Murbella is a fictional character in the Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. She appears in Heretics of Dune (1984) and Chapterhouse: Dune (1985) by Frank Herbert, as well as Hunters of Dune and Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
Murbella is raised as an Honored Matre, and has above average superhuman abilities. Among these abilities are the superhuman reflexes independent of her central nervous system, which makes her a formidable fighting force. Also a part of her Honored Matre heritage is her ability to amplify sexual ecstasy to near unimaginable levels.
Heretics of Dune
When Murbella tries to imprint (sexually condition) the young Bene Gesserit-loyal Duncan Idaho ghola, she is confronted by the power the Tleilaxu have secretly built into him. His power is the male equivalent of the powers of the female Honored Matres, and Murbella experiences the same sexual ecstasy that enslaves the Honored Matres' male victims. Her energy is completely drained as a result, and in her weakened condition she is easily captured by the Bene Gesserit. Murbella and Duncan Idaho become sexually addicted to one another, and have four daughters. This addiction enables the Bene Gesserit to keep Murbella subdued, and they train her to become a Bene Gesserit sister.
Duncan Idaho and Murbella are living together. The bond created by their mutual imprinting in Heretics has made them somewhat reluctant lovers. The Bene Gesserit have accepted Murbella as a novice and are training her to be a Sister, despite their belief that she intends to steal their secrets and escape back to the Honored Matres.
Murbella collapses under the pressure of Bene Gesserit training and pregnancy, giving in to "word weapons" that the Bene Gesserit planted to undermine her earlier Honored Matre identity. Murbella realizes that she really admires and wants to be Bene Gesserit, and sees her former Matres as ignorant children. The words of her initiation are repeated with an emphasis not in the original.
Finally it is decided that Murbella is ready to become a Reverend Mother. Odrade relaxes the strictures, and for the first time ever, a man – Duncan – is allowed to watch a spice ceremony. Duncan is filled with trepidation, first because he fears Murbella will not survive the ritual, and second because he wonders whether she will still love him after going through such a life changing experience. Odrade watches with equal trepidation because Murbella is vital to her plan to deal with the Honored Matres and to reform the Sisterhood. Odrade believes that the Bene Gesserit made a mistake in fearing emotion, and that in order to evolve, the Bene Gesserit must learn to accept emotions. Murbella, Odrade is pleased to find, takes and survives the hard path to becoming a Reverend Mother.
Murbella goes through a manic phase after becoming a Reverend Mother, and her feelings for Duncan are not the same – a fact that worries Odrade as much as Duncan. Whether it is a temporary effect of the experience or a permanent one is unknown.
Odrade calls a Convocation (a meeting of all the Bene Gesserit) announcing her plan to attack the Honored Matres. She tells them that this attack will be led by Miles Teg. She also announces candidates to succeed her as Mother Superior; she will share with Murbella and Sheeana before she leaves.
The attack seems headed for failure, and Murbella saves as much of the Bene Gesserit force as she can and they begin to withdraw to Chapterhouse. The potential failure of the Bene Gesserit attack was planned for by Odrade, who left Murbella instructions for a last desperate gamble. Murbella pilots a small craft down to the surface, announcing herself as an Honored Matre who has managed to escape the Bene Gesserit in the confusion with all their secrets. She arrives on the planet and immediately announces her intentions by killing an overeager Honored Matre with a blinding speed enhanced by Bene Gesserit training that makes her faster than any Honored Matre before her.
Murbella is taken to the newest Great Honored Matre and immediately declares herself hostile. Logno cannot help herself and attacks, Murbella disposes of her and some allies. Odrade is killed in the melee. Murbella shares with Odrade and takes charge of the Honored Matres, who are awed by her physical prowess.
Murbella's ascension to the leadership of the Honored Matres and, by necessity, the Bene Gesserit as well, is not accepted as victory by all the Bene Gesserit. Some feel that she will suborn the spirit of the Bene Gesserit and many worry that her plan of merging the two orders into a New Sisterhood is doomed to failure. Some then decide to escape, notably Sheeana, who has a vision of her own. They ask Duncan and Teg whether they wish to join them and they flee Chapterhouse in the giant no-ship, with Scytale and the Jews from Gammu still aboard.
Murbella recognises their plan at the last minute, but is powerless to stop them, realizing at the same time that Duncan's departure solves many problems for her.
Hunters of Dune
Now that Murbella has the ability to delve into her Other Memory, she tries to find the origin of the Honored Matres. After taking a dangerous amount of spice, she is finally able to break through the wall in her memory keeping her from the origins of the Honored Matres. She discovers that they are descendants of Tleilaxu females originally used as axlotl tanks, freed by Fish Speakers and rogue Bene Gesserits who allied in The Scattering. This reveals the motive behind the Honored Matres intense hatred of the male gender. Murbella also discovers how the Honored Matres first provoked the "Enemy". One of her ancestors found an outpost belonging to the enemy and immediately attacked it. In the attack technologically advanced weapons were stolen, including Obliterators (later used to destroy Dune, Richese, and other planets). This attack provoked the enemy, Omnius and the thinking machines, who were already preparing to destroy mankind in the final battle, Kralizec.
- Hunters of Dune, pg. 75.