From SCI FI Wire:
Best-selling SF author Brian Herbertâ€”whose latest novel (co-authored with Kevin J. Anderson), Sandworms of Dune, is the SCI FI Essential book for Augustâ€”told SCI FI Wire that the book is the grand conclusion to Frank Herbert's original Dune cycle.
"[Sandworms of Dune] follows our heroes as they flee across the universe, being chased by an unknown force," Brian Herbert said in an interview. "In Hunters of Duneâ€”the first book of [the] grand finaleâ€”we reveal one of the great secrets, and [now] in Sandworms of Dune we reveal another very big secret that was never revealed by Frank Herbert."
Sandworms features many of the characters from the first Dune book, but because thousands of years have passed since then, they are actually "gholas"â€”clones of the original characters, Brian Herbert said. "They have been re-created from cellular material, but they have some of the same characteristics of the originals," he said.
Back in the 1950s and '60s, Frank Herbert had been unable to sell several mystery stories he'd written, so it was suitable that he was able to spin a great mystery into his last Dune novel, Chapterhouse Dune, Herbert said. "The mystery was that some great powerful force is chasing the Honored Matres across the universe," he said. "In turn the Honored Matres are chasing the Bene Gesserit. It's this great science fiction mystery, and I think a lot of Dune fans will know what I am talking about without any more elaboration."
When Frank Herbert died in 1986, his son Brian did not know the answer to that mystery, he said. "I didn't know what was chasing the Honored Matres, what this horrible force was that could destroy these women who were so vicious and so powerful," Brian Herbert said. "But 11 years after Dad died I found these notesâ€”there are about 30 or 35 pages of notesâ€”and with those notes Kevin J. Anderson and I were able to craft the story that Frank Herbert had not been able to write."
In rereading the Dune books written by his father, Herbert found certain details that reminded him of their father-son relationship, he said. "I'm not very much like Paul, but I see a lot of Duke Leto in my father," Herbert said. "I see a lot of him as I reread the books, so it's rewarding in that regard [even] without writing them."
Herbert and Anderson are currently working on the first in a new series of Dune booksâ€”Paul of Duneâ€”which will take place between Dune and Dune Messiah, Herbert said. "There's a 12-year period in which Paul Atreides is the emperor of the universe, and there's this great jihad that takes place in his name, and billions of people are killed," Herbert said. "So we're setting it in that time period during that jihad, when all this violence is occurring around Paul, and there will be some backstory [exploring his youth]." â€”John Joseph Adams