I think a "New Empire" is out of the question, because to the scope of the Scattering ...
back to the Spinrad comment for a moment :
Knowing Frank's political philosophy, I once asked him how he could keep writing this royalist stuff. He told me he planned to end the series with a novel that would transition to a fictional universe of democratic rule
the context of this was a question about Frank's intention for a Dune7 - as to when Frank said this to Spinrad, and in what context
Spinrad recalls it, I don't know ...
it seems to me that the seeds for this "Universe of Democratic Rule" were planted with the Scattering,
which ensured that no one ruler would hold sway over all humanity again - simply because the location
of all humanity would be unknowable ....
and while I think the Bene Gesserit think
they understood Leto's message, I think Drunken's right that
they planned to use Sheena as the focal point of a New Empire, one under their control ... and that would in
character with Frank's Sisters - they continually think and tell each other they learned this or that lesson, and
then continue in the same path ....
if it is the plan to elevate Sheena to godhead-ruler level, I think Duncan would be her greatest enemy ....
Ha! just saw this, now you're gonna think i'm stealing your idea.
After a recent rereading of the last few books i sketched out a skeletal outline of book 7 (God Empress of Dune) for fun that revolves around this exact dynamic. Because it is largely about Sheeana i'll post it here but be warned, this shit's long so if it doesn't belong here let me know. All of this of course comes with a big fat IMHO:
I envision book 7 revolving around Sheeana. For two books now she’s been groomed for purpose by Leto and now we will see it unfold.
Thus far we’ve seen two basic Atreides molds, the benign (Leto, Paul, Jessica, Odrade, etc.) and the malignant (Alia). I think Sheeana tends toward the latter. There’s been some foreshadowing toward this end and I think it’s ultimately caused by her “Atreides way” (as opposed to Odrade’s “Atreides way”). I actually think the whole focus on Sheena’s art and Odrade’s revulsion to Void is a metaphor for their divergent philosophies on how to meet the threats to the BG. Where Odrade is more tightly controlled and disciplined (more in the vein of Paul), Sheeana is more hot blooded and wild, (more like Alia), and in this context, willing to do the one thing Odrade won’t (which I’ll return to). (Btw, though Sheeana is a descendant of Siona and Duncan and has Atreides gene markers, I’m not sure she’s ever referred to as a true “Atreides” in the sense that Odrade is, but do to her looming importance in the last 2 books I’ll make her an honorary one for the sake of this exercise.)
“She talks to the worms and they spare her.”
“They who spared me are not spared by me.” That was what she [Sheeana] had told Odrade.
“And now Odrade knows what I must do. You cannot suppress the wild thing, Dar.” CD 399
Along with a little dark foreshadowing, here, I think what Sheeana means to do is to “wormify” herself and the scale of her impact will be large (See CD 404 where Sheeana describes herself as an ultimate artist with the rare chance to have the unrestricted universe as her canvas).
“Sandtrout inhabited this desert. Accept them as a new skin and she might follow the Tyrant’s path.
Metamorphosis. The Divided God.
She knew the lure.
Do I dare?” CD 398
I think she does this to facilitate her godhead for the Missionaria Protectiva to meet the looming threat to the BG/HM. But more importantly I think she does this to get Leto and his memories (this may also correlate with a cycle of one of Leto’s returns) which I interpret from the numerous references to Leto’s “awareness” in the sandworms throughout CD (as well as in GEOD by Leto himself) like the one below.
“Was there a pearl of Leto II’s awareness in each of the new sandworms? Her Fremen ancestors insisted on it.” CD 399
In fact, I think this makes more sense when the entire section is read together, placed in the context of Sheeana reflecting on her future plans.
“She talks to the worms and they spare her.”
“They who spared me are not spared by me.” That was what she had told Odrade.
“And now Odrade knows what I must do. You cannot suppress the wild thing, Dar. I dare call you Dar now that you are within me.
Was there a pearl of Leto II’s awareness in each of the new sandworms? Her Fremen ancestors insisted on it.” CD 399
(TANGENT) Btw – I think that threat is Ix (the ones that scattered) causing a second war against the thinking machines, a thing cultivated by Leto himself in GEOD. I think he did this by suppressing innovation yet tolerating and even quietly sanctioning Ixian devices that blurred the line between man and machine (journal, cart etc.) Their attention properly focused, he then sent them off into the universe to forget the lessons of the Butlerian Jihad after the famine. I think this was the “rot” Moneo saw already beginning to set in within Leto’s court after seeing how many people had illegal Ixian listening devices after the face dancer ambush. As well, I wonder about the future glimpse of machine violence Leto shows Siona in GEOD during her spice induced visions. Lastly, I think the poison that the MH are running from would be an ideal weapon of machines against humans.
I think Sheeana’s downward spiral begins after doing what Odrade chose not to do in ingesting the spice (The place Sheeana will go that Odrade won’t follow). I can see the Bene Gesserit losing complete control of her then not unlike they lost control of Paul. Incidentally, I think Sheeana may also be the great trap of ‘noble purpose’ that Leto left for the Bene Gesserit. The Missionaria Protectiva, religious engineering, is the ultimate tool of “hidden manipulators.” By resorting to it (yet again), the Bene Gesserit unleash a force likely to sweep over everything (including themselves ala The Tyrant). In this context, Leto might have given Sheeana immunity to sexual bonding to prevent BH/HM from ever regaining hold of her (i'll admit that's shaky). As well, this may be the reason Leto created an all-female army, to bind them to her (See CD 401 where Sheeana speaks of how “religions of women flow deeper” and the potential of harnessing their latent power because “life renews itself in us.” Contrast with Leto discussion with Hwi of how women are better protectors of life for having experienced birth GEOD 239) In CD Sheeana repeatedly requests information from Duncan about Leto’s religion, and it seems to be a known fact that she plans to revive it.
Ironically, in this context, I think Bellonda was right to fear the Atreides all along. She just had her eye on the wrong one.
Continuing with the theory, I think both Taraza and Odrade likely greatly contributed to the salvation of the Bene Gesserit. Taraza sensed Leto’s lesson of “noble purpose” long before Odrade ever went to Dar-Es-Balat. She sensed a stubborn morality in Odrade, set her up as her rival, dared her to defy her and gave Odrade her head. Odrade, then (among other things), cultivated the only weapon (and the ultimate personification of noble purpose) that could save them all from Sheeana - enter Duncan Idaho.
“You brought me back to confront the worm!” Duncan said.
Is that what we’re doing? Teg wondered. HoD 258
I think this might be the true reason that Leto kept bringing Duncan back. My guess here is that the ultimate lesson that Leto meant for Duncan to learn himself was to topple one as devious as Leto himself in Sheeana (after she ingests the spice).
“You need my imagination, my inventiveness, things that kept me alive in the face of Leto’s wrath.”
(Duncan to Bellonda in CD 299)
We might have even seen a diminished Leto as a ghost in Sheeana’s head aiding Duncan in defeating her.
Were this the case I think it would deepen the level of Leto’s sacrifice, having to repeatedly kill or watch his closest confidante die countless times to accumulate the experience necessary to prepare him for a battle thousands of years in the future.
Really guessing here but Leto might have placed the fate of the universe in the hands of Duncan’s morality. There was a lot of focus on Duncan’s morality in GOED, Leto might have been in some way honing it or using it as a gauge to decide when Sheeana had gone too far, like he had with Leto. The one (generally) consistent thing about Duncan is, for better or worse, he always sticks to his moral convictions. (If i remember correctly, Duncan reasons that the BG use him as their "conscience" in CD and i think i remember Teg reasoning something around the same in Heretics)
“I’m loyal to Atreides honor, Murbella.” And I make my own moral decisions-about the Sisterhood, about this child they’ve thrust into my care, about Sheeana and… and about my beloved
Can’t you see what she [Sheeana] intends?
The Missionaria scheme!
Oh, more than that. It’s the next phase: Muad’Dib to Tyrant to Honored Matres to us to Sheeana… to what? The thing is right here at the lip of your thoughts. Accept it as you would swallow a bitter drink.
The bitter medicine of a Sheeana future? We once thought all medicines had to be bitter or they were not effective. No healing power in the sweet.
Must it happen, Dar?
Some will choke on that medicine. But the survivors may create interesting patterns (CD 430).
Along with a little more dark foreshadowing, I think this chronology, or more specifically, the “medicines” can be viewed in the form of lessons (all incidentally aimed at the Bene Gesserit), thought that doesn't seem to jive with the word "phase"
Anyway, that’s all I got. Basically, broad strokes of a few threads, I’m sure anyone could cherry pick quotes that would lead to different conclusions or contradict much of the above, but it was fun to try and thought some discussion might come of it.
assorted random thoughts:
If sheeana did follow Leto's path and "wormify" i dont think it would be the same as Leto, i don't think FH would do the same thing twice.
Death of the flesh- Original death of Leto
Death of the soul- Death of sandworms and Dune at end of HoD
Death of the myth- Death of his religion after Duncan defeats Sheeana?
Death of reason - ?