In Heretics of Dune, Odrade writes "The Atreides Manifesto" under Taraza's direction and guidance. What was this manifesto? Why is it so important? Herbert never clearly describes it or its purpose. Or, does he? It just sort of fizzles out.

If this document is just another piece of the Sisterhood's arsenal, seemingly intended to create discord among the more powerful factions, why does Taraza exploit Odrade? Odrade wondered that the manifesto made her vulnerable and blamed Taraza.

What was Taraza's purpose or plan? Why make a potential RM vulnerable?


1 Answer 1


The manifesto itself isn't spelled out in any great detail. It's discussed by a number of the characters (see below) and we can kinda see the edges of it but at its heart, the power of the document appears come from its celebrity value; that it was written by a descendant of the Tyrant, arguably the most powerful single individual in the galaxy's history.

Its effects seem to be transformative, well beyond the words themselves. Odrade has used her talents as an Atreides to create the literary equivalent of an earworm.

Mirlat will have to be dealt with, Waff thought. He lifted the manifesto from his lap and read the first line aloud: “In the beginning was the word and the word was God.”

Waff describes it as calling religions (save their own) into question, presumably because theirs is the only major religion to herald Leto II as a messenger of the true God:

“Every powindah religion is called into question by this manifesto,” Waff said. “Every faith except ours is left hanging in limbo.”

Teg has read it. It's pretty densely worded:

Just as the universe is created by the participation of consciousness, the prescient human carries that creative faculty to its ultimate extreme. This was the profoundly misunderstood power of the Atreides bastard, the power that he transmitted to his son, the Tyrant.

It evidently discusses the power of prophecy:

In a deep and portentous tone, Odrade said: “The Manifesto raises questions that all must address, believers and non-believers alike.”

“What has all this to do with the Holy Child?” Tuek demanded. “You told me we must meet on matters concerning—”

Before Tuek could find words, Waff locked eyes with Odrade and responded in a way he knew she would interpret correctly. Odrade could do no less, being who she was.

The error of prescience,” Waff said. “Isn’t that what this document calls it? Isn’t that where it says the mind of the believer stagnates?”

It's decidedly heretical:

She had to keep Tuek’s attention on the document that disturbed him so much. She paraphrased from the Manifesto: “Your will and your faith—your belief system—dominate your universe.”

Tuek recognized the words. He had read the terrible document. This Manifesto said God and all of His works were no more than human creations. He wondered how he should respond. No High Priest could let such a thing go unchallenged.

  • I like the "earworm" metaphore. I think Odrade was using her "Gift" (recognizing threats to the BG) to write a document intended to uncover real threats
    – SteveED
    Aug 20, 2015 at 2:56
  • Had not considered elevating Odrade's status to such a height, but it does fit the context and the implications of the manifesto. I'd considered Teg the most powerful Atreides scion, until now. Will we ever know what Herbert intended with Odrade, was his mission to create a character to be discussed more intensely at some point? Is that point now? Oct 9, 2021 at 0:45

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