Daniel and Marty

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Daniel and Marty are fictional characters from the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. These mysterious observers with advanced technological powers are introduced in Herbert's 1985 novel Chapterhouse: Dune.[1] Herbert's 1986 death "left fans with an über-cliffhanger" for twenty years, until his son Brian Herbert and author Kevin J. Anderson published two sequels to the original series, Hunters of Dune (2006) and Sandworms of Dune (2007).[2] Based on notes left behind by Frank Herbert for his own seventh novel in the Dune series,[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] the sequels reintroduce Daniel and Marty, and reveal Brian Herbert and Anderson's interpretation of the characters' true nature.[2]

Chapterhouse Dune[edit]

In the final chapter of Chapterhouse Dune, a mysterious old man and woman calling themselves Daniel and Marty observe the escape of the no-ship from Chapterhouse. They speak of themselves as if they are Face Dancers, the shapeshifting minions of the Tleilaxu:[11]

"They had a Tleilaxu Master, too," Marty said. "I saw him when they went under the net. I would have so liked to study another Master."
"Don't see why. Always whistling[12] at us, always making it necessary to stomp them down. I don't like treating Masters that way and you know it! If it weren't for them . . ."
"They're not gods, Daniel."
"Neither are we."
"I still think you let them escape."
"What would you have said to the Master, anyway?" Daniel asked.
"I was going to joke when he asked who we were. They always ask that. I was going to say: 'What did you expect, God Himself with a flowing beard?' "
Daniel chuckled. "That would've been funny. They have such a hard time accepting that Face Dancers can be independent of them."
"I don't see why. It's a natural consequence. They gave us the power to absorb the memories and experiences of other people. Gather enough of those and . . ."
"It's personas we take, Marty."
"Whatever. The Masters should've known we would gather enough of them one day to make our own decisions about our own future."

They hint that they observe and are familiar with various groups in the universe, and allude to their desire to capture and study the passengers of the no-ship:

Marty called after him: "Gather up enough people and you get a big ball of knowledge, Daniel! ... And those Bene Gesserit in that ship! ... Ever notice how alienated they feel when we peek at them?"
"Not to mention Mentats," he said. "There were two of them on that ship — both gholas. You want to play with them?"
"You know what you let get away, Daniel?" she demanded, coming up beside him. "That Master had a nullentropy tube in his chest. Full of ghola cells, too!"
"I saw it."
"That's why you let them get away!"
"Didn't let them ... Gholas. He's welcome to them."

Earlier, Duncan Idaho had seen the observers in a vision, and came to his own conclusions:

Reassuring faces. That thought aroused Idaho's suspicions because now he recognized the familiarity. They looked somewhat like Face Dancers, even to the pug noses ... And if they were Face Dancers, they were not Scytale's Face Dancers. Those two people behind the shimmering net belonged to no one but themselves.

With the subsequent death of Frank Herbert in 1986, the identities, motives and intentions of Daniel and Marty were left to speculation.[2]


In 2006's Hunters of Dune, Daniel and Marty are in constant pursuit of the escaped no-ship Ithaca, which has managed to leave the Known Universe and thus elude them. Daniel and Marty believe that the long-foretold "typhoon struggle at the end of the universe" Kralizec will soon be upon them, and their victory requires the Kwisatz Haderach. According to their calculations/predictions, the escaped no-ship is the key; they believe the Kwisatz Haderach is (or will be) aboard the Ithaca. Their Face Dancer minion Khrone is executing a parallel plan to create their own Kwisatz Haderach, using a Paul Atreides ghola that will be conditioned by a ghola of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Daniel and Marty themselves have the ability to create illusions, and to inflict pain on any human. At the end of Hunters of Dune, it is revealed that Daniel and Marty are not, in fact, Face Dancers: they are actually incarnations of the thinking machines Omnius (Daniel) and Erasmus (Marty), introduced in the Legends of Dune prequel trilogy (2002–2004) by Brian Herbert and Anderson. In the third Legends novel Dune: The Battle of Corrin (2004), Omnius had sent out a last blast of information before being destroyed in the Battle of Corrin. It is explained in Hunters that this signal had eventually connected with one of the probes disseminated from Giedi Prime several years earlier, uploading versions of Erasmus and Omnius.[13]

In Sandworms of Dune (2007), Omnius and Erasmus continue their pursuit of the Ithaca; from the thinking machine capital, Synchrony, they begin striking planet after planet with a deadly virus. Finally capturing the no-ship, they pit the Paul ghola from the Ithaca against their own version, Paolo, in a duel to the death that will leave them with the strongest of the two. Paul survives, but realizes that Duncan is actually the "ultimate Kwisatz Haderach" that Omnius has been seeking. When their defeat at the hands of the thinking machine armada is imminent, the human forces are saved by the Oracle of Time, the immortal founder of the Spacing Guild, who arrives with a thousand ships piloted by the remaining Guild Navigators. The machine fleet decimated, the Oracle appears in Synchrony and transports every aspect of the Omnius network into another dimension forever. Face Dancer leader Khrone, previously acting as a minion of Omnius, reveals his own plot for Face Dancer domination of the universe. With both humans and machines crippled, and tens of millions of Khrone's Face Dancers having infiltrated human society, he seeks to assume control. Amused by Khrone's attempt to seize power, Erasmus explains that a fail-safe system had been built into the Face Dancers; the independent robot kills Khrone and his party — and then all Face Dancers across the universe — with the simple flip of a mental switch. Erasmus offers Duncan the choice between continuing their war or ending it; Duncan chooses peace over victory, and he and Erasmus merge minds. Erasmus imparts Duncan with all the codes required to run the Synchronized Worlds, as well as all of Erasmus' knowledge, setting Duncan as the bridge between humans and machines to permanently end the divide and ensure that the two may co-exist. With little left for him, Erasmus again expresses his desire to learn everything possible about what it is to be human — and asks Duncan to deactivate him so that he may experience "death."[14]


Of the theories about the true nature of Daniel and Marty interpreted from "clues" left in Chapterhouse Dune and earlier books in the series, author William F. Touponce envisions them as Face Dancers in his 1998 book Frank Herbert:

"Herbert gives us a segment narrated from their point of view only at the very end of the novel. They are offshoots of the Tleilaxu Face Dancers sent out in the Scattering and have become almost godlike because of their capacity to assume the persona of whoever they kill — and they have been doing this for centuries, capturing Mentats and Tleilaxu Masters and whatever else they could assimilate, until now they play with whole planets and civilizations. They are weirdly benign when they first appear in the visions of Duncan Idaho as a calm elderly couple working in a flower garden, trying to capture him in their net..."[11]

In an August 2007 review of Sandworms of Dune, John C. Snider of SciFiDimensions.com argues that it "doesn't fit" or "add up" that Frank Herbert's Daniel and Marty are the "malevolent" thinking machines Brian Herbert and Anderson created in their Legends of Dune prequel novels.[2] He further wonders why "Omnius, long established as puzzled by and averse to human unpredictability, would want to breed that ultimate ungovernable — a Kwisatz Haderach.[2]


  1. ^ Herbert, Frank (1985). Chapterhouse: Dune. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Snider, John C. (August 2007). "Audiobook Review: Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert & Kevin J Anderson". SciFiDimensions.com. Retrieved June 18, 2009. 
  3. ^ Quinn, Judy (November 17, 1997). "Bantam Pays $3M for Dune Prequels by Herbert's Son". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Dune 7 blog: Conspiracy Theories." (December 16, 2005). DuneNovels.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 12, 2008. "Frank Herbert wrote a detailed outline for Dune 7 and he left extensive Dune 7 notes, as well as stored boxes of his descriptions, epigraphs, chapters, character backgrounds, historical notes — over a thousand pages worth."
  5. ^ Neuman, Clayton (August 17, 2009). "Winds of Dune Author Brian Herbert on Flipping the Myth of Jihad." AMCtv.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved March 31, 2014. "I got a call from an estate attorney who asked me what I wanted to do with two safety deposit boxes of my dad's ... in them were the notes to Dune 7 -- it was a 30-page outline. So I went up in my attic and found another 1,000 pages of working notes."
  6. ^ "Before Dune, After Frank Herbert." Amazon.com (2004). Retrieved November 12, 2008. "Brian was cleaning out his garage to make an office space and he found all these boxes that had "Dune Notes" on the side. And we used a lot of them for our House books."
  7. ^ "Interview with Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson." Arrakis.ru (2004). Retrieved November 12, 2008. "We had already started work on House Atreides ... After we already had our general outline written and the proposal sent to publishers, then we found the outlines and notes. (This necessitated some changes, of course.)"
  8. ^ Ascher, Ian (2004). "Kevin J. Anderson Interview." DigitalWebbing.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved July 3, 2007. "... we are ready to tackle the next major challenge — writing the grand climax of the saga that Frank Herbert left in his original notes sealed in a safe deposit box ... after we'd already decided what we wanted to write ... They opened up the safe deposit box and found inside the full and complete outline for Dune 7 ... Later, when Brian was cleaning out his garage, in the back he found ... over three thousand pages of Frank Herbert's other notes, background material, and character sketches."
  9. ^ Adams, John Joseph (August 9, 2006). "New Dune Books Resume Story." SciFi.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved December 19, 2007. "Anderson said that Frank Herbert's notes included a description of the story and a great deal of character background information. 'But having a roadmap of the U.S. and actually driving across the country are two different things,' he said. 'Brian and I had a lot to work with and a lot to expand...'"
  10. ^ Snider, John C. (August 2007). "Audiobook Review: Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson." SciFiDimensions.com. Retrieved February 15, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Touponce, William F. (April 1988). Frank Herbert. Twayne Publishers imprint, G. K. Hall & Co. pp. 102–103. ISBN 0-8057-7514-5. 
  12. ^ Earlier in Chapterhouse Dune, Scytale notes that Tleilaxu Masters control their creations through a secret whistle language.
  13. ^ Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (2006). Hunters of Dune. 
  14. ^ Herbert, Brian; Kevin J. Anderson (2007). Sandworms of Dune.