Dune by Frank Herbert

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Dune by Frank Herbert is a story of a boy searching for himself, and what Paul Atreides discovers about himself is beyond his expectations. Dune is a story of realization. Paul must face his fear, and Jessica, his mother, must face hers as well.

For me, Dune was a reminder that it is better not to know what will happen tomorrow, the next day, next week, or next year. We live one day at a time because we can handle today; by tomorrow, I may be ready for a greater challenge. The characters in Dune repeatedly found themselves knowing the future before they were ready to accept it or able to live it. Because of that, they found great strength within them, albeit with great apprehension and trial.

Arrakis itself is a planet of trial, the desert planet called Dune. On Arrakis, a sandworm creates a precious addictive spice, which the universe will pay anything to procure. Duke Leto Atreides has been called to rule Arrakis, leaving beautiful Caladon, where water falls from the sky, to rule the dune planet with his son Paul and the ducal concubine Jessica. But quickly the question becomes not whether the robust Fremen, the local inhabitants, will welcome the Atreides rule, but rather whether the Emperor is truly backing the Atreides Royal House. Paul and Jessica Atreides soon find themselves fighting for survival on Arrakis, even as they fight to determine who they really are.

I spent more than six months reading Dune simply because I was reading it aloud with my husband; we also are reading a nonfiction book and some evenings we’d read that instead. As a result, I didn’t find myself drawn into the story, although some nights it was a challenge to force myself not to read ahead. Herbert’s writing is not spectacular, but his imagination is admirable and his well-planned world is entertaining.

Herbert has written a number of sequels; even this book was obviously set up for a continuation of the story. He also has completely created the world: Dune has a glossary and five indexes describing the background to the world of Arrakis. It is a world as elaborate as the worlds of Star Trek and Star Wars.

Because I wasn’t completely drawn to this book (partially because of how I approached it and partially because I’m not a huge fan of science fiction), I can’t say yet that I will read the sequels. Have you read any of the sequels? Are they worth reading? Have you read Dune? What did you think about it?

Reviewed on July 1, 2008

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • I’ve been thinking about reading this book because of its status in the sci-fi world. You expressed my hestitations pretty well. Perhaps its worth the read. I don’t know about the sequels, though. That might be a never ending road.

  • I read Dune several times, but it’s been years ago now. I also read many of the sequels.

    I absolutely loved this book. Your right in saying that the world Herbert creates is fully developed, complete, and amazingly detailed. I think this should be a must read for everyone.

    It IS a bit daunting though. It’s not a quick and easy read … you do have to put some time into it. But it’s worth it!

    On the subject of the sequels, I’d say that they are wonderful, but you don’t HAVE to read them. There is an ending to the first book that you can live with … it isn’t a cliff hanger or anything. So if you WANT to read more, you can, but you don’t have to – you can easily stop after one book.

  • @Jessica: I think it is worth the read, especially if you like sci-fi. It’s very well thought out and the issues and emotions are real, not off-the-wall foreign science fiction. (I don’t read a lot of sci-fic and I guess I had stereotypes in mind before we read this!)
    @Heather Johnson: I was so impressed with how he developed the worlds in such detail! And it sounds like he actually knows what he is talking about. Thanks for the info about the sequels. I’ll probably give them a pass at this point, given the size of my tbr pile, but I’ll keep them in mind. I’m glad this one *wasn’t* a cliff-hanger!

  • I have read Dune, and I can’t really say whether I liked it or not. It is definitely one that stays with me. I always think of it from an environmental, political or economic perspective, but I think I must have missed the psychological aspects that you pointed out. I have always been interested in reading the others, but I don’t know if I ever really will.

  • Chain Reader, I enjoyed the environmental/political aspects of it too. I read it with my husband and I don’t know if I’d ever have picked it up otherwise. I don’t think I’ll read the others.

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