Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1)

ISBN: 0441013597
ISBN 13: 9780441013593
By: Frank Herbert

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About this book

Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad'Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family--and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what it undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

Reader's Thoughts

Stefan Yates

I really enjoyed Dune. I think that Frank Herbert is deserving of being considered as one of the foundation blocks of modern Science Fiction. To me, what made this novel so special is the immense amount of care that Herbert put in to world-building and creating comprehensive political and religious structures that encompass many different facets of the people who populate the complex world (and universe) that he has created.In some ways, Herbert has almost treated this novel as more of a Fantasy-type novel that he then fleshed out with Science Fiction elements. So much care has gone into creating the world itself that you don't see as much in Science Fiction as you do in Fantasy. While reading the novel, I felt that you could have asked Mr. Herbert any off-the-wall question about the Freman culture or way of life and he would be able to answer without hesitation. I think this same feel also applies to the Bene Gesserit, House Atreides, House Harkonnen and the politics and people involved in the majority of the Imperial regime. It's this feel of a complete back-ground and established history that make this novel (and hopefully the rest of the series) truly special much like Tolkien's Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.The story itself is fairly fast-paced and filled with political intrigue. The story does have slow moments from time to time, but these times mainly focus on critical moments in character development or the building of important plot points, so they didn't seem to drag at all but actually served to enhance the more dramatic and action-oriented segments of the novel. Characters both good and evil, long-term and brief, are fully fleshed out and easy to root for or against. All in all, a very good novel and one that is deserving of the praise that it has received from fans and critics alike. I will not hesitate to pick up the next book in the series sometime down the road.


8/10A thoroughly enjoyable tale which is a classic in its own right and one that rightly stands atop the shoulders of many others in the sci-fi genre. Coming at it some 50 years after its publication date made the impact of this a little less impressive as some of the main ideas here have been seen multiple times in other works since, compared to if I was coming at it from publication date. Things that can’t be taken away from this and are still really impressive are the sheer scope and depth of the world building and the cultures that inhabit Arrakis, quite often overshadowing the main events that are unfolding in the plot. The main story will be known by most as this has been around for some time and has even been adapted to both film and tv series. The book is split into 3 books of their own right which gave the overall feel of this somewhat as a condensed trilogy: The first book laid the foundations and gave the principle characters time to shine. I originally struggled to get into the book with all these tricky names and cultures I was unfamiliar with but when I’d got past the learning curve I began to enjoy things. There was political intrigue as to what was to occur on the new planet that House Atreides was moving to, also why the Duke was so ready to accept something that seemed so obviously a trap, even so that the Duke knew it himself. The characters were fleshed out enough to make them interesting but yet not enough to make you really care if any of them were struck down. The main bad guy was pretty terrible though. The ending of this book was somewhat bizarre and instantly drew me in to the next one. The second book was where things took a downward turn for me. The pacing became glacial with nothing major happening and I was worried that the promise of the first book would be lost. The characters didn’t have enough about them to keep things going on their own and the plot was all geared around Paul and his new abilities. This is when I felt it truly was like a mini trilogy as the 2nd books always seem to slow building events for the final book.Which brings us neatly to the end. I wasn’t expecting the shift in time but it didn’t alter the fact that this book had more going on straightaway than the entire last book. Things really picked up and I was unable to put it down until completed. Everything was rounded off nicely with enough interest to take me to the next book at a later date. So whilst not the best read of the year I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would pick up the next in the series to see how things progress. A special shoutout has to go to the people I read this with in my first “buddy read” who offered their views and thoughts which added to the whole experience. If you like this try: "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes


Don't mistake me, Dune, the novel, retains its 4+ stars in my heavens. This audio version gets the lesser rating because of deficiencies in presentation.The good side of the CD is that, as happened while listening to Tolkien's The Silmarillion, I heard a lot of things I had missed or glossed over in my many rereadings of the book. (I first read Dune when I was 12 or so.) For example, I had never really grasped the "ecological" theme of the novel that many critics point to. I understood the setting of Arrakis but it was just that - the scene where much of the action takes place. The CD brought out Arrakis' role as a character in the book that my readings hadn't. Which is good - I like discovering something new when I reread a book.On the downside: The discs keep going back and forth between the narrator who reads all parts - dialog and narrative - and a cast that handles the dialog. And there appears to be no rhyme or reason for when this happens. In the first case, the narrator is fine when he's reading the story but his vocal range is limited. I wouldn't have minded him reading the entire novel but I think the production should have been consistent - all reader or reader + cast.As to the cast-read parts, most of the speakers are seriously miscast in my opinion. Particularly egregious were the actors who voiced Gurney Halleck and Stilgar. Gurney's tone and rhythms are all off; and Stilgar's delivery is stilted and suffers from a bad pseudo-Middle Eastern accent. (I admit, however, that the fault may not be entirely the cast's fault. Listening to Dune does highlight the fact that Herbert's ear for natural-sounding dialog is not always very good.)Recommended if you liked Dune and need something to listen to on a long road trip or to-and-from work, but one could wish for a better adaptation.


I've read this before and liked it; several portions stick vividly in my mind but I never read the rest of the series. I still don't expect to read the rest of the series, but my friend just read it and has brought it up a few times in conversation so when they had it on the "Librarians' Picks" shelf at the--guess where?!--library I grabbed it.ADDED FEBRUARY 26:The book has some odd characteristics of the writing that I am overlooking in favor of the story. I don't like the rapid jumps of point of view. I also think the "insights" provided by the jump into a character's thoughts are quite obvious and a poor strategy for alerting the reader of character motivations. It's actually kind of bad writing. But it gets better as the book progresses and more happens within each chapter to one or two characters only. I'm at Part II and the writing has improved tremendously.I do think it's funny how little bits of "I'm writing in 1965" slip into what is a remarkably timeless story. One character consults a wrist watch, and it's called a wrist watch. They watch instructional films. There's an evil homosexual in power, which is supposed to be a radical idea the way it's presented. I am very impressed, however, with the way the powerful Bene Gessirit (sp?) women are presented as just being powerful without any of the "I Am Woman" overtones that appear in 1970s and 1980s post-ERA fiction. Perhaps it matters that a man is writing and lacks the outrage and indignation of the oppressed and does not exaggerate what women could accomplish if given the chance. He just presents them as a sect with influence everywhere that pass knowledge and information through female bloodlines. They are neither earth goddessy nor particularly nurturing nor acting exactly like men. It's very modern and quite prescient. I'm impressed.ADDED FEBRUARY 28:I dunno. The book petered out for me in part three. Maybe I'm just being harsh on books this month, but I couldn't keep track of it anymore. Nothing happened but you had to just keep reading. I think I got sick of all the telepathy and prescience. The paranormal is fine but everything was explained as known in some psychic way. No one ever did anything except look into future timelines and pick the one where you weren't dead or someone else was dead and then stuff happened with that result. It was like eating dinner from a pill in Willy Wonka. There'd be these comments from a character along the lines of "let's go kill all those hundreds of slaves now" and "we just killed six thousand people outside"--huge events mentioned in passing. If you have to mention something like that at all, shouldn't there be a scene detailing it? That's excitement, not wisdom gained by psychically uploading the wisdom of ten people older than you.I remember really liking this book the first time I read it and now I don't remember why. Maybe it's because of all the jihad and bourkas and desert nomads in the book. I think we're Islamed out lately. I really would rather have started with the part where the Fremen were doing real work to transform the planet, but I already got that in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy (interestingly, another book/s with direct tributes to Islam).I guess in the end I don't care that much about courtly intrigue and want the book to be about something else. That's not the author's fault, I suppose.


How I Read Dune and Was Unenthused; or, George R.R. Martin Ruins EverythingIf I had read this as a teenager or as a young collegiate man, I probably would have given this book five stars. It's got a rich fictional world that blends sci-fi and fantasy elements. It's got an action-packed(ish) plot, but it also has a lot to say about politics, religion, ecology, et cetera. It's what I would have liked then.But I didn't read it then; I read it now, in 2013 as a still fairly young, but starting to feel my age as I near the almost-thirtieth year, especially when I look in the mirror at my hair (which keeps marching further up my scalp to expose my pale dome) and my stomach (which is currently imitating the undulating quality of a bowl full of jelly). I read it as an adult who has read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, the current pinnacle of fantasy writing.Dune and A Song of Ice and Fire have many similarities and it was impossible for me not to compare the two. Each feature ruling families who find themselves in the middle of a mess of political intrigue, assassination, sex, poison, et cetera. Herbert wrote giant sand worms; Martin wrote dragons. They both wrote characters with telepathic powers. They both wrote complicated religions and dynasties with their respective hundreds of years of history and mythology. They both even share the willingness to kill of important characters for seemingly no reason.The thing is (and I must declare that this is simply my humble opinion), Martin does everything better than Herbert. Martin brings characters to life and makes you love them or loathe them. Herbert didn't do that for me at all. All of the characters in Dune felt either like robots or like the dullards you find in the cubicle next to you who think it's still hilarious to greet you with a "wasssssss uuuppppp". Dune has a lot of head, but no heart. And while there's a lot in the plot, it all feels very plodding. A plodding plot that ends with a whimper, not a bang.But I still gave it three stars. So it's not terrible. I just don't understand the hype.

Keith Mukai

I guess I'm one of the few that bridge the gap between the Pride and Prejudice camp and the Dune camp. I loved both.Dune isn't a light, enjoyable read. At times it reads more like excerpts from geology, ecology, zoology, sociology, pscyhology, and political textbooks. The characters are more like mega-archetypes than real human beings.The appeal of Dune is peculiar. In order to enjoy Dune you have to enjoy complexity. All authors create little worlds in their stories but Herbert created a world.He doesn't just say that Arrakis is a desert planet, he engrosses himself and the reader into the geology.He puts people on the planet, governments, conflicting cultures, conflicting religions, conflicting ways of life that are thought out to the Nth level above and beyond anything else I've ever read. You could write a sociology or politics dissertation on the societal relations Herbert conceived for Dune.Now is complexity itself a thing to be admired in a work of fiction? Generally no, but Dune is so immense and so detailed that it creates and inhabits a category of its own. The very fact that it often reads more like a National Geographic article than a sci-fi novel speaks to its peculiar charm.Admittedly, this will not appeal to everyone. In fact, odds are that it will appeal to hardly anyone. But limited appeal should in no way factor into a work's quality. Compare the Academy Award-winning films against the yearly box office numbers if you don't agree. I'm sure Armaggeddon outgrossed Monster's Ball.And amidst all this complexity lies a kind of new myth that blends mysticism, religion, and crass real-world politics. It's a hybrid; it's not The Odyssey and it's certainly not Star Wars but I do find great appeal in its particular take on Campbell's hero's journey. And the fact that it plumbs the intricacies of Muslim/Arab/desert culture adds another layer of exotic flair to the work.As if all that wasn't ambitious enough, it even articulates a fascinatingly dark but pragmatic destiny for humanity as a whole.And all of these incredibly ambitious elements are all tightly woven together. Take out one element and the story loses its cohesion. Despite all the ridiculous amounts of detail there is nothing extraneous in this novel.Dune is a remarkable, magnificent accomplishment. But it's okay if it's not to your taste.

colleen the contrarian ± (... never stop fighting) ±

3 1/2 This is a hard book for me to rate. Before I read it, I'd seen the movie multiple times, and the mini-series - both the Dune one and the Children of Dune one. I'd also been told all the differences between the books and both of these things from my insane boyfriend who's read it 27 times to date.That said - it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Not that I didn't enkoy the movie, the mini-series, or the lectures - but because I was warned it was rather dry reading and might not be quite up my alley.It sort of was and wasn't.On one hand, I found it interesting. I enjoyed, on an intellectual level, anyway, the outlining and commentary on religion and politics. My favorite parts about the religious stuff is both the way that it can be used to control people, and also the way that people are lost to their own legends. I'm pretty certain that most of the people and ideas and whatnots that modern religions are based on would be appalled at what's become of them - the way things have altered, been forgotten, or changed - either out of zealotry, ignorance, or tyranny.But, for all that, these weren't ground-breaking thoughts to me. Perhaps if I read this book when I was younger and less cynical, I'd be more profoundly affected by the truisms therein.As an intellectual exercise, it was one of the better ones.As a story though?I never really emotionaly connected with it. I hated Jessica. I liked her at first, but as the story progressed I just found myself more and more irritated by her, and sort of wished she was just shut up. I couldn't get a grasp on Paul as a person. Gurney was ok, but then disappears for most of the book. I also never connected with Stilgar as a person. The characters were all sort of thin, and there more for their role in the plot than as fleshed out people.I liked Channi, though. I've always liked Channi, in all the various versions of the story I've seen/read. And Alia, though I would've liked to have seen more of her.I found the Fremen interesting. Their mix on enlightenment and barbarism. The way women can be revered in one sense, and treated like chattle in another. The always odd to me notion of a culture in which death comes easy, life is cheap - and yet so much can hang on the balance of it at the same time.But, again, I found it interesting, but not emotionally engaging.As for the writing - it was oddly jumpy in places. I don't mean the shifts of thought-perspective. I quite liked that third person omniscience, actually, as we went from one persons thought to another's pretty seamlessly.But within scenes, we would jump to a different scene, and there would be no paragraph break or anything to let you know it's shifted. It was very jarring. The action sequences were sometimes done really well, but other times they were slapdash and hard to follow.And he tended to be repetitive, both in thought-patterns and descriptions. Such as the description of Gurney's "inkvine scar". Did this phrase really need to be repeated every time the scar is referenced? That's just the example that stood out the most, but it was a problem through the whole book, really.Anyway - I'm glad I read it, and I didn't hate it, as I feared I would, but, for me, for a book to get 4 or 5 stars I have to connect with it not just intellectually, but also emotionally, and this just never got there. But it was interesting, and it was worth the read.

Eric Allen

DuneBy Frank HerbertA Dune Retrospective by Eric AllenMy Wheel of Time retrospective is almost complete, so it's time for me to start up another one: Dune. For most people, Dune is a nearly incomprehensible cult classic movie that tells the tale of a man taking revenge for his father's murder by conquering a corrupt empire. For the true Sci-Fi nerd, Dune is to Science Fiction as Lord of the Rings was to Fantasy. At the time that Dune was published, Science Fiction was thought of as a low brow, childish genre that no one with an ounce of self respect would either read or write. Before this book, Sci-Fi was basically the joke of the literary world, and if you've read much Sci-Fi that comes before it, you'll see that people rightly thought of it as such. Frank Herbert had a brilliant idea. He had a story that was epic in scope, with great characters, intrigue, betrayal, revenge, and a whole slew of other things that had never really been applied to the Science Fiction genre, and instead of putting them in what would have been a more respectable setting at the time this book was written, he put it in a Sci-Fi setting. In a quote, Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, attributes his inspiration to go forward with his ideas for the original Star Trek series the following year to the success of Dune, and Sci-Fi fandom was born. Dune is an epic story, that happens to take place in a Science Fiction setting. At the time of its publication, it was one of a kind. These were two things that no one had ever thought to put together because the notion seemed ridiculous until Herbert showed them the way. You can see in the fifty years of Science Fiction that followed, many nods, references, and inspirations taken from this book.Herbert spent nearly a decade compiling notes before he even began writing this book. He wanted everything in it to be as scientifically accurate as possible. And it really does show in the book. In fact, when NASA began talking about how to terraform Mars into a planet that could support human life, it was Dune that they turned to first for ideas. Forgive any misspellings, this time through the book was in audio format and holy crap are there a lot of words hard to spell just by listening to them in this book.Dune begins with House Atreides packing up to leave their homeworld of Caladan to take possession of Arrakis, a.k.a. Dune, and the production of the spice that is harvested there, from their ancient rivals the Harkonens. Duke Leto knows that this is a trap, but is confidant that he can turn it to his advantage, and so has accepted the posting, moving his son Paul, and his concubine Jessica, as well as all of their servants and small army of House Soldiers to Dune.As Duke Leto predicted, a trap was laid for vague reasons that the book doesn't really feel the need to explain, though ARE explained, strangely enough, in the extended cut of the 1984 movie adaptation of all things. Through the use of a traitor, the Harkonens slaughter the Duke's forces, and take him and his family hostage. The Duke dies in custody, but Paul and his mother are able to escape into the desert where they join up with a group of Fremen, the native people of Arrakis.The rest of the book deals with Paul amongst the Fremen, preparing to take back Arrakis. He goes through rites of passage to become a full member of the Fremen tribe, and is affected by the spice to become the Kwisatz Haderach, or the first male Bene Gesserit, a being that their order has spent hundreds of generations regulating the breeding of the nobility of the universe to produce.When Paul's son is murdered, he leads a final attack on the Harkonens, taking Arrakis for the Fremen and the Empire for himself through the very real threat of being able to destroy all spice forever on Arrakis.The Good? As I said, Herbert did massive amounts of research into desert climates, what it would take to turn a desert into a paradise, how a body loses moisture and how that moisture can be saved, and a thousand other little details that make Dune all the more realistic because the science upon which the fiction is built is sound. His hard work really paid off to make a very realistic alien world. His combination of Science Fiction and elements of Epic, and Fantasy as well was revolutionary at the time, and brought about the golden age of Science Fiction that we know today. Such great series as Star Trek and Star Wars owe their success, in part, to Dune for paving the way before them. Herbert is a good writer, despite one or two flaws that I'll go into later in the review. His ability to describe things without seeming like he's describing them is something that few writers ever seem to be capable of achieving. His wording is, often times, very poetic, and he knows the value of repeating themes to make them stick in a reader's mind without going too far into repetition. Characters have very distinct and different personalities, and their interactions often come with quite a bit of clever dialog. There is a lot of exposition to give in this book, and the author never really infodumps it on us. He weaves it into the story oftentimes rather than lecturing us on it.The entire book is a rather clever allegory for Middle Eastern Oil that the author denied until shortly before his death. It makes a real profound statement on the world's reliance upon a resource that comes from such a volatile, and barren place that was MUCH ahead of its time.The Bad? There are a few things that are very vague in this book. The reason for moving House Atreides to Arrakis, for one. There are a lot of character motivations that are really left to the reader's imagination. We're not really told why a lot of things are happening, or how. There are a lot of things that happen for the convenience of the plot without explanation. Herbert worked for years on the science of Dune, but maybe he should have spent a little more time on developing the actual story on top of it. There are several uses of plot convenience and Dues Ex Machina that, while not overly offensive to the reader, DO still noticeably exist.The Ugly? The whole concept of the Kwisatz Haderach is not really explained AT ALL. Almost the entirety of the book deals with Paul becoming the Kwisatz Haderach, and Herbert never actually tells us what it is, what it does, or what it is supposed to accomplish. And yes, I HAVE read all of the other books so I have a much fuller understanding from them, but I'm talking about this book and this book alone, taken on its own merits. And taken on its own merits the Kwisatz Haderach is just some vague Chosen One that will do "something" sometime in the future. We are told that this being will be able to see the genetic memory of the male side of things as well as the female side, but it's never really explained what that means, what it entails, and why it's important. Paul develops powers of precognition, but we never really get told why or how, or if this is a part of his heritage as the Kwisatz Haderach. For a concept that is talked about for the majority of the book, and which the main character basically sets out on a quest to become, by the end of the book it's still a gigantic question mark. We know almost nothing about it by the time we reach the ending.This is just my personal preference, and really more of a nitpick than anything else, but the book is written in a voice called Third Person Omniscient, which means that rather than sticking with one single character's viewpoint for the entirety of a scene, with clear breaks to indicate the switching to a different character's point of view, the author switches around from character to character at random when one of them has a thought or observation that is relevant to the plot. I find it to be annoying and oftentimes confusing. This is one of my biggest dislikes in writing styles and was distracting enough to me that it did take away some of my enjoyment from the book.In conclusion, Dune has done quite a bit for Science Fiction as a genre. It's basically THE Science Fiction book. It's the one that paved the way for many of the excellent Sci-Fi that we have today, bringing the genre out of obscurity and showing its critics that it could be used to tell a truly epic story that is worth the time to read. Despite a few instances of vagueness, plot convenience, and just plain not explaining crucial plot details, Dune is a very enjoyable book that still holds up today, almost fifty years since its publication, as well as it did the day it was released. It is a book that every fan of Science Fiction should read at least once in their life. Check out my other reviews.


Is it space opera? Is it political commentary? Is it philosophical exploration? Is it fantasy? _Dune_ is all of these things and possibly more. One thing I do know: it's a kick-ass read!I've loved this book since I first plunged into it's mightily constructed, weird and obscure world. Of course it's hailed as a classic, and I am one of those that agrees. The sheer magnitude of Herbert's invention, his monumental world-building tied with an exciting story of betrayal, survival, rebellion and ultimate ascendance are more than enough to guarantee that. His characters too, are worthy of note: Paul Atreides the young heir to not only a ducal throne, but the hopes and desires of the oppressed population of an entire planet and the strange otherworldly powers of prescience and command that are his unique birthright; his mother Jessica torn between devotion to her family and her pledge to a generations-long plan spawned by a secret order bent on controlling the universe from behing the scenes; Chani and Stilgar the wild yet honourable representatives of a dangerous people just waiting to burst their chains and explode onto an unsuspecting universe. Add to these heroes the malign Baron Harkonnen and his debased nephews Feyd Rautha and "the beast" Rabban, the spiteful and covetous Emperor Shaddam IV, masterminds of the fall of Paul's House, and we have the recipe for an exciting contest of wills with no less than the future of humanity at stake.Even without an exciting story to drive it, the book is almost worth reading just to experience the world created by Herbert. 10,000 years in the future mankind has experience the "Butlerian Jihad" wherein all "thinking machines" were destroyed and the hatred of the technological has a religious conviction. In their place there are the Mentats, the "human computers" able to utilize the human mind to nearly it's full potential, drawing accurate inferences and conclusions with minimal data. There is the Sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit, a community of women who have honed their mental powers to the point of a near magical ability to coerce, tied with a training in politics and influence that would make Machiavelli proud. Finally is the Guild: a community of mutated humans, the sole "pilots" able to bend space and foresee their path amidst the void and thus keep interstellar trade and community together. Both the Siterhood and the Guild owe their great powers to the mysterious spice Melange, the only product of the planet Arrakis (known colloquially as Dune) and the society of the Empire in general also depends on it for its "geriatric qualities". Dune is thus the linch-pin for all Imperial power. Without the spice, travel ceases, trade stops, life ends. He who controls the spice controls the universe.Upon this stage is born Paul Atreides, the son of the Duke who is to take control of Arrakis as a fiefdom for the emperor. Paul is not merely the heir to political power though, for he is the last link in a chain of breeding that has been going on for generations, part of a plan created by the Bene Gesserit in the hopes of breeding a superhuman whom they could control. But Paul was born too early, his mother's rebellion against her orders have brought about an unforeseen occurrence. Now in the midst of political betrayal and the loss of all he has known Paul must also fight for survival amongst the most merciless tribe of humanity the universe has formed. Greater powers than any human before him has known will be thrust upon the young man, and the mantle of messiah will be his to accept or reject.Did I mention that I love this book? Well I do. I highly recommend it to any and all. I must admit that there is the occasional infelicity in some of Herbert's prose (and a too-heavy reliance on inner monologues to either state the obvious or convey information to the reader), but overall I can forgive him this for having crafted such an excellent tale. Woven into the story of a tottering space empire are real questions about ecology, responsibility and human life that are well-worth thinking about. Politics is not just a veneer, but the lifeblood of this story and, to me at least, it makes it all the more exciting.I'll admit right here that I am one of the few who actually likes all of the original Dune books, though I must admit that after the original trilogy Herbert seems to lose some of the strands of his narrative thread and my admiration is mostly due to the character of (view spoiler)[ Duncan Idaho (hide spoiler)] and the world-building. (But please avoid the prequels and sequels written by Herbert's son and Kevin Anderson in an attempt to cash in on the franchise, they are worse than anathema.)Also posted at Shelf Inflicted["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>


Like most of my five star books, I’ve read Dune multiple times. In fact, I’d say that what makes a book more than just enjoyable and instead truly amazing is that you want to read it more than once and are rewarded for doing so. I’ve probably read Dune six times, and I’ve never gotten tired of it but my understanding of the work has increased over time.To begin with, the first time I read Dune, I got about three pages into it, realized I didn’t understand a thing and that I was hopelessly confused. I had to go back and reread what I had read, and then go back again and reread the whole chapter. I would excuse myself by saying that I was 10, but I’m sure I’m not the only one that has had that experience. Don’t be dismayed if it happens to you - whether 10, 18, or 45. If you are confused at first, consider that Paul is also confused and finds so much that happens strange and new. Understanding will come in its proper time.At one time at least, there was a fairly famous website (at least among geeks) that humorously summarized books in thirty words or less. Maybe it still exists, but its name escapes me. The summary provided for Dune read something like this, “I’m Frank Herbert and I’m a lot smarter than you are.” When I was younger, this would have seemed a fair appraisal of the work. One of the most central aspects of ‘Dune’ is Herbert manages to write convincingly about people whose intelligence is supposed to vastly exceed that of the reader. More than anything, to create a believable Messianic story, the writer has to create a Messiah possessing believable Messianic wisdom and insight, and Herbert succeeds at this invention probably better than any other writer. We come to believe that the protagonists do have deep and profound insight into the question of ‘Life, the Universe, and Everything’ so that we do not immediately feel cheated and we are able to believe in the characters – even someone like Maud’Dib. As I’ve gotten older, and hopefully wiser, I’ve come to see that Herbert is not in fact possessed of superhuman intelligence, but that he creates the illusion of superhuman intelligence by a variety of clever devices. The appearance of a superhuman intelligence and wisdom is really a sham and the pool is really pretty shallow, but even this revelation does not reduce the esteem in which I hold the work. It’s not Herbert’s real job to be a prophet: he’s an artist. Herbert succeeds brilliantly in what he should be judged on – the ability to paint the illusion deftly and convincingly. If we acquire the sophistication to see through it, it shouldn’t reduce our appreciation of the artistic mastery used in creating it. I think now I would amend the summary of the work to be, “I’m Frank Herbert, and I’m a lot better writer than you are.”If all that could be said in Dune’s favor was that it had one of the most convincing invented prophets in literature, it would still be a worthwhile work. But Dune has abundant pleasures beyond the richly realized illusion of philosophical depth and even the deftly realized setting. Chief among these for me is the truly deep and intricate relationships Paul has with the other characters. There is a real depth of feeling here, and I love the way each of the complicated nuanced relationships is portrayed as we are introduced to the cast of Paul’s complicated life. Each character feels a deep mixture of feelings for Paul who is boy, man, friend, soldier, sovereign, and Messiah and much else. There is tenderness to this work. We sense that complexity and tenderness right from the start, when his mother allows him to be tortured and to face murder, and then immediately thereafter experiences profound hope and joy: “My son lives.” We feel Paul’s boyish love for his friends and companions, who are also his father’s henchmen and his teachers and who he is in turn their future Lord. We feel the more mature manly love that these companions have for their young charge and future ruler. Even Yueh loves the boy he must destroy. We feel the boyish admiration Paul has for his father as he strains to be worthy of him and to make his father proud, and we feel the returned pride and satisfaction that his father feels. We feel the aching love of a boy for this Mother when has already lost everything else when Jessica is buried in sand, and we feel her returned love when she says, “I knew you would find me.”And though there love is only briefly on stage, still I find the love between Paul and Chani among the sweetest and most charming in literature. Who cannot thrill when scarcely knowing each other, but seeing their lives together stretching out before them both good and terrible, the young becoming but not yet lovers promise with tender vows nonetheless to be forever each others comfort and joy and they feel their hitherto unseen future becoming a real solid now. Isn’t that how it is in some way for all of us when we meet the one who will be the one and we suddenly realize we want to and we will spend the rest of our lives together regardless of what will happen? And how often have we felt the total unabashed joy as Paul does when we know our lover is now near?“That could only mean Chani was near by—Chani, his soul, Chani his sihaya, sweet as the desert spring, Chani up from the palmaries of the deep south.”All that and ‘Dune’ is a wonderful exciting action adventure story filled with thrills and chases, fights and battles, and supersized edge of our imagination wonders. Worms.It’s no wonder that this is one of the best beloved books of all time. If you haven’t read it, you should. If you have read it, read it again.

Rajat Ubhaykar

In my head, the purpose of this review is very clear. It is to convince YOU to read this book. Yes, you! Waste time no more. Go grab a copy.Machiavellian intrigue, mythology, religion, politics, imperialism, environmentalism, the nature of power. All this set in a mind-boggling, frighteningly original world which Herbert ominously terms as an "effort at prediction". Dune had me hooked!First impressionThe very first stirring I felt upon opening the yellowed pages of Dune was that of stumbling upon an English translation of an ancient Arabic manuscript of undeniable power and potence which had an epic story to narrate. The tone was umistakably sombre and I realized Herbert was not here to merely entertain me, he was here to make me part of the legend of Muad'Dib. It was intriguing and challenging and heck, since I live for challenges I decided to take this one up too, gladly. The challenge was the complexity and depth of the plot, which left me perplexed, in the beginning. I knew there were dialogues which meant much more than their superficial meaning and was unable to grasp at it. I felt a yawning chasm between Herbert's vision and my limited understanding of it. However, of course, I plodded on and could feel the gap closing in with every page much to my joy and relief. The Foreword"To the people whose labours go beyond ideas into the realm of 'real materials'- to the dry-land ecologists, wherever they may be, in whatever time they work, this effort at prediction is dedicated in humility and admiration." The foreword makes it pretty clear that Frank Herbert isn't kidding around. This is a serious effort at predicting how our world is going to look two thousand years from now and by God, it's a bloody good and detailed prediction. However, the real merit in this effort lies in the commentary on our lives in the present.Why Frank Herbert is a geniusThe setting of the book is arid futuristic. the plot is driven by political mindgames reminiscent of The Game of Thrones. The issues he tackles are as modern as the colour television. Herbert's genius manifests itself in his ability to combine the past, the present and the future in one sweeping elegant move called Dune.Plot and SettingDune is set in a futuristic technologically advanced world which after the Butlerian Jihad (the bloody war between Man and Machines) has eliminated all computers and passed a decree declaring "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man's mind". Since there are no computers, the essential working of the galaxy is still medieval and feudal with heavy reliance on men and their dallying around. Lots of thriller potential right there. Men with superhuman analytical abilities called Mentats have taken the place of Computers. On the other hand, we have the Bene Gesserit, an ancient school of mental and physical training for female students (it gives them superhuman intuitive powers) who follow a selective breeding program which makes them feared and mistrusted through the Imperium. Their desired end product of this breeding program is the Kwisatz Haderach, a superman who’ll be able to glimpse into the future. How he’ll be able to do this is rooted in Herbert’s idea of determinism: given that one can observe everything and analyze everything, one can effectively glimpse the future in probabilistic terms. Quantum physics anyone? The Kwisatz Haderach is the proposed solution to the male-female dichotomy, between the analytical and intuitive.The plot of Dune is almost wholly set on the desert planet of Arrakis (also referred to as Dune), an arid wasteland where water is so scarce that men have to wear stillsuits which recycle human moisture for further consumption. The source of the galaxy’s interest in the planet is Melange, a spice which bestows upon one longevity and prescient powers. Everything on the planet is permeated with the spice, the air, the sand, the food. Everybody on the planet is hopelessly addicted to the spice, their only hope for survival being their continued intake of the spice. The Spacing Guild, the economic and trading monopolistic arm of the Galaxy badly needs the spice for interstellar transport. This is because their frigates travel faster than the speed of light and hence travel backward in time. The spice is the only way they can look into the future and see their way ahead. How cool is that! All the powers on the Galaxy are out to mine the spice, braving the sandworms, their name merely an euphemism, for they are gigantic 200 metre long creatures which always come digging through the sand whenever spice mining is undertook. Always. There’s also another little glitch. There exist on the planet, the kickass native desert tribal Fremen, whom the foreign powers look down with suspicion and disdain. The Fremen ethos is one of survival and scarcity, driven by tribalism and egalitarianism. Okay, I’ll stop right there. No more spoilers about this. Except that they value water to the extent that spitting on a person is the highest honour they can bestow upon him.Our protagonists are the Atreides family, consisting of the Duke, his Bene Gesserit concubine Jessica and their son Paul, who have been entrusted the stewardship of Arrakis. We discover the alien planet of Arrakis along with them, firstly with fear, suspicion and wonder and ultimately, love and respect. Paul Muad’Dib, however is no ordinary prince. There’s a teeny weeny chance he might be the Kwisatz Haderach, something which troubles him constantly and gives us our conflicted hero. The poor chap trips balls over the spice and has visions of black hordes pillaging and murdering around town bearing his flag and sees his dead body multiple times.My favourite character, however has to be the Baron Vladmir Harkonnen, the most evil character I’ve ever come across in my literary excursions. He is ruddy ruthlessness, he is virile villainy, he is truculent treachery. He executes the inept chess players in his employ which says oodles about his badassery and his fondness for cold-blooded logic. He sees everything in simplistic chess terms. What is my best move? What is my opponent’s best move? Is there anything I can do to completely squash his move? Is there a tactic which leads to mate in three? ThemesIn this setting, Herbert does so much, it’s unbelievable. Religion, politics, the dynamic nature of power, the effects of colonialism, our blatant destruction of our environment are themes which run parallel to the intensely exciting and labyrinthine plot. He shows the paramount importance of myth making and religion for power to sustain over long periods of time. Man, as a political animal is laid completely bare.Real lifeNow these are my thoughts about what Herbert could have meant to be Arrakis-It makes perfect sense. Herbert draws heavy inspiration for the religious ideology of Muad’Dib from Islam. He says “When religion and politics ride in the same cart and that cart is driven by a living Holy man, nothing can stand in the path of such a people.” which is the philosphy of the politics of Islam. Islamism in a nutshell. The spice, much desired by everyone, is the oil. Baron Vladmir Harkonnen is symblomatic of the wily Russians. The Desert foxes Fremen are representative of the native Saudi desert-dwelling Bedouin tribe who have a strongly tribe-oriented culture and undoubtedly value water in equal measure. And the ultimate loser is the environment.Why do good books get over?I almost forget this is a science fiction novel, it’s that real. It is also scary and prophetic. It is a reading experience that will leave you dreaming of the grave emptiness of Arrakis and make you wish you were there to brave it all in the privileged company of the noble Fremen. Frank Herbert achieves the pinnacle of what a sci-fi author aspires to rise to; authentic world building.


If this isn't a formative text, then I don't know what is. I figure evangelicals have the bible, and usually a regressive translation at that, while my family had weird science fiction novels. One that all ten of my brothers and sisters read was Dune. It's true. I grew up in a large family. A sprawling sort of California family of Hippie-Hillbillies positioned precariously on the edge of the continent that seemed to be positioning itself to dump us all into the ocean. We had a small herd of goats and lived on a dirt lot up in the mountains. Our home was an old sunday school bus, bought from a biker gang called "The Satanic Sluts" that roared around the streets of El Monte. We had one copy of Dune between us and my father would crouch in the gray dust next to the broken down VW Bug and he read aloud from this tattered and yellowing copy of Dune. As he read, the wind would blow through the wild flowers, and our little herd of goats would forage through the hillsides, trampling and collapsing the dens of coyotes as they went. At night the coyotes would emerge from their collapsed dens, shaking dust off of their bodies and they would trot off into the distance. When the wind blew, we gathered beneath our mother's apron and stuffed our mouths with wild blackberries. The sun rose and our ragged blond heads bobbed over those steep hills.


I've spent a few days hoping that my thoughts and feelings about Dune will solidify into one coherent and brilliant essay. There's a lot going on in the book, and there's been a lot going on in my life, so coherency might not be forthcoming.Dune is intricate, at times confusing, allegorical and meticulously researched story. Even though I didn't fall in love with the characters, I fell in love with the book. It's easy to see how Dune is a classic, often imitated.I loved this book, but at least one of my GR friends who I greatly respect hated this book. Which is fine, because, hey, we all have different tastes. (And thank Odin we've got diverse authors and genres for all types!) But I couldn't help ponder which attributes might make Dune so disliked. Sure, it's long, it's complicated, and has a pretty big cast of characters. And despite the Reverend Mothers and their power, the book has that overall masculine appeal - testosterone in overdrive. I don't mind that, but I can see how it could bother some readers. But I think there might be other factors that would cause people to not just dislike, but really hate Dune. My hypothesis, (which I admit is most likely completely wrong, but I'll put it out there anyhow): Dune will only be loved by hard-core science fiction fans. I don't mean this in any derogatory way, since science fiction doesn't and can't appeal to all tastes. And that's quite all right by me.A year ago, Jo Walton wrote about a concept that she attributes to Samuel R. Delany, specifically from his book The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction. The thesis is that science-fiction has it's own language and protocols. From Walton's essay:"He then went on to say that one of the ways of approaching SF is to look at the way people read it—that those of us who read it have built up a set of skills for reading SF which let us enjoy it, where people who don’t have this approach to reading are left confused."For SF fans, it's fun to read a story and not fully understand the language, the technology, the aliens, or what have you. And Dune is extremely challenging in this regard. The desert dwellers, the Fremen, have a culture that can be shocking and overly practical to us Earth-dwellers. There is a whole language and terminology invented, complete with a glossary included with the book. Herbert drops facts about a pre-history into the readers lap as if the reader already has knowledge of those events. It's a challenge to read, and not all readers would find those challenges "fun."Other fun things in Dune: Huge sandworms! Blue eyeballs! "Do as she says, you wormfaced, crawling, sand-brained piece of lizard turd!" Prophesies! Water-reclamation technologies!OK, now that I've thoroughly pissed off my non-sci-fi-loving friends, let's totally shift gears here. In my 40th Anniversary Edition, there is a afterword written by Frank Herbert's son, Brian Herbert, who has written many of the Dune sequels. Here's a few of the more fascinating revelations in his essay:* "When he was a boy, eight of [Frank Herbert's] Irish Catholic aunts tried to force Catholocism on him, but he resisted. Instead, this became the genesis of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood."* Herbert researched over a 4-year period, 1957-1961, then wrote the book between 1961-1965. The book was rejected by all the major publishing houses, but was finally picked up by Chilton, the publisher of all those car-repair manuals.* Sometimes Herbert would write passages first in poetry, before he expanded and converted them to prose.* Herbert took some inspiration of the Paul Maud'dib character from Lawrence of Arabia - the outsider who helped lead a desert revolt in Turkey in WWI.


People often forget that this series is what innovated our modern concept of science fiction (up until Neuromancer and The Martix, at least). Dune took the Space Opera and asked if it might be more than spandex, dildo-shaped rockets, and scantily-clad green women. Herbert created a vast and complex system of ancient spatial politics and peoples, then set them at one another's throats over land, money, and drugs.Dune is often said to relate to Sci Fi in the same way that Tolkien relates to Fantasy. I'd say that, as far as paradigm shift, this is widely true. Both entered genres generally filled with the odd, childish, and ridiculous and injected a literary sensibility which affected all subsequent authors.Few will challenge the importance of Star Wars' effect on film and storytelling in general, but without Dune, there would be no Star Wars. Princess Alia, the desert planet, the Spice, the Bene Gesserit, and Leto II all have direct descendants in the movies. It is unfortunate that Lucas seems to have forgotten in these later years that his best genius was pilfered from Herbert, Campbell, and Kurosawa.Though I have heard that the later books do not capture the same eclectic energy as the first, Dune itself is simply one of the most original and unusual pieces of Sci Fi ever written. Read it, Starship Troopers, Ringworld, Neuromancer, and Snowcrash and you'll know everything you need to about Sci Fi: that you want more.

Ben Babcock

Second review (Reviewed on February 12, 2011).Dune is a classic because it tells a classic story well. It combines two plots that I love: a vast political intrigue with an intimate family conflict. The Atreides and Harkonnens are related by blood; their feud is a blood feud going back generations. Yet their battles are political in scale, using vassals as soldiers and spies in an interstellar chess game where the throne of the Imperium itself is within reach. In my first review, which I crafted hastily one day when I added this book to Goodreads, I pontificated on the role of science fiction as a setting rather than a genre. Frank Herbert chose to set Dune far into the future and across the galaxy. There are spaceships, shields, lasguns, and of course, the all-important spice. Yet, I argued, this changes nothing. Dune is not a classic work of science fiction; it is a classic, period.I stand by this, and while I do not want this review to be a rehash of the first, I want to elaborate further. It has been at least five years since I last read Dune, and I knew going into this reading that I would see it differently, since I'm now an adult, with more experiences and more science-fiction books under my belt. Though nominally science fiction and science fiction and fantasy in its setting, at its heart Dune is an epic, a tragedy reminiscent of ancient Greece and pre-Enlightenment Europe.House Atreides and House Harkonnen are embroiled in a bitter blood feud, and now that feud seems to be coming to an end in the form of a political gambit by the nefarious Baron Harkonnen that results in the destruction of Duke Leto Atreides, his family, and his new fiefdom on the desert planet of Arrakis. Backed by the Emperor, the Harkonnens seemingly wipe out House Atreides and re-assume control of Arrakis, the only planet known to produce spice. Spice is a panacea known for its geriatric properties, but more importantly, it is the only substance that gives Spacing Guild navigators the prescient visions required to navigate through folded space. Without the spice, interstellar travel would be limited to relativistic speeds. Hence the oft-repeated mantra: whoever controls the spice, controls the universe.Aside from the occasional mention of sandworms and spaceships and lasguns, this could be set in Tudor England or fifteenth-century France. The Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV does exactly what kings of old used to do; he pits his nobles against each other so they do not succeed in uniting to depose him. His downfall comes from underestimating House Atreides and the Fremen inhabitants of Arrakis who align themselves with the fugitive Atreides scion, Paul, also known to them as Muad'Dib. He becomes a messiah for the Fremen, a dangerous figure indeed, and in so doing discovers he has triggered a revolution he cannot fully control, even with his newfound powers as the Kwisatz Haderach, the culmination of a Bene Gesserit breeding program.I paid more attention to Paul's role as a messiah this time around. When I was younger, I didn't fully understand the ramifications of this role. (I remember rejecting Dune Messiah the first time I tried to read it because "it seemed to religious"!) Thanks to the two Sci-Fi channel miniseries that rekindled my interest in Dune, these ramifications are much more obvious. They inform the rest of the story, acting as a pivot point around which crucial events revolve. Paul's role as a messiah accords him great influence, great power—but as a role, it also restricts his choices as much as his visions of the future does.What's amazing is how close Baron Harkonnen comes to winning. Paul might have chosen to live out his days among the Fremen rather than win back his dukedom (and more), but he doesn't. Jessica even urges him to do this at one point, but it is clear the decision is less Paul's than it is the Fremen. They were set upon this path long before the Atreides came to Arrakis, back when Pardot Kynes and his son, Liet, commenced a centuries-long ecological transformation plan. They hate the Harkonnens perhaps as much as Paul does, are eager to raid against the Harkonnen forces, so they wouldn't take "no" as an answer; if Paul were to take the safe course, he would not find acceptance among them. Finally, Paul-Muad'Dib is their messiah, the Lisan al-Gaib. There are prophecies about him, and having demonstrated his authenticity as the messiah, he must fulfil them.Above all, Paul states several times he rejects the "temptation" to take the safer path. That's how his prescient visions manifest themselves—as potential paths the future could take, always twisting and snarling and reforming as each choice he makes changes that vision. He sees safer routes, but these, he says, lead only to stagnation. These are the routes the Guild navigators take, which has resulted in the Guild morphing into a parasite on the back of the Imperium. Having acquired prescience, Paul sees the potentialities for the human species, and he realizes he has the ability to effect change. But he has to be careful, because to know the future is to become trapped by it, even as one changes it.I guess I just have a soft spot for tragic heroes. I like watching heroes fall, because it reaffirms their humanity by the very fact that, despite their larger-than-life actions, they are flawed. This is important when it comes to Paul, because as the Kwisatz Haderach, he has become something posthuman, more-than-human. He is colder, slightly more divorced from his surroundings, because he is mediating both the present and the many-futures. It would be a mistaken to say he is disconnected, though, for it is clear he still loves and cares for Chani; rather, he is heavily burdened by his roles and responsibilities. We don't see his actual fall in this book, but the seeds of it are there—as Irulan says, every revolution carries with it the seeds of its own destruction. Herbert foreshadows the trials Paul will face: the uncontrollable storm of revolution; his increasing alienation from those close to him, like Gurney and Stilgar and even his mother; and of course, opposition from external forces, such as the Bene Gesserit and the former Padishah Emperor.A great hero deserves a correspondingly great villain, and the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen certainly fits this description. He is an intriguing counterpoint to Muad'Dib. Like Paul, the Baron is depicted as somewhat inhuman, but in his case it's because of his obese figure and his profound cruelty. This guy has his nephew murder the entire house seraglio as a punishment for discovering his nephew's crude plot to murder him! He will stop at nothing to get what he wants, and his wants are many, varied, and perverse. His flaws, however, get the better of him. As a result of his overindulgence and his arrogance, the Baron ignores the real threat—the Fremen and their messiah, Muad'Dib—while spending too much time counting all the riches he'll have and plotting to make his nephew emperor. His downfall is as much his own as it is Paul's (or, as the case may be, Alia's).So Dune has a great hero and a great villain. It also has plenty of morally-ambiguous characters who span the spectrum between. Jessica Atreides and Thufir Hawat fall into this category. Jessica was supposed to bear a daughter for the Bene Gesserit, who would in turn give birth to a Harkonnen son who might become the Kwisatz Haderach. They did not expect her, out of love for Duke Leto, to give birth to a son; they did not expect Paul's latent psychic abilities to come into full force through ingestion of spice. As a result of this act, Jessica irrevocably alters the Imperium. Though she claims she never regrets her decision, it is obvious that she struggles with her role as a Reverend Mother among the Fremen and how she influences Paul's actions. She is torn between being a mother and a Reverend Mother, between her son and her leader, her new duke.Hawat is captured by the Harkonnens while still labouring under the false impression that Jessica is a traitor. Reluctantly, he works for the Harkonnens while seeking a way to destroy them. In this role as a captive Mentat, we see Hawat become trapped, unable to destroy his new patrons but unwilling to forgive them or abandon his desire for vengeance. His manipulations of the Baron and the Baron's nephew bely his supposedly tamed status, but he has lost some—perhaps even most—of his edge; he is broken, if not beaten.I'm not sure what else I can say about Dune. It is a classic and a masterpiece because it takes a form and formula that are timeless and lays over this framework complex characters who struggle against each other and the circumstances in which they find themselves. Paul Atreides is a duke's son who becomes a desert fugitive, a reluctant warrior, and the figurehead of a revolution. Surrounding him are friends and family who soon begin to slip away, and enemies who underestimate him even as they plot to destroy his life and all that he holds dear. It's a story we've told time and again, but Herbert puts it in space, throws in some sandworms, and adds a little spice. Consequently, Dune stands on the shoulders of stories that have come before it, attaining its greatness because it is something both recognizable and unique.First review (When Added to Goodreads, Last Read Pre-Goodreads).Many people hear the words "science fiction" and run away in terror. They labour under the erroneous idea that science fiction must be some sort of fantastic space opera in which there are laser blasters, warp engines, teleportation, and all that jazz. Thanks in part to Star Wars, Star Trek, and the improvements of the special effects industry, science fiction is reduced that narrow category.So what is science fiction? Science fiction is a setting, not a story. And no book better demonstrates this than Frank Herbert's Dune. Yes, Dune is set in the future (the distant future). Yes, there are spaceships, other planets (in fact, Earth isn't around any more), and bizarre things like prescience. But once you accept these and move on to the actual story, you'll find that it is an epic, dynastic tale of political intrigue. It's set in the future, but the environment is distinctly feudal. Frank Herbert incorporates a dazzling array of motifs, such as religion, drugs, ecology, rebellion, and prophecy.Whenever I read Dune, I can't help but think about how big it is. The Dune universe operates on such a magnificence scope that it's hard to believe it came from the mind of one man. The story is timeless, because it is about the human condition: betrayal, love, murder, avarice--all of the characters exhibit the best and the worst of human emotions. In fact, Dune is devoid of alien intelligences. This isn't about humanity versus the Martians. It's about human versus human, one person pitting his or her intelligence against another. It's about the sacrifices necessary to achieve power or save a loved one.Dune is a classic, a masterpiece of fiction, regardless its genre.

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