Dune by Frank Herbert

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Title: Dune.
Series: Dune Chronicles #1.
Writer(s): Frank Herbert.
Publisher: Ace Books.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: August 2nd 2005 (first published June 1st 1965).
Pages: 528.
Genre(s): Science-Fiction, Fantasy.
ISBN13: 9780441013593.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★.

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There’s always that one novel that everyone recommends if you’re a die-hard fan of a certain genre. Going against what is deemed conventional during that era, utilizing themes that seemed disjunctive at first but conjunctive in the hands of the right creator, drawing up characters that convey the emotional and psychological depth of humankind. Only a few individuals per generation are capable of such a feat. Thus, what Tolkien was to fantasy, Frank Herbert is to science-fiction. The 1965 novel that went on to win the Nebula Award and to share the Hugo Award is the first installment in the Dune saga and remains the world’s best-selling science fiction novel today. Serving as the foundation to countless pieces of literature, Frank Herbert’s visionary tale is a gust of relentless triumph as it continues to stand tall to the test of time and depicts one of the most multi-layered classics set in a far future that isn’t too ideologically divergent from our own.

What is Dune about? Under the oppressive power of a galactic emperor reigns countless noble houses ruling different planets. Amongst these worlds lies the ocean planet Caladan where rules the Duke Leto Atreides. Ordered by the emperor to move his rulership to the planet Arrakis, also known as the desert planet Dune, to harvest a valuable source of melange (spice) that has been at the heart of many disputes, he prepares his voyage into what is hinted as a trap alongside his son Paul Atreides, the ducal heir, and his concubine Lady Jessica, as well as some of his most trusted followers. As he discovers the peculiar challenge that arises from any attempt to harvest the spice in this world, gravely limited in water and infested with giant sandworms, inevitable alliances are established with the planet’s natives known as the Fremen, while the House Harkonnen continue with their mischiefs and form the spiteful rivals.

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This masterpiece can be dissected and analyzed through many lenses to demonstrate all of its endless truisms. While the scope of this epic ranges from individual psychological beliefs to the universal religious mythos, there isn’t a single moment of overwhelming conceptual scrutiny throughout this novel. Amongst the many themes that are developed, one that stands out the most throughout my reading experience is that of heroism that is divulged through the coming of age fable of young Paul Atreides. Although he was molded from birth—inviting us to reflect on the notorious nature versus nurture debate—to become the most reliable and skilled ruler, he remained in the shadows of his father and he watched one of the greatest strategists work his way through the political web of deceit and treachery that arises from the regime of their reality. As the story unfolds, his endeavor through the dreaded dune reshapes and refines him into a man with the ambition and instinct to overcome evil, one who could be the messiah from prophecies and the future of civilization. His transformation from child to man isn’t, however, born from intent but the result of survival, and that’s what makes his predicament so special, as he learns the hard way how to become a leader and defeat fear along the way.

Notwithstanding its historical and political relevance with the various inspirations that bolstered Frank Herbert’s imagination into conceiving such a chef-d’oeuvre, the setting merits a standing ovation. The life on Arrakis allows the reader to sense its chocking grasp on its characters as it makes it mandatory for them to work in tandem with the limited resources and remain aware of the presence of creatures as they try to transform a deadly ecosystem until a promised land. To meddle with the existing life on it, however, leads individuals to suffer consequences that are sometimes beyond their control. With an overwhelming quantity of spice at the disposal of those who are ambitious enough to take the risk of encountering giant sandworms, while acknowledging the limited quantity of water on a planet where sand is the ruler of all, understanding your environment is key to survival. Although the setting takes a life of its own, the people on it also organize themselves to build their religion and culture around the dunes while others look to mold their economy and politics around its resources. It is how Frank Herbert polishes his novel to interlace all these spheres of life that make this novel such a stroke of genius.

Dune is a science-fiction tour de force presenting an epic and near-perfect mélange of religion and politics through an ecosystem in which evolves the coming of age tale of a young hero.


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Although the only movie adaptation of Dune was released in 1984 and was directed by David Lynch, it flopped at the box-office and garnered numerous negative reviews. However, a 2020 movie adaptation by one of my all-time favourite directors, Dennis Villeneuve, is currently in the works!

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48 comments

  • 5 Stars. Good. I was afraid I was going to have to show you the errors of your ways and WHY YOU WERE WRONG if you didn’t like this 😉 I’m always fond of the Chosen One trope and this was ALL about that. Intertwine some Hero Journey along with a dash of Bildungsroman (I love that word!!) and it just fits my tastes exactly. I never noticed Arrakis itself but your thoughts in that direction were interesting and I bet that Herbert was aiming exactly for that.

    I think this book can easily be called Herbert’s masterpiece. I’ve read enough of his other stuff to know that almost none of it will survive for another 25 years. Dune on the other hand I think will move into “Classic” territory within 25 years. The rest of the Dune books I’m not sure about. They might get dragged along on Dune’s coat tails.

    As for the movies. Man, that movie with Sting was something else. They totally changed many aspects and the whole talking in their mind was done in this weird whispery tone that almost grated. I enjoyed it like I enjoyed the netflix version of Death Note, ie, it was an adaptation, not a retelling. I rather enjoyed the SciFi’s miniseries and own them on dvd. Until I see something concrete from the new Dune I don’t know whether I’m excited or not 🙂

    Was this enough of a standalone for you to leave as is, or do you think you’ll explore some more in the Dune universe?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahahah something deep down told me that I would not see the sunrise because of you if I don’t give it 5 stars too. 😛 Maaan, I’ve always wanted to use that word at some point but always forget how to say it and write it hahah

      I think it’s pretty cool that I got around to reading it at the same age that he wrote and published it. I think I’m going to keep it on my list of books to re-read every 10 years (or 5, if I really crave it) now. I’m not sure I want to venture into the rest of the series though. Like you and Ola, I fear it’ll taint things for now. I need to really soak in every single detail of Dune in the next years, especially after Villeneuve’s movie, before I dare see what plans the Herberts had for it.

      I’ll look into trying the movie out later in the year or before the new movie to see how good/bad it actually is hahah Thanks for being an advocate for Dune for the past years. People who read and love it need to keep on doing it and not believe things like “Star Wars is everything”. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  • So glad you liked it! I see so many reviews where the person just talks about basic plot and character, and completely misses the overall philosophies and themes, which are still relevant and thought-provoking. There are many reasons I have been reading– and grappling with– this book since I was 12.

    The SyFy Channel did a miniseries fo Dune back in 2000 or so. It is much better than the David Lynch film. They did a miniseries combining the next two books (Children of Dune) in 2003, which was excellent. There is also a documentary called Jodowrosky’s Dune, which discusses the unmade but visionary film version of Dune planned by Alejandro Jodowrosky.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like I’ll probably learn and discover a lot on every future re-read for this one. For example, the Middle Eastern influences were less on my radar throughout my read yet I know it was there. I think that’s the sort of thing I need to prepare for next time but isn’t essential to any newcomer.

      I saw the trailer for the miniseries! I plan on binging all those adaptations before Villeneuve’s movie comes out just to know how everyone imagined this masterpiece and adapted onto the small/big screen. I’ll also not that documentary; it sounds really intriguing! Thanks, Kim, for your enthusiasm for this classic! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I read this back before the Lynch movie. I really liked the book. The Lynch movie is unfairly panned as far as I am concerned. I did not continue with the book series after the first book. I never saw the sci-fi series.

    Damn, Sting is giving Kyle a kick right in the yarbles. That’s not nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Great review, of an amazing book 😉 Glad you enjoyed it as much as you did, even though it couldn’t have been formative for you any longer, seeing as you’ve read so much already 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ola. I like how you put it and it’s sort of true. This must’ve made so many brains go boom when it was first released. At least it’s still an excellent piece of literature today, even to veteran readers of modern SFF! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • …and I concur with Bookstooge that the rest of the Dune cycle is nowhere near this first book 😀 I ended up reading three or four, and each subsequent was less and less interesting. Glad I didn’t reach for the load Herbert’s son produced, according the the uber-fan Bookstooge it doesn’t bear reading 😉
    Still, first Dune is indeed masterpiece! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  • Dune has been on my TBR since I learned of its existence many moon ago haha. I keep putting it off though because it’s intimidating, but now with the new movie coming out I’ve got to hunker down and get it done. Your review helps with that!

    Liked by 1 person

  • More than a review this sounded like a love letter to Dune – and I can heartily agree. Just as I nodded emphatically where you said that Herbert’s Dune is to SF what Tolkien’s LOTR is to fantasy. They are both works that have left a profound imprint on my imagination and the only two books I re-read more than once.
    As for the screen versions, the Lynch movie, despite its problems with narrative and characterization, was visually amazing and has become my own vision of Herbert’s world when I think about the book. There was a mini-series in more recent times, and while it was closer in narrative scope to the original source, the acting and visual qualities were – IMHO – substandard. If truly the third time is the charm, I hope that the movie now in the works will pay this book the tribute it’s due…

    Liked by 3 people

    • I now know that Dune will be one that I’ll be rereading throughout my life too and I think it’ll only get better with each read. I actually have yet to read TLOR but I’m starting the Hobbit this month, so… slowly but surely? 😛
      I like the positive remarks on both the movie and the mini-series, despite their flaws. As a die-hard fan of Villeneuve, my hopes/expectations for the movie are prettttty high and hopefully, we’ll get to see the best adaptation yet. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • All I wanted to say had already been said by Maddalena and Bookstooge 🙂 I’m glad you liked it, it’s one of THE founding books of our genre, and I also hope for the new movie to be good, even if I have fond memories of watching the Lynch adaptation (and a fan re-cut that fixes some of the problems I had with it, visually it is very good, even after all the years – it’s imperfections fitting the universe, IMO).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Piotrek! And yes, it’s definitely a crucial piece of literature and one that every fan should indeed read. I look forward to trying the movie out in the near future, before Villeneuve’s adaptation but it’s nice to hear that much positivity for Lynch’s adaptation though!

      Liked by 1 person

  • I was recently suggested this one by someone and I was waiting to finish my current tbrs before picking it up but LO AND BEHOLD! HERE COMES Lashaan TO TRIP ME UP WITH HIS FABULOUSLY WORDED REVIEW! 😂😂😂😂😂
    But seriously, I am Soo glad you loved Dune and it just makes me even more anxious to read it ASAP!!

    PS. Your reviews are so amazing that they deserve a bit of envy from my side! 😉😉😂😂😂🤣🤣 TEACH ME TOOOO!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahhahaha thank you so much for the love, Rain! I’m glad to hear that I could contribute to the buzz around this book and make you even more inclined to giving it a try someday. It’s definitely a humongous classic that is worth every second of your time. But you’ll have to get used to the world first but once that’s done, it flows perfectly! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Hmm…very tempting. The more people tell me about this book, the more curious I get, and I’m always interested in SFF books that includes religion in some form. I’ll have to try this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, the religious elements are quite present here, and quite well done. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to be able to tell the world that you’ve read Dune too. 😛 Hope you’ll be able to enjoy this when you get the chance to try it out! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  • I had to read what you thought of this Lashaan! This is one of the classics that I totally read and actually enjoyed. I think you hit it on the head about why I loved it so much too… We see a kid grow into man who can save a people… through the surviving he’s done. I love themes of survival and how surviving shapes you. It’s how you react to dire situations and horrible circumstances. I never did continue with the series, will you, you think?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Waaaah, Dani! I don’t know why but it always makes me happy to hear that you’ve read something that I’ve read hahahah and for it to be Dune this time around is so cool! I really did like how the dunes served as his passage to adulthood here, it was such a powerful imagery. Hmm… For the time being I’m not inclined to ruin the first book’s image in my head since I haven’t heard anyone say anything really good about the sequels. I think it’s safe to stop after the first for now, maybe once I reread Dune in the future I’ll change my mind hahah

      Liked by 1 person

  • Awesomely enticing review good sir, I hear again an again how this is a true classic of the SF genre and I absolutely plan to check it out one day – perhaps when the new movie(s) come out which I’m very much looking forward to (Denis Villeneuve is such an exciting filmmaker, Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 where amazing – he’s absolutely right up on the podium with Christopher Nolan). I have seen the David Lynch film once or twice over the years and need to revisit it for sure, I realise it’s seen as a flawed adaptation but I’m curious to see it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Chris. I had a feeling you’d have seen the movie adaptation a couple of times by now hahaha While you’ll potentially read the book before Villeneuve’s movie, I’ll probably visit the movie/TV series adaptations too. And I’m 100% with you. Nolan and Villeneuve are on the same pedestal of high-quality directors. My other favourite is Scorsese, so you can probably imagine how hyped I am for The Irishman hahah

      Liked by 1 person

  • Arrrghhh I got so excited about this book while reading your review 😭 Now I want to read it so badly 😭 I feel like it’s exactly the kind of book I want to read right now 😂 Your review is fantastic, Lashaan 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  • Yay! I am so happy you loved it! I find something new to contemplate every time I read it. It’s always my answer for the “what book would choose if you could only read one book for the rest of your life” question. I am continuing on with my fourth full series (first six) re-read next year. I hope you will decide to read the other five original books. I have started collecting the books his son wrote, based on his father’s notes and outlines, and I am going to give them a try, but I don’t hold much hope because most people don’t think they are very good. Ha ha. 📚

    Your review is wonderfully insightful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I enjoyed reading them. 👍✨

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh man, I love the passion you have for this one! I’ll definitely be rereading this throughout my life as I can tell that every time I’ll read it I’ll learn something new! 😱 Deep down I do want to read the rest but I fear that none of then will live up to Dune and could actually teint my newfound love for Dune hahaha I do hope your experience with Brian Herbert’s books won’t be as bad as… everyone else’s hahah Thank YOU for reading! It really makes me happy that you took the time to do so.

      Liked by 1 person

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