One steps into the LEGENDS OF DUNE series not expecting the achievement of Dune, an unfairly high standard, but a good read with maybe some flashes of Dune‘s complexity of character, plot, and philosophy. The first book of this trilogy, The Butlerian Jihad, failed in the latter two areas but the plot was a good enough read to overcome those flaws.
The second book, The Machine Crusade, was a step backward, with the same weak characterization, but this time not balanced by a strongly told story. The Battle of Corrin, unfortunately, continues the downward trend. As in the other books, characterization is almost uniformly shallow, which is tough to do since we’ve followed some of these characters over the course of several long books now. Those characters we’ve seen in prior books don’t seem to have developed much and the new characters are mostly two-dimensional. The plot is weak, mostly an episodic narrative of battles among the three major groups at war (the humans, the cymeks, the robots). The weakness of the plot is exacerbated by the “been there, done that” sense of repetition. It seems the three books could easily have been combined into two, making for a more streamlined, less repetitive narrative. Not everything needs to be a trilogy (Tolkien be damned). Another flaw affecting involving both plot and character is that too many actions seem arbitrary or contrived, done more for the plotline than developing from character. Some, in fact, seem wholly out of character or simply unbelievable. Finally, whereas the first book mostly avoided the prequel problem of rote action meant to connect the dots of later books, this one is rolling in it, filled with awkwardly introduced or clumsily handled events and phrases written in so the reader can go “ahh, so that’s why they call them xxxxxxxx in Dune“. Admittedly, it’s a tough problem to overcome for any prequel, but seldom have I seen it so poorly handled.
If this were book one, I’d definitely recommend against starting the LEGENDS OF DUNE trilogy. But chances are, if you’ve reached Battle of Corrin, you’re going to read it no matter what, just to finish the series and see those connections to later DUNE books. So all I can say is don’t expect much, don’t feel bad about skimming, and have a good book set aside to dive into when you’re done; you’re going to want to recapture a good read quickly.