Rereading: DUNE by Frank Herbert

Cover art by John Schoenherr

Paul Atreides is the son of Duke Leto, daughter of his consort Jessica, and their family must move from their home planet to a harsh desert one at the command of the Emperor. Leto suspects a trap, and has prepared for it, but is unaware of the treachery of one of his household, who brings down the shields, allowing his rivals, the Harkonnens and their imperial troops into the royal home on Arrakis, and Leto’s own death. Paul and his mother escape into the desert with help from a friend, and become part of the Fremen society, native to Arrakis, and at home on the desert with its dangerous sandworms and harsh moisture-draining climate. Water is life on Arrakis, as Paul soon learns, but a long-known prophecy about a powerful new leader seems to the Fremen to be embodied in Paul. In time, he is forced to accept his new role as their leader, and his prophetic visions help guide them in a new war on the Harkonnens and eventually the Emperor himself.

This book was first published in 1965, I first read it around 1971. It’s very long for the time, 188,000 words, about triple the average science fiction book of that period, and it does have fascinating ideas and a well-developed back story. The characters are interesting, though most of them are cruel and conniving. I liked Paul in the first half, less so by the end of the book, as he becomes more like his enemies. The desert society is well thought out, the sandworms are impressive, and I enjoyed the book, but never felt the need to read the rest of the series. I thought about that during this reread, having the same lack of interest in the rest of the Dune saga. I think it’s because there was no character I wanted to know more about, and the cruelty so often shown by everyone in the story was not appealing. Give me Tolkien or Heinlein instead. Still worth revisiting, and recommended.

Dune by Frank Herbert

One thought on “Rereading: DUNE by Frank Herbert

  1. PwC

    Wow, my feelings exactly. I loved the book and thought he ended it very well. I would’ve been perfectly happy with that, except others in my family kept reading the sequels, and, after hearing discussions about them, I continued on. The second book (Dune Messiah) seemed as pointless as I thought it would be, except it set up what I thought was a great book, Children of Dune. It can be something of a chore to get through at parts, but it’s worth the journey. And ends the Paul trilogy rather well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.