Dune, widely considered to be the greatest and most important Science-Fiction novel ever. I haven’t really read, well, any sci-fi before so kicking my foray off with this entry was a great way to start.
“Fear is the mind-killer.”
We follow a select few Point of Views who are all associated in one way or another, with the desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune. On Arrakis there is an extreme lack of moisture, a blood-feud between families, a spice called Melange which is invaluable to it’s owner, a tribal society and giant, fearsome, terrifying Sandworms. There is a lot to the history and current affairs of the galaxy and Frank Herbert does an excellent job of exploring many avenues of interest throughout this intriguing planet.
“The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.”
The Atreides family are the protagonists, all-round good guys, with fantastic characters such as Duke Leto, Gurney Halleck, Duncan Idaho, Jessica a ‘Bene Dessert’ concubine and her son Paul Atreides, the heir to the family. There are lots of well-crafted relationships within this faction. The blurb of Dune tells us that the family are betrayed and destroyed, and considering it takes quite a few pages to get to that point I’d have much preferred to have been able to figure it out for myself. The opposing faction, the Harkonnen’s are as well crafted as the Atreides, if not even more enjoyable. The slimy and devious Baron Vladmir is a fantastic antagonist. He brutally plots, is clever and there is no evil act that he is not willing to commit to see the downfall of his nemesis Atreides.
“The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance.”
I really enjoy my read of Dune. The prose is very strong, and the descriptions of the world of Arrakis are beautiful. It is science fiction but really not in your face with the science of it all, but it feels very real. Very realistic to the point I forgot it was indeed a sci-fi book. Herbert is a well-rounded storyteller with enough detail of characters, their inhibitions and description, as well as consistent plotting and intrigue. Unfortunately, I found Paul, the main character to be the weakest of the cast. I disliked just how much we were in his head and how he was pretty much perfect, but it was written in the 60s and I understand that what modern books I read are trying to steer clear of that approach.
“Try looking into that place where you dare not look! You’ll find me there, staring out at you!”
Still, Dune is a remarkable story and will keep you on the edge of your seat (in your ornithopter). There is so much depth to Dune, the world and its characters. Impressive is the word, really. I would recommend it to anyone, it covers different preferences and will tick a lot of boxes for lots of people.
“Survival is the ability to swim in strange water.”
4/5 – Dune is a remarkable story written with a distinct style and depth. The characters are individual and intriguing. There is heartbreak, destruction, giant worms, epic duels and a marauding terrifying baby. There are some fantastic quotes too. I am very much looking forward to the film.
Read Dune by Frank Herbert