Monday, November 06, 2006


Dune (Dune Chronicles, Book 1)

Frank Herbert

Date: 01 February, 1996   —   $7.19   —   Book

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Fiction, Science Fiction

Ah, the book that started it all. Dune is a love it or hate it kind of a series; Herbert's style is remarkably different from his son's, and is skewed heavily toward the mysticism. The Dune prequel books that Brian Herbert has co-authored with Kevin J. Anderson are crystal clear in their happenings and motivations; by contrast, Frank Herbert's writing is murky and dangerous. One might get a sense of something about to happen without having a clear sense of why, and the novel plays with this sense of menace, of being a small part in a grand design and being entirely unable to see the greater picture - except that you must take on faith that one person can.

This book centers on young Paul Atreides, who might be the end product of centuries of Bene Gesserit breeding. His family has taken over stewardship of Arrakis, home to the substance spice, which enables the Spacing Guild to operate, the nobility to have extended life, and the Bene Gesserit to connect with their ancestors. The spice must flow is the dictate, and the Atreides know how perilous their position is. The stewadship previously belonged to the Harkonnen, sworn enemies of the Atreides, and the Atreides know that such a profitable operation is not given up lightly.

However, by looking at the wrong things, the Atreides are overthrown; Duke Leto is slain, and Lady Jessica and their son, Paul, escape into the desert. What he learns there ignites a fire that spreads across the empire, as the force of prescience comes into play, wielded by someone born to see the possibilities.

Many people like this first novel and disregard the rest of the series as it gets increasingly bizarre and philosophical. Dune focuses on the action taken with the help of prescience and not its consequences; its consequences are dealt with in the next novels.

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