Chapter 15

    Book Three in the Dune Chronicles

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Freakzilla
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Chapter 15

Postby Freakzilla » 13 Feb 2008 17:47

And he saw a vision of armor. The armor was not his own skin; it was stronger
than plasteel. Nothing penetrated his armor -- not knife or poison or sand, not
the dust of the desert or its desiccating heat. In his right hand he carried the
power to make the Coriolis storm, to shake the earth and erode it into nothing.
His eyes were fixed upon the Golden Path and in his left hand he carried the
scepter of absolute mastery. And beyond the Golden Path, his eyes looked into
eternity which he knew to be the food of his soul and of his everlasting flesh.

-Heighia, My Brother's Dream from The Book of Ghanima

Jessica is interviewing Leto on her second day back in her quarters at sietch Tabr. Leto says it would be better if he never became emperor, not because he's looked into the future, but because he and Ghani need time to come to grips with what they are. Jessica makes the mistake of calling him a child and he reminds her that he is millions of years old. He assures her that he's not fallen into Paul's trap and tried to see the future, he prays for a universe of suprises. It disturbs her to think that Paul and her duke still live on in him. Leto warns Jessica that Alia is planning to abduct her. He asks her to use her heart when judging whether he and Ghani are abomination. He also warns her that the Corrino's might attack them while all the Atreides are gathered on one planet. He tells her that the whole imperium suspects that Jessica has come on behalf of the Bene Gesserit to breed the twins. He reveals the Bene Gesserit plans to her as though he had eavsdropped on her conversations. He tells her he has a tough choice, to live and die for his people or one in which he'll live thousands of years. This really disturbs her. She says she's noticed that Alia has stopped aging but Leto says he's not talking about the Bene Gesserit anti-aging trick but something far beyond that. As she fingers the Gom Jabbar in her robe, Jessica insists he explain. First, he tells her she must understand time. There is no difference between a million years and a heartbeat and the entire universe and all of it's time is within him. Nonsense she says. He knew she wouldn't understand. Leto thinks The Preacher may be Paul. Back on the subject of Alia, Leto confirms that she's stopped aging and blames Jessica for abandoning her and she has no right to judge her. When she starts to respond, he uses Voice on her and tells her to shut up. He appologizes but she realizes that Leto has been playing her like an instrument through the whole interview. He tells her she must allow herself to be abducted, she will soon be teaching a very interesting student.

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Postby Tyrant » 22 Feb 2008 00:52

this is one of my favorite chapters in the whole book..it reminds me of when jessica confronted hawat in the original novel...only leto obviously 'plays her (to use jessicas words)' a hell of a lot better...i read this chapter today...great stuff...i'd like to see kevin and brian try to write like this..which they obviously cant....this chapter right here is one of my favorite written by Frank
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Re: Chapter 15

Postby Freakzilla » 05 Jun 2012 11:30

Revised, clean.
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Re: Chapter 15

Postby georgiedenbro » 27 Oct 2014 15:55

Children of Dune wrote:Jessica shook her head, feeling the coldness of this . . . person who
carried her blood. The resources at his disposal daunted her. She tried to match
his tone, asked: "What do you know of my intentions?"
[...]
Jessica felt her tongue twitch with unspoken words. How could she respond to
him with something he didn't already know? This was monstrous! He's me! He's my
beloved Leto! This thought shocked her. Momentarily she wondered if the childish
mask might not lapse into those dear features and resurrect . . . No!


It's funny that Jessica should have such difficulty talking with Leto; one would think discussions between Reverend Mothers would be of a different sort than with others, since they would have so much knowledge in common they could skip past dueling with each other and be able to discuss a topic without also trying to 'beat' the other person. But here we see what I think is endemic of the Sisterhood, that they wield power with too firm a grip and want to actually rule those they speak with, rather than just commune with them.

If Jessica were to need a few moments to come to grips with recognizing a Reverend Mother inside the body of a child - ok. But her problem isn't that the 'child' is really quite old. Her problem is that she came into the conversation thinking she was going to be doing the schooling and doesn't know what to do faced with the fact that she doesn't actually know anything that Leto doesn't know; she has no special knowledge to leverage over him. She came in trying to 'win' the conversation, and it is a little sad that she couldn't just do with him what she did with Ghani, which was to just talk to him and drop the nonsense. I suppose she was put on the defensive since he, too, came into the conversation with the intent to school her.

But I'm reminded of the first conspiracy meeting in Messiah, when Mohiam realized that Scytale was no inferior to her, and instead of trying to best him she took the humbler approach of being somewhat silent and learning from what what he had to say. Maybe Jessica is now too proud, having been a part of a Great House and then ruling Caladan, to quietly recognize when she isn't the master? In all scenes in the series so far it definitely seems that BG never enter a conversation without the intent to dominate it, even if subtly.
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Re: Chapter 15

Postby Freakzilla » 28 Oct 2014 06:34

Keep in mind that she's on a BG mission, she had to try.
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Re: Chapter 15

Postby georgiedenbro » 28 Oct 2014 10:59

Freakzilla wrote:Keep in mind that she's on a BG mission, she had to try.


For sure. It's just striking how differently she speaks with Leto compared to with Ghanima. I'm surprised she didn't even try to speak with either of them as a BG, to appeal to the BG memories in them and perhaps even get them to agree to ally with her. I think a frank discussion would have achieved more with the twins than her attempts at judging and dancing around them.
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Re: Chapter 15

Postby georgiedenbro » 21 Sep 2020 13:33

I have some new respect for FH's writing in this chapter (and the book in general), as I'm reading it with my wife right now. This is the last chapter we read, and halfway through it she repeated to me something she had mentioned previously in the book, most notably when Ghani and Leto speak to each other: "It's frustrating that he [FH] keeps alluding to things and never saying what they are. It's obnoxious." Her complaint, perfectly understandable, is that the author is trying to sound like a smartypants by repeating referring to "our plan" and to "no other path" and to "but must we do it?" and phrases like that which offer nothing to the reader other than 'these two know something, and won't tell you what it is, but keep talking about it anyhow.'

At first it was difficult to answer this charge, especially since I don't really think FH used this device in Dune or Messiah, and certainly not in the other books of his I've read. Why is so much of CoD couched in references to things the first-time reader doesn't understand at all? How much of a story does that really give you to follow, since the center-point of Ghani and Leto's narrative up to this is precisely that everything they do is to confront this mysterious path that they must take, but which is dangerous. But then we got to this chapter, and upon reading it I think I understand what Frank is doing in the book.

During the whole conversation with Jessica, Leto knew she would try to take control, and also knew she would pivot in various BG-trained ways to counter his movements. As he not only knows that training as well as her, but also knows her experience with that training and her tells, he could completely predict using logic alone how different maneuvers would affect her. He seems - annoyingly at first - to keep almost saying something and then changing tactics suddenly. Jessica keeps asking him to just answer her question, and he says something which vaguely looks like it might be an answer, but then he veers off. Or he says she won't understand, she says try me, he gives her an answer designed to fail to communicate the full story to her, which of course frustrates her. She feels like she should be able to garner the truth even from scraps of information, but he knows just how much he withhold so that she actually cannot figure out anything. Once it was done and he had completely destabilized her I realized what was going on here: he was using Zensunni anti-philosophy (as referenced in the chapter) to specifically undermine the sort of an analysis a philosopher or thinker would employ: to use a kind of mystical run-around to give just enough to get the other's mind fighting but too little to give them anything to hold on to, creating frustration and a sense of loss of control, so that finally they have to give in and just follow. Leto succeeds here, and I realized that what Leto does to Jessica is what FH is doing to the reader throughout the book. He's using exactly the same technique, making you try to figure out what he's talking about, but knowing you can't (on a first reading), so that you'll get this mounting tension as you demand answers and want the obfuscations to stop.

If this really was what he was doing then it's a quite risky move, as it runs the risk of alienating the reader in a bad way (as it has to an extent done with my wife). On the other hand it's quite interesting, that a technique overtly mentioned in-story is actually a structural element in the story itself. Technically speaking that's fascinating. I know that FH did think along lines such as this, as in interviews about Dune he's said that he very consciously governed the rhythms, tempo, and pulse of how the story and writing move. I assume he's doing the same thing here, but just funny that Leto's talk with Jessica should be a microcosm of the book.
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Re: Chapter 15

Postby Freakzilla » 24 Sep 2020 15:17

Leto did the same thing with Gurney and Namri, too. Didn't he? And Stilgar.
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Re: Chapter 15

Postby georgiedenbro » 29 Sep 2020 11:52

Freakzilla wrote:Leto did the same thing with Gurney and Namri, too. Didn't he? And Stilgar.


Not sure! We haven't gotten that far yet. We can only get through a bit at a time with two kids in tow (one of them a newborn).
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Re: Chapter 15

Postby Freakzilla » 29 Sep 2020 19:20

georgiedenbro wrote:
Freakzilla wrote:Leto did the same thing with Gurney and Namri, too. Didn't he? And Stilgar.


Not sure! We haven't gotten that far yet. We can only get through a bit at a time with two kids in tow (one of them a newborn).


I got three, preaching to the choir
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Re: Chapter 15

Postby Freakzilla » 29 Sep 2020 19:28

"Have you noticed, Stil, how beautiful the young women are this year?"
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Paul of Dune was so bad it gave me a seizure that dislocated both of my shoulders and prolapsed my anus.
~Pink Snowman