“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 me I will turn to see fear’s path. Where the dear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain,” (Herbert 283).
With the new movie coming out and the book itself just being a classic sci-fi novel, I’ve been curious to read Dune for awhile. I was luckily gifted a beautiful copy by my sister for Christmas last year with teal-sprayed pages and artwork on the inside of the dust jacket as well as on the front and back cover. Was I surprised to find that the book was 688 pages? Yes. Was I even more shocked to learn that Dune is only the first in a six book series? Double yes. I made it my challenge to finish the book by the end of September and somehow I did it.
Because of it’s size and the sheer detail of the world, it’s difficult to give a summary of Dune without spoiling anything. In it’s most simplest way the book follows fifteen-year-old Paul Atreides, son of Duke Leto Atreides, whose family has recently moved to the desert planet of Arrakis (nicknamed Dune, though honestly this nickname isn’t used that often). With acres of sand, dangerous sandworms, and water being rare the planet doesn’t seem to have anything to offer except for a spice called melange that extends life and enhances a person’s consciousness. Used in much of the food the spice is a much sought after prize that is worth killing for. When the House Atreides is betrayed Paul sets on a destiny that has been prophesized by the strange Bene Gesserit, of which his mother was raised, of a figure known as Muad’Dib who will be a saviour to Arrakis.
And even that summary doesn’t cover it. For that reason I recommend reading Brian Herbert’s Introduction available in this edition as it was helpful in my understand of the book as I read, though the younger Herbert does tend to spoil the book and it’s sequels (but can spoilers really be complained over for a book that’s been in publication for fifty-six years?). The Introduction is also a bit much sometimes, while I understand Herbert’s comparison of his father to J.R.R. Tolkien because both authors had such in-depth histories for their books it isn’t something I fully agree with, and though the Introduction is lengthy Herbert also fails to touch on his father’s characterization of the villainous Baron Harkonnen (more on that later).
But still, I enjoyed Dune. I liked it as an adventure story and enjoyed the blend of sci-fi and fantasy, the detail of Herbert’s world is also amazing and I’m surprised so many publishers recognized it’s readability but still didn’t want to publish it. As Brian Herbert explains in the Introduction, I thought it was also interesting how the book follows Paul coming into his destiny and the problems that arise from this, particularly becoming a religious leader and figurehead and am curious with what happens to Paul and Arrakis in the other books. I liked meeting the cast of characters (of which there are many) though the women in Dune seem to only be fit to fill the roles of Mother and Concubine (though I am curious about Alia’s role in the sequels). And onto characterization the Baron Harkonnen’ caricature as a villain is enforced by outdated stereotypes, such as describing him as being incredibly fat as well as heavily implying he is gay and attracted to younger men. I blame this more as a sign of the times than any reason not to read the series, but it is something worth being aware of before reading.
Even with it’s flaws (which I still think is more a sign of the times of publication) I enjoyed Dune even though I was confused at parts. I would recommend taking the book slowly and relating to the dictionary in the back of the book while reading as well as taking a look at the Appendixes afterwards as I found them helpful in understand the world of Dune. But I definitely understand it as a classic sci-fi staple and am very curious with how the movie will turn out!
Publication: June 1965
Publisher: Ace Books
Pages: 688 pages (Hardcover)
Source: Gift (Thanks Meg!)
Genre: Fiction, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Adventure, Classic
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
“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.”