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Dune: The Heir of Caladan by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

Excerpt: Dune: The Heir of Caladan by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

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Dune: The Heir of Caladan by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. AndersonIn Dune: The Heir of Caladan, the climactic novel in the Caladan trilogy by New York Times bestselling authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, we step into the shoes of Paul Atreides. A not yet a man in years, he is about to enter a world he could never have imagined.

The story that began with Duke Leto Atreides’s rise to power, then continued with the consequences of Lady Jessica’s betrayal, will now conclude with Paul becoming the leader that he needs to be on the way to his pivotal role as Muad’Dib.

Any Dune fan will devour this tale of a legend coming into his own.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Dune: The Heir of Caladan by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson, on sale 11/22/22.


1

In his dim bedchamber, Paul lay awake on an unusually warm evening, his covers thrown aside. He felt very alone in Castle Caladan and adrift, uneasy that Duke Leto and Lady Jessica were far away and separated from each other. Gurney Halleck was gone, too.

But he was the heir to noble House Atreides, and he had to think like a Duke. He was about to turn fifteen, and Caladan was his responsibility, at least temporarily while his father was gone.

He knew that the Duke’s mission was of utmost importance, and he recalled the recorded message his father had left for him. “Watch this only if I don’t come back,” Leto had said, placing the shigawire spool in the young man’s palm. “I hope you never need to view it. You know why I’m doing this, why I’m taking such a risk.” And in the Duke’s expression, Paul saw a genuine realization of the danger to which he was exposing himself—willingly, for the sake of the Imperium.

Now, Paul tried to sleep in the uncomfortable heat, feeling sticky sweat on his skin. The day had been unseasonably hot without the sea breezes that customarily skimmed over the water and moderated temperatures along the coast. As bad luck would have it, the castle’s mechanical air-cooling system had failed at just such a time. Caladan engineers had inspected the mechanism, consulted manuals provided by the Ixian manufacturer, and apologized to the young man that repairs could not be completed without securing parts from off-planet.

Paul was not a delicate noble child, so he could deal with such discomfort, preferring to adapt to the weather and ignore it as much as possible, a human surviving the elements. Open windows and sea breezes were welcome to him. With the wilderness excursions he’d made with his father, the young man felt relaxed without being enclosed within a structure.

For security reasons, as well as the expected decorum of a ducal heir, he couldn’t be footloose and aloof. He had to play the part of a young nobleman residing in the ancient castle, ready on a moment’s notice to rule in Leto’s place. It was what his father expected of him, the same as old Duke Paulus Atreides had demanded of his own son a generation before.

To make his father proud, Paul would meet those expectations, but he rather liked the idea of doing things people did not anticipate.

The boy tossed and turned in the darkness, wiped perspiration from his brow. Finally, he swung out of bed and carried a sheet and pillow out onto the small balcony of his bedroom, where he lay down in his thin nightclothes. The tile balcony was hard and warm, still radiating heat from the day. With a sigh, he gazed up at the gently twinkling stars in the crystal-clear night.

Across his field of vision danced stars whose names he knew, the ones his father and Dr. Yueh had taught him—Seille, Ikam, Jylar, and many others, all part of the vast galactic Imperium. But none of the brightest stars overhead at this time of year belonged to powerful noble families. Caladan did not have a particularly favorable location—not physically close to the capital, Kaitain, and not on any major Heighliner shipping or passenger routes. Other Landsraad Houses had equally unfavorable locations, but some managed to excel even so. Paul wondered about the future of House Atreides, and what his part might be in that unfolding story.

As he lay there, he heard a fluttering of wings. One of his father’s trained hawks landed on the stone railing of the balcony. In the low light, the magnificent creature looked sidelong at him, then took up a sentry position, turning its head first one way and then the other.

Paul realized that the bird had not come here by coincidence. The head of Atreides security, Thufir Hawat, somehow knew that the young man had gone out onto the balcony, and he’d sent the hawk. The old warrior Mentat and his staff had been working with these birds in recent weeks, part of the falconry group maintained by the Duke. These specialized birds had surveillance equipment secured to their bodies.

Thufir worried constantly about young Paul’s welfare, complaining about the “unnecessary risks” the fourteen-year-old had been taking, such as climbing steep cliffs and flying aircraft into dangerous storms over the sea. Duncan Idaho had accompanied him on such risky endeavors, calling them maneuvers to stretch the young man’s abilities. He had sworn never to let Paul come to harm, but even Duncan had been concerned. “Perhaps we’re going a bit too far,” the Swordmaster admitted to the boy. “Thufir wants you to train, but within limits.”

The Mentat watched the Atreides heir like a hawk, figuratively and now literally.

Paul extended his hand to the bird on the rail. It watched him, then looked away, continuing its sentry duty. Paul could see the small lenses on its feathers, a transponder at its throat. No doubt, the old Mentat was reviewing images right now.

“Thufir, I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself on my own castle balcony.”

The transponder emitted a small, but discernible voice. “It is not possible to concern myself ‘too much’ with your welfare, young Master. If harm were to befall you under my watch, my abilities would be worth nothing. Now, I want you to have a restful sleep.”

Paul lay back on his pillow. “Thufir thank you for your concern.”

He used a Bene Gesserit mental exercise his mother had taught him to remove troubling thoughts, so he could open the doorway to sleep. His body was exhausted after another long day of training with Duncan.

With warm sea breezes around him and the hawk standing sentinel above him, Paul drifted into a slumber of darkness and solitude which shifted

gradually into a desert landscape, bright sun on hot dunes. He stood on an expanse of sand, squinting at a rock escarpment baked in the sun. In the dream, it was morning in that distant place, but already warm, portending another hot day.

A figure made its way down a trail on the great rock, moving athletically in a desert costume. At the bottom of the rock, opened a burnoose to reveal the elfin features of a young woman with skin darker than his own and hair matted with dust.

He’d seen her before in dream after dream, and the voice was familiar as well, drifting over him like a breeze from the desert. “Tell me about the waters of your homeworld, Usul.”

Having experienced this in many haunting variations, he felt it was more than a dream, and he always awakened in the middle of it. This time, he managed to remain in the other reality a little longer, but as his dream-self struggled to speak a response, to ask questions, the landscape and the intriguing young woman faded from view.

Much later at night, when the breezes turned damp and chill, he lay awake on the open balcony, again resorting to thought exercises. He counted the nobles in the Atreides line who had preceded him. The castle had stood for twenty-six generations on this commanding spot overlooking the sea, originally constructed by Earl Kanius Atreides. Not the first Atreides to rule Caladan, he had envisioned a great fortress on this rocky promontory, commissioning the grand blueprints when he was only nineteen years old, not much older than Paul was now.

Earl Kanius had seen the mighty castle completed in little more than a decade, along with the gardens and a thriving coastal village. Paul recalled a filmbook image of his ancestor’s face, and then thought of the successors of Kanius, counting each one all the way up to Paulus Atreides, his own grandfather, whose painting hung in the castle’s dining hall.

But when Paul tried to summon the next image in the line, his father, he could only summon a fuzzy, undefined outline. He missed the man so much and hoped he would come home soon.

He felt the weight of all the work done by Kanius and the other Atreides, all the planning they’d had to do and the decisions they’d made to empower their Great House. He finally drifted into a deep, troubled sleep.

 


2

The planet Elegy had lovely forests, rivers, and lakes, but it was not Jessica’s true home, and its beauty was not the same as the ocean world of Caladan. She tried to console herself with the thought—the hope—that she was merely a visitor here, and that she would return soon to Duke Leto and their son, Paul. But each day away from them made her more settled here, increasingly immersed in the life of Viscount Giandro Tull as his bound con-

cubine, on orders of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood.

Troubled, she sat now in the compact but nicely appointed office that the handsome Viscount had provided for her. His small administration building was concealed from the manor house by a grove of lichen trees. Giandro’s own office was down the hall, and she watched a steady flow of functionaries hurry past her own, including a surprisingly large number of uniformed military officers. Despite all the appearances and the trappings of daily business, Jessica had now learned the nobleman’s true plans.

Only a few days ago, prowling secretly through the forests to watch Viscount Tull as he rode off on a fine thoroughbred, Jessica had spied him receiving a mysterious weapons shipment into a hidden underground bunker. That was how she’d learned that Giandro Tull was a silent supporter of the violent Noble Commonwealth rebellion.

That revelation changed everything about their relationship, but since he had arranged for her to go on her own mission to save Paul, Jessica owed the man a great deal. After she confronted Giandro, he had taken her into his confidence, but still did not reveal the deeply personal reason he had decided to support the overthrow of the Corrino throne. The two were still understanding their new roles, and alliances.

Jessica busied herself completing paper order forms for lichenweave fabrics, filling in a ledger book by hand—an outdated system, but she found it

refreshing. Duke Leto had done much of his administrative work by hand as well.

Trusting her, considering their shared deep secrets, Giandro had expanded Jessica’s role in his household, asking her to help with the ordering of supplies. She considered the assignment an excellent camouflage role, and he gave her the freedom to procure whatever she wanted. Out of nostalgia, Jessica tried to order a shipment of moonfish from Caladan, only to learn that the product was no longer available. She wondered what might be going on back at the place she still considered home.

Giandro Tull had thriving business dealings, some surreptitiously connected to the rebellion. And now that Sardaukar had searched and cleared his operations, he had grown bolder. Apparently, his overt support of Jaxson Aru had begun soon afterward. Jessica still didn’t understand why.

In the short time she’d known the nobleman, she had come to respect him, had even grown fond of him—within the limits that she herself had set up. Though he had publicly announced her as his concubine—which satisfied the Bene Gesserit and other observers—he displayed no romantic or sexual interest in her, or in anyone.

It was not the relationship many people thought it was, but it worked efficiently for both of them. Let others assume what they wished. Meanwhile, she would do anything necessary to change her assignment and go back to Leto and Paul.

She sighed. Under other circumstances, she might have accepted remaining with House Tull. But not after knowing Leto. In him, in the Duke of Caladan, Jessica had found as close to an ideal partner as she could imagine . . . even after the terrible quarrel that had broken them apart. Though she knew that Leto doubted her, her love for him remained strong. She had already stained herself in the eyes of the Sisterhood by choosing to give birth to the son Leto wanted, instead of the daughter she’d been commanded to bear. . . .

In the corridor outside her office, she heard something fall to the floor as a uniformed military officer rushed by. Glancing up, she saw him kneeling to gather papers he had spilled, stuffing them into a leather case. He was one of the soldier bodyguards who had joined Giandro out in the hills to receive the illicit weapons shipment. After snatching the papers from the floor, the man hurried to the Viscount’s office.

Jessica noticed that one of the loose papers had slid under her door, a technical drawing of some kind. She retrieved it, but the officer had already ducked into the Viscount’s office. She felt a chill as she glanced at the drawing—it appeared to be related to the hidden weapon shipments and a new military design.

Remembering the flustered urgency on the man’s face, she walked briskly down the hall to give him the missing document. She pushed past the clerk who guarded the Viscount’s office, who called after her, startled, as if he didn’t recognize the new concubine.

Hearing the commotion, Giandro opened the inner door, caught her eye. “Jessica! What is it?”

Inside, standing before the broad wooden desk, the flustered officer was arranging his documents.

Jessica held up the technical drawing. “I assume this is something important.” The officer looked up from the desk, horrified. “I’m, I’m s-sorry, my Lord!

An inexcusable lapse on my part.”

“But fortuitous.” Giandro ushered Jessica inside as he gave a reassuring nod to the confused clerk in the outer office, then closed the door for privacy. “We are lucky Jessica is the one who found the document, rather than someone who would do us harm.”

She looked down, playing demure. “I am not here to serve a political role.” She noticed the blue-spiral Tull crest in the middle of the old desk, partially obscured by papers.

“Spoken with the wisdom of a Bene Gesserit,” he said. “But of course I value your wisdom and opinions. This is Lef-Major Zaldir, one of our experts on a new project.” He gave the officer a meaningful glance. “Jessica is fully aware of our plans, and I trust her implicitly.”

Zaldir was both alarmed and surprised. “Even even about this, sir?”

“Even about this.”

Jessica had glanced at the drawing. “I am not familiar with this design. I saw the previous weapons delivery, though I wasn’t supposed to. Were these devices among them?”

Giandro gave her a warm smile. “It’s distressing that you spied on me, and more distressing that you succeeded, but in the end, it was serendipity. Having you aware of our efforts makes many things smoother for us.”

Zaldir took the paper back, inserted it into proper order. He looked anxious. “The first prototypes of the shield nullifiers are packaged and ready to be shipped off.” When he looked up at Jessica again, sweat beaded on his brow. “Does she . . . does she know about?”

“Yes, she knows the new shipment is bound for Jaxson Aru.”

Jessica covered her reaction. She hadn’t, in fact, known that. She lowered her voice. “That man’s penchant for grand and bloody statements is not to my liking.” On Otorio, Leto had been one of those innocent bystanders who barely escaped from the massacre. So many others had been killed, and the incident had greatly shaken him.

Troubled by her obvious reticence, Giandro gestured Jessica to a seat beside the Lef-Major. The antique chairs also bore the crest of House Tull. He frowned and said, “Though I support the Noble Commonwealth—for reasons that I consider sufficient—I don’t always agree with Jaxson’s tactics. I would prefer a less violent, yet more effective, approach. Hence, this new weapon design is for defensive purposes, rather than aggression.” He glanced around his private office, as if to double-check his own security. “This room is blocked and shielded. We may discuss freely. Lef-Major, tell her about the nullifiers.”

Though the officer still seemed uncertain to have Jessica brought into the circle of extreme confidence, Zaldir pulled the technical documents toward him. “These devices level the playing field and give our allies equal standing against a far superior Imperial foe.” Clearly more interested in the technical details than in military protocol, he grew more animated as he talked. “Our ingenious new nullifier can short out personal shields within a certain radius. Once such a device is activated, our opponents will be vulnerable to simple projectile weapons, needle guns, antique pistols—a vulnerability they will never expect. Imagine the invincible Sardaukar suddenly mowed down by mere bullets!”

Grasping the implications, Jessica nodded. The invention and use of personal shields had rendered all projectile weapons obsolete in major combat for thousands of years. No one would think to defend against such a thing. The introduction of Tull’s shield nullifiers would impose a fundamental change in warfare—again.

The Viscount scanned the report. “Of course, much more significant pentashields and house shields would not be affected. But, oh, what a surprise in personal combat!”

She nodded. “The Sardaukar won’t realize the rebels possess such defenses. If they ever do track down Jaxson Aru or his Noble Commonwealth base, they’ll charge forward in force.” She allowed herself the smallest smile. “Thus exposing themselves to destruction.”

During her recent secret trip to Caladan to save Paul, she had spoken with her son, but Leto was gone on a mysterious mission of his own. Bound by a promise, Paul had not revealed to her what his father was doing, but Jessica had gleaned hints from Giandro Tull that Leto might have made overtures to the rebels as well. It did not seem possible . . . unless Leto had some other reason for doing so.

Looking up, she saw the nobleman’s eyes dance, and he said, “We will send a shipment of the prototype shield nullifiers to a rendezvous point, where Jaxson can retrieve them for distribution to the rebels. I will include a message for him, so that he knows the true importance of these devices.”

Lef-Major Zaldir gathered his papers. “The unmarked crates are ready outside your stables, my Lord. Security will clear the area, so that you may record your message. We can encrypt and encode within a bonded ridulian crystal so that no one but Jaxson Aru may activate the recording.”

Giandro rose from his seat behind the antique desk. “Jessica will stand with me as I record. I want my new concubine at my side.”

Jessica felt a sudden flare of alarm. What if Leto did see the message, in his dealings with the rebel leader? “I would prefer not to be placed on public display, my Lord.”

He chuckled, not understanding her concern. “Not to worry, this will be the most private of communiqués.” He donned a brown military jacket with silver-and-gold epaulets and ribbing, then prepared the words for his message.

Copyright © 2022 from Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson 2022

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