Dune by Frank Herbert – Book Review

Title: Dune
Author: Frank Herbert
Release Year: June 1, 2006 (first published in 1965)
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Series: Dune Chronicles # 1

When I first watched the three-part Frank Herbert’s Dune (2010) miniseries on television, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. The miniseries is different from the 1984 full-length film directed by David Lynch. The video posted above is an extended introduction to the 1984 film, as narrated by Princess Irulan (Virginia Madsen). I’m not sure if I watched Lynch’s film as well, but I have a feeling scenes from the miniseries and the film are just jumbled up in my head.

Anyway, the sand worms in the live-action adaptations of the novel just blew me away, and I really wanted those blue eyes. There was so much action and adventure. For me, watching Dune was also a significant aha moment when I realized how much I enjoyed science-fiction.

“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.” – Frank Herbert, Dune

Reading Dune was a very different yet equally amazing experience. The action was still there, but there was more politics. More schemes, behind schemes, behind other schemes. And betrayal, after betrayal, after betrayal. If found the movie versus book experience very similar to that of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, where the book is filled with depth and lore that was slightly watered down and action-hyped for the movie-going public.

“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.” – Frank Herbert, Dune

The seeming omniscience of Paul Atredis, especially when he becomes Muad’Dib was something that really bothered me throughout the novel. It’s not that he kind of knows whats about to happen, but it’s vague. It’s also not that he sees branching paths of possibility, but has to choose one of them. It’s that he knows exactly what is going to happen, he doesn’t want it to happen, he knows how it will happen, but he does nothing to prevent it from happening.

“The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.” – Frank Herbert, Dune

I mean, what a loser! Why in the world am I reading about your internal struggles, when you don’t plan to anything about it anyway? But I appreciated the tension within him. That he was a human being who had the god-like ability to see the future. That he was a man who possessed powers stronger than any female Bene Gesserit witch in history. That he was bred to fulfill a prophesy against his knowledge and will. His internal struggles alone is a great story in itself.

This novel is a complex mix of many themes: government politics, gender politics, colonialism, myth-making, religion, the nature of power, and the power of nature. It delves into the power of prophets and religious figures, who can inspire followers to do great and seemingly impossible feats.  Paul Atredis as Muad’Dib is clearly the ‘Holy Man’ in Frank Herbert’s novel, and it is this future bloody Jihad he sees himself leading that Paul greatly fears.

“When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.” – Frank Herbert, Dune

I find Dune a massively enriching and gratifying sci-fi novel, and I think it’s a must-read for anyone interested in reading the best of science fiction literature, then and now.

Coffee Bean and Tea Reads Rating:


5 Beans out of 5
5 Beans out of 5

2 thoughts on “Dune by Frank Herbert – Book Review”

  1. Fantastic review… I’ve read a heap of science-fiction but I’ve never read the Dune novel because I saw the David Lynch movie… you’ve piqued my interest now! Think I’m gonna go and track ‘er down!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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