Book: Dune

Author: Frank Herbert

Rating: 3

Dune-Frank Herbert

Duke Leto Atreides, lord of a noble ruling house is commanded by the Emperor to go and take command of the planet Arrakis hitherto under the House of Harkonnen, bitter rivals of Atreides. The planet turns out to be a trap and Leto and most of his noble house and followers are taken by surprise, defeated and murdered. However, his wife and son escape the slaughter and are presumed to be dead. The planet Arrakis is dry beyond imagining and is populated by a race that has adapted itself to these conditions where even a mouthful of water is worth as much as a human life. It is a haven for melange, the precious spice that endows the eater with the power of predicting the course of space-time. Jessica, the Duchess Atreides is a Bene Gesserit who are a mystical sisterhood who take decisions controlling the fate and future of the millions of inhabitants scattered across the planets of the Empire. Her son, Paul, is the Kwisatz Haderach, the one male with the power of the Bene Gesserit and the power of complete prophecy. Paul rises through the ranks of the Fremen and becomes feared and respected, first as a warrior and ultimately as their messiah. Led by Paul, the Fremen become a formidable force, an army with which Paul can at last take revenge on the Harkonnen and unravel the Imperial hand behind the destruction of his family. However the universe is on the brink of a massive war, one that even Paul knows he could be powerless to prevent...

Social/Historical context:

Dune is set 21000 years into the future and is the author's take on an alternative future. In this, the Empire is ruled by an Emperor and his vassals, are the noble Houses from their home planets, each administering a planet according to need. The CHOAM guild serves as a source of trade and transport between the planets and keeps revenue flowing into the imperial coffers. Dune is the name given to the planet Arrakis, the setting for almost all of the events in the book. It is an inhospitable planet containing little water and populated by gigantic sandworms who create the spice that is so essential for the Imperial economy.

Writing Style:

The book is written in the third person, with the point of view shifting to each of the key characters in turn. The book is often slow and over-detailed in parts and portions tend to drag. However the concepts and their execution is mostly extremely gripping and the reader is drawn easily and seamlessly into the narrative.

My Thoughts:

A very fresh perspective on the well worn science fiction genre. The geo-political situations depicted are highly extrapolative and yet extremely believable. The plots and intrigues are harshly real and sharply sketched and keep the reader rooted in the reality of it. It is an excellent change from the run-of-the-mill 'what if' worlds that most science fiction tends to be.

Book Reviewed By Sayan Mukherjee

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