Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Release Date: June 1965
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.
A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.
Dune is one of those novels you could read a hundred times and still find something new upon each reread. It features a vast and complicated world all housed within a galaxy.
Dune is labeled as a science fiction novel. One of the greatest science fiction novels, if you will. However, it very much reads as a fantasy. There are great houses fighting over the most precious resource on the planet, a magic system, and politics. I haven’t read all the novels, but I think more of the science fiction elements enter in later novels.
Dune has been on my TBR for a long time. I’ve heard from many people that it’s a hard book to read since there are so many new words. Fortunately, the vocabulary was easier to understand than I thought. When new words were introduced, it was easy to figure out what they were based on the context, though I still made use of the glossary. The glossary is your friend.
Herbert’s writing is clear and concise, despite the vocabulary specific to the world. His writing makes Dune as a setting come to life. I could easily imagine the desert planet with the faint smell of spice on the breeze and the rumble of worms underfoot.
The magic system, for lack of a better world, was interesting as it is rooted in the mind and psychological theory. The Bene Gesserit are a group I cannot wait to read more about since almost all of their magic is psychology based with an emphases on the collective unconscious. In my edition of Dune, the appendices include a Report on Bene Gesserit Motives and Purposes, which was very helpful in better understanding their purpose, though much still remains a mystery.
Despite Dune being published in 1965, its themes of climate change resonate strongly today, as destroying finite resources is a major theme throughout the novel.
The one criticism I can levy at Dune is its use of time jumps. There are a lot of time jumps that made me feel as if I was missing key information. I understand their purpose, however readers miss out on key relationship and character moments that are only eluded to because of the time jumps.
And finally, the afterword by Brian Herbert was informative, especially in regards to the history of the novel. Though, it does spoil a few plot points in later novels. The afterword gives readers a sense of who Frank Herbert was as a person through the eyes of his son.
Overall, Dune is an incredible novel that builds the foundation of a complex and vast world all while developing its characters in a slow and deliberate manner. Dune sets up what is going to be an unforgettable reading experience.