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Back in the day, I read the first 2 1/2 or so Dune books and I'm wondering who ends up ruling the universe at the end of the series. I know there was a Sandworm Atreides emperor who ruled for a few millennia and then he committed suicide due to galactic stagnation.

So as far as Frank Herbert was concerned, rather than his son, who rules the universe at the end of the Dune saga?

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    Whoa, this needs a [SPOILER-ALERT] tag! – Mark C Jan 18 '11 at 21:47
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    This doesn't need a [spoiler-alert] in the title. The title is sufficient to indicate to someone who doesn't want to know what happens in the end to not click on it. – user366 Oct 26 '11 at 6:35
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At the end of Chapterhouse: Dune, the last REAL Dune book by Frank Herbert, no one "rules the universe", or even the galaxy.

The Honored Matre-turned-Bene Gesserit Murbella has become the head of both groups of women, and the Duncan Idaho ghola has escaped with Sheeana and others on the no-ship kept on Chapterhouse Planet. Whether the Old Empire will be overrun by whatever Enemy the Honored Matres were fleeing is an open question.

The whole point of Leto II's Golden Path was to free humankind from the possibility of ever again being controlled by one person or organization and from the danger of being wiped out by a single natural or artificial disaster.

No one rules the Duniverse at the end.

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    Can you support that assertion about the point of the Golden Path, or is it pure interpretation? Because I got the impression (long before Brian Herbert came on the scene) that the point of the Golden Path was to make it so humanity would survive the machines coming back. – chaos Jan 30 '11 at 7:52
  • This is a good answer; correct in every way as far as I know. – Noldorin Jan 30 '11 at 11:49
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    @chaos: SandChigger is correct. Herbert explains the Golden Path quite explicitly in his novels, albeit perhaps only once. – Noldorin Jan 30 '11 at 11:50
  • @Noldorin my understanding of the Golden Path is also more in the direction of chaos's interpretation. The Golden Path was done to trigger the Scattering so that humanity is so wide spread throughout the universe that the machines cannot find them all. Conditioning humanity against any form of oppression and government was just a mean. – OliverS Nov 16 '11 at 12:26
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    @OliverS: They're both right, in a sense. It's never explicitly mentioned in Frank Herbert's original Dune saga what disastrous future events Leto II The God Emperor saw, and it's only his son that makes them concrete by bringing the Thinking Machines into the story in the final book. – Noldorin Nov 17 '11 at 1:08
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The swordmaster, Duncan Idaho, the Ghola is engineered to be a superior mentat, and is designed to do full galaxy wide super long range planning for humanity. I vaguley remember the ghola's rule for 40 or 60k years.

  • I don't remember about the 40k interval. What happens afterwards? – Elzo Valugi Jan 20 '11 at 7:15
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    Leto II becomes a sandworm. Before that in the state of partially created snadtrout, I think he rules for 3 thousand years, then he is kiled. During that time hes been training the Ghola into a mentat via repeated killing and new clones from Axolotl tanks. The whole series is over I think 100k years. The first 4 books are spread over 3-4 thousand years, but the ghola are constantly created and killed over the millenia by various race, ixians, face dancers and the honoured matres. It the gholas acting superior mentat that control the golden path,or the scattering to make sure it is sucessful. – scope_creep Jan 20 '11 at 16:38
  • @Elzo Valugi, i've read the original series about 6 times, every time you get new stuff out of it. – scope_creep Jan 20 '11 at 16:39
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    That is not "ghola's rule". Duncan get to be the ruler of galaxy only in the last book and we dont know for how long.. yet. – Elzo Valugi Jan 20 '11 at 17:44
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    It is interesting how Duncan ends up "the ultimate Kwisatz Haderach" as a result. Any info on if that was in Herbert's notes or if it is purely a creation of Brian and Kevin (the ultimate heretics of DUNE)? – livresque Jul 12 '14 at 3:23
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No named character rules the Universe at the end of the Dune saga. There is a vast interstellar empire in Dune which rules thousands or millions of star systems.

But there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy and hundreds of billions of galaxies in the observed part of the universe. Thus the Human space empire in Dune rules a tiny drop in the sea of space.

And the mightiest alien space emperor who might exist in the Dune universe unknown to the characters and the readers does not rule the universe, because he does not rule the Human Empire.

If the empire in Dune ruled the Universe, the highest nobles in Dune would not be dukes. There would be kings ruling kingdoms, subordinate to Kings of kings (kings to the second power) who would be subordinate to kings of kings of kings (kings to the third power) and on up to kings to the 47th power, kings to the 99th power, kings to the 457th power, kings to the 1,826th power and on up to THE EMPEROR.

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Answer -- nobody!

That's a big part of Leto II provoking the Scattering. He wanted the human race to scatter so far and wide that no one nation, no one power -- not even prescience -- could trap them all into the same future. In Chapterhouse, I believe someone estimates the population of the Scattering as "megatrillions".

That said, clearly the local neighborhood has a big dog, that being the Face Dancers. We get hints that there are multiple factions out there whose attitude toward the Honored Matres was "Get Them!" But the ex-Tleilaxu Face Dancers were the ones who kicked their butts and confiscated almost all of their secret weapon. Those facts hint that at least in the local region, the FD's are the tops.

Hmm ... a problem just occurred to me... Okay, we note that the BGs have essentially taken over the HMs by surrendering to them. Nice gambit, but there's a problem. Remember all those "Get Them" guys out there in the Scattering? They hate the HMs with a burning passion. They might not buy the notion "Oh, we're a lot nicer now that we had a corporate merger with the Bene Gesserit". I think the BG/HM combination has inherited a lot of powerful enemies!

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