Updated on May 19, 2015
11. ‘Dune’ by Frank Herbert
Usually large books in long series terrify me and, until I started reading the Song of Ice and Fire series last year, I avoided massive series like the plague. But having finished those books and really enjoyed them, I was left with a bit of a hole in my life that only a series could fill. Enter Dune. I bought the first one in a charity shop a while ago. It’s quite a hefty book, but it won so many sci-fi awards and so much acclaim that I just had to give it a go. And I’m terribly glad I did!
Dune follows Paul Atreides, a boy who leaves his home planet with his parents to live on the barren desert planet of Arrakis. The family are knowingly walking into a deadly trap set by their enemies, the Harkonnens, but they know that sacrifices need to made in order to achieve greater things in the future. On Arrakis Paul learns about battle, survival and betrayal, and circumstances force him to grow up quickly and take up his destiny at the head of a wide-reaching, world-changing prophecy.
I loved the world of Dune. There are the Bene Gesserit: women trained to uncover lies through a deep understanding of human behaviour, and who are able to control others with just their voices. Paul has been trained in Bene Gesserit wisdom, as well as in the niceties of battle by some of the galaxy’s greatest warriors. So much of what happens takes place on an unspoken level: characters pick up the subtlest cues from each other, and all sorts of negotiations and manipulations happen without anyone uttering a word.
I also adored the sandworms. Known by the indigenous (and totally badass) Fremen population – with whom Paul later falls in – as ‘makers’, they are somehow behind the valuable spice that Arrakis is renowned for, and can consume entire spice-mining machines in one swallow. You can also ride them, if you so wish.
As I type I realise how useless it is for me to try to sum up all the ecology, politics and action that take place in this book. Just trust me, it’s fantastic and absorbing and you’ll love it. I certainly do! I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
If you liked my review, why not read the book and let me know what you think?
Read my review of the sequel, Dune Messiah, here.