on June 13, 2004
Dune is one of the deepest science fiction books of its time, you'd never really guess that it was written about 50 years ago. It tells of a boy named Paul who is destined to become the religious leader of the Fremen, the native dwellers of Arrakis. The politics and religious aspect in Dune are very well balanced and the characters are quite realistic for a sci-fi. If you're into sci-fi or not, you really should read this book.
Not much more can be said about this book than has already been said. I finally read it after countless recommendations and putting it off for years. I was skeptical that it would be as good as everyone said it is, but it is. Frank Herbert shows himself to be a keen observer of human nature, political intrigue and conspiracy, religion, and the depths and variations of human emotion. His characters are believable and range from psychopathic and ruthless, to morally weak and conformist, to courageous and authentic. Complex, expansive, moving, and exceedingly well written. I can't wait to finish the series.
on September 11, 2002
One of the greatest science fiction epics ever written. This book has it all: mind-expanding drugs, human computers, political intrigue, interstellar economics, and big-... worms. The reader should take from this book a sense of grandness of scale. The messianic fervor of the Fremen, the calculated patience of the Bene Gesserit eugenics program, the ecological ambition of Liet Kynes, and the universal-historical vision of the Quisatz Haderach, all ought to awaken us to the necessity and danger of human activity on the universal-historical timescale. That is the scale on which we all operate, whether we know it or not. Some of the themes in this book, which was written in the mid-1960's, foreshadow the adolescent field of chaos theory. In particular, the notion that seemingly insignificant local events can have calamitous effects on future history is analogous to the butterfly effect. Also, Herbert's conception of prophecy as a probability tree branching infinitely through time enjoys some endorsement from quantum physics.
on August 16, 2015
The good: Good pacing, Frank Herbert is a very good storyteller, and Dune - his magnum opus - is no exception. Characters you want to win, villains you find disgusting, and all the intrigue and mysticism you could ever ask for are prevalent in Dune (and the sequels!) There is a reason Dune is considered the LoTR of Sci-Fi, because it will take you on an epic adventure packed with space ships, new tech nobody has shown you before, and radically different social structures in an epic spanning thousands of pages when it is said and done. As a Sci-Fi I cannot recommend this book enough.
The bad: The first 100 pages or so really cram a lot of new, foreign stuff at you. For some this can alienate the reader from the universe as they try to grasp these concepts. I know people who have put the book down due to this. I would say keep going if you are finding yourself not understanding concepts. It gets better, and when you reflect on what you read earlier once you are farther in the book, it all comes together in a brilliant way.
The neutral: Very long book can go either way for people, at almost 900 pages and the sequels coming close to it, you are in for a long ride.
on February 16, 2010
Dune is a wonderful book. It completely engrosses the reader, giving one an experience similar to the one which the human characters experience in the Avatar film when they are inside the world of their avatars on the planet. When you stop reading, it's like coming out of the avatar pod into the real world, you can't wait to enter the world of dune again. Dune is also a fascinating study of desert ecology, water conservation, and how desert dwellers (including humans) adapt to their environment. It is also a reprimand to humanity for becoming too dependant on technology, robotics (robots) and machinery, and forgetting how to take care of themselves. As well as a lesson that teaches us that city dwellers have become estranged from the environment (nature) and became maladapted to surviving, to say nothing of living outside their cities with all their environmental and plush residential fluff. (while reading this review, mind that the book was originally published in 1965, Herbert seems to have foreseen the ecological problems, and technological advances of today!) Dune
on October 14, 2006
I will surely burn but I have to say it; "DUNE" stands head and shoulders above LOTR. LOTR is good but it is predictable. Dune has much more detailed and it's scope wider. Certainly, "Dune" is the harder read but much more worthwhile. This book digs much deeper into the nature of humanity, its goals, its weaknesses, strengths, and the nature of religions.
Comparing the books is, however, like comparing apples to oranges. Yes, they are both fruits, both are round-ish, both are tasty, and both grow on trees but they are very different. One book is about a quest and the battle between good and evil. The other is about the battle between humans who are both good and evil at the same time. It is a book about "wheels within wheels" that exist in each of our natures and in our society. Dune is amazing and worthy of reading twice or three times to see the layers.
on June 30, 2012
I enjoyed this book quite a lot but for me it fell short of the `masterpiece' hype that surrounds it. There is drama, tension and mystery. But the characters were not fully created. The main character, Paul Atreides, is treated in heroic terms, and doesn't seem completely real to me. But perhaps I was asking too much. It is well worth reading, just as a classic of the genre.
on May 28, 2016
Dune is a story about the relationships that leaders have within and between their various societies. It is a story about the politics of domination and resistance; how societies are dominated and resist their leaders, and how leaders are dominated and resist their societies. It shows some the relationship between politics and religion, and how genuine faith can be utilized and abused. It is a political thought experiment, much like the Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Divergent, and many others which pit a society against its institutions and leadership, and the leaders against the societies. Science fiction plays a background role only, framing the context in a new and interesting way, much like the Hunger Games and Divergent. It is a story about leaders who try to do what they think is right for their people. It is a story about leaders who have to do what they know is wrong for "the greater good". The whole original series is an amazing story of how societies change over thousands of years. It is well worth a read.
on May 16, 2001
Frank Herbert's Dune describes a futuristic political power struggle with an underlying lesson that teaches us about the human condition of adaptation. The power struggle is centered on a need for a substance called "the spice" and involves several parties, including the Imperium, the Harkonnens, the Atreides and the Guild. This power struggle sends the main character, Paul Atreides, into the deep southern Arrakeen desert where he has to learn how to live on a dry, worm infested, desert. Dune demonstrates the idea that humans must adapt to their environments in order to survive. One of the earlier examples of adaptation is the use of still suits. Still suits are specially designed garments, made by Fremen (natives of Arrakis), which prevent the loss of bodily-water. These garments are essential in the deep desert because there are no water sources. Paul and his mother, Jessica, have never before used still suits on their home planet, Caladan, so they had to adapt to the desert and learn to use them. Without the still suits, the two would not have survived their escape to the south, and could not have found the Fremen. It is the Harkonnen's lack of quality still suits that kept them from exploring the deep desert. This adaptation is very essential to the plot because there would have been no story if they hadn't found the Fremen; Paul and Jessica would be dead. Paul had to learn the Fremen ways. Like how land, air and sea power are utilized on Earth, the Fremen utilize "desert power" on Arrakis. Desert power is more important that anything else on Arrakis because of the simple fact that Arrakis is all desert. Desert power involves the effective use of all desert resources; using worms for the water of life and transportation, sandstorms to knock out shields on an assault, and spice to enhance the mind. The Fremen taught Paul their religion, and all of the aspects of desert power. If he had not adapted to the desert by learning the Fremen ways, Paul would not have learned that the spice opened up his revelations and he would not have been able to mount the successful final assault on the Imperial city. Neither the Harkonnens nor the Sardaukar (Imperial forces) had desert power so they were massacred (3 dead Imperials to every 1 Fremen) when fighting in the desert. Learning the Fremen ways seems to be the most important adaptation in the novel; Paul couldn't have survived and taken back the Imperial city without it. Paul's adaptations through the novel were directly related to the plot. It shows that people cannot survive in an environment without adequately changing to meet that environment's requirements. Ultimately, the book shows how the better-adapted fremen with Paul beat the unready Imperial forces and Harkonnens. This novel very effectively combines great descriptions of the setting and characters, with an intricate plot that utilizes the thoroughness of its characters and setting. It is a masterpiece of science fiction and I recommend it to anyone who has to time to read a long novel.
on May 15, 2002
Frank Hebert wrote Dune, only to be denied by at least twelve publishers before he connected to a publisher of technical manuals, who took a gamble and published Dune.
It was panned and trashed by almost all the critics who initially read it. But the first printing sold out anyway, and the second printing did too. People were picking up on the quality of this amazing book. Hebert starting mail from fans describing their fascination with Dune. Then he got a call from a reporter asking him if he was trying to start a cult. His answer was "God no!"
It's amazing that this book almost never existed, because this is one of the best books ever written. The novel is flawlessly conceived and visualized. The characters are very convincing. I don't think this book was a metaphor for the world situation. The Fremen borrow heavily from the Arab world, but look at the Arab world, much of it is desert. If Europeans who fight in the desert end up using Bedouin techniques and use Arab words like wadi and hammadas, then anyone living and fighting in a desert environment would naturally use the techniques and vocabulary of the world's best desert dwellers, who happen to be Arabs.
Dune does an amazing job of combining love, hate, economics, politics, and destiny. There are so many good storylines in this book that an average author could have derived at least five books from it. The concept of the Kwisatz Haderach alone, the ultimate being, is handled expertly here. What would an ultimate being, a living, breathing man who is worshipped as God, be like? How could you make the ultimate being, and how could you prepare the masses for their messiah?
Describing this book in a short review is nearly impossible. However, I do have to talk about the spice melange. I'm not sure what psychoactives Herbert ever tried in his life, or even if he ever did anything, but the effects of melange are like the effects of a popular but illegal herb that most Americans have tried at least once, only multiplied a thousand-fold. Anyone who's read the book knows spice is the cornerstone of the Empire, as its mind-expanding powers allow the human mind to manipulate space and time. The spice also has the power to unlock genetic memories, extend longevity, and is used recreationally. In a very subtle and engaging way, Herbert explicitly prescribes the use of mind-expanding drugs. Mua'dib definitely follows William Blakes advice when he says "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom," as Mua'dib completes his development as the Kwizatz Haderach by ingesting a toxic overdose of spice, and then experienes a 'trip' in which the deepest mysteries of life are revealed to him, and he becomes nearly omniscient.
The love stories and relationships within this book are as compelling as in it.
As far as the bad guys in the book go, the Emperor Shaddam the IV, and his tool the Baron Harkonnen are excellent. The Baron is truly terrifying, and he makes a horrible image. When telling his nephew, Rabban, how to govern Arrakis, he says "You must be always hungry, always thirsty. Like me." He then lovingly strokes his rolls of fat. The Baron's sexual tastes and appetite are also sickening, yet they are described implicitly, unlike in the recent "prequel" books by Herbert's son. At the same time, the Baron never falls into the cliches of most bad guys, and the scene in which Jessica and Paul are able to excape his cluthes is done in a very convincing way. They didn't escape through the palace air shafts or because the Baron designed an overly complex spectacle death for them.
All in all, buy this book, since it's most likely the best sci-fi you'll ever have the pleasure of reading.
-- JJ Timmins