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Dune by Frank Herbert



Dune by Frank Herbert
Science Fiction | T | 4.8 stars

One of the first books I read this summer was Dune by Frank Herbert. Yes, I know, it was published back in 1965 but it's gotten popular again (I just happened to find it in Half-Price Books and picked it up and thought it sounded cool.) I literally could barely put this book down for longer than the time it took to eat meals and do required activities this summer, it was just that much of a page-turner that kept me up at night. This book has actually stood the test of time extremely well. The novel takes place in a foreign universe with very different planets but still has the echoes of modern-day capitalism throughout mixed with medieval titles like "Lord" and "Lady" because of the feudal setup of this futuristic world. 

The book opens on Duke Leto Atreides of House Atreides being suspected as a threat to the emperor because he has favor with a majority of the other Great Houses, and is therefore sent to the desert planet Arrakis, which is controlled by their feuding rivals House Harkonnen. Arrakis is also the only planet that naturally produces the mind-enhancing spice, melange, which fuels higher-order thinking in all those that consume it. Arrakis is also home to sandworms and the native folk called Fremen, whom Leto quickly allies himself with. 

There is a larger plot for Leto's son, Paul Atreides, whose mother, Lady Jessica, subscribes to the Bene Gesserit way. They wished to produce a male Bene Gesserit who could see the future in time and space, called the Kwisatz Haderach, whom Lady Jessica believes Paul can become. 

As the stakes get ever higher for the Atreides family as the Harkonnens continue attempting to end their feud by ending the Atreides' lives, Paul has to make some significant decisions that could potentially affect the future of the entire planet of Arrakis. 

Taking away the "new world" aspect, Dune is a pure science fiction novel done extremely well and it has also aged very well in the 53 years since its first publication in 1965. While Frank Herbert clearly wants you to feel for the Atreides family and the Fremen, it's hard not to have empathy and understanding for where the Harkonnen family is coming from, along with some of the plot twists that occur throughout the novel. 

The only detractor that I found with this story is that it sometimes got hard to follow with the Arrakis-specific terminology because of reading too quickly and not fully understanding the meanings of various words. Also, there could possibly have been a bit more exposition in setting up this entirely new world system because it's something brand new to all of us readers. 

A big bonus is that Frank wrote 5 more books for this series, so Paul's story doesn't end at the end of Dune, but is continued on in several following books. At the end of the day, this is such a great, fairly quick read and there's so much potential to be had with the rest of the books in the series, so I'd highly recommend this book to any science fiction lover. 

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Once upon a time, I read most of the Dune books.  I recall the difficulty in tracking all the world-terms, even in books 3-4, where I 'should' have known all the terminology by then, but didn't care enough to internalize it.  I loved the fantasy aspects of the world.  I loved reading the books when I read them.  Even though I disliked the overly political tones in the plot, I still loved reading the books.  They were interesting, fascinating, and drew me in.   I don't remember details as much as I remember the feeling I had when reading them.   But now, years and years (almost two decades) after reading these books, I come away with two strong memories:

  • Frank Herbert cared way more about his world terms than I ever did.
  • I can still hear Sting (the musician/actor who played Feyd-Rautha in the marginal movie version in 1984) saying, "I will kill him!" every time Frank Herbert's name is mentioned in any setting.  Poor guy.  His books were better than that.


  • Okay, there are actually three.  The worms.  I thought those things were way cool.
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Posted (edited)

but...how could you not mention duncan idaho? :P  he's actually the character that appears in all six of herbert's original dune novels (not counting the ones written by his son and kevin j. anderson). he's one of my favourite characters and dune (the original along with the prelude to dune series (house atreides, house harkonnen and house corrino) are some of my favourite books!

while dune is fascinating to read, the bene gesserit are positively creepy and almost all knowing, and all the themes that are tackled are wonderfully touched upon in the original novel, i found it extremely hard to follow herbert's writing in his later novels where he branched out too much into philosophy for my science fiction lover-y self. it probably didn't help that i read them even before i started high school so some of the concepts he writes about were very hard to understand then (though, even now, older and wiser (lol!) i find some stuff hard to read). which is why i loved the prelude to dune series - it retains the science fiction without mixing too much philosophy into it (and lets be honest, i mean, the three books are wrought with political intrigue and feuds and i'm a big fan of those).

(leaving this for the HC opener :) )

Edited by starbuck
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I really enjoyed Dune, though I stopped after God Emperor. The Bene-Gesserit may be creepy, but I think we can all agree that fear is the mind-killer. ;) 

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