Muad’Dib’s Imperial reign generated more historians than any other era in human history. Most of them argued a particular viewpoint, jealous and sectarian, but it says something about the peculiar impact of this man that he aroused such passions on so many diverse worlds.
Of course, he contained the ingredients of history, ideal and idealized. This man, born Paul Atreides in an ancient Great Family, received the deep prana-bindu training from the Lady Jessica, his Bene Gesserit mother, and had through this a superb control over muscles and nerves. But more than that, he was a mentat, an intellect whose capacities surpassed those of the religiously proscribed mechanical computers used by the ancients.
Above all else, Muad’Dib was the Kwisatz Haderach which the Sisterhood’s breeding program had sought across thousands of generations.
The Kwisatz Haderach, then, the one who could be “many places at once,” this prophet, this man through whom the Bene Gesserit hoped to control human destiny—this man became Emperor Muad’Dib and executed a marriage of convenience with a daughter of the Padishah Emperor he had defeated.
Think on the paradox, the failure implicit in this moment, for you surely have read other histories and know the surface facts. Muad’Dib’s wild Fremen did, indeed, overwhelm the Padishah Shaddam IV. They toppled the Sardaukar legions, the allied forces of the Great Houses, the Harkonnen armies and the mercenaries bought with money voted in the Landsraad. He brought the Spacing Guild to its knees and placed his own sister, Alia, on the religious throne the Bene Gesserit had thought their own.
He did all these things and more.
Muad’Dib’s Qizarate missionaries carried their religious war across space in a Jihad whose major impetus endured only twelve standard years, but in that time, religious colonialism brought all but a fraction of the human universe under one rule.
He did this because capture of Arrakis, that planet known more often as Dune, gave him a monopoly over the ultimate coin of the realm—the geriatric spice, melange, the poison that gave life.
Here was another ingredient of ideal history: a material whose psychic chemistry unraveled Time. Without melange, the Sisterhood’s Reverend Mothers could not perform their feats of observation and human control. Without melange, the Guild’s Steersmen could not navigate across space. Without melange, billions upon billions of Imperial citizens would die of addictive withdrawal.
Without melange, Paul Muad’Dib could not prophesy.
We know this moment of supreme power contained failure. There can be only one answer, that completely accurate and total prediction is lethal.
Other histories say Muad’Dib was defeated by obvious plotters—the Guild, the Sisterhood and the scientific amoralists of the Bene Tleilax with their Face-Dancer disguises. Other histories point out the spies in Muad’Dib’s household. They make much of the Dune Tarot which clouded Muad’Dib’s powers of prophecy. Some show how Muad’Dib was made to accept the services of a ghola, the flesh brought back from the dead and trained to destroy
him. But certainly they must know this ghola was Duncan Idaho, the Atreides lieutenant who perished saving the life of the young Paul.
Yet, they delineate the Qizarate cabal guided by Korba the Panegyrist. They take us step by step through Korba’s plan to make a martyr of Muad’Dib and place the blame on Chani, the Fremen concubine.
How can any of this explain the facts as history has revealed them? They cannot. Only through the lethal nature of prophecy can we understand the failure of such enormous and far-seeing power.
Hopefully, other historians will learn something from this revelation.
—Analysis of History: Muad’Dib by Bronso of Ix