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Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for...

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.


Original, first edition from 1965 can be found here.

658 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 1965

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About the author

Frank Herbert

491 books12.8k followers
People note Dune (1965) of American science fiction novelist Frank Patrick Herbert for its intricate plot and its broad intellectual scope.

Frank Herbert authored five critically acclaimed and commercially successful sequels to this best-known work. Widely considered among the classics in the field of science fiction, the Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, dealt with themes, such as human survival, human evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics, and power.

He was the father of fellow author Brian Herbert.

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Profile Image for Rajat Ubhaykar.
Author 1 book1,701 followers
June 29, 2018
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 impression

The 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 genius

The setting of the book is arid futuristic. the plot is driven by political mind games 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 Setting

Dune 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?


In 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 life

Now 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.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,538 reviews9,965 followers
April 29, 2022
Omg! I found a Folio Society Edition a bit cheaper and brand new! You can see all of the art online but look at this cover! Now I have this and Little Women I actually got from their site. I need to get more as I can 😬

✅Reread 2022 to try to complete series! (I need to get the awesome audio too) 4.5 Stars


Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾


I was so worried that I wouldn't understand a thing in this book. I will admit there are some things that went over my head but for the most part I figured it out.

I remember a billion and 65 years ago I watched the movie and was like what the? Basically all I remember is Sting and sandworms. I would love to watch it again and see if I understand it more after reading the book.

I'm still not sure what all the spices were about on Arrakis. I keep thinking it's like their farming like we would farm corn or tobacco, etc. I could be wrong and I didn't get the connection between the spice and the sandworms. Is it like a drug to them? I did read in the back of the book that is was like a drug when taken in small quantities and really addictive when taken in large quantities and that Muad'Did felt his prophesies were because of the spice.

I liked Duke Leto and I hated that he was betrayed not long after they got to Arrakis. There is always some twat out there causing trouble.

I really enjoyed Paul's character and his mother Jessica. They seemed like really strong people and adapted very well in everything they were put through. I didn't really pay too much attention to the other characters or I guess I should say I didn't have many thoughts about them. With the exception of the ones that betrayed them.

I really enjoyed when Paul and Jessica had to travel to get away from the evil Baron Harkonnen before they were killed too. I don't know why, but I enjoyed their little journey. I think they were both great in their roles when they were found by the Freman and showed they were a force to be reckoned with. Now maybe I'm getting this all wrong but I'm trying to tell it through the way I saw it in my mind.

I don't understand how Paul's sister, Alia, was an abomination. That one must have went over my head too. It might have had something to do with the poison Jessica took to become the Reverend Mother. I'm not sure but I know some of my goodreads friends that read this will get me sorted out =)

Other than the sandworms and traitorous people on Arrakis, I was most freaked out by the thought of the water issue! I would NOT was to live somewhere there was a water shortage. And the part where they were talking about selling foot water, I can't even. Which basically means your stinky foot sweat!

Anyhoo, I really loved the book!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

✅Thank you for the answers in my comments! 😊

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.8k followers
January 4, 2022
Let me start by first apologizing to everyone who loves this classic. I don't doubt Dune was something special when it first came out in the 1960s. But reading it for the first time today, it feels horribly outdated to me and at times almost incomprehensible.

I was warned going into this story that the beginning is extremely hard to understand, but that is an understatement. I could barely follow its scene after scene of dialogue referencing people and places and events, all with no explanation or context. It literally feels like I was just dropped into the middle of a book, and everything had already been explained elsewhere.

But it gets better, right? Well, only somewhat. A narrative does take shape, but the writing style remains confusing and obscure. It manages to be both long-winded and not clear enough, if you can believe that. Certain obvious points are harped on again and again, but other crucial ones are merely glossed over. Then, when you inevitably miss those important points, they create this cascading effect that keeps you mired in confusion.

The writing is also pretentious, with regular or nonsensical things consistently being presented in a profound way. There are plenty of extraneous paragraphs that sound good until you try to discern their meaning, at which point you'd be stumped. This sort of writing really confused me because I couldn't figure out which paragraphs mattered and needed to be dissected carefully to suss out their hidden meaning, and which ones are just adornment.

As for the story itself, it was a complete mismatch with my interests. I like science fiction with lots of real science. Instead, this is a space opera (a.k.a. a soap opera that takes place in space) with no actual science. It's all political intrigue, melodrama, doublespeak, and who has power over who, which I have zero interest in. I also couldn't care less about how fawningly amazing Paul is and how he is destined to be the chosen one.

This was such a frustrating reading experience because it could've been an amazing story. And there were moments in the beginning when I thought it was going in those creative directions. I was riveted during that infamous test in the first scene, only to realize that it was completely irrelevant to the rest of the story. Or to see where the book could take the scientific aspects of a desert planet and a population with so little water, which it didn't other than a bit of lip service.

But the book stubbornly chose to disregard these more interesting avenues, and instead took the most straightforward, boring route of making this into a story about power struggle. Well, we could've saved ourselves the bother and just stayed on Earth for that.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
January 16, 2015
There's a characteristically witty essay by Borges about a man who rewrites Don Quixote, many centuries after Cervantes. He publishes a novel with the same title, containing the same words in the same order. But, as Borges shows you, the different cultural context means it's a completely new book! What was once trite and commonplace is now daring and new, and vice versa. It just happens to look like Cervantes's masterpiece.

Similarly, imagine the man who was brave or stupid enough to rewrite Dune in the early 21st century. Like many people who grew up in the 60s and 70s, I read the book in my early teens. What an amazing story! Those kick-ass Fremen! All those cool, weird-sounding names and expressions they use! (They even have a useful glossary in the back). The disgusting, corrupt, slimy Harkonnens - don't you just love to hate them! When former-aristo-turned-desert-guerilla-fighter Paul Muad'Dib rides in on a sandworm at the end to fight the evil Baron and his vicious, cruel nephew, of course you're cheering for him. Who the hell wouldn't be?

So that was the Dune we know and love, but the man who rewrote it now would get a rather different reception. Oh my God! These Fremen, who obviously speak Arabic, live on a desert planet which supplies the Universe with melange, a commodity essential to the Galactic economy, and in particular to transport. Not a very subtle way to say "oil"! They are tough, uncompromising fighters, who are quite happy to use suicide bombing as a tactic. They're led by a charismatic former rich kid (OK, we get who you mean), who inspires them to rise up against the corrupt, degenerate... um, does he mean Westerners? Or only the US? And who is Baron Harkonnen intended to be? I'm racking my brains... Dubya doesn't quite seem to fit, but surely he means someone? Unless, of course, he's just a generic stereotype who stands for the immoral, sexually obsessed West. This is frightening. What did we do to make Frank al-Herbert hate us so much? You'd have people, not even necessarily right-wingers, appearing on TV to say that the book was dangerous, and should be banned: at the very least, it incites racial hatred, and openly encourages terrorism. But translations would sell brilliantly in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and a bad movie version would soon be made in Turkey.

I honestly don't think Herbert meant any of that; but today, it's almost impossible not to wonder. If anyone reading this review is planning to rewrite The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, you'd better make sure you get your timing right. Who knows how it will be interpreted five years from now?

Profile Image for John Wiswell.
Author 41 books429 followers
July 30, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
435 reviews4,266 followers
May 23, 2023

If you are having a hard time reading Dune:

My YouTube Review (admittedly totally Fangirling):

This was one of the best books that I have ever read which I was not expecting at all. First, the book is incredibly put together and really well thought out. Often, the author wrote the book in such a way as you can hear the character's thoughts which was a really interesting perspective and provided a more immersive experience.

The book touches on so many different deep topics and is so inspiring, moving. The book was also so unpredictable and unique. Highly recommend.

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
Apr On the Road
May The Color Purple
Jun Bleak House
Jul Bridget Jones’s Diary
Aug Anna Karenina
Sep The Secret History
Oct Brave New World
Nov A Confederacy of Dunces
Dec The Count of Monte Cristo

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Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
554 reviews60.5k followers
March 7, 2020
Nope. Sorry I don't get it.

I was able to finish it by listening to the audiobook but I was bored throughout the whole 21h.

So many descriptions... anyone else found the way Paul's mom describing him kinda weird?

And let's not even mention how many times I laughed at the main female character being called Jessica.

I'm sure I'll get plenty of comments telling me it's a classic and it brought so much to the genre... At the end of the day, my rating is always based on my enjoyment.
Profile Image for Jack Edwards.
Author 1 book205k followers
September 29, 2021
While the cultural impact of this book is indisputable, I couldn't help feeling incredibly underwhelmed when reading it. Even the plot couldn't save Dune, since it's spoiled at every juncture by 'Princess Irulan' and her epigraphs before each chapter. Did no-one tell her about spoiler alerts?

From the very first pages, this book plunges you in at the deep-end with an absurd amount of overly complex world-building, which just makes the book laborious to work through. It wasn't for me, and the post-Dune reading slump is real.
Profile Image for Ayman.
213 reviews85.1k followers
October 9, 2021
60 pages in and then i DNFed. world building is literally shit in this book.
i wanted to read this book just in case i accidentally bumped into Timothée or Zendaya but i really tried being ✨that bitch✨ but ✨that bitch✨ was not trying to be me. horrible, unreadable, and should be illegal
but think about it, if this book was written by a woman i just know i’d be able to actually read it cover to cover. never again
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,883 reviews16.6k followers
March 1, 2019

No other single syllable means as much to the science fiction genre, a single word that conjures images of sandworms, spice wars, great battles between rival dynastic families and a massively detailed and intricately crafted universe. No wonder this is widely regarded as not just a Science Fiction masterpiece, but a literary achievement as well.

Like a study of Shakespeare, the reader finds that this is an archetype upon which many influences and imitators have based their works. The complexity and depth of the creation is staggering and I am continually astounded at the discipline with which Herbert must have focused his imagination.

This is the book upon which Herbert would base his greatest series and one that would outlive him as his son has continued to expand and add detail to the vast, immaculate tapestry woven by a true master of the genre. Encapsulating political, economic, sociological, biological, cultural and dynastic themes, Frank Herbert has set a high standard for later practitioners.


***2015 reread - Read years later, this has lost none of its narrative power, if anything I can better appreciate the virtuoso attention to detail Herbert exhibited in his epic creation. From the perspective of having read his later 5 Dune sequels, I am astounded at the rich tapestry he has woven. Most impressive was his close omnipresence, analyzing the thoughts and minute actions and subtle nuances of his complicated dynamic interplay of characters. The exhaustive training of the Bene Gesserit and the intricate relations of the Houses and the Guild would stand as a monumental benchmark for speculative fiction ever since.

This time around I found myself looking more closely at the Harkonnens and will likely read some of Brian Herbert's additions to his fathers great work.

***2019 reread - I'm even more in love with this book and am again in awe of Herbert's narrative skill. This time around I noticed that all of the quotes that begin chapters are from Princess Irulan and I paid close attention to how Herbert crafted these interludes.

I also was drawn to the religious undertones that really began very early in the book and how Paul realized his gifts and was preparing for his role in the beginning chapters - all demonstrating Herbert's great narrative skill.

Finally, I became more aware of what a great character was Gurney Halleck. While the ghola of Duncan Idaho dominated the later books, Herbert's creation of Halleck was an enjoyable and thought provoking addition to this masterpiece.

Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,108 followers
June 27, 2023
Update 6/27/23

Re-read, number 15.

This time, I read it with my daughter. Sure, it might be a bit too soon for her, but she DID insist because we'll be seeing Dune part 2 later this year. And she happens to know that I'm a rabid uberfan with no mercy or remorse.

PLUS, I was able to read from my gorgeous new hardcover copy gifted to me by my best friend and that really does make all the difference, no?

Update 9/15/21

Re-read. Number 14.

I cannot get over how beautiful this book is. Still my favorite after all these years. It only gets better with every re-read.

Update 8/28/17

Re-read. Number 13. :) I cry when Paul meets Gurney. I shiver when Jessica consoles Chani. I'm awestruck by the peaks and troughs of time, free-will, and the weakness in Paul even as he heroically strives against the evil that is about to be unleashed upon the universe.


Perfection. Easily the number one book I've ever read. :)

I waver, sometimes, but right now, it is my absolute favorite. :)

Original Review:

This is a phenomenal classic of literature.

It's not just science fiction. It transcends science fiction, as a fascinating discussion of free-will versus inevitability. Can the Jihad be denied? Can Paul ever really avoid his own death, despite seeing every time-line play out with him as the butt of every cosmic joke? Can even cruelty or mercy even remain comprehensible after such knowledge?

Yes, I think this work outdoes Nietzsche. It certainly does a great job of making us care about the question.

Is this all? Is this just a work that pays great justice to philosophy of action and inaction?

Or is the novel merely a clever play at turning the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle into the physical embodiment of a man? It is that, of course. The Kwisatz Haderach can be many places at once, and he can be both alive and dead at the same time just like that certain cat.

Is the novel a coming of age tale, first set as a mirror against his father Leto, only then to mirror the whole universe that had just turned against him? Yes, of course. He was, after all, both the product of all his upbringing and his genes, embodying the question of nature versus nurture. He was taught within many schools of martial arts and assassins, as well as training the mind in both the schools of the Mentats with their pure logic and that of the mystics, the Bene Gesserit, that allows complete control over the body down to the cellular level. And if this training wasn't enough, he was deeply schooled in politics, leadership, and the meaning of loyalty. The boy was raised right. Of course, that is nothing without ninety generations of genetic bloodline tampering from the Bene Gesserit, right? To become the fulcrum between cellular memory, tapping the minds and lives of all your genetic ancestors as well as tapping the ability to fold time and space, to become the eye of a storm of time.

What a damn brilliant setup for one tiny character, no? His training links to the unlocking of his genes and to the life-extending and enveloping spice, Melange, to make him not merely aware of time in a theoretical sense, but eventually to be unable to discern what was in the past, the present, or the future. Here's a true Super-Man, well beyond Nietzsche.

And don't believe for one second that this serious discussion about what would make a superior man makes for dull reading. No. We've got PLOT that's probably some of the most exciting and visceral in all of literature, driving us right into the web of intrigue, vengeance, treachery, and galactic politics.

To quote the text, we've got "Plans within Plans," and it hardly stops there. We know the House Atreides is falling into a trap laid by the Emperor and House Harkonnen, and yet free-will and pride prevents any chance to avoid it. The setup is brilliant and extremely political, giving us character sketches of some of the most brilliant and memorable characters of all time.

Duke Leto, the Red Duke, the most honorable and beloved leader.
Duncan Idaho, the emotional and intuitive hero.
Gurney Halleck, archetypal loyalist and troubadour.
Lady Jessica, the woman who ought to have had all honor in life, but was unjustly reviled and set aside for political necessity. (Chani being both her mirror and her eventual glory.)

And of course, my favorite character of all time, Paul Muad'dib Atreides, the one that would prevent the greater evils he foresaw, and went to enormous lengths and sacrifice to achieve, but who eventually failed in his task because even a god cannot overcome destiny. (Or the will of so many minds set as one.)

So damn brilliant.

Frank Herbert spent five years writing this treasure, working and reworking it until he published it at age 25. None of his other works come close to this masterpiece, and there's little wonder. It was birthed, fully-formed, like Athena from Zeus's head, with enormous forethought and care.

The worldbuilding was just as carefully formed, from the ecology of Arrakis and the life-cycles of the sandworms, to the history and the creation of the Fremen from their mild beginnings as Zensunni Wanderers, adherents to the Orange Catholic Bible, to their history of oppression so like those of those who are Jewish, to their settling and hardening of their bodies and souls in the wastes of Arrakis, also just like the Jewish who carved out a place for themselves in Israel. (Current politics aside, this was a very potent idea before 1965 when Herbert wrote this, and indeed, the core is still just as powerful when you turn it back to Muslims.)

The Galactic culture is rich and detailed. The CHOAM economic consortium, with their monopoly on space travel and their need for the Spice to allow them to see a short period into the future to plot a safe course before folding space. The Empire is caught on a knife's edge between a single power and every other House who sit in the possibility of putting aside all their squabbles for the sole purpose of checking the Emperor, if they so desired. (And Duke Atreides was such a possible popular leader among all the Great Houses, which was the primary reason the Emperor wanted him dead.)

And of course, we have our Villains.

The Baron Harkonnen has always been a crowd pleaser. Brilliant in his own right, devious and able to corrupt anyone with just the right sorts of pressure, including a certain absolutely trustworthy doctor we might mention.

"The Tooth! The Tooth!" -- You can't handle the Tooth!

Feyd Rautha Harkonnen is especially interesting for the question of nature versus nurture.

The Bene Gesserit had intended him to mate with Paul, who should have been Leto and Jessica's daughter, and that offspring should have been the cumulation of ninety years of a breeding experiment to recreate the Kwisatz Haderach which had come about almost by accident during the Butlerian Jihad in the deep past, to overthrow the AI overlords.

He was practically Paul's genetic twin, or at least, his potential to be the "One who can be many places at once" was on par with Paul. But instead of fulfilling the kind of destiny that we get with Paul, we see him grow up under the auspices of his Uncle the Baron, becoming as cruel and devious as he was deadly. He was the argument of nurture in the conversation, of course, and having so very little of it eventually cost him his life.

I often wonder about the directions that Dune could have taken, all those little paths in time and circumstance that could have been. What if Feyd had been brought to Arrakis earlier and overwhelmed with Spice the way that Paul had? Sure, he wouldn't have been able to convert the unconscious changes into conscious manipulation, but he might have had enough glimpses of the future, the way that the Fremen did, to have given him the edge he would have needed to kill Paul.

And then there's a relatively minor character, Hasimir Fenring, the Emperor's personal assassin, who was nearly the Kwisatz Haderach, himself. Unable to breed true, he was still potent enough to be completely hidden to Paul's time-sight in the same way that Paul was hidden from the Spacing Guild's weaker time-sight. His training as a skilled killer was also superior to Paul. He was, by all the hints and tricks in the tale, Paul's perfect downfall. It always gives me shivers to think about, and it was only in a single instant of both recognition and pity from Paul that stayed Fenring from killing our hero. It was just a moment of whim.

The setup was gorgeous. Paul's pity, had it been missing at his moment of greatest triumph over the Emperor, would have meant Paul's assured death. I still wonder, to this day, what stayed Frank Herbert's hand from killing his most wonderful darling. We knew the pressure of religion and politics was going to have its way upon all the oppressed peoples of Dune. The return of a monstrous religious Jihad was going to happen one way or another, sweeping across the galaxy and toppling the Empire, regardless of Paul's frantic plans and desires. Paul's own death would only mean a higher level of fanaticism, and Frank Herbert's warning against unreasoning devotion would have been made even clearer with Paul's death.

Perhaps it was pity that stayed his hand. Who are we to say who lives and who dies?

If you really think this review is overlong, then I apologize, but please understand that I could absolutely go on and on much longer than this. It is a symptom of my devotion to this most brilliant of all tales.

And yes, it still holds up very, very well after twelve reads. I am quite shocked and amazed.
Profile Image for Anne.
4,062 reviews69.5k followers
June 29, 2023
Ok, my only reference for Dune was the 1984 movie with Kyle MacLachlan. And, honestly, it was the main reason I've always wanted to read this book.

Ohmygod look what that fake-looking piece of plastic shit is doing to poor MacLachlan's nose? How was he even able to act with that thing pushing his nostrils to the side of his face? I can't stop looking at it!

I remember loving that movie when I was young. Ahhhh. I honestly didn't remember much about it other than it was sorta weird, there were giant worms, a bunch of people had glowing blue eyes, and Sting was in it.


After listening to this audiobook, I decided to rewatch the movie and relive the good times.


Wow. Just wow.
What in the holy hell did I just watch? Because whatever it was, it certainly didn't have much to do with the actual book. There were some fucking weird changes that they made to the movie that really didn't do anything for the plot. Like that gross dude with the shit in his face that flew around in that goofy air suit?


In the book, he's just a fat dude!
And that thing they do where they all have drain plugs attached to their hearts?
Not in the book, either!
In fact, none of that fucknut crazy/gross sci-fi shit is in the book.


Blowing shit up with their voice guns? Nope.


Bald Bene Gesserits? Nope.


Bugs with butthole mouths? Nope.


Mentat's with clip-on eyebrows who drink juice that gives them herpes lips? Nope.


Captain Jean-Luc Picard going into battle with a pug? Fuck no!


The list goes on and on...

Not that it should matter.
But it does! Because I was expecting something realllyreallyreally different, and if you go into this (like me) you may end up...well, not disappointed but maybe shocked?
Having said that, I think the book was definitely better.
There was no reason for ass-mouth monsters or oily rock stars in weird rubber underwear. It just makes a lot more sense the way Herbert wrote it.
It's a magic is science tale set in space with an incredibly interesting look at how politics and religion can hold hands with each other and make war babies. I can see why people rave about it. It's honestly an incredibly insightful novel.
You know, if you're into that sort of thing...


A little dense, but worth it.
But dense. That's worth saying twice because this thing is massive and you may get lost in it if giant word monsters aren't your jam when it comes to reading.


I listened to the Audible version which is 21 HOURS (and 2 minutes!) long and might be the way to go for anyone looking for the easy way out.
And I am ALWAYS looking for the easy way out.
Profile Image for J.G. Keely.
546 reviews10.2k followers
November 14, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
November 19, 2021
2021 Reread - 5*

I was totally blown away by the recent movie version of this, that much so I decided to revisit and revaluate my opinion of this extraordinary book.

So, I read it again six years on and this is something I said I would never do because I found it so difficult to read the first time. It wasn’t the complexity of the world and politics, but the narration style which totally perplexed and frustrated me. Though I think that was more to do with my immaturity as a reader at the time than anything else. This is a difficult one, but it’s worth it.

This time I was impressed with everything: the intelligence of the writing, the details of the world and the intricate nature of the storytelling. There’s just so much brilliance here. And it’s entertaining. It’s interesting. The balance is perfect.

The Freman culture is driven by ideas of ecology, efficiency and waste reduction. And whilst they are not without their faults, the sense of oneness and appreciation they have for their home planet is a strikingly important commodity. I found them fascinating to read about and of the many thing this novel has going for it, they are the jewel in Herbert’s crown.

I want to see more of this world.

Original Review (2015) - 3.5*

I could never give Dune five stars because I really struggled to get into the novel in the beginning. It has taken me almost two months to read. This, for me, is a very long time to spend on a book. It took me so long to read because I found the writing style incredibly frustrating. I had to read whole chapters again so I could get the gist of the plot. This was more so in the beginning, which I found particularly hard to read because of the author’s way of shifting between the thoughts of multiple characters. I found this very annoying; however, I persevered over my initial despondency towards the writing, and plodded on through the book. I’m glad I did so because in the end I did come to really enjoy it. Indeed, the story is fantastic, but the writing will always remain unbearable for me.

A truly brilliant plot


Dune is to science fiction what The Lord of the Rings is to high fantasy; it is the novel that officially, and unarguably, defines the genre. The story begins with the house of Atreides accepting the Dukedom of the planet Dune. The former Baron has been ousted by the Emperor, and is no longer of consequence. Well, that is how it initially appears. Very early on it revealed that the whole thing is a political ploy to bring the house of Atreides to its knees. The Baron lies in wait, and is ready to strike against the new, and benevolent, approach the Duke uses on the Fremen.

The Fremen are the natives of the dessert planet; thus, they know how to survive its harshness above all others. They do this through their frugal approach to water. They value it above all else, and will never waste a drop in earnest. The Baron Harkonnen, as a chide against the natives, squanders water in the cruellest ways. He, and his dinner guests, throw cups of water on the floor of the dinner hall; it was his tradition. The wasted water was soaked up with towels, which the Baron allowed the Fremen to suck the water out of. When the Duke enters he rejects this custom, and is more respectful to the Fremen way of life. He and his son and heir Paul, who is the protagonist of this novel, go as far as to try the Fremen’s grossly effective water saving suits. These Stillsuits, quite literally, recycle all the water the body wastes and feeds it back to its wearer.

The Fremen way is the right way


This early familiarity, with the Fremen technology, no doubt helps to keep Paul’s mind open when he is later forced to live amongst the Fremen. Paul is somewhat of a marvel; he is prophecy’s chosen one. When he eventually gains the trust of the Fremen they allow him to choose a Fermen name. He calls himself after their most revered prophet: Muad'Dib. They accept this and follow him as their leader. His inherited title of Duke dictates that he is their lord, but their religion determines their real loyalty. He has to, quite literally, fight for every ounce of their trust. Indeed, it does not come cheap, and will only be given to one who is a member of their people.

“Without change something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.”

Thus, Paul becomes their saviour. Consequently, he receives heaps of character development through this book. He goes form boy to the revered leader of a nation. The Fremen, like Paul, want the evil Baron Harkonnen gone from their planet. They do no want a cruel oppressor who is ignorant to their ways: they want Paul. I think the imagination behind the Fremen culture really is wonderful. They have efficiently adapted to survive their harsh planet. To emphasise this point you need only look at the fact that off-world humans live in fear of the giant Sandworms that infect the planet whereas the Fremen ride them as a coming of age ritual. Indeed, Paul has to ride a worm if the Fremen are to follow him.


Deep characters

The result of this is a very complex, and intriguing plot. I found the first third of this book to be very perplexing initially. This is a world we are told about rather than shown at the start. We hear about the Fremen but do not truly understand them till the very end. I was very overwhelmed at the beginning, and in all honesty I do think this novel merits a re-read to further establish my understanding of it. This did affect my rating because it inhibited by enjoyment of the book.

“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”

Indeed, aside from Paul there is a whole host of dynamic, and well rounded, characters. His mother is to be the new revered mother of the Fremen people, which for someone of her age is quite remarkable. There is also the captain of Duke Leto’s household guard who is a very deep and honourable individual. As much as I came to like these characters I was still frustrated with the writing of them in the beginning. I found it difficult to read scenes in which up to four characters internal thoughts are portrayed alongside their dialogue. It wasn’t always clear who was thinking. I much prefer a narrative that is focalised through one person. Well, at least one person per chapter.


Overall, I thought the idea behind this novel was utterly fantastic. However, my personal reaction to the writing style limited my overall enjoyment of the book. I do intend to read some of the sequels. However, I do not have any intention of doing so in the near future. Maybe, in a couple of years I will return to the brilliant, and annoyingly written, world of Dune.


You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
785 reviews12.5k followers
September 12, 2020
“I have seen a friend become a worshiper, he thought.”
I don’t think I actually *enjoyed* this book. But I certainly respected the hell out of it. For a bit I thought I had it all figured out, pegged it as your bog-standard Chosen One story, and then it went where I didn’t think it’d go and neatly subverted my expectations. It tackled stuff that is uncomfortable and therefore is generally handwaved over in the usual SF epics. And for that I seriously respected this dense complex tome.

We people tend to love the idea of a charismatic all-powerful leader who inspires faithful following and true fervor, that cult-like blind devotion. We give those leaders tremendous power to lead and decide and determine fates. So many stories rooted in the weight of our species collective history glorify this; so many countries still apparently yearn for powerful visionary leaders that others proclaim to be dictators. So many religions go to wars over the legacy left by a popular charismatic leader centuries ago, interpreting those legacies as the engine for the action, destruction, obedience.

Hero worship. Messianic worship. Prophecies and tyrannies. Desire for a Savior to rescue you from the evil. Good intentions paving the road to hell. It all leads to terrifying places which we may be powerless to stop.
“A leader, you see, is one of the things that distinguishes a mob from a people. He maintains the level of individuals. Too few individuals, and a people reverts to a mob.”

This is a novel of a reluctant Messiah, the journey of a man becoming the Chosen One — but unlike the traditional story of a charismatic savior, this is a darker picture of the dangers of messianism and hero worship, of allowing blind devotion replace common sense. The book ends in an ambiguous place, and I presume the sequels may develop the theme or run away from it and make this a more traditional hero journey. But I certainly hope not. Because the dark implications of messianism say more about human nature than the happier stories based on the same idea, but with more idealism. We love our ideas of ideal benevolent rulers who can set things right, don’t we? Or the martyr figures inspiring “righteous” battles? Messiahs and figureheads seem to fulfill the deep-seated cultural longing for an inspirational leader, don’t they? Friends become followers and worshippers, and the metaphorical slope becomes quite slippery.
“The Fremen have a simple, practical religion," he said.
"Nothing about religion is simple," she warned.
But Paul, seeing the clouded future that still hung over them, found himself swayed by anger. He could only say: "Religion unifies our forces. It's our mystique."
"You deliberately cultivate this air, this bravura," she charged. "You never cease indoctrinating."
"Thus you yourself taught me," he said.”

Yes, in Dune Frank Herbert hints at the dangers present in such ideas. What seems like your traditional hero’s journey turns out darker and more sinister. But it’s not the rise of an antihero either. It’s subtler than that, without actually being all that subtle.
“No more terrible disaster could befall your people than for them to fall into the hands of a Hero," his father said.

Paul Atreides, in his own words, is “something unexpected.” A son of a planetary Duke (because an interstellar post-technology future is actually feudal) and a highly trained Bene-Gesserit concubine of the Duke , Paul fits very well the idea of a Messiah of the tribal resilient society of Fremen people of the harsh desert planet Arrakis, neatly fulfilling their religious prophecies and possessing genetic superpowers himself, augmented by rigorous training and catalyzed by the ingestion of a magical wonder-drug known as spice.
“He found that he no longer could hate the Bene Gesserit or the Emperor or even the Harkonnens. They were all caught up in the need of their race to renew its scattered inheritance, to cross and mingle and infuse their bloodlines in a great new pooling of genes. And the race knew only one sure way for this—the ancient way, the tried and certain way that rolled over everything in its path: jihad.”

But Paul through his prescient powers can see what his mythologized destiny leads to. A galactic scale slaughter led by fanatics in his name. And there is not a way to escape it, once your life fits the mysticism of their faith (even if the faith and prophecies were stealthily prereplanted for sort of a similar purpose). Religious fanatics are destined to wage a brutal war that the Messiah is unable to stop.
“When law and duty are one, united by religion, you never become fully conscious, fully aware of yourself. You are always a little less than an individual.”

With great power comes great responsibility, and all that jazz. But is any of it actually worth it? Wouldn’t the world be better without the burden of Heroes? Are you destined to become exactly what you’re trying to avoid?

All this is gently hinted at, laid out in the framework of the appealing Hero’s journey. It seems that should you desire, you can still easily choose to read it as a typical hero’s/antihero’s story, just less idealistic than it could be. But that would be Star Wars and not Dune.
“He was warrior and mystic, ogre and saint, the fox and the innocent, chivalrous, ruthless, less than a god, more than a man. There is no measuring Muad'Dib's motives by ordinary standards. In the moment of his triumph, he saw the death prepared for him, yet he accepted the treachery. Can you say he did this out of a sense of justice? Whose justice, then? Remember, we speak now of the Muad'Dib who ordered battle drums made from his enemies' skins, the Muad'Dib who denied the conventions of his ducal past with a wave of the hand, saying merely: "I am the Kwisatz Haderach. That is reason enough.”

And you also can’t help but be mesmerized by a harsh desiccated planet where life is focused on survival, where not even water but mere moisture is the most coveted and rarest thing, where hopes for a better, wetter, greener future quietly flourish, tied into messianic ideas but grounded in science. The place of nightmares, written vividly and skillfully, making me want to gulp down a gallon of drink just because I can, making me appreciate that my reality doesn’t hinge on surviving on my reclaimed bodily fluids.

The world is harsh, unforgiving, brutal, hostile. The characters - well, mostly Paul, but to an extent his mother Jessica as well - are cold, calculating, composed and often very unsympathetic. Paul’s father values lives over property. Paul’s actions, on the other hand, lead to eyebrow-raising among his father’s old lieutenants who note the difference in priorities:
“Nothing money won't repair, I presume," Paul said.
"Except for the lives, m'Lord," Gurney said, and there was a tone of reproach in his voice as though to say: "When did an Atreides worry first about things when people were at stake?”

It’s dense and complex, full of politics, short on actual science fiction but full of ruminations on human nature — and it leaves me feeling that all of this is a beginning of another cycle of violence, just with a new figurehead at the mast. As Terry Pratchett said, “But here's some advice, boy. Don't put your trust in revolutions. They always come around again. That's why they're called revolutions.” A new Hero or a new Messiah comes, and begets another cycle or struggle and violence, to be reset anew by a new figurehead sometimes in the future. All while sandworms quietly slither under the sand.

Oh yeah, there are sandworms, too.

4 stars out of respect for Herbert’s subversive story that made me think. I’m content with the story ending here, with ambiguity and dread for what’s to come.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,860 followers
December 12, 2021
Seems as if they might be duned to be addicted to spice, all good old barbarians on magic mushrooms style.

Quite dusty, especially regarding how to put the different parts of this behemoth series in the big picture of sci-fi because each part (of the 3 I´ve read so far and very probably won´t restart trying to read the 4th and 5th part) presents something different. Essentially, only this, the first one, is a real science fantasy epos, while the others are mostly circulating around the characters' special skills and family problems without much meta, plot, or different settings.

Just this first milestone is big in the epic worldbuilding department and some other things I´ll try to point my primate fingers at. As unrealistic as water scarcity in such a highly developed galactic civilization seems, it´s a perfect explanation for creating the blue eyed mind mutants and the misandrist female breeding gang, that don´t ever need to kick male butts, because they preemptively avoid that situation to become real.

Real life implications and innuendos.
I don´t know if Herbert had any kind of real civilizations, cultures, or traditions in mind when he constructed the tribes, today it would probably fall under any kind of politically correct bigoted do gooder codex, but there could lie a ton of creative writing gold in exploring this question of how to implement any past or present movement, society, tradition, faith into different sci-fi subgenres. Because how the traditions, monsters, and badass special moves of the inhabitants influence the planetary and intergalactic trade and travel balance is slowly presented to the reader, while the impact of the wonderful spice expands its glow towards total domination.

Don´t take drugs except they make you superhuman
As so often, a prescription free pharmaceutical wonder cure can solve all of your problems until corporate interests come and ruin everything by using anything in their armory to get control over the precious resource of psychohistoric psi precognition power. The idea of one substance changing the whole balance of power of the galaxy is big in many sci-fi series and especially terrifying for each arrogant, high tech civilization, because an animal creating impervious shields, an immortality tonic, a mind altering super drug, etc., could enable far weaker, steampunky tribes to destroy them. Classic barbarian hordes on magic mushrooms looting Rome style.

Bene Gesserit
Who says that centuries long, epigenetic, elitist breeding programs have to be completely evil all the time? Except for the poor lovers aroused by the wrong, not arranged partner, stupid Romeo and Juliet syndrome complexes, you have to see the bigger picture and control your hormones and feelings and sacrifice some biochemical illusions to create the ÜberPsi mentat mentalist mind penetrator. However, it works with less evil too. Together with the spice, this elite mental mind control academy with the aim to finally create the ultimate space JC messiah figure to defecate rainbows, freaking galactic peace, pink unicorns, and gold, is the backbone of the whole trilogy, because impacts of both and the excessive use of it as MacGuffins and Chekhovs plot devices lead to the question:

Is this still really sci-fi or not more a high fantasy thing with some sci-fi elements?
Well, highly subjectively, yes, Dune is mostly psi fantasy dressed in futuristic clothes with some faith, tech, technobabble (rare), and trade in between, which makes it one of the most outstanding and unusual sci-fi works, I mean fantasy camouflaged as sci-fi. Tricky, one is so indoctrinated to call this thing sci-fi that it took me a reread and absorbing many reviews to realize what´s really going on. I´m really not sure about this whole thing, I´ve read a ton of sci-fi and my alien mind parasite, in a kind of perverted symbiosis with the xenovirus making me look fresher I deliberately bought for this purpose like a tapeworm therapy to lose weight (you don´t want to know what this costs on the alien bioweapons black market, the second half of my immortal soul exactly), tells me that there still would a lot of story without the sci-fi elements, while close to nothing would be there after removing fantasy, faith, drugs, and mind penetrating abilities, so, yea. I mean, even the planet itself doesn´t really has sci-fi fractions or something, the space around it is kind of empty without many sci-fi parties, cyborgs, aliens, everything substantial seen in close to any big sci-fi series. This leads me to

An unpopular and possibly controversial opinion
It could be that Herbert is, and I am just talking about the sci-fi aspect, a bit overrated or, let´s precisely define it, overhyped as a sci-fi author because he is more of a fantasy writer. This couldn´t happen in a fantasy world, because parts of the legions of readers of the genre don´t want aliens and Clarketech mixed in their magic, not to speak of the suspension of disbelief problem that often comes with sudden future tech elements in fantasy, that´s just disgusting. The other way round, as with Dune, is much easier, just put some sci-fi around fantasy and everything just rolls perfectly.

Is terraforming destroying cultural heritage or making inhabitable worlds paradises?
The ethical implications of this question are another sci-fi old school vehicle, especially if the terrible acid rain, high gravity, parasite infested, or dirty desert land is the only region where the special, red plotline device can grow and thrive. One could go so far as to ask if there are real life examples on earth, conservation vs corporate environmentalism, greenwashing and stuff (spoiler warning: conservation lost, earth is dying), and how this should be dealt with in decades, centuries, or millennia when we (I hope you are immortal too thanks to alien symbiont virus cooperation like me, if you aren´t, poor you, may I infect you? Just 20.000 of whatever your fringe financial system uses as fiat money that will be worthless as soon as natural apocalypse, mutually assured destruction, or alien invasion make it obsolete, and you get the parcel. Shipping not included.) start manipulating weather, geophysics and- chemistry, and climate of other worlds to make it sexy, tropical, tourist friendly paradises at the low cost of exterminating all alien life, but this would be a bit far fetched.

Herberts´place in the sci-fi or sci-fa hall of fame.
That´s tricky, especially because he just couldn´t keep delivering after the third part. I´ve played around with the fourth and fifth part, but had to abandon it because it escalated to too much unmotivated, philosophical drivel without a real plotline and a place in the big picture of the series, Herbert just didn´t manage to hold it all together. What made the first three parts, that they are kind of eccentric, ingenious standalones without the classic space opera series uniting plotline and style, great, kind of destroyed the rest of the series. Because he had no more vision for the meta, high sci fa elements, Herbert lost control over his own creation and just manufactured hearthless shells to sell more books.

But that doesn´t mean that the first three parts aren´t milestones of the interdisciplinary genre, exploring it in new ways no one imagined before while reaching Lem-, Clarke-, and Asimov levels of subtle, intelligent dialogues, innuendos, connotations, and character driven development. It´s something unique, special, and definitively not for anyone because of its high entry barriers that may annoy some readers, but don´t let yourself be easily deterred by that, it´s totally worth it once you´re in and high as heck and addicted forever to the wonderful, delicious spice melange.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book938 followers
November 9, 2021
Dune is often considered a masterpiece of 20th-century American science fiction. In part, the book owes its reputation to the film adaptation David Lynch directed in the early 1980s (although this movie was, and still is, not considered one of his best). Frank Herbert wrote a novel of epic proportions, in other words, a space opera, with its intergalactic feudal society, its decadent (if not evil) empire and its band of rebels: the book was published some ten years before the first instalment of the Star Wars series. Indeed, along with Asimov’s (overrated) Foundation stories, it was George Lucas’ primary source of inspiration.

One of the most exciting aspects of Herbert’s creation is the multi-cultural world he depicts. Each house (Atreides, Harkonnen, etc.), each planet (Arrakis, Giedi Prime, Caladan...), each group (the Fremen, the Bene Gesserit, the Guild, the Emperor’s suite and the Sardaukars) has its specific flavour, its own culture, its language — the comprehensive index at the end of the book is utterly fascinating. For each of these cultures, Herbert borrowed traits from traditions (ancient or contemporary) he knew well in reality, especially from the Middle East. In particular, Paul Atreides / Muad’Dib’s story among the Fremen is redolent of the historical events around T.E. Lawrence and the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. And Paul’s crusade on Arrakis is told, as though it were ancient history, in the chronicles by the Princess Irulan at the start of each chapter.

Herbert describes his fictional world and characters in great detail, which contributes to the richness of his narrative, but I found these descriptions somewhat boring and, especially, the middle of the book is a bit dragging for that reason. In my view, the most impressive parts of this novel are the dialogues, where Herbert simultaneously reveals what the characters are saying and thinking. This technique lends a sense of duplicity and scheming to almost every interaction. Everyone is plotting one way or another so that the whole thing ends up being like a great Shakespearean play, with dialogues and asides, tyrants and pretenders. What confirms this impression is not only the theme of the exiled Duke (see As You Like It, King Lear, or The Tempest), but also the repeated scenes of fencing duels throughout, with feints and poisoned tips: a clear allusion to the endings of Hamlet and Macbeth, for instance.

Edit: A word about Denis Villeneuve’s new film adaptation of Herbert’s novel (part 1, 2021). Comparisons are odious and obviously wouldn’t be to David Lynch’s advantage. This is a Dune version for a new generation of fans and an epic movie on par with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, in the early 2000s. The settings (filmed in Scandinavia and the Middle East) are breathtaking, and the actors have so much going for them. But what strikes me the most in this new version is the sense that everything is overwhelming and sublime: the massive architecture, the crushing machines, the extreme weather conditions, the earth-shattering landscapes, the thunderous music, the tragic events, the repulsive foes. From the relenting waves of Caladan to the searing and unending skies of Arrakis, everything assumes an oceanic and staggering dimension.
Profile Image for Adina .
891 reviews3,552 followers
November 8, 2021
Update! Just wanted to say how much I loved the movie. Go see it. It was probably good that there was a gap between the time I read this and the movie.

Read 2015
Amazing! A masterpiece of SF with which I will probably compare all SF books that I’ll read in the future. It goes in my favorites shelf.

This is my 3rd attempt to read Dune and I am really grateful that I did not succeed the first two times I tried as I was too young to understand all the subtleties. I would have probably enjoyed it as a very well written adventure novel but nothing more. That would have been a pity as Dune is so much more than a story about space travel and epic battles between good and evil. It presents complex philosophical ideas, explores ecological issues, cultural identity and differences. Also a major theme is represented by religion and religious leadership.

The disturbing part about this book, taken in the current political context, (I am not sure if Herbert did it on purpose or not) is how easily the Fremen can be identified with an Arab nation. The spice can be seen as “oil” and the Harkonnens as evil westerners/Russians that are exploiting the natural resources without thinking about the locals and the environment. I saw that others reviewers saw this as well.
Profile Image for carol..
1,575 reviews8,232 followers
December 22, 2021
I blame the movie.

I was an avid but novice fantasy and sci-fi reader in 1984 when David Lynch’s Dune rolled out as a big-budget adaptation of the 1965 classic book. It was an artistic and box-office failure with Roger Ebert calling it “a real mess, an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion.” Numerous references were made to its excessive length, particularly a tv edition that was over 3 hours long. I never did pick up the classic sci-fi book, assuming the commentary heard about the movie applied to the book. All that changed when I broke my finger and found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands (groan).

Besides, sandworms.


Dune has a lot of ingredients that don’t fit into my preferred stories, yet the gestalt was not only tolerable, but engrossing.

It begins with the Atreides family preparing to shift their holding from their current home to the planet of Arrakis. The Emperor has given the Atreides the territory and trade on the planet of Arrakis, formerly under control of their enemies, the Harkonnen. The planet Arrakis is hot, arid and generally hostile to life. There is, however, a small population of native, fierce Freman who have managed to build an existence in the desert.


Paul Atreides is the young heir of the family, and mystical testing reveals he might be the one prophesied.


Paul undergroes a rapid growth curve, facilitated by his teacher Dr. Yeuh and his father’s advisors.


But it is in the desert that Paul will discover his strength as well as his new people.


Seriously, now.

Honestly, I have to wonder how much of this like is generational. If Sanderson or Rothfuss wrote this book, two chapters in Dune would have made a whole book, and while detail may have been added, it likely would have made for a book as slow as the movie. I liked the scope of Dune, and that there is a resolution to the initial conflict. It is also interesting that despite the volume of concepts packed in here, with political maneuvers, terraforming, technology, cultural assimilation, and mysticism all playing roles that I didn’t find it overwhelming, perhaps because so much is genre-familiar.

On the downside, it could have perhaps used a bit more transitions, particularly near the end when months at a time are skipped. Writing was solid; nothing really stood out, but it told the story well. There’s some vague mysticism that might irritate those who like explanations. It was a bit of an eye-roller to have the chief villain be a fat, gay, sadistic pedophile, but Herbert really isn’t thinking outside the trope character box much (it’s not enough that he sentences people to death but he has to be physically abhorrent? And gay?). World-building is fun, but standard desert.

Overall, I’m glad that I finally took the time to read it and put those old assumptions to rest. I love a good hero.

Profile Image for s.penkevich.
968 reviews6,868 followers
September 23, 2023
Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

The sheer scope and magnitude of this 1965 sci-fi drama is staggering, populated with an extensive cast of characters and a rich universe full of well-rounded lore, intricate politics where every actions is revealed as ‘plans within plans within plans,’ and dynamic cultures all set on a collision course of plot that rightfully earned it a wide readership and canonization as a “Classic” work. I found it lived up to the hype and opened itself up more upon a reread, validating the fond memories I had of it from reading it first as a young teenager smitten with anything sci-fi. This book has zero chill and everything is to extreme and epic levels, including the size of worms. But come for the Bene Gesserits, best part. While there isn’t much to say that likely hasn’t already been said better, I still want to pause and reflect on some key elements in Dune. This is such a well-crafted book that addresses themes of power, religion, historical records as mythmaking and environmental concerns in a narrative about proxy wars and power struggles that speak just as loudly today as it did about 1960s foreign policy. If you are looking for a book of epic proportions, you can’t go wrong with Dune.

The best part about this book, to me, is the way it is constantly expanding. There is great world-building and a rich lore that recalls my glee first exploring The Lord of the Rings, but what really excites me is the way Herbert reveals it all. The book starts so small—a visit to a cottage from an old woman that seems like such a small scale fairy tale on page one—and swiftly becomes gargantuan and never stops growing. It leaves you constantly feeling yourself shrink beside a universe always revealing itself as more complex than you had realized. I enjoy the way Herbert only gives you the minimum of what you need to understand and lets it all slowly unfold when necessary.

They've a legend here, a prophecy, that a leader will come to them, child of a Bene Gesserit, to lead them to true freedom. It follows the familiar messiah pattern.

For newcomers, the basis of the book is that Paul has been quite literally bred to be a messiah and is engulfed in a difficult power struggle over a planet that essentially upholds the interplanetary economy through mining an addictive substance called “spice”. You might quickly find yourself thinking of spice as oil and the planet Arrakis as Middle East and Northern Africa (Tor put out a really great essay on the way Herbert engages with Muslim culture and traditions), you know, since there was a whole Cold War going on at the time and giving the villain Baron Harkonnen a first name like Vladimir might make you wonder if this is all an elaborate metaphor. The Baron saying ‘in politics, the tripod is the most unstable of all structures,’ might make you think of the three branches of US government. You get the idea. There are also WWII holdovers present, such as the Sardaukar as an elite fighting force trained on Salusa Secundus to make sure you catch the S.S. reference. That’s all very much there, but this book is so much more than a simple sci fi rendition of the Cold War and Herbert definitely wants you to apply these themes to our larger political and religious global interactions.

Fear is the mind-killer.

Another aspect I find fascinating in Dune is the depiction of Paul Atreides in the ‘chosen one’ trope. Paul has reservations, though not due to thinking he doesn’t deserve it (dude is royalty anyways, essentially) but because he fears what it will bring. Paul’s powers are enhanced through spice and he is able to perceive the future, and in almost every possible scenario he sees nothing but mass war in his name:
They were all caught up in the need of their race to renew its scattered inheritance, to cross and mingle and infuse their bloodlines in a great new pooling of genes. And the race knew only one sure way for this—the ancient way, the tried and certain way that rolled over everything in its path: jihad.

The notion of precognition brings free will into question, particularly when a certain individual appears in visions of the future but dies before it happens. It becomes a universe where individual free wills are all acting upon one another in an attempt to control the narrative of time.
And what [Paul] saw was a time nexus within this cave, a boiling of possibilities focused here, wherein the most minute action—a wink of an eye, a careless word, a misplaced grain of sand—moved a gigantic lever across the known universe. He saw violence with the outcome subject to so many variables that his slightest movement created vast shiftings in the pattern.

History is written by the winners, or so the saying goes, and much of this novel focuses on the way the narrative of time is constructed through the mythologizing of people and events. ‘History will call us wives,’ Jessica says to Chani, assuring her that her role as the lover to Paul will not be usurped by the princess he marries for the throne. Much of the book shows the dynamics between Paul as the Man and Paul as the myth, with characters like Stilgar recognizing that by being in service to the myth they too will be immortalized in the stories. Narratives become a form or power, and, as I’ll discuss soon, can be a form of control.

Perhaps it is because power and control are so central to this novel that it feels so very timeless and just as applicable to 2021 as it did to 1965. In regards to power, leadership also becomes another key theme. ‘Power and fear,’ House Atreides Duke Leto says, ‘The tools of statecraft, ’ a sentiment later echoed with all the same key terms by Baron Harkonnen. The two leaders are set up at the start as foils to each other, each trying to have their grip on Arrakis (there are some strong colonialism themes in this book and it delves into how troubling it is and how even those we might view as the savior turn out to be just another oppressor and colonizer) but their leaderships are defined by Leto’s rule through caring for his people while Harkonnen sees everyone as a useful pawn.
A leader, you see, is one of the things that distinguishes a mob from a people. He maintains the level of individuals. Too few individuals, and a people reverts to a mob.

Having recently finished The Dispossessed, I could have preferred some more voices in this book looking for better forms of ruling that don’t involve exploitation, but that’s not what this book is about so I’ll move on. What this book really focuses on is the ways power can be maintained, which crops up most in this novel through use of religion. ‘But it's well known that repression makes a religion flourish,’ we read, and the harsh life on Arrakis makes it the perfect setting where indoctrination of religion for the purpose of power can shape a community and unite them. Religion is a form of storytelling, having the people all believe in one shared story with all its myths and promises. ‘You deliberately cultivated this air, this bravura,’ Jessica instructs Paul, ‘you never cease indoctrinating.’ The stronger the shared faith, the more easily a leader can make them do what they need. It also helps that everyone is high as shit all the time. ‘Religion and law among our masses must be one and the same,’ Kynes's father says:
An act of disobedience must be a sin and require religious penalties. This will have the dual benefit of bringing both greater obedience and greater bravery. We must depend not so much on the bravery of individuals, you see, as upon the bravery of a whole population.

Religion is being used constantly to shape the people for the purpose of their leaders, even in what seems an admirable purpose of turning desert Arrakis into a green paradise (and without a religious idea of paradise, how can a people who only know dry dirt and hardship even imagine a paradise?).

The real wealth of a planet is in its landscape, how we take part in that basic source of civilization—agriculture.

This latter bit is also extremely key to Dune. The planet itself is practically a character in the novel, much in the ways the landscape is like a character in Westerns. The landscape of Arrakis truly shapes the people there, and we see a contrast between Arrakis and Caladan and how water as a precious resource on Arrakis changes many customs. Such as how spitting at a person is a sign of respect on Arrakis. Changing the environment on Arrakis is an interesting concept because, in order to make it thrive, what would the cost be? Would it disrupt spice, thereby collapsing the galaxy’s economy? Can these people ever be free, because doing so would require the complete dismantling of the governmental systems currently ruling?

There is also something to be said about the harshness of an environment being an ideal place for strenght in unity around a cause to crop up. Le Guin explores this in The Dispossessed as well, with the anarchist planet having a similar dry desert vibe as Arrakis and scarcity being a major player in what keeps the people bonded and working together. The Fremen are tough because of their environment, similiarly the Sardaukar are trained in extremely harsh environments as well. Dune plays a lot with ideas on how fascism and strongmen can quickly rise to power in times of economic instability—or the threat of it—and here the difficult planets tend to produce the most deadly fighters. Mix religion in and you have an instant army if you can convince everyone you are the chosen one.

There is so much more to discuss in this book, particularly the Bene Gesserits and the Guild who are pulling a lot of strings, or just how friggen awesome the worms are. This is a big book with a lot of big ideas, and also a lot of ambiguity to them that I really appreciate. It is certainly a precursor for a lot of popular epics to follow. George Lucas certainly took notes and I imagine George R.R. Martin read this and said “wait, you can just kill beloved characters that easily!?” before rewriting Duke Leto as Ned Stark. While I can concede to those who find it boring and dry, I rather enjoyed all the history and lore and found this to be incredibly fun.

Profile Image for Mike's Book Reviews.
149 reviews6,236 followers
September 27, 2021
Why You Should Read Dune (video): https://youtu.be/oOomSvGXfaM

Asking me to describe why Dune is so important to me is like asking a child to explain nuclear fusion. I do my best in the video linked above, but just know it probably isn't for the reasons you think.

My journey to Dune becoming my absolute favorite book of all time goes all the way back to the mid-1990's upon finding it in my high school library and deciding to give it a try because I remembered my dad and brother watching the movie when I was a kid. At 15 years old, I got to the middle of "book II" and gave it a big fat DNF. I decided it just wasn't for me. At 17, for the 30th anniversary, I decided to try again and while I finished it that time, I thought the ideas were overly pretentious and way too out there. But a year went by and somehow, it was still in my head. I thought about it frequently and I began to ponder...did I actually really like it?

I tried again the final weeks of my senior year of high school and became absolutely obsessed and it has stayed that way for almost the last 25 years.

Dune is social science-fiction in that it's more concerned with the people and society than it is with hard science. Besides telling you that these navigators "fold space" for interstellar travel, Herbert doesn't bog you down with the math. He focuses more on the politics, cultures, religion, and philosophies of a world rich in the most valuable resource in the known universe, but barren in everything else.

If you go into the story expecting a Star Wars style adventure, you're going to leave disappointed. Dune is extremely thought provoking and deals with the struggles of coming of age while the fate of the universe is on your shoulders.

I'll also say that the book is certainly not for everyone. If you love things like ASOIAF and The Wheel of Time, there is no way this book won't be for you as both of those series borrowed heavily from the story Frank crafted. But I think it truly depends on where you are at in your life. Look, I just told you the story of how it took until my third reading for this to really click with me. Those who the story and lessons click with, it REALLY clicks with. But, again, this isn't a crowd pleaser and not everyone is going to love it, especially modern readers. So while I encourage those that are interested to read it, I expect more modern readers to not like it than like it.

Not only is this the greatest science-fiction story of all time, but I believe it should be on mandatory reading lists in schools and everyone interested in the genre owe it to themselves to read the pillar of the genre they have come to love. Dune is every bit to science-fiction what Lord of the Rings is to fantasy.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,634 followers
October 23, 2021
I reread Dune for the first time in several decades and immensely enjoyed it. I also went back to watch the original cult feature film by David Lynch and had quite mixed feelings - while it was close to the overall aesthetic that Frank Herbert describes with the gorgeous desert sets and the terrifying worms, the parts of the story that were necessarily culled out was disturbing (that and the woeful special effects at the time trying (and IMHO failing) to visualize the personal shields that the characters wear in hand-to-hand combat).

For those who are just discovering Dune for the first time, it is essentially a messianic story on a desert planet (think of Jesus or perhaps Mohammed on Tatooine) in a universe dominated by a cartel (the Guild also known as CHOAM) with a monopoly on a drug (called mélange) derived from a rare material (spice) available only on the desert planet Arrakis (Dune). This drug is so powerful that it allows the Guild (and later Maud'dib) to leverage space-time singularities to defy the speed of light and travel anywhere in the universe. Overlaid on this foundation, the epic battle of the feudal houses of the noble Atreides and the evil Harkkonen houses rages, the betrayal of the former by the latter explicitly endorsed by the Emperor (himself an almost impuissant pawn of the Guild as well). All that to say that the fabric of the story is multilayered and as complex and complete a universe as you will find in George RR Martin or Dan Simmons.

There are several enhanced human species running around: the Mentats who have been cerebrally enhanced to be able to calculate like supercomputers (computers themselves having been banned!) and each then uses their predictive analytics for their assigned Dukes (or the Emperor) and the Bene Gesserit cult who are a sort of quasi-religious non-celibate nuns who have honed perception and language to the point of having developed nearly superpower-level strengths of persuasion which are almost universally feared and vilified as sorcery in the rest of the universe. Paul Atreides, heir to the throne, is born to Jessica, a Bene Gesserit, possessed some of these powers and when the family moves to Arrakis (part of the aforementioned Harkkonen plot) from their home planet Caladon, he appears to the native Freeman population as perhaps a fulfillment of their messianic prophecies and hopes.

In perhaps the most critical departure from the book, the Lynch movie does not really show Paul questioning the awesome power that he possesses and his assumption of the mantle as the Arrakis Messiah, the Maud'dib (something that the 2021 film by Denis Villeneuve does thankfully address). In the book, one aspect that I loved was how Paul struggled with this messianic destiny and did everything he could to subvert it. One of the unique gifts he received, presumably as the rare and unique offspring of a Bene Gesserit, was the ability to see possible outcomes (like a Mentat) and thus he could take decisions based on the most likely foreseen outcome. It made for great reading.

The other great thing about Dune is the aesthetic of this desert planet with impossibly huge worms under the surface who are mysteriously connected to spice and pose a danger to all creatures in the desert except for the Freeman. The still suit which recycles body water in the deep desert was brilliant as was the ever-present obsession with "water debt" of the Freemen. I really felt like I was walking unevenly (must not attract the worms!) through the sand with Jessica and Paul before their fateful encounter with the Freemen.

Dune is a well-deserved classic for all the reasons I mentioned above and probably much more that I missed. I have read it twice and gotten almost entirely different things out of it each time. I have since read all the canonical Frank Herbert books in the series and enjoyed it all immensely.

[UPDATE] I am looking forward to Denis Villeneuve's Dune in October 2021. The previews I have seen so far seem to be quite coherent with respect to the book. I was a fan of Lynch's Dune and am curious to see what Villeneuve does with this one. Feel free to comment below.
[UPDATE] Villeneuve’s 2021 film covers half of the book and does a fantastic job as both an homage to Herbert’s book and Lynch’s film. The casting, costumes, CGI, and script are all top-notch. Dune lovers have every reason here for rejoicing. One key difference from the Lynch film is that we do not see the Guild Navigators, so we can hope that they show up in the second half!

Fino's Dune Reviews
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Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46.1k followers
August 14, 2023
3.5/5 Stars

Dune oh Dune, seems like I need to raise my Shield Wall for this review.

Dune is one of the most important pieces of literature for the Sci-Fi genre. I’ve been raking my brain for hours on how to properly explain the importance of Dune in the sci-fi literature but you know what? I dune (hehehe) think it’s necessary for me to do so. If you truly wanna know why, you can search it on whatever search engine you use and you'll find hundreds of articles or reviews on why this book is that important; and they’ll do a much better job than me. I won’t even deny any of them because, in my opinion, this book was truly revolutionary. Dune didn’t become the number one highest selling Sci-fi novel of all time for no reason; like Brian Herbert said, it is to Sci-Fi, what the LOTR trilogy is to fantasy.

Theoretically, if I’m reviewing this by putting my head as someone from 1960’s or 1970’s, I know I would think of this book as my bible. 1965 was the year when Dune was published for the first time, 24 years before I was born. There are just too many groundbreaking ideas, world-building, that would become the inspirations for many Sci-fi in our time; I only realized this after reading this book. I mean, the gigantic Sandworm alone has inspired many video games to use it as a common monster or enemy.

Picture: Dune by Marc Simonetti

Desert planet, Stillsuits, space exploration, and Zen Buddhism, Dune was truly a groundbreaking novel, almost everything in this book somehow seems prophetic because it has predicted our current society, especially when it comes to faith, emotional control, empathy, and the importance of ecology and scarcity.

“The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.”

Part of what made this book was great for me was Herbert’s prose. I haven’t read enough classic to claim it was classical, but Herbert’s prose was definitely unique to me. It has a lot of freedom by writing it from a limited omniscient narrative; changing POV’s repeatedly in a single chapter without any warning. This is, honestly, one of my biggest pet peeves in my usual read, but Herbert made it work because all his characters were really well written, distinct in their personality, and the dialogues are really well dune (HEHEHE). Plus, there are so many motivational and extremely philosophical quotes that seem to make this book a combination of Sci-Fi & self-help book, such as:

“It is so shocking to find out how many people do not believe that they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult.”

And of course, the most famous and one of the best quote I’ve ever read out of any book

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

I can’t believe I have gone through life without knowing about this litany against fear. It’s applicable in any kind of hardship we faced in real life, and I know it will be one of my motto starting from now. If I’m judging this book solely from how significant this book was, I’ll give it maximum score in a heartbeat. However, I’m reviewing this based on one question and how I rated all the books I read: was it enjoyable?

The answer is yes and no, it was a mixed bag. The first part of this book was incredible, I couldn’t put down the book and everything was so interesting and compelling. Then comes the second part, where the pacing just became really draggy and somehow, boring. However, my hope was restored for a while during the third act, until the anti-climax happened. My expectation is obviously at fault here but hey, this book is the number one highest selling sci-fi book of all time and one of the most highly acclaimed book, I expected there to be a mind-blowing climax sequences to close the book in an epic way. But no, there wasn’t any. Not only it felt anti-climactic, Herbert’s prose in describing settings and actions didn’t age well or up to current standard. The main reason for this is that this is a book that relies heavily on character’s dialogues to do everything; world-building, plot, characterizations were done solely through dialogues. This leads to the great plot but weak action sequences and no vivid settings. Sure there was some explanation on the settings, but other than the planet—which is just a desert, just search Sahara or Planet Tatooine and voila—the interiors were given only brief description, which makes it hard to imagine; I had to look up some artworks to be able to immerse myself in the settings of the book.

Overall, Dune was truly a revolutionary book for its time that is filled with tons of imaginative and fantastic ideas. Although there were some parts that disappointed me, I still liked the book and I finally understand why there are so much discussion and praises around this book. I recommend this to every Sci-fi fans for its importance and also, it’s good to know where most fantastic Sci-Fi you’ve read or you’re reading now got its idea from. However, this is also where I’ll stop with the series.

You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,977 followers
May 7, 2020
I have to write this review without rhythm so that it won’t attract a worm.

In the distant future Arrakis is a hellhole desert planet where anyone who doesn’t die of thirst will probably be eaten by one of the giant sandworms. It’s also the only place where the precious spice melange can be found so it’s incredibly valuable, and the honorable Duke Leto Atreides has been ordered by the Padishah Emperor to take over control of Arrakis from his mortal enemies, the House Harkonnen. While this seems like a great offer on the surface the Duke and his people realize that it’s actually a cunning trap being set by the Emperor and Baron Harkonnen.

The only hope seems to be allying with the local populace called Fremen whose harsh environment has led them to become an incredibly tough and disciplined people, but they have their own vision of what Arrakis should be. They also have a prophecy about the coming of a messiah figure who will lead them to freedom, and the Duke’s son Paul looks like he may be exactly who they’ve been waiting for.

This is classic sci-fi that really deserves the label. What Frank Herbert accomplished in one novel is stunning because he built a fascinatingly detailed universe in which the politics, religion, economics, espionage, and military strategy are all equally important. He then blended these more grounded concepts with bigger sci-fi ideas like being able to use spice to see through space-time, and the scope of that encompasses trying to pick the proper path through various potential timelines as well as free will vs. fate.

I think one of the factors that helps this story stay timeless is that so much of it is based on what humanity becomes vs. trying to predict what futuristic technology would be like. This is a society that once had a war with machines and has since rejected any type of computers so people have developed to fill the gap with the help of the spice. The Mentats are trained to use data to predict outcomes. The Navigators of the Guild have used so much of the spice to help them move through space that they’re mutating. The all female Bene Gesserit have developed a variety of skills to place their members alongside positions of power to help advance their breeding scheme that spans generations. Herbert also cleverly came up with an excuse that explains why knives and hand-to-hand combat are so important with the idea of the personal body shields.

So even though we still got a good sci-fi’s novel worth of cool gadgets the emphasis is on what the people can do and how that’s developed over a long period of time. It also adds a lot of depth to the political dimensions because all of these groups have different agendas that cause them all to mistrust each other, but because they all fill these various roles none can exist without the others.

There are also parallels to our world that are still in play because the idea of a desert people caught up in the power struggles of various outsiders because of their valuable natural resource is an obvious allegory to the Middle East that still works today. Plus, the classic film Lawrence of Arabia came out a few years before Herbert published this, and you have to think that it had some influence on him because there are elements of the story that seem very much inspired by it.

While the whole concept of a Chosen One has gotten a bit worn over time that’s not Herbert’s fault, and this is still a fantastic sci-fi story with big ideas that also works as space opera as well as being an epic adventure story.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews41 followers
September 3, 2021
Dune (Dune Chronicles #1), Frank Herbert

Dune is a 1965 science fiction novel by American author Frank Herbert.

In the far future, humanity has eschewed advanced computers due to a religious prohibition, in favor of adapting their minds to be capable of extremely complex tasks.

Much of this is enabled by the spice melange, which is found only on Arrakis, a desert planet with giant sand-worms as its most notable native life-form.

Melange improves general health, extends life and can bestow limited prescience, and its rarity makes it a form of currency in the interstellar empire.

Melange allows the Spacing Guild's Navigators to safely route faster-than-light travel between planets, and helps the Reverend Mothers of the matriarchal Bene Gesserit to access their Other Memory, the ego and experiences of their female ancestors.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و چهارم ماه نوامبر سال 2018میلادی

عنوان: تلماسه؛ نویسنده: فرانک هربرت؛ مترجم: مهیار فروتن فر؛ تهران، کتابسرای تندیس؛ 1397؛ در 847ص؛ فروست شاهکارهای علمی تخیلی؛ شابک 9786001822834؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده مریکا - سده 20م

داستان «تل‌ماسه» در آینده‌ ای دور می‌گذرد، و در جامعه‌ ای ملوک الطوایفی، کتاب با الهام از جوامع «اعراب» بدوی، نگاشته شده‌ است؛ سه عامل اثرگذار در جامعه ای فراسیاره‌ ای: پادشاه امپراتور و خاندان‌های حکومتی، اتحادیه �� فضایی (صاحب انحصار حمل و نقل فضایی)، و گروه «بنی جزریت»، هستند؛ در جهانی سوار بر همان سه‌ پایه‌ ی: «سلطه‌ جویی»، «سیاست‌بازی» و «سوداگری»، و گردنده بر چرخِ آدم‌کشانِ رایانه‌ سان، ساحرانِ نژادپرور، و ناوبرانِ زمان‌ نورد، «پُل»، دوک‌ زاده‌ ی جوان خاندان «آتریدیز» است، که خود را گرفتار در طوفانی عالم‌ آشوب می‌یابد؛ نزاعی کیهانی بر سر کیمیای زمانه است، در آوردگاهی یگانه، سرچشمه‌ ی کیمیا در سرتاسر کائنات: «تلماسه» است، کره‌ ای از شن سوزان، که دغدغه‌ ی بومیانش نه «ملغما (کیمیای زمانه)»، که بقاست؛

نقل از متن (کتاب اول: تلماسه: سرآغاز هر کار زمان حصول اطمینان از درستی میزانها و معیارهاست؛ حتی مبتدی ترین شاگردان مکتب «بنه جسریت» هم این نکته را میدانند؛ پس فراموش نکنید که در شروع مطالعه ی زندگانی مودِّب او را در زمان حیاتش که از پنجاه و هفتمین سال سلطنت امپراتورْ پاشا شدامِ چهارم آغاز شد و در محل زندگی اش یعنی سیاره ی آراکیس در نظر آورید؛ اجازه ندهید این حقیقت که زادگاه او کالادان بوده و پانزده سال آغازین عمرش را در آنجا گذرانده گمراهتان کند؛ آراکیس، سیاره ای که آن را به نام تلماسه میشناسند، جایگاه او بوده و تا ابد خواهد بود؛ ـ برگرفته از کتاب راهنمای مودِب، نوشته ی شاهدخت «آیرولان») یک هفته پیش از مهاجرت خاندان «آتریدیز» به «آراکیس»، در میان دوندگیهای لحظه ی آخر که دیگر داشت به جنونی افسار گسیخته و تحمل ناپذیر بدل میشد، عجوزه ای به دیدار مادرِ پُل آمد

کاخ «کالادان» شب نسبتاً گرمی را میگذراند و مانند تمام اوقات پیش از بارندگی، روی تخته سنگهای برهم چیده ی کهنسالی که برای بیست و شش نسل از خاندان «آتریدیز» حکم خانه را داشتند، نم سردی نشسته بود

عجوزه از درِ جانبی وارد عمارت شد، و با عبور از راهرویی طاقدار به اتاق پل رسید؛ در آنجا لحظه ای درنگ کرد، و به داخل سرک کشید تا نگاهی به «پل» بیندازد که در تختخوابش آرمیده بود

پسرک که حالا بیدار شده بود، در کورسوی چراغ معلقی که نزدیک به زمین شناور بود، پیکر تنومند زنی را میدید که در درگاه اتاقش، یک قدم جلوتر از مادرش ایستاده بود؛ چهره ی سایه وش پیرزن به جادوگران میمانست: موهای درهم تنیده اش به تارعنکبوت ماننده بود، و چشمانش، در تاریکی باشلقی که بر سر کشیده بود، به دو تکه جواهر براق

پیرزن گفت: «سنش کمتر از چیزی که هست به نظر میآید، نه جسیکا؟» صدایش تودماغی بود و مانند بالیستِ کوک نشده وزوز میکرد؛ مادرِ «پل» با صدایی ملایم و بم پاسخ داد: «در خاندان آتریدیز رشد دیررس معمول است، حضرت والا.»؛

پیرزن وزوزکنان گفت: «بله شنیده ام، شنیده ام. با این حال...؛ جداً پانزده سالش شده؟»؛ «بله، حضرت والا.»؛

پیرزن گفت: «بیدار است؛ دارد به حرفهایمان گوش میدهد»؛ نیشخندی زد و ادامه داد: «شیطانک مکار! البته بد نیست...؛ کمی مکر و حیله برای اشرافزادگان واجب است...؛ و اگر او واقعاً کویساتز هدراخ باشد...؛ خوب...»؛

پل چشمانش را در پناه سایه های تختخواب به اندازه ی دو شیار باریک باز کرد و به نظرش آمد که چشمان بیضی شکل براق و پرنده سانِ پیرزن نیز در پاسخْ بازتر و درخشانتر شد)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 23/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 11/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,314 reviews44.1k followers
July 5, 2022
When the epic and ensemble cast movie of Dennis Villenevue is about to release, I decided to choose this fantastic and also one of my favorite cult sci-fi series as flashback Saturday reading! ( it looks better than David Lynch- Kyle MacLachlan version but the looks may be deceiving! At least Timothy and Zendaya look so cool in those stylish clothes and grimy expressions on their faces)

After nearly three decades later, holding this paperback into my hands is magical experience take me a time travel: my mom was banging on my room’s door and telling me go outside and be social, getting some tan, instead of self-isolating myself by burying my head into books for days and feeding myself with junk food! ( the past mom had no idea, billions of people in the earth will be forced to do the similar things I’ve done in 2020 because of different reasons . At least the 2020-me did exactly same things with one difference: I threw boozes into equation! )

When I reread the series I clearly understand why I became addicted to the them( I’m talking about entire books)

Firstly you find yourself drawn into this journey after reading few pages because Herbert’s storytelling skills are extraordinarily. The meaningful interludes, the character development, the impressive world building transform you to the other universe that you never want to leave.

The awakening parts of Paul who discovers his own abilities, epic dynasty battles, ominous sand worms , intrigues, revenge, mind games present us a perfect blend of political economical, sociological, theological themes.
I advise you to read the books first to understand the deeply ideological messages and unique philosophy of the series because sometimes the screenwriters have hard time to absorb and reflect the entire soul of the book! At least by reading the main story by yourself, you may directly reach to the core!

Here are my favorite quotes of the book:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”

“The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.”

“When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong - faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it's too late.”

“Hope clouds observation.”

“It is impossible to live in the past, difficult to live in the present and a waste to live in the future.”

“Fear is the mind killer.”

“Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.”
Profile Image for Jonathan O'Neill.
174 reviews351 followers
April 29, 2022
4 ⭐

A word of warning as you venture out to peruse the veritable smorgasbord of delectable reviews for this Sci-Fi/Fantasy Classic!
Be sure to do your Du(n)e diligence. Be wary of key phrases such as “I don’t usually read Fantasy/Sci-Fi”, “Too many made-up words” or “I’m just reading before the movie comes out”. These individuals have come down with a bad case of bandwagonitis and any self-respecting Sci-Fier-er cannot count on their reviews being in any way accurate or beneficial!
As I’m firmly placed in the 3rd category of Blockbuster-hungry fools, I’d advise you to immediately move on to another review, there’s nothing of value here. In fact, I won’t actually be writing a review, I’ll simply address one simple question:

What is Dune?

Dune is sand as far as the eye can see.
Dune is the sphincter opening.... of a desert tent.
Dune is thirst. The distillate esthers of reclaimed waste; the sour effluvia of humanity. It is greedily, no… joyously sipping your overweight Uncle’s recycled knacker sweat in a desperate effort to quell the rapid loss of your own bodily fluid.
Dune is the Water of Life; Molecular Modification; a Transcendental Trinocular Acid Trip. The [Boy] with Kaleidoscope Eyes experiencing a Psychokinesthetic extension of self.
Dune is the middle-aged man who, on hearing praise for his young sons, must always exclaim "I taught them everything they know!"
Dune is an unsettling change in POV turned familiar, insightful friend.
Dune is saying very little with a great many words.
Dune is Pardot Kynes, micro-ecology, patience and long-term goals.
Dune is the Shai-Hulud; the scandalous straddling of a worm.
Dune is religion, planted and shaped to the needs of the latest conquests and heraldic symbols.
Dune is the Ghost Wind of the Jihad
Dune is Alia, is Stewie Griffin.
Dune is Feyd-Rautha, is Commodus playing Gladiator.
Dune is a feint, within a feint, within a feint.
Dune is the house Atreides, is the Greek house Atreus.
Dune is the Kwisatz Haderach; the Messiah; a planet afflicted by a Hero.
Dune is power and wisdom at the cost of humanity; Friendship lost to worship.

”Everything he touched brought death and grief… it was like a disease that could spread across the universe… How little the universe knows about the nature of real cruelty!”
Profile Image for Samantha.
441 reviews16.8k followers
October 21, 2021
TW: pedophilia and rape off page

Although this is discussed as a highly influential work in scifi, now having read it, I do think we have evolved past the need for this to be part of the canon. This book was a bit of a mess with the characters, world, and plot all feeling a bit disjointed and half baked. The world, while interesting and obviously very detailed, is barely explained to the reader and relies heavily on the appendix without actually providing context in the story (with the exception of a few things like spice and the worms). These characters all felt a little flat and/or underutilized. The plot felt like two separate books, while being peppered with themes of glorifying colonialism, white saviors, and lack of agency for most of the women. Although I understand that is a product of when it was written, it still points to how there are much better works that have been written since even if they were influenced by this. I’m interested to see what they do with the movie adaptation. I’ll have a review and discussion on my channel coming up.
Profile Image for Henk.
875 reviews
September 15, 2021
15-9-2021: saw the movie tonight and loved it’s esthetics and how it conveys the gravitas of the story

Like medieval (but the Islamic enlightenment version of it) times, a caste system and the oil industry imposed upon space opera, with mystical elements permeating the whole and simultaneously telling the rise of a Napoleon like hero. Dune sounds like a book that shouldn’t work, but does, in an unique, complex and compelling manner.
The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him.

Start of the legend
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

The last 25% of the book was a wild ride that really upped my enjoyment of this reread, and left me impressed with the worldbuilding and boldness of Frank Herbert.
But to start: Dune is a classic in the scifi field, but is quite atypical. Technological progress has stalled after a jihad against thinking machines (aka computers) and a kind of medieval society in space has emerged. An emperor reigns, planets are dished out as fiefs and mysterious sects (We Bene Gesserit sift people to find the humans.) follow their own paths to influence events. Some kind of social darwinism is at play, and the conviction that humanity can be massively better (or worse) is we return our attention to oneself instead of towards technology.

The terms are at the start quite hard to get into, even though I know the story and remember some of them from last time reading the book. Arrakis, the Dune from the title, is an other interesting thing. This desert planet is almost a separate character (The highest function of ecology is understanding consequences), being handed to the Atreides duke and worsening a blood feud with the Harkonnens, the previous owners of the planet.

It is interesting how Herbert decided to reveal the first murder plot perpetrator quite soon, showing evidently that this is a book more about ideas then tension.
In general the book is biblical in language and the weight assigned to events, with foreshadowing and myths. The world feels rich and alive.

The main character is Paul Atreides, the son of duke Leto. He is groomed to take on his role of leader of a major house, and by his Bene Gesserit mother Jessica (who is, for lack of a better analogy, a kind of crossing between a martial arts expert, nun and witch). There are several other retainers, who are depicted in a manner that I can only compare to The Lord of the Rings.
The characters in general feel greater than life, for instance the level of perception and deduction at the dinner party is superhuman, I can only imagine because there is no advanced technology that the psychic training must somehow become more advanced and leads to the kind of casual analysis Jessica and Paul are capable of.

The fall of house Atreides is still a brutal event, even if you know it is coming and feels swift and unexpected, as does Paul’s enlightenment.

Predetermination versus free will
A kind of Heisenberg indeterminacy intervened: the expenditure of energy that revealed what he saw, changed what he saw.

To be fair, halfway in the book I felt a kind of lull in reading. The main characters are thrown back upon themselves and need to establish themself amongst the Freemen, Bedouin like desert folk who are much more powerful than thought.
In these sections there is such a sensitivity to culture and worldbuilding, Tatooine or the Aiel of Robert Jordan are nothing compared to the depth Herbert manages to bring go Arrakis and its Freemen. So much must have been thought of but has been left out, given a richness in the world conjured that is only rivaled by Middle Earth.

The scenes are intense, and well written, but in way a bit dull since the ascent of Paul to power seems assured. There is banter that is really sharp, like:
“Do you trust me?”
“I hear your sincerity.”

And Paul is shown as doubting, self aware of his rise and what it entails, commenting on heroism and mythmaking, and the restraints to his powers: (The vision made him want to freeze into immobility, but this, too, was action with its consequences.)

But the third part, especially to the end, shows real boldness by skipping two years and taking on tragic events (Grief is the price of victory), sometimes only in an indirect manner.
Alia is a good example, and all the implications and struggles, guilt, she must bring with her. You feel it, it is touched upon, but never in an on the nose manner.
And the development of the relationship between Stilgar and Paul also carries sadness and an awareness of the corrosive power of adoration and myth: I have seen a friend become a worshipper.

The epicness of both the story and main character Paul (and a shoutout to Chani and Jessica as well) is just beyond anything.
For instance somewhere near the end Paul responds the following to a warning that the galactic emperor is coming down upon him in force:
"When the Emperor learns that he’ll not rest until he has you over a slow fire."
"The Emperor’s not likely to have that power over me."

Decadence as an indication of ineffectiveness and decline, while orthodoxy, returning to the core of human struggle for life, is a way out of the impasse, comes back as a theme.

The actual enlightenment and power of Paul as gained by the spice is unknowable to a reader, since he operates on another level entirely. Time being a dimension, Paul transcends the three dimensions and becomes something inhuman along the way, a singularity like the technical singularity.

Some minor criticism
"How could you do such a foolish thing?" she demanded.
"He is your son"

Oké, what is this convenient weirding suddenly along the way?
Why is count Fenring there, what does he add in anyway to the story?
And how the hell does Paul get nuclear weapons all of the sudden.
And as said: the second part of the book really did not speak that much to me.

But in no way it can be denied that the world conjured by Dune is rich, bold and interesting, and that I very much look forward to see the movie in 2021!

Bad ass quotes:
She said that the mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.

...and the mystery of life is not a problem to solve but a reality to experience.

The concept of progress acts as a protective mechanism to shield us from the terrors of the future.

But the test of a man isn’t what you think he’ll do. It’s what he actually does.

The people who can destroy a thing, they control it.

The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it.
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