A book that masterfully exposes your religious and political sensibilities.
I read this book for the first time about 19 years ago and read it again 3 years show. It never lost its luster for me and it’s hands down the most influential sci-fi book I read in my life.
I had the chance in this life to live through communism and capitalism. No form of social organization is perfect. I’m critical of both, especially communism. I also don’t think that we can reach utopia. There’s a dystopia in each utopia. We should work towards a healthy worldview that is not destructive and exploitative of the world around us and other beings including human beings.
One of the biggest lessons from Dune is that if you exploit and push people to such extremes they will have no choice but to fight back. Sometimes that fight can take the shape of a holly war. Extremes lead to extremes. I love it that Frank Herbert left it open for everyone to extract their own conclusions.
I always get a laugh when some studio tries to make a Dune Movie.
It's not a traditional story, like you said, it's more of a history.
I read something different into it. What I got out of it was that no matter how powerful you are, there's always some speck of (spice) dust that can stop you dead in your tracks.
I still use the “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.” quote from time to time.
Good review. The book itself follows a typical narrative pattern or archetypal story structure commonly found in myths, legends, and heroic tales, which is known as "The Hero's Journey." This concept was popularized by the American mythologist Joseph Campbell in his book "The Hero with a Thousand Faces."
Additionally, the book draws inspiration from Islamic themes and imagery from the Islamic world and the Middle East. Frank Herbert incorporates Middle Eastern languages, particularly Arabic, throughout his novels. It's worth noting that the term "Mahdi" (The Guided One) refers to al-lmam al-Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad, a Sudanese rebellion leader from the 19th century.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahdist_War Nevertheless, it's a great book.
It's been years since I read the Dune books - I had all of them at one point but made the mistake of lending a couple and never got them back. The thing that still sticks with me years later is both the hugeness of the time span covered and the 'messiness' of the people and agenda and events involved. I never looked for a purpose or a message in those books, but you learn something different about the complexity of humanity with every read. Awesome writing.
One of my only regrets about Dune is that I cannot read it for the first time again, and the second regret was not reading it as soon as I got my first copy as a gift, all those years ago.
I enjoyed this reminder about what readers bring to a story, and how they read in-between the lines, interpret, and take meaning from those lines. One of the unexpected takeaways was a reminder about human nature's constancy. Regardless of the environment or systems created, destroyed, and recreated, even with the transformation of a person or a world into more, there are trade-offs.
I started Dune once back in college and didn't finish; I really need to get going on it again, as I do have the whole set now. I take his point about the dangers of the superhero, although that's awkward for me since my primary genre is superhero fic, except for the angel stories. Hm.
I started reading Dune about 8 years ago and stopped at around the time of Paul and Jessica's flight to the desert. Maybe perhaps because I didn't like the chronicling nature of the story (although I did love the chapter epigraphs and use them in my own books).
Going into the movie 2 years ago, I thought "at least I will get to see the rest of the story," not realizing that Part 1 meant they would stop just a bit farther than I got when reading. Those expectations aside, I enjoyed it more than reading the book.
This reminds me I ought to reread Dune. I had intended on reading the first three books but got sidetracked (so it goes when I have a million books on my TBR...) But the first book is phenomenal, and your review is spot-on.
Also, there was a Dune game, came out in the early 2000s. It was terrible. I think there were others that were less bad, but that game in particular was no good. I don't even remember the name of it.
I first read the original Dune in the mid 1970s and loved it. I have read it several times since. I still love it, but not quite as much as the first time I read it.
That’s a great, in-depth review. I was unfamiliar with those quotes from Herbert. I have yet to read the follow up books to Dune, but that will happen. The audiobook version of Dune is an excellent production.
I appreciate that you list off the parts you didn't like in a way where I could go 'that sounds perfect for me.' A lot of this reminds me of Lord of the Rings in the framing as a history and the dangers of power. Should read Dune sometime.
With my own setting I've engaged with similar themes, in particular with the dragons. Complete with one of them rejecting suggestions of becoming padishah because he thinks having an immortal monarch is inherently dangerous.