The Dune Encyclopedia

ISBN: 0399129502
ISBN 13: 9780399129506
By: Willis Everett McNelly Frank Herbert

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About this book

EIGHT YEARS IN THE MAKING, THE WORK OF PAINSTAKING SCHOLARSHIP AND RESEARCH, CONTAINING THOUSANDS OF ENTRIES AND CROSS-REFERENCES...Futurist, journalist, bestselling author, world-maker Frank Herbert's magnificent future history, The Dune Chronicles, has proven itself the most popular and enduring work of speculative fiction of our age—not only for the grandeur of its epic sweep, but for the complexity and intricacy of its world. Now, for the first time, Dune is revealed in panoramic detail—the people, the desert planet, the ecology, the history, the entire universe of the visionary masterpiece!- The legendary history of Paul Atreides, the Kwisatz Haderach - Salusa Secundus: The prison planet - Fremen Desert survival techniques - Duncan Idaho (10158-10191): Swordmaster of the Ginaz - A complete guide to the heraldry of the major house of Harkonnen - "How Muad'Dib got his name": a folktale from the Oral history - The Dune tarot; or the Golden Path - The assassin's handbook: a complete guide to professional Chaumurky

Reader's Thoughts


An absolute necessity for any true Atreides vassal. I had a copy of this rarest of tomes, had it stolen by a roommate in college, then by pure chance, found a copy at a very tiny (and sparse) book sale in the neighborhood. Need I say more?If you find one of these, keep it. If you're over my house, steal it if you can. I would totally understand. :)


This is the best companion to the dune series. I was overjoyed to find it at a used book store. It really stokes the imagination for the dune universe

Fred Mephisto

Although this is a really neat book in that it adds a lot of supplementary material to the Dune mythos, it actually isn't as much of a reference book as I had hoped. Often times things I would expect to have a complete entry (i.e. Water of Life) will only be mentioned in other entries, and even then sometimes only briefly.


The information was written (and it is most certainly not canonical) before God Emperor was complete. I liked it well enough, but its rarity makes it worth owning.


A must-have (and rare find) for any Dune fan. You might luck out and find one in a used bookstore, if the seller doesn't realize how collectible this is. *hugs her copy close*


Fortunately, this work was compiled before Brian Herbert began that truly awful continuation of his father's masterpiece (overall, there were some pretty weak entries in Herbert pere's oeuvre, let's be honest).It pretends to be a collection of select finds from the Rakis Hoard, discovered 2 millennia after Leto II's death, and there's a wealth of fascinating material that brings a richness and depth to the Corrino and Atreides Imperia. For example, there are biographical entries for all of the major characters of the series. Sometimes more than one - Paul gets three entries, one of which is the highly edited version produced under the God Emperor.There are also entries that explain the Holtzman Effect, which produced both the personal shield and the means for FTL travel. There's a history of the Bene Gesserit that can be read as an accurate portrayal of a matriarchal cabal that has existed since the Neolithic or as the self-serving chronicle of an organization that can trace its origins to the Butlerian Jihad. There's an explanation of Imperial administration and the Great Convention that governed human affairs for 10 millennia; the origins of Mentats and Sardaukar; an exploration Fremen poetry; the role of the Missionaria Protectiva; a rundown of Duncan Idaho and the gholas who served the Atreides for 3,000+ years; and a furtive look at the vile Bene Tleilax and their face dancers.There's also a fascinating essay (supposedly one of the few writings that can be attributed to Paul Maud'dib) about the origins, purpose and influence of the Orange Catholic Bible.Overall, a wonderful companion to the Dune series (though I wish it could have incorporated some of the material from the later books, particularly the Honored Matres).

Tim Clouse

Wonderful background material that is consistent with Herbert's work. Brian Herbert's failure to use it is an tremendous blunder.Glad I have kept it all these years. Looks to be a collector's item.


Not canon, but interesting as all get out. Works best if the reader "picks and chooses" what they consider canon out of it. Some of the entries you'll like, others you'll think "that's not how I picture the universe working."

Jeff Attup

my most cherished book... ask me to tell you the story

John Scott

One for the purists and good fun. The edition I have has a different cover.

Simon Mcleish

Originally published on my blog here in March 1999.If you look at the back cover, The Dune Encyclopedia may seem to have been the ultimate accessory for the fan of Frank Herbert's Dune series. What is written there makes it sound as though it contains systematically ordered material from the archive of Herbert's own background notes to the series. It lists specific items, which are mostly exaggerated descriptions of articles in the encyclopedia itself ("complete guide to the art of kanly", for example, just means a description of a few of the more common methods of assassination). It is endorsed by Herbert, so it can nevertheless, so it can lay some claim to being authoritative. (He explicitly reserves the right to change the ideas in any later books written in the series, and certainly did so: both Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse Dune contradict the Encyclopedia.)The Encyclopedia is not, however, a systematic collection of Herbert's background materials. I am sure that these existed (given the complexity of Herbert's imagined setting for these novels), and they may well have been used to produce much of the material here. The individual articles vary wildly in interest (the one on the geology of Arrakis is particularly yawn inducing) and quality. There is little consistency in coverage; for example, the biographical studies of the major characters are too variable in type and depth to be permitted in a real encyclopedia (which this pretends to be; it uses the conceit that it is a reference work of the far future). The one to avoid is the account of Jessica, mother of Paul Atreides, as the fulfilment of each of Jung's list of human archetypes - male as well as female - and particularly what it has to say about the archetype of "Mother".Characters are invented for no apparent reason - a playwright, who is basically Shakespeare, right down to the details of the authorship controversy, for example. Some of the articles are distinctly ill advised - whoever wrote the Imperial Poetry account and included quotations from the best poetry of the period must have a very high opinion of their own writing.There are interesting articles among them; these are mainly the ones to do with people from before the date of the first book, such as the early emperors, the founders of the Spacing Guild and so on.The conclusion is that this book could certainly have done with a firmer editorial hand.


i think this book is rich of information

James M. Madsen, M.D.

This is a nearly indispensable reference guide to the first published set of six Dune novels. Like any good encyclopedia, it can provide hours of pleasure (to someone who is reading or has read the series) from one's simply reading one article and then letting that entry lead to several others! Highly recommended!


Yes I am a big enough dork to give the Dune Encyclopedia a fifth star. This is also the only book that I've ever stolen in my life. I stole it from my high school library. This is still the only thing that I've done that I feel deeply ashamed of. I know that I’m not a terribly good person so I believe that means that I have one seriously screwed up conscience.


"A must for every Dune fanatic. Some great speculative back story for the Dune Universe. I was disappointed Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson didn't follow it more closely in their ""preludes"" to Dune. "

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