Dune by Frank Herbert takes the reader through an adventure of extremes, from the water dominated cultures of the planet Caladan to the water-starved cultures of the planet Arrakis. The reader is subjected to politics, cultural extremes, ecology, religion, and some very psychedelic interpretations of time. However, the book can be a bit difficult to read as Herbert vigorously exercised his creative liberties and created quite a few words, and then never endeavors to explain these words. With its rich, vibrant worlds, developed characters, and engaging story, I am comfortable calling Dune a must read for anyone who enjoys the science fiction genre.
I really like the cover of this book. The art is minimalistic, powerful, and attractive to the eye. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of simple, clean imagery. It’s difficult for me to say whether I would buy this book based upon the cover art alone or not, because I’ve had knowledge of Dune and it’s story since middle school, but I feel comfortable saying that the cover would have definitely piqued my interest.
- Parts of the book seem needlessly wordy and slow. They are only a few of them, but they seem concentrated near the beginning of the book. This made getting into the story as the book began a bit difficult.
- Herbert does an excellent job creating and developing the Fremen culture and the dangerous, exotic world of Arrakis. From the first time you meet a Fremen, it is clear that their culture values water above all else, and that their reverence for water and the harsh environment in which they exist has trickled down to affect every facet of their existence.
- The characters in the book are well developed and interesting, each of them with their own emotions, patterns of thought, and internal struggles. The Baron Harkonnen is deplorable and will drive you to hate him. Dr. Yueh will earn your ire, as well as your pity. I think Paul was my favorite example though, as he constantly struggles with his humanity and the awesome powers he gains over the course of the book. But even despite his awesome powers, and the god-like status he attains among the Fremen, Paul remains grounded and realistic in regards to who he is and what he can do.
- The story is engaging, well paced, and thought provoking. I stayed interested over the course of the entire book, and rarely, if ever, found myself skipping over chunks of text. Herbert does a fantastic job spinning elements of politics, religion, and environmentalism seamlessly into the story.
- I especially enjoyed the “realism” of the book. This isn’t a space opera filled with with laser gun fights, there are no warm fuzzies of a romantic nature to be found, and Paul is not a shining paragon of humanity. The book may have things of a fantastic nature, such as monstrously large worms, mind-enhancing drugs, and cult-like organizations filled with future-seeing women, but all of these things exist side by side with a gritty, realistic depiction of political strife, the consequences of power, and the human struggle to survive.
- Herbert throws made up words and family names at you rapidly. It can quickly become frustrating, and sometimes even overwhelming to read. This is most frustrating to me when the word is needlessly made up. Kanly? It means vendetta. Richece? Minor houses and wealthy individuals. Both of these words were needlessly created and are never explained within the book.
Paul’s father, the Duke Leto Atriedes, has been gifted the planet Arrakis by the Padishah Emperor. Normally this sort of gift would be seen as a great boon due to economic opportunities a planet such as Arrakis presents, but this gift is laced with danger, treachery, and subterfuge. Shortly after the House Atriedes relocates from the water-abundant world of Caladan to the arid desert world of Arrakis, the trap is sprung. The Baron Harkonnen, an old enemy of the House Atriedes, assaults Paul’s family. The attack leaves many people dead, the Atriedes claim to Arrakis all but destroyed, and forces Paul and his mother into the arms of the Fremen, who believe Paul to be the savior they have all awaited: the legendary Lisan al Gaib. Many secrets, and many answers lay in the desert, woven into Fremen culture and belief. Using his wits, years of rigorous training, and his new-found place within Fremen culture, Paul will undergo a transformation that is both symbolic and powerful. He will become something more than human, he will become the Kwisatz Haderach.