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Dune by Frank Herbert

Last year I got it in my head that I wanted to read all those classics that true sci-fi book nerds are supposed to have read, and Dune was definitely on that list. When I am mentally able, I really love a good classic sci-fi novel. There is something so satisfying about the slower pace and lack of hand-holding of the classic style. Dune is an excellent example of this style in fact, something that makes it wonderful if that is what you are looking for, but horrible if you just pick it up at the airport because it looks interesting and you are bored….

Title: Dune
Author: Frank Herbert
Pages: 474 (paperback and not including the appendices)
Premise: Paul Atreides noble family moves to the desert planet Arrakis only sort of against their wishes. The people on this planet have some strange legends that Paul’s mother seems to have some hand in and a political plot against his family is soon making their lives even more interesting. As they then deal with the repercussions of those plots, it becomes clear that those legends are much more than just legend.
Setting: Arrakis is a harsh world that holds a great treasure: spice. It is fairly addictive, has wonderful health and mental benefits and attracts GIANT worms on the already fairly inhospitable planet. Those worms are also attracted simply by the patterned vibration of walking on sand though, so it’s not really the spice’s fault if you get eaten harvesting it. The native people, however, have found ways to deal with all these difficulties and so have free access to the spice. Between their diet and their adaptations to the harsh environment, they have some very interesting differences both biologically and culturally.

Strengths:

  • Absolutely amazing world building
  • Very well thought out native culture
  • Complicated and well developed political structure
  • Interesting character development
  • Very cool ways of describing the psychic sort of powers that develop
  • Eco-friendly message :D

Weaknesses:

  • If you aren’t that interesting in political intrigue, the politics get a bit boring in the beginning
  • A complicated world means that there is a steep learning curve for the vocabulary and customs for the reader
  • The book is definitely more world focused than character focused
  • As I said in the intro, it is classic sci-fi and so it is definitely not an easy read

Summary: It’s classic for a reason and got a lot of awards and recognition. It is an absolutely amazing world and I have to applaud Herbert for how thoroughly he must have thought about what life on a desert planet would have done to a people both biologically and culturally. An example of this is that the native people learn in childhood that you don’t cry because it wastes so much water. This makes the act of crying exceedingly significant in their culture. I think it’s safe to say that anyone who loves sci-fi really should read one of the great classics just to experience this amazing world.

© 2011 – 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. I love Dune, and I love Frank Herbert. I was probably around 15 years old the first time I read this, and all the political intrigue went completely over my head, i enjoyed the book for the characters and the action. i seem to reread it every few years or so, it’s a completely different book when you understand the purpose of all the politics!

    • Haha! Yes, it definitely would be, but that’s awesome that you were able to enjoy it when you were younger, I don’t know if I would have made it through. I still have such vivid memories of the world though, I might just have to go reread it sometime soon. Dune is definitely one of those books I can see you getting something new out of every time you reread it!

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