Nate talks Hell Hole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson

Mediocre is too generous a word

I don’t know if I need to write a review of this or not. I only read the second half of the book because I decided, along with my reading partner, to cover this book. But to avoid being bored literally to death we cut the book in half. I’m sorry but after I read House Atredies and couldn’t finish it because it was just repetitive mind numbing garbage… yeah I’ll pass on that experience again. No thanks.

So here is what I can only assume is Brian Herbert’s Magnum Opus. I’m kidding, nobody knows about this book, nobody cares about this book, Googling Hell Hole usually brings up other properties first. This is probably meant as a way to get out of his dad’s (and Dune’s) shadow by writing his own “totally original and not at all like Dune” sci-fi book. This was maybe a way to shut up all those haters that he can only work in the vein of writing for a much more popular and already-established franchise. I guess? If that was the case it failed.

Also Kevin J. Anderson is still here for some reason?

Now I only read the second half so bear with me as I recount what I think happened in the first half. There’s a guy. Or rather, a Chad. A Chadly Chad God of a Man, Greatest General Ever. A real Leto th… whoop errr… uhh… let’s not compare him to a Dune character, hehe that’s ridiculous. He’s a real inspirational leader. He had some rebellion that he lost by not compromising his morals and killing civilians or something. What a, not only a Chad, but a sensitive caring man with all kinds of convictions. And shit.

He’s squaring off against an evil “old bitch” as everyone calls her. Diadem Michella. She’s… bad? Evil? Extortive? Anyway I dunno why our Chad General rebelled but because he lost, the Diadem banished him. I don’t know why she didn’t just kill him, but okay. She banishes him to Du… errr Selusa Secu… nope sorry. It’s not a Dune planet. It’s uh… Hallholme or something (I’m not consulting my notes and you can’t make me) but the locals just call it Hell Hole.

The Chaddest General is out there on what sounds like a pretty pleasant planet. Every now and then there’s a horrible storm that comes through called a “static storm” but they don’t seem to kill anyone so we’ll just ignore it. The General is planning a “D-Day” aka Delivery Day. Because he’s delivering, like your Amazon driver, a bunch of goods. He’s building a… String Line? StreamLine? I listened to the audio and I could not make out the words clearly but I’m pretty sure it’s a “String Line”. These “String Lines” are faster than light travel. Not the same faster-than-light travel that they have from their normal ships, this is different. It’s faster than faster than light. FTFTL if you would.

So Chaderella is gonna link all the “Deep zone” planets together. See the problem is the Deep Zone has to pay tribute to the Diadem because it costs so much money to ship through the string lines. They have to ship to the main planet whose name I forgot so we’ll just call it “Coruscant”. So all goods have to pass through Coruscant… until now! The General sent out tons of people with String Line technology (which was easy to obtain I guess?) and now he’s basically seceding.

But wait there’s aliens! Yeah I started reading the book when a guy just got infected with “Slick Water” which is water full of alien… goo? Melted jelly? Memories? Whatever. They start possessing the guy. They have telekinetic powers. And they’re good guys I guess. Because the Good Guys don’t distrust them outside of some lip service. Whereas the bad guys implicitly hate them, think they’re a creepy cult that are infecting people, and exterminate them outright. So I guess I’m supposed to like them?

Look, this book isn’t good. It’s better than KJA’s and BH’s Dune work because at least this doesn’t misunderstand a work while also being boring. But this is boring. I also suspect I like it more because I only had to sit through about 270 pages worth of material rather than 600 pages with House Atredies.

There are way too many PoV characters. Some of them are not at all important (my description above completely overlooks “Bishop or Ishop” a guy who wants to murder noble people for slighting his family, an alien-human hybrid, the Diadem’s daughter, a female victim, her boyfriend, his mother who is dating the general… oh my God this is padded to fuck).

Nothing happens either. You could argue that this is a series and there is more to come. I would argue that each individual book needs to stand on its own just the same. There is nothing that happens in the second half of this book. After the declaration of war we go to several different perspectives and endlessly repeat that a war is happening and that soon there will be a war and like… I guess that would be impactful if I cared about any of these characters and if anything had happened so far. This just feels like “stay tuned for next book, buy that one too idiot”. I’m exhausted just talking about this. Listen to our episode which is Patreon only if you want to know more about this but suffice it to say I am not a fan.



I gave this a 1.5 and since I gave another 1.5 elsewhere on this rubric I decided to split the difference. Originality? No. Not even. This is trying to be the Dune we have at home. The meme is the most straight-forward one around. As far as the central themes and plot points, those are present but not developed. Again I only read the first part but it seems like a lot of the action happened here. The “fuck you buy our next book” ending and the fact that almost nothing happens makes me think that probably nothing happened in the first half. The reason this doesn’t just get a Level 2 on the rubric is because the Level 1 is very specific about rambling. There is a lot of repetition and rambling and repeating thoughts for the same characters (or different characters thinking the same thing). It’s also a bit douchey and arrogant. Like the writers are trying to write a smart character who is so clever and “all the others are fools to not recognize her danger and brilliance” and like… yawn. Just a big yawn. Stop rambling. Stop pretending you’re smarter. Get to the point – which you never do – and let’s move on. Brevity is the soul of wit motherf***cker. Talking about how smart you think you are at like 7 different junctures is the opposite of this!


Speaking of rambling. Organization takes a hit for being much much much much too slow. The stringlines take 200+ pages to finally deploy. That entire time is not tense, or nail-biting, or “I wonder what is going to happen and is he going to pull this off?” Even with the aliens thrown in the mix or the queen’s daughter getting alien goo’d. The General is like “we can’t push the timetable up, if this gets out before the Stringline is in place we’re screwed. We just have to hope it does. I don’t know what we can do.” And me, reading it, is like “yeah there isn’t any tension here.” I’m sure your plan will go off without a hitch and then you guys are going to come to blows… only instead of coming to blows it’s more “we’ll come to blows later.” Like nothing ever feels urgent ever. It’s always people thinking about the plan they have in motion that is already in the process of being executed and… yawwwwwwwn.


It’s simplistic, it’s boring.Word choice is usually something that gets a Level 3 unless it’s extraordinary. This is the time where it’s extraordinary. Extraordinarily… bad! Yeah!


I don’t want to use “hate” here. This book doesn’t inspire that kind of passion. It’s very just… bland. Dispassionate. Boring. I can’t say “hate” so I can’t give it a Level 1. But I also can’t say “I can understand why others like it” because I can’t. I don’t know why you would like this book unless you just need more of the crappy Dune novels written by these two and there just aren’t enough coming out to satiate your need for more content… here you go I guess?


As noted above I can’t really recommend this to anyone. Even someone who really, really, REALLY needs to know how this series plays out. Just read my review, skip it, and move on to the next book where PRESUMABLY something actually happens. But probably not.


Nate Creed

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