I finally read Dune by Frank Herbert as part of the ReadDune read-along which was hosted by Jacob over at redstarreviews. This was my first buddy read so I splurged on the Folio Society edition. For those unfamiliar with Dune, you can find the synopsis from goodreads HERE.
How to describe Dune?
For those who like comparisons, I might be able to say that Dune is similar to A Song of Ice and Fire with its plots, machinations and intrigue.
“Before Star Wars, before A Game of Thrones, Frank Herbert brought to blazing life a feudalistic future of relentless political intrigue and insidious treachery, a grandly operatic vision.” -introduction by Michael Dirda
Between a rock and a hard place
The situation of the Atreides family and how it unfolded surprised me even with a lot of information beforehand. The Atreides’ have no choice but to go to relocate to the planet Arrakis, or also known as Dune, knowing that certain death might await them. The Duke is aware of the political machinations that have resulted in this relocation and that his enemies are lurking to attack. His options are to either run away from it all and become hunted by the Empire or face the problem head on. The Duke and his officers suspect a traitor among them and which is revealed early on in the book.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Even while knowing that who will betray the Atreides’, it’s compelling to watch everything unfold; From knowing his reasons for the betrayal, his role in the attack against the Atreides’ to his ultimate fate. There came a point where his fate was one I suspected and while his role as a traitor might cause some readers to hate him, I couldn’t help but sympathize with him on some level. While he does all of this willingly, he doesn’t like it and a part of him feel some guilt over his actions.
A no-nonsense young adult character
Very frequently I tend to not like young adult characters. They tend to be whiny, prone to irrational decisions and just plain stupid. Paul is the complete opposite of this. While he is a particularly serious main character (it feels like he’s a kid who never learned to smile or laugh), what makes me like him is how logical and calculating he is in everything he does. His training, his skills and, further in the book, his prescient abilities make him formidable in every way. I really like how the author describes Paul’s ability to foresee the future.
And what he saw was a time nexus within this cave, a boiling of possibilities focused here, wherein the most minute action- the wink of an eye, a careless word, a misplaced grain of sand-moved a giant lever across the known universe.
“A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it.”
Intriguing ensemble of characters
Kynes, the leader of the Fremen, was a character I thought had a lot of potential. He felt like a good, solid character I would’ve liked more. His fate along with Shadout Mapes’ was one I didn’t expect. Mapes was one character with a bit of quirk to her which I liked and I also thought she had a lot of potential as a character as well.
Out of a great ensemble of characters, one who stands out for me is Jessica. For me, it’s been rare to find a strong, formidable female character like hers. Like Paul, she is ruled by logic it seems but a lot of what she does also stems from the love she has for the Duke and her son. She wants to protect Paul and in doing so helps in his training. Paul later resents her for the things she’s done, molding him into what he’s become. While the resentment may be justified in some way, on the other hand, Jessica is also the product of years of training herself and is preparing her son to face the challenges that lie ahead the best way she knows how. In Michael Dirda’s introduction he notes, “the book’s characters, action, and concerns still resonate in the twenty-first century. Its women are as tough, capable and self-reliant as its men…”
She was suddenly very conscious of the crysknife in its sheath on her leg…tested the drop of it. Once more, she glanced around the room, placing everything precisely in her mind against any emergency…And she prepared herself in the Bene Gesserit fashion for the wait, accumulating patience, saving her strength.
From Baron Harkonnen to the Bene Gesserit, the political intrigue and manipulation in Dune is something that few books can rival. The Missionaria Protectiva was one thing I thought was genius and devious. From what I understood, the BG implanted prophecies regarding themselves that the natives hold with reverence. The purpose behind this: should any BG find themselves on the planet, they would find the Fremen culture as possible allies.
“While there are numerous surprises in Dune…there is no humor at all. For all its excitement and vitality, the novel is pervaded with a tragic sense of life.” -introduction by Michael Dirda
I still feel that I haven’t fully grasped this book and everything it entails or that I might be interpreting things the wrong way. A reread sometime in the future will most definitely be needed. It was fun to see other people’s point of view while I took part in this buddy read. I’m only really skimming through parts of it. There’s is still more to Dune.
Still wondering whether I should continue with the series since I’ve heard that the rest pale in comparison to the first book. We shall see!
Any thoughts on Dune? Have you read it or are planning to?
What do you think about this edition? Is it worth the $135 dollar price tag? For me it was!