I read the original Dune books back in high school I think. I remember being fascinated with the world Frank Herbert created; I wanted to immerse myself in it completely. However I was a bit disillusioned by the fact that the time period I really wanted to read about - just after Paul became Emperor - was completed skipped over in the original series.
Many years later I came across the additional books written by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson but I was never tempted to pick one up. But then I learned that Paul of Dune was coming out and that it would focus on those missing years I was so interested in. Finally my questions would be answered!
Paul of Dune follows two time lines; the "present day" story picks up shortly after Paul's marriage to Princess Irulan and the "historical" story tells of Paul's youth on Caladan. All the important characters from the original books are there of course, and a variety of new and interesting characters are introduced.
I really enjoyed the Caladan sections. I remember being fascinated with this watery planet - and the contrasts between it and Dune - in the original books and wishing more time was spent there. It was interesting to learn more about the relationship between Duke Leto and Lady Jessica as well. In the present day timeline I liked getting to know Princess Irulan a bit better. As in the original books, her writings about Paul-Maud'dib often provide structure to the story.
I can't say for sure if the writing style matches the original books; it's just been too long since I've read them. It was easy to read although not stunningly written. But I was reading this book for the plot, not the writing itself, so I was not disappointed.
Speaking of the original book, I do think it is necessary to have read Dune (or at least have seen the movie) to understand this book. Even though there were thing I didn't remember - I read the original about 15 years ago! - I did know the basic story of the main characters. In my opinion, you won't enjoy the book if you don't at least know that much. The authors don't spend any time reminding you of who these people are or what their histories are; they jump right into the story and stick with it.
On the whole I am satisfied with this book. Although it didn't exactly answer my questions it did fill in lots of the blanks and gave me a much better idea of what happened that made Paul turn out the way he did in the second and third (original) books. There were some parts of the book that I didn't like, plot points that didn't seem to make sense to me. But still, I'd like to reread Dune and then reread this book immediately afterward, followed by the other original books - I'm really curious how well they all fit together now.
As a side note ...
Dune is one of the books on the list for the Lost Challenge. Here's why. Too bad Paul of Dune isn't on the list since I'm falling behind in my reading for that challenge!
Grasping the Wind