Sunday, 21 November 2021


Author: Frank Herbert
eBook Publisher: Gateway
eBook Date: Dec 2010
First Published: 1965
Pages: 592
Cover Art: Bruce Pennington

After including Dune in my list of favourite books of all time back in August, I knew I was going to have to give it a re-read. So, hot on the heels of a visit to the cinema to see the new adaptation by Denis Villeneuve (I was very impressed), I was even more keen to get stuck in. 

My overall concern with a re-read was that my first impression of the book, read as a young man in the late seventies/early eighties, might have been clouded by nostalgia. Sometimes the books you read as a young person, and are mightily impressed with at the time, don't necessarily have the same impact when visited as a more mature reader. The antagonist of Dune, Paul Atreides, is a 15 year old boy - probably the same age as myself when I first encountered it. Would that fact have had a major influence on my regard for the story? I vividly recall holding the paperback by NEL, with the classic Pennington cover, in my hands and devouring it at every opportunity - it was the biggest book I'd ever read at the time. I still remember seeing it in the bookshop, the thick blue spine looked so different next to all the other thinner science fiction novels on the same shelf. It 'felt' good to hold; it looked cool and it didn't have numbered chapters.

Unless you've been living under a stone (or alone in the desert) for the last 50 years, you'll know the general story of Dune. A family by ther name of House Atreides is tasked by ruling Emporer Padishah Shaddam IV with taking over the control of the planet Arrakis. The Royal decree also demands that Duke Leto and his family maintain the production of Arrakis's major export, the spice named Melange. Melange is a powerful drug that allows humans to attain amazing feats with just the power of their minds. One of these feats is the action of folding space across the vast exapnse of the universe, thus allowing interstellar flight between planets and systems - a momentous achievement that has literally brought about the forming of the human Imperium.

Leto is unable to refuse the request of the Emperor, but he and his advisors know that this is a doomed venture. They have been sent to an inhospitable planet entirely covered by a vast desert. The inhabitants of Arrakis are the native Fremen, a reclusive and secretive nation of wandering tribes who are able to survive on incredibly restricitve diets and very little water, whilst also hiding the true size and complexity of thier communities from thier foreign oppressors in the depths of the oceans of sand on thier planet.