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


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 loved science fiction my whole life, but I was finally told that I couldn't call myself a SF fan if I hadn't read Dune. So I read it. I know Dune is worshipped as a paragon of groundbreaking SF, I can witness and acknowledge Herbert's genius, and I can understand that when it was written it was certainly seminal, but I still don't think much of it.Aside from Herbert's horribly annoying use of 3rd-person-omnipotent viewpoint, he's just not a good writer. For clarification: he's a fantastic story-teller and creator. He has an incredible imagination and a talent for world-building and interweaving complex storylines. But the actual craft of writing, well, he just can't write worth 2 beans. As a result, I found Dune nearly impossible to get through.Story-wise, I got bored with all the political stuff because it's not my thing, and I got bored with all the preaching about ecology. But I loved the elements that dealt more closely with the human drama, the personal choices characters make, their interactions with others, how they cope internally with themselves and their own strengths and weaknesses. Those are the stories I like. There was enough of that here to make me check out the sequel from the library, but after about 10 pages of Herbert's writing I just couldn't stomach any more.

Jason Pettus

Like many, my relationship with this science-fiction classic has changed as my life has progressed: too dense for me when first attempted as a young teen, by the time I was an undergraduate it was one of my all-time favorite novels; but then while reading it again near the age of 40, found a lot more problems with it than I had before, and more parts that made me roll my eyes and quietly laugh. Maybe this is why so many people over history have enjoyed the first novel but never read any of the rest of the saga? It's definitely a great book, for those who have never read it before: a combination of elaborate cultural backstory (ala JRR Tolkien), the far-flung future of humanity (ala Asimov's Foundation series), and a grand Eastern-influenced vision that evokes "Lawrence of Arabia," the original novel combines a Shakespearean tale of family intrigue with the trippy '60s elements of alternate realities and messiah-figure destiny. But yeah, let's face it; the older you are, the faster you'll be skipping over the pages upon pages of ponderous purple prose on display here, muttering to yourself the whole time, "Okay, okay, I get it, Paul senses something wrong. Now what happens next?"

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.


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.

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.


When I was a kid, I tried about a dozen times to get through this book. My mom loved it, so I figured I'd give it a try, but this book definitely has a high learning curve and I had low patience.Years later, of course, when I knew something more about politics, religion, science and life in general, I raced through the book - I devoured it. It's a fantastic work, well deserving of its place in the science fiction pantheon. The movies are good too, though if I could find a way to cross-breed Lynch's version with the version done on the Sci-Fi channel, I think we might actually be able to come to something that really looks like what Herbert wrote. Unfortunately the novel is so dense and so complex that any attempt to put it on-screen is going to fall short.For the two or three of you who don't know the story, know this: it is the year 10,191. The universe is ruled by the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, my fath - DAMN YOU DAVID LYNCH!Sorry, got caught up there for a moment. The Universe is ruled by an Emperor, and governed by planetary noble houses. For those with the resources to do so, travel within the empire is instantaneous, from one corner of the universe to the other. The Spacing Guild, with their space-bending Navigators, hold society together. What gives the Navigators their power is the Spice, and that can only be found on Arrakis. On Dune.House Harkonnen, a bloodline of deception, pain and malice, has been removed from Arrakis, replaced by the good and noble House Atreides. Duke Leto the Just is set over the planet, and would probably rule with kindness and generosity. But kindness and generosity don't make money, and there are plans within plans within plans, all of which are bent on destroying the Atreides. But what the Emperor and his servants cannot know is the role that the Duke's son, Paul, will play in re-shaping the entire order of the universe.There. Now go read.There are more books, sequels to this, but most sources tell me that they're disappointing.

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.


I had never read Dune. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I hadn’t read it; although, I do have a nebulous memory of picking it up and not being able to get in to it. I know for a fact that I’d read the closing line previously, which is something I never do prior to reading a book; so that is really odd, perhaps it was quoted in either the movie or the miniseries.I do know people, a surprising number of people, who give Dune an almost Biblical reverence. It isn’t a selective grouping either. A totally random swath of people I’ve known have considered Dune to have had a very formative role in their growth; one, in particular, credits it with her move away from conservative religion. It is a really big deal to some people.While I don’t feel like reading Dune changed my life, I did really enjoy it. I suspect I partially enjoyed it just due to contrast. I felt so unstimulated by the Foundation Trilogy that I was thrilled to read something where a “hero” was doing something. It allowed for the “I can change the world” fantasy transposition of reader and main character that I was missing in the Foundation books. I think that having a cast of characters who are active in the whole of the book was an important factor in drawing me into the story.I also enjoyed it for the richness of the world. That’s where most of the “science” in this fiction was found, and I find myself more drawn to science as I mature. [In fact, I have been disappointed thus far; I want more science, less fiction.] I have to constantly remind myself while reading through the books on this list that these were, presumably, the first books to use these concepts. Frank Herbert made a universe, complete, from Space Guild to sand plankton. Even after years of reading other stories by authors who have done the same, I can still appreciate the depth of thought and idea behind Arrakis and its surrounding universe. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book which had as great a handle on the ecology of the world in which is was set; if I were pressed, I can only think of Grass by Sherri S. Tepper as coming close.Equally impressive was his treatment of religion. I especially liked the appendices, which moved even deeper into the evolution of religion over time. Herbert’s answer to how religion [and culture] evolved over the millennia[s] since “Old Earth” is similar in concept to the answer Joss Whedon gave with Firefly. Herbert saw the future as blend of Middle Eastern and Western ways; Whedon’s future is China/America. Being that his focus was religious as opposed to say, economic, this is understandable. It may even have been more base than that. Possibly he chose that direction because Arrakis is most similar to our desert regions where Islam originated, but I think it has more to do with cultural impact than mere climatic coincidence.I think one of the strongest elements is the writing itself. It’s very well written. Although I had been exposed to 2 movie versions of Dune prior to reading it, almost none of the previous imagery colored my mental image of what the characters and settings were supposed to look like. Weaker writing would have easily allowed my perceptions to be molded by the theatrical versions. I really hate when that happens. I don’t even know how I used to imagine Harry Potter looking before the movies came out. If Paul Atreides looks like anyone in my head that I’ve seen visually, I’d tell you he looks like this kid I went to school with [coincidentally named Paul Strange] [anybody remember that kid?] albeit much more attractive.


Does the world need another Dune review? I very much doubt it needs mine but that never stopped me before, saturation be damned!Dune in and of itself, in isolation from the rest of the numerous other Dune books, is by general consensus the greatest sci-fi novel of all time. You may not agree, and one book can not please everybody but statistically Dune comes closest to achieving just this. Witness how often you see it at or near the top of all-time best sf books lists.I never read Dune with the intent to reviewing it before, it makes for a more attentive and actually more enjoyable reading experience. When I first read it in my early teens I did not really appreciate it, I thought it was good but overrated. There are just too much depth for my young mind to handle. I got the gist of the story just fine but the richness of the novel completely escaped me.What makes Dune superior to most sf books is the quality of the world building. Frank Herbert went into painstaking details of Arrakis without ever bogging down the story. During the main body of the novel (excluding the appendices) he did not once resort to making info dumps. How many modern day sf authors can do that? Still, world building alone can not possibly account for the legendary status of the book. Herbert places equal emphasis on the characterization, plot and prose. The book is full of memorable characters from the badass Lady Jessica, to Paul Atreides who starts off as a fairly generic Luke Skywalkerish “chosen one” kid to a messianic figure always ready with a sage comment for every occasion. The villains are even more colorful, especially the super-sized Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, so fat he needs anti gravity devices to help support his girth (cue worthless yo papa so fat he needs suspensors jokes). And his psychotic nephew Feyd-Rautha who is a ruthless natural born killer and seems kind of gay for some reason. When I read it as a young lad the book seemed very long, but by today’s gigantic epic sf/f books standard Dune’s 896 pages length does not seems like much of a challenge if you take into account almost 100 pages of appendices and glossary. It is a highly readable and accessible book that transports the reader to a very vividly realized place. If you are looking for a bit of escapism you can not beat reading Dune for the first time.That's enough review I think, I just want to make a few random observations for people who are familiar with this book (more than half the people who read this review imagine):- Most memorable scene for me is the “Gom Jabbar” test where Paul Atreides has his humanity tested by the Reverend Mother. What is yours?- I love the little quotes from all those Muad'Dib books by the Princess Irulan. How many are there? Is there a “Muad'Dib’s Cookery Without Water” or perhaps a Muad'Dib popup book for the kids?- The stillsuits are great, I want one!- What is with all the “ah-h-h” business most (lesser) writers make do with an "ah!" or an "aha!". Are the characters having orgasms?- Don’t skip the appendices, they are well worth reading.- Last but not least, do check out Dune - Book Summary & Analysis by Thug Notes on Youtube, preferably after you have finished Dune; it's funny, insightful and informative. Come to think of it, if you are having any difficulty getting through Dune you may want to watch this.

John Wiswell

No one should argue the importance Dune. It laid the foundations for a great deal of the themes and constructs in modern science fiction. Frank Herbert was as important to the genre as Isaac Asimov and Arthur Clarke. Unfortunately, just like them, he's quite dated, and his books can be a labor to read. One thing he maintained from old science fiction was prim and scientific dialogue that no one would ever actually speak. I've known many scientists, and they don't talk like this. You're not going to convince me a child does.The stuffy dialogue is inserted into even stuffier narrative, until it feels like nothing is organic about Herbert's prose. This is a terrible tragedy when you've got a world that he put so much effort into building - and it is an amazing feat of world-building, technically interplanetary building. But unlike J.R.R. Tolkien, who he is so frequently compared to, Herbert didn't make sure to include a great story in his world. Instead he included a story that frequently illustrated how clunky an artificial world can be, even if it's lovingly crafted. I struggled to attach or find interest in anyone, yet they're more archetypes than human beings, whose logic races past modern skepticism and whose dialogue is cloyingly artificial, the way people cared for the Hobbits, Dwarves and Rangers. In his world-building, Tolkien at least saved himself from being dated by antedating himself, and even with his illuminated prose, wrought more characteristics in just one protagonist than all of Dune's cast. Even the political intrigue Herbert tries to fall back on was overdone in the Spy genre decades before he started this book. All fans of the "Genre" genres should appreciate Herbert's massive contributions, but they shouldn't pretend to enjoy the books if they don't, and they should be wary of certain pitfalls typical of science fiction that survived into his landmark work.

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.


This is the best book ever written. Cerebrally stimulating for anyone. When we attempt to understand why entertainment of this caliber (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars) and mass appeal (Harry Potter) resonates so strongly with us, many are quick to utilize Jungian archetypes to support such effects. I haven't heard it said for this novel and for good reason, I believe. Herbert didn't draw upon existing archetypes to flesh out his story, He created completely different new ones. Herbert's vision was such that in his far-flung future, not only did he imagine how technological and socio-economic circumstances might change, which are defining factors for the SF genre, he drafted how consciousness itself would evolve. The characters in Dune may resemble some sort of Jungian / Campbellian hero vs. anti-hero but, their actions, thought patterns and mannerisms are effected by 10 thousand years of evolution. The same amount of time has elapsed since we as Cro-magnon stepped on the recently thawed lands as the last ice-age receded. Herbert is able to draft these neo-humans not in a different, alienating light either. There is much in these characters that is to be admired, envied and adored. Paul Atreides, the main crux and fulcrum of the novel, is attempting to follow a dangerous path in life as he finds he has the choice to evolve even further to what very well may be a 'godhead.' Fueled by revenge for his father and hounded by his enemies and the very environment that surrounds him, he plays with fire as he discovers new found powers his perceptions of the universe offer him. Guiding him is his mother, Jessica. She is the bound concubine of Duke Leto, Paul's father and a powerful priestess in a secretive sisterhood, the Bene Gesseret. She guides Paul to his new found provenance by instructing him in the secret ways of mind and body control espoused by the sisterhood. They both are refugees on the intolerable planet Arrakis, or Dune, where no rain falls and the planet is swathed in inhospitable dessert. They find unlikely allies in the Fremen, indigenous peoples of the dessert who live by hard means and hard ways. All of this is surrounded by a backdrop of plausible political intrigue and complicated detante, certain morality tales and sub themes and action - that in perfect Herbert Style - hits the ground running.If you have seen the David Lynch movie version or perhaps the sc-fi channel's mini-series adaptation, I still recommend you read this book. I would gather that about 85% of what occurs in the novel is purely cerebral and cannot be expressed visually. Besides, how could anyone hand over the muscal them for Muad `Dib, the Kwisatz Haderach to some washed up band like Toto? (Although, I do have to admit they did a good job of it.) You should read this book!! If you don't own a copy, or do not intend on buying one. Get a hold of me and I will send you one.


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.


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

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