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Feyd-Rautha

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Amy Ratcliffe (amy_geek) | 120 comments This far into our Dune read-along, and I’ve barely talked about the villains--at least the family who appears by all accounts to be villainous. Don’t tell the Baron, okay?

The Harkonnens, led by the Baron, have gone to tremendous lengths to position the Atreides for failure. And not just failure, but absolute destruction. They want to eliminate the house from the galaxy. That speaks to several things, including how terrible the Harkonnens are but also how much power the Atreides wielded. They were so key, so seemingly beloved the Padishah Emperor worked with the Harkonnens to achieve a common goal. We see some insight into how the house could have progress with Paul. He may not have reached the same level without joining the Fremen--I don’t think it’s likely that he would have. However, he’s smart, capable of being compassionate, and a large number of things none of the Harkonnens are.

In this month’s reading, we have a full chapter devoted to Feyd-Rautha, the Baron's nephew. It's the Harkonnen Baron wants to use to gain power and to install as the leader of Arrakis. He would be the next Baron of the wretched house. Feyd-Rautha possesses the Baron’s cruelty and some of his cunning, but he’s more prone to impulsive actions. I think he’s eager to make his own mark and be known for something other than being the Baron’s nephew. He’s so ready for the spotlight. He doesn’t care about playing fair either, a fact highlighted in his gladiator fight. He puts poison on the blade that is traditionally left pure. This thought of his stuck with me:

“And let them always be aware they cannot know for sure which of my hands carries the poison.”

He’s already plotting ways to intimidate his future enemies.

Upon first meeting Feyd-Rautha, I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t give him any credit. But after this particular chapter? I feel like the Baron should watch his back.

What are your impressions of Feyd-Rautha or any of the Harkonnens for that matter?


Mike Garrigan | 5 comments House Harkonnen seems to be the main antagonist. Baron Vladimir wants power and will stop at nothing. When Herbert gave the main villain the name Baron Vladimir, it "harkens" back to the imperialism of the Russian Tsars of old.

Specific to the Baron, he has consumed so much that he needs suspensors to support his body. A recent article in AV Club described the Baron as "a decadent, monstrous gasbag of depravity and evil."

Feyd-Rautha, heir apparent to House Harkonnen, is physically the opposite of the Baron. Nonetheless, he comes from the same world view of industrialism, imperialism, and consumption. While Baron's trickery is much more covert, Feyd-Rautha - evidenced in the quote above - is much more open about his deception. In short, he should not be trusted.


Daniel (tiepilot_dandy) | 18 comments I always felt our introduction to him was either a misdirect or his character got changed in the writing process. This chapter makes it much more obvious that he's to be feared if not respected. I don't have my book in front of me but I always got the impression from some of the text that he's meant to feel like the evil counterpart to Paul. In many ways they're similar except exchanging the compassion for the cruelty like you mentioned. I think Count Fenring even mentions Feyd's potential for evil and cruelty surpasses that of the Baron. I think they're great villains in that they mirror our protagonist characters in so many ways.

And side note but I always love the gravity of cost in the Baron's plans. The book makes it so clear just how long this plan has been in motion, how many people are involved, and just how enormously costly it has been. Which speaks to how successful the Baron is but also highlights how cruel he is. If he can amass such enormous amounts of wealth and success why do the people of his planet live in the squalor the Fenrings notice covered with cheap decorations?


Peter DiCicco | 12 comments I definitely agree that his introduction was a bit of a misdirect, and I think he's totally a mirror of Paul. They're both introduced as teenagers (essentially children) who are being groomed to be the leaders of their houses and their respective elders still underestimate them.

I didn't really think of it before now, but they're both microcosms of what all the big players of the galaxy are doing, especially the Bene Gesserit, which is manipulating the chess pieces/bloodlines to satisfy their endgame, but Paul was raised and trained by kind thoughtful people whereas Feyd was raised and trained by cruel people.

For lack of a better term, Feyd is the best of the Harkonnen. Rabban is the blunt tool of the family, while Feyd is more cunning and precise. He is both exactly what his uncle the Baron wants but also possible too much for him. I think that cruel unpredictability sets him up to be even more dangerous than the Baron, if our heroes ever come to encounter him.


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Amy Ratcliffe (amy_geek) | 120 comments Mike wrote: "House Harkonnen seems to be the main antagonist. Baron Vladimir wants power and will stop at nothing. When Herbert gave the main villain the name Baron Vladimir, it "harkens" back to the imperialis..."

I will never forget this accurate description of the Baron.


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Amy Ratcliffe (amy_geek) | 120 comments Ashley wrote: "He reminds of Joffrey from GoT for some reason. I can just see him killing people for no reason and being cruel."

I can absolutely envision that!


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Amy Ratcliffe (amy_geek) | 120 comments Daniel wrote: "I always felt our introduction to him was either a misdirect or his character got changed in the writing process. This chapter makes it much more obvious that he's to be feared if not respected. I ..."

That's an excellent point, Daniel. When first introduced, I barely threw so much as a glance his way. I discounted him. I like to believe that it was that intentional misdirection you mentioned.

It's interesting to view him as the opposite of Paul, or rather someone who is key to the story but sits at a point on the other side of the circle. I can't deny Feyd-Rautha is playing it smart.

The Baron is awful, but I respect his commitment to planning. Think about how many strings he has put into place all to take down the Atreides. Considering all his long plotting makes his moments of rage when things aren't going right more intriguing, if not easier to relate to.


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Amy Ratcliffe (amy_geek) | 120 comments Peter wrote: "I definitely agree that his introduction was a bit of a misdirect, and I think he's totally a mirror of Paul. They're both introduced as teenagers (essentially children) who are being groomed to be..."

Peter, this nature/nurture point is a terrific one (though I'm simplifying things by more than a bit). What if Paul and Feyd-Rautha switched places? If Feyd-Rautha had been raised by Leto and Jessica, could you imagine? I'm not sure that he's more cunning than Paul, but I believe they're at least on equal footing.


Mike Garrigan | 5 comments Amy wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I always felt our introduction to him was either a misdirect or his character got changed in the writing process. This chapter makes it much more obvious that he's to be feared if no..."

I wonder if serialization affected the change? I read that Dune was originally published in installments.


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