Thanks for your thoughts on this, good stuff.
Thing is, Leto is deliberately offing himself.
Aaah, sort of. Wheels within wheels there. It's not so much he wants to die as he needs to die. He's an infinite sort of being, his God side, life and death don't matter. He's already lived for ever, in one moment he could live a thousand years. He can't ever die. Even when his physical body is destroyed he lives on in the Worms. He knows intellectually that death is impossible.
Then there's the Worm. We're all animals, we have instincts of self-preservation. We react instinctively to save ourselves. Even if you try to kill yourself by drowning your body still struggles for air. He doesn't let Duncan kill him with the Lasgun, he reacts and blocks it. This works on a subconscious level. I've been depressed before, seriously considered suicide. It's really really hard, all living beings have an instinct for life. This is the reason for the blind spot, why he loves 'surprises'. As soon as he sees a single thread of it, the future gets locked in so he can't allow himself to see any part of his death or it won't happen. He'll instinctively preserve himself.
And he's still Leto the human, the man who made the choice to become the Worm. This is a part of the Emperor that wants to die. In many ways he's as lost and out of his own time as Duncan. Seeing Duncan's struggle in a way he isn't allowed to gives him relief. He misses his sister terribly, yet at any time he can be with her whenever he wants to. Since she is literally inside him. Truly a bizarre being, it's so hard to understand a KH because of the time factor. It's like the analogy of the flatlanders seeing a 3D world for the first time. Trying to understand the God Emperor is like that, a being partially outside the confines of time.
There's also Hwee. He's never been in love, never experienced those emotions. He's human, feeling them for the first time. The agony, the joy. You can reflect on how that would make his death wish waver, flicker, then grow stronger, then flicker again.
The purpose of Leto's existence is to send humanity down the Golden Path. Once this begins he is no longer needed. In fact if he were to live after humanity entered it's Golden Path he would be a hindrance and could send humanity spiraling off it. His prescience. One of the parts I picked up on last time I read it, I hadn't really thought about before, was the vision of Siona keeping him trapped on a little island with a moat. Humanity would have it's sealed KH on call, a caged oracle, to turn to from time to time when the going got rough. Intriguing stuff.
He's been down this road so many times before. He's been trying to set the conditions to kill himself for thousands of years. Failure upon failure. There's no reason this time should be any different. The thought of success, of dying, is exhilerating because it means he's achieved his purpose. But it is death, and then there's Hwee who's 'Something New'. What it comes down to, whether he wants to die or not doesn't matter. He needs to survive until humanity is on it's Golden Path and then he has to die.
Malky's No Room is interesting. We never learn what it really is. Is it a little room with a desk and a typewriter, looks kind of like Frank's study? The Fish Speakers/Beverly drag him out of it kicking and screaming? Is it a palace? A city. Or a Space Station, or a moon? Or an entire planet? We know that's possible because of the later books. More intriguing stuff, this is how you write. You don't spell it out for people you let the reader's imagination build it up and run with it. This is why making a film adaptation is so difficult, almost impossible. I think Jorodowsky may have had the right idea. It shouldn't be something obvious and simple scifi like the Star Trek/Star Wars stuff we're used to. Jungian archetypes, psychedelic imagery, The Great Masterbator, blah blah blah. Very difficult.
And he's also got his blind spot, anything related to his death he can't see which is a big hint. He can't 'see' what Malky is thinking through his prescience, he has to use his wit and intellect, his massive understanding of human nature. It's like having a conversation with idiots. You know what they're going to say before they speak it. I think a lot of stuff that seems like prescience is actually Leto deducing things from experience and reasoning. His prescience is like peeking through hands covering his eyes.
That was one of the weaknesses of CoD it felt like, Leto and Duncan were inches away from just riding off into the sunset together and taking down Alia much more easily except that events just barely prevented them from meeting each other one more time.
What makes CoD intriguing, despite the obvious plot and literal armor of Leto, is who's going to die and how they're going to die. By the end Alia's madness has degraded her into a KJ type villain, a cartoon caricature of the Baron. The suspense involves the other characters, we know Duncan's marked for death but how? Gurney, Stilgar, Paul, Jessica, etc. who survives and how do they die if they do. Towards the end Farad'n becomes almost a second main character, a Paul changeling. How you feel about the book depends partly on how much interest you can find for him and his fate. Marriage is one obvious choice but a terrible death is another. You glean a bit more information about House Corrino and Salusa Secundus. Information on any of the secondary families or characters is like buried treasure.
Man, this got long. Dune does that. It's been a couple of years at least since I last read the books a lot of this stuff isn't fresh. Trying not to make errors.
Next time I read I'd like to follow the Chapter by Chapter synopsis here. I remember I skimmed it a couple times around the last time I read the books. Found a couple mistakes, maybe contradictions between the editions they may be errors in the UK versions? I'll try to do that next time might be interesting.