The Christmas break reading has gone slower than anticipated, since I've been spending a lot of time playing video games. I did just finish up "Dune," the classic science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. I read the book when I was a youngster, and it was interesting seeing how more than a decade's worth of experience changed my view of the story.
"Dune" is set in the far future on the desert world of Arrakis. There, the spice melange is mined - the most valuable and important substance in the universe, since it makes intserstellar travel possible and extends life. Into this arena steps the Atreides family, and the prose makes clear that Big Things are going to happen.
If you like your messiahs tortured, prescient, and insanely skilled at combat, you'll like the character of Paul Atreides. In some ways, it's a typical revenge story - Paul is forced to grow up in a hurry, but there's a fairly direct payoff against the people who wronged him. Herbert's prose, though sometimes a bit chintzy (if I had a dollar for every time he wrote "Feints within feints"...), is propulsive enough, and the book seldom drags.
A major problem with the book, however, is that it ends with a thud. While this is partly expected because of the serial nature of the story, it still makes for an unsatisfying ending. I never got around to reading the other Dune books, but from what I read on Wikipedia, they get crazy. Immortal half-human half-sandworm kind of crazy.