In Dune Messiah, we learn about the Tleilaxu practice of giving a victim of their plots a chance to escape- if they can find it.

At the end of the book:

Muad'Dib looks through his son's eyes, kills Scytale, and largely defeats the conspiracy against him. However, even by the prescient standards of Dune, It seems hard to believe that this was the intended method of escape.

So, what means of escape did Scytale intend to give Paul? Was it simply to turn away from his path and embrace the horrific alternative futures?

I can't believe that his escape from the ghola counts, since the larger plan was still in place, and the Tleilaxu actually mostly wanted the ghola to "fail"...

3 Answers 3


Scytale offered Paul the choice to have a ghola of his dead wife Chani.

“To strike a bargain, one requires a thing to sell,” Scytale said. “Not so, Atreides? Will you have your Chani back? We can restore her to you. A ghola, Atreides. A ghola with full memory! But we must hurry. Call your friends to bring a cryological tank to preserve the flesh.”

on the condition that he goes into exile.

“To begin, you might assign us all your CHOAM holdings,” Scytale suggested.
“All of them?” Alia protested.

Presumably if he'd accepted, this would have represented the method of escape from their plot.

Obviously it's worth noting that it's only Paul that has sufficient prescience to see the collapse of mankind resulting from his refusal to walk the "Golden Path". The Tleilaxu have no idea that if he actually accepts their proposal, it'll lead to their demise as a people.

  • My understanding was that being pushed into accepting the terms you describe WAS the the goal of the trap(thus, accepting those terms wouldn't be an escape, per se); with "gholarizing" Chani being added incentive to accept the terms of being trapped. Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 22:53
  • @VapedCrusader - The trap was his assassination. Duncan was supposed to kill him.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 23:00
  • @Richard- I considered that; but it seemed as if Scytale intended for Duncan to fail, since it unlocked the ability to recover ghola memories. Plus it doesn't save Muad'Dib from the conspiracy. I got the sense that Duncan killing him would have been a consolation/plan B(especially since the 'escape' you suggest in your answer provides the conspirators much greater wealth/power/stability). That said; I'll give it some time, but if there isn't another answer I'll assume I over-thought the end of the book and accept yours as the answer haha Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 23:14
  • @VapedCrusader - Scytale was very surprised the Duncan regained his memories fully.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 23:17

As I read it, the “chance to escape" was through the Ghola, Hayt's, original memories. Since he was Duncan Idaho, a super-loyal servant to House Atreides, and lived by a code of honor unmatched by many others, having his memories restored right after Paul triggered Bijaz's subliminal suggestion, would give him a split-second decision to make: Kill Paul, or don't kill Paul

This was the chance that Paul had, he had to rely on Duncan's loyalty and aversion to killing any Atreides.


The Tleilaxu weakness is pretty clear from the text. It is the expectation that given the chance at: 1) a resurrected wife, 2) freedom from the abhorrent social demands as Fremen/Atreides/Emperor 3) safety and happiness for oneself and one's family in Tupile 4) new eyes etc -- a man wouldn't decide to reject all of that and instead walk blindly into the desert to die.

I won't spoil the other books, but it seems clear that the Tleilaxu Masters were arrogant and hedonistic enough to find this sort of thing a relatively sure bet. The implication was that they gave high probability to the chance that Paul would reject the "Desian gesture" with so much temptation at hand.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.