In his Afterword, Brian Herbert wrote that he had already started working with Kevin J. Anderson when his father's sequel to Chapterhouse: Dune was discovered. In Dune 7, the writing duo finally found Frank Herbert's vision of the series so they could write the prequel with confidence that they were following the late author's ideals.
The result, Dune: House Atreides is a stellar work that begins the generation before Paul Atreides, or Muad Dib. Herbert and Anderson paint a universe of the Imperium where blood feuds, treachery and betrayal run amok between the Houses of Harkonnen, Corrino and Atreides. We see the Bene Gesserit witches as being the minority manipulators in all schemes, but also we find out more about their breeding programs and how devious they are in getting what they want. Herbert and Anderson also introduce us to another House and mentions several others, expanding the Imperium far beyond the first five novels.
It is very good to see Arrakis as it was originally – sandworms, Fremen, endless desert – since it has not been this way since Children of Dune . Starting with God Emperor of Dune , the final three novels of Frank Herbert described a world entirely different from the very first Dune, which will always be a classic. In God Emperor , the weakest and weirdest of all the novels, Arrakis is lush with plants and flowing water, with the desert (despite still huge) confined to less than half the planet. Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse brought us back to some sense of familiarity.
The only hiccup in House Atreides was the mention of a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother consulting with a Feng Shui expert on the proper construction and orientation of a birthing facility being built on Wallach IX, the home planet of the witches. Fortunately, this gaffe was a mere half page and the chapter did not hinge upon this incident. Herbert and Anderson could have just as easily left it out.
Even so, the authors have produced a beautifully written novel of a cold, harsh universe almost completely devoid of love, but is still an exciting read.