though Gilbertus also realizes he's not getting out of this alive and thus denying it won't matter).
  • Loophole Abuse: At the end of The Navigators of Dune, Norma Cenva negotiates with Emperor Roderick Corrino and has him promise not to harm her Navigators, including anyone undergoing the metamorphosis into a Navigator. In exchange, she removes all VenHold ships from Denali, leaving her great-grandson Josef Venport nearly defenseless. However, just before Venport is taken prisoner, she appears before him and tells him that his only chance is to enter her spice tank and start the metamorphosis into a Navigator. When Roderick finds out, he is furious at being manipulated so but grudgingly learns to accept this fate for his enemy.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: After Emperor Salvador attempts to seize all spice production on Arrakis from Venport Holdings, Josef Venport lures him to the planet and invites him to inspect one of the harvesting operations, while his people lock down the controls and sabotage the Imperial barge in orbit. They then summon a sandworm that consumes the harvester and everyone inside. However, Salvador's guards manage to contact their ship and inform them about Venport's treachery before their deaths. Venport's ships try to destroy the barge, but it engages its Holtzman engines and flees. Venport hopes that the sabotage worked, resulting in the barge's destruction. Unfortunately for him, the barge survives and manages to limp back to Salusa Secundus, just as Venport is swearing an oath of loyalty to the new Emperor Roderick, revealing the truth. Venport only escapes capture, when his great-grandmother Norma Cenva uses her Mind over Matter abilities to fold space and transport them to Kolhar straight out of the throne room.
  • Mind over Matter: A percentage of women of the jungle world of Rossak have a mutated gene that grants them telekinetic abilities. During the Butlerian Jihad, they train themselves to fight cymeks by emitting powerful psychic blasts that destroy any organic brain in the vicinity, including their own. With sufficient training, Sorceresses can even levitate using their powers. An extremely-powerful Sorceress, such as Norma Cenva, is even capable of manipulating her body on a molecular level and reshape it at will and, after mutating into the first Navigator, becomes capable of folding space without a Holtzman engine. After the formation of the Sisterhood, the remaining Sorceresses become Reverend Mothers and possess Other Memory as well.
  • Moral Myopia: Manford Torondo doesn't understand why Prince Roderick blames him for the death of his daughter during one the rampages of Manford's Butlerian fanatics. After all, she was simply an accidental casualty of the mob blowing off some steam, all for the good of humanity. Manford wasn't the one who killed her, right? So what if he was the one who unleashed the mob?
  • Never My Fault: Played with at the end of The Battle of Corrin with the exiled Harkonnens. While understandably bitter about his banishment and Vorian's betrayal, Abulard at least still feels his actions during the Battle of Corrin were the right ones and accepts responsibility. His children, on the other hand, choose instead to blame Vorian and the Atreides Family for their fallen fortunes and this only get worse with each successive generation. This leads to tragic results in the Great Schools Trilogy and ignites the enduring Atreides-Harkonnen feud.
    • Valya Harkonenn later blames Vorian for Griffin's murder, even though he didn't and even after her own Truthsayer confirms he isn't lying. She instead rationalizes it as Loop Hole Abuse or other trickery. She refuses to acknowledge or admit that Griffin would never have died if she hadn't sent him to track and kill Vorian in the first place.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Xavier Harkonnen killing Iblis Ginjo at the end of The Machine Crusade. Yes, it stops Iblis' corruption and avenges Serena Butler. But by killing Iblis (and himself) the way he does, Xavier leaves Vorian unable to exonerate his friend and expose the truth without breaking the spine and spirit of the Jihad. So Iblis is instead martyred, Xavier is branded a coward and a traitor, and it sets off the chain of events that ultimately births the Atreides-Harkonenn blood feud (and, to a lesser extent, the fanatical anti-Machine Cult of Sernea). Worse, Xavier's posthumous exposure of the Tleaxliu organ farms results in Rekur Van going on the run...and into the arms of the Thinking Machines, which use the geneticist's expertise to develop the Omnius Scourge.
    • Vorian Atreides' Cruel Mercy towards Abulard at the end of The Battle of Corrin. By forcing Xavier's grandson into exile and living with the shame of his 'cowardice', Vorian instead ends up sowing the seeds of the blood feud between their families that will formally ignite in the Great Schools Trilogy and endure for the next 10,000 years.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: After the murder of Gilbertus at the hands of the Butlerians during Mentats of Dune, Erasmus finally understands, and even compares his reaction to, what Serena Butler experienced when he killed Manion and why she helped ignite the Butlerian Jihad.
  • Nothing Personal: Josef Venport's justification for assassinating Emperor Salvador Corrino, claiming it's for the good of the Imperium. He doesn't understand why the newly-crowned Emperor Roderick Corrino is so pissed off about his brother's death, claiming to want nothing more than to get back to "business as usual", even more than willing to pay a substantial financial penalty as recompense. Naturally, Roderick doesn't forgive him.
  • Nuke 'em: As the fight against the Thinking Machines grows desperate, the leaders of the Army of Humanity decide that they have no choice but to bombard machine planets with atomics, sacrificing the human slaves on those worlds, as trying to liberate them would probably cost more lives. Most machine worlds end up suffering this fate, starting with Earth (and yes, people initially react with shock to the suggestion of turning humanity's birthplace into a radioactive wasteland). After the end of the Jihad, atomics are made illegal and disposed of. Except Manford Torondo manages to obtain a cache of forgotten atomics eight decades later and uses them to lay waste to planet Kolhar, the headquarters of Venport Holdings. This is viewed as a great atrocity by the Emperor, who fears that Torondo may have more atomics lying around that he might use to threaten Salusa Secundus.
  • Prequel in the Lost Age: The novels cover the ancient history where machines ruled the galaxy. Not much is revealed from before that, however.
  • Really Gets Around: Vorian Atreides in the prequels. Of course, living for centuries gets lonely. After his first wife's (natural) death, he goes to track down any other descendants he may have from many encounters over the decades. Apparently, he has never heard of contraceptives or just doesn't care. Later on, he re-marries and has another family. After his second wife's death (not natural), he is once again free to do whatever (and whomever) he wants.
  • Resolved Noodle Incident: Legends does this with the Battle of Corrin and the 'act of cowardice' that got the Harkonnens banished by the Atreides (and ignited their blood feud). It turns out to be far more complicated and tragic than it was described in the original novel.
  • Robot War: The "Butlerian Jihad," which is referenced in the very first book but wasn't fleshed out in any detail, until this series. Led to a core tenet of civilization: "thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man's mind"— by which we mean, No Computers Allowed. Various schools of mental training, such as the Mentats and the Bene Gesserit, were founded to produce humans who can do what Pentiums did (and eventually went far beyond that).
  • Rule of Symbolism: This is one reason why Vorian selects Corrin as the setting and bait for his trap against Valya Harkonnen in Navigators of Dune. Apart from the isolated setting (to minimize collateral damage) and psychological warfare (the site of Abulard's disgrace), it's also where the feud between their families began. Vorian hopes it'll likewise be where it ends.
  • Shout-Out: Butlerian fanatics bring down a Humongous Mecha by using steel cables to trip the legs in a clear parallel of the second Star Wars film.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Averted initially with Valya Harkonnen, after she becomes Mother Superior. An exercise involves the sisters trying to safely get down a steep rocky slope. Valya makes sure that surviving Sorceresses of Rossak are on hand to catch any sister that slips and falls. Then one of the trainees demands that this safety net be removed, as she needs realistic conditions in order to succeed. It works, and the rest of the sisters demand this as well. While some end up bruised and hurt, all of them survive that day.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: After murdering Orry Atreides on their wedding night, Tula Harkonnen eventually ends up facing Orry's brother Willem, who is driven by the desire to avenge his brother, who hadn't done anything but bear the name "Atiredes" and genuinely loved Tula. As it turned out, Tula herself had grown to like Orry during their courtship and ended up consummating their marriage before slitting his throat. Just as Willem is about to shoot her, Tula reveals that she's pregnant with Orry's child. Willem is unable to bring himself to harm his brother's child. Tula's sister Valya is sickened by Tula carrying an Atreides child.
  • Super Prototype: Norma Cenva to every subsequent Navigator. However, this has less to do with her being first and more to do with her being a Sorceress of Rossak. Her prescience is greater than any other Navigator's, and she is able to fold space without a Holtzman engine.
  • invoked Technology Marches On: While Ballista-class battleships were the top-of-the-line human warships during the Jihad, 80 years later, they're largely obsolete. The modern Imperial fleet has powerful destroyers and fighters, although none of those are FTL-capable, as it's simpler to employ the services of a foldspace transportation company. Also, Venhold warships are even more advanced than Imperial ones and use technology that could be branded as illegal. During a space battle between several dozen Venhold warships and nearly 200 Ballistae operated by Butlerian fanatics, over half of the obsolete ships are wiped out by the far more advanced Venhold ships despite being outnumbered.
  • Tele-Frag: Traveling faster-than-light with a Holtzmann engine requires either extremely precise calculations of the kind that only forbidden computers can do or the use of a prescient Navigator, the secret of whose manufacture is kept by Venport Holdings, the only transportation company that provides safe foldspace FTL travel. As an example, a sizable portion of the Imperial forces is wiped out, when they use an EsconTran carrier to jump to Kolhar to punish Josef Venport for assassinating Emperor Salvador, only for the carrier to come out of the jump in the star's corona, vaporizing instantly.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Norma Cenva, a small, misshapen daughter of Zufa Cenva, the leader of the Sorceresses of Rossak, is thought to have inherited no Psychic Powers of her own, but has genius-level intelligence. At one point, she is kidnapped by the cymeks and subjected to torture. The torture awakens her latent (and quite considerable) powers, and she emits a deadly telekinetic blast that kills any cymek in the vicinity and disintegrates her own body. However, with her new-found powers, her consciousness survives, and she gains access to her ancestral memory. She then reconstructs her body molecule-by-molecule based on the template of her female ancestors and returns as the most powerful Sorceress in existence.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Iblis' plan to kill Serena in The Machine Crusade after they receive the cease-fire offer from Omnius. Iblis encourages her plan to serve as the Jihad's representative to Corrin, as they both know Serena will deliberately tank the negotiations and goad Omnius into killing her to achieve martyrdom. If by chance Omnius doesn't execute Serena (as indeed happens), her accompanying bodyguards have secret orders from Iblis to finish the job. Either way, Iblis can now reclaim lost political power and use the now-martyred Serena to rally the Jihad (with a fake recording of the 'execution' to help goose things along in either scenario).
    • In Navigators of Dune, Valya Harkonenn sets up the final confrontation with Vorian Atreides on Corrin to be this. If she and her Sisters can kill Vorian, great. If by chance Vorian manages to kill her or escapes without killing her, she'll still get the last laugh — because she and the Sisters locate Vorian's ship and sabotage it before moving in for the kill. However, Valya's backup plan unknowingly fails because Vorian detects the sabotage — and uses it to fake his death in the hopes of ending the feud for good.

Alternative Title(s): Great Schools Of Dune, Dune The Butlerian Jihad, Dune The Battle Of Corrin, Dune The Machine Crusade