Dune: Frank Herbert
Reviewed By Justin M. Woodward
It’s hard to imagine a world without DUNE, yet somehow I’ve only just now completed the first novel, despite having tried a couple of times before. The first time I attempted to read the book, I was far too young, and just didn’t have the motivation to continue. After all, it’s a hefty sci-fi fantasy book (some versions close to 900 pages) full of commentary on politics, religion, and even ecology. Sure, it has massive worms and a strange, trippy drug-like substance simply referred to as the spice. It has battles, deception, murder, and even a fun messiah trope turned on its head. But what DUNE excels at more than anything, is the deep, thoughtful philosophy that can be found between the moments of excitement. It’s the human interaction, the characters, and the never-ending plans within plans that keep you coming back.
Why is it hard to imagine a world without this book? Well, it’s not exactly a secret at this point, but the influence of DUNE has spread far and wide in our pop-culture-obsessed world, and you don’t need to look far. Full lists can be found online, with the most obvious and egregious example being none other than Star Wars, which likely would not exist at all without DUNE. Other examples of works of fiction inspired by DUNE include: Game of Thrones, The Wheel of Time, Avatar, Tremors, Beetlejuice, and even the design of the Xenomorph in Alien (which was originally going to be used in Jodorowsky’s Dune – a film which ended up never getting made) just to name a few.
But does that make it a good book? Well, no, not in and of itself. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, it took me several attempts to get into the world of DUNE. One of those attempts was the Audible version – which I can’t recommend unless you’ve already read the book. One of the biggest problems with new readers is that you feel as if you’ve been placed into a completely foreign world with no context whatsoever as to what’s going on, who anybody is, or even what certain words mean. Once you learn to ‘just go with it’ your experience becomes so much better. I actually used a companion podcast called Reading Dune which helped a ton in understanding the world.
I have to say, I’m kind of ashamed at myself for giving up on this book in the past. I guess I realized where this review was going about halfway through reading the first book, which, incidentally is around where the new film stops. At that time, I’d already purchased the entire series in matching paperbacks (even going as far as ordering some of the books Frank Herbert’s son, Brian has written with the help of Kevin J. Anderson). I believe it’s a good sign any time you HAVE to have the rest of the series.
So what do I have to say about DUNE? A lot, but that wouldn’t be any fun for you. If it seems like something that would appeal to you, I’d say dive right in. The less you know at the beginning, the better.
I will be continuing the DUNE series by next reading book 2, DUNE: MESSIAH, and as always, the Kendall Reviews family will be the first to hear my thoughts.
“Praise Shai-Hulud. May his passing cleanse the world.”
Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender’s Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune, one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.
Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis.
Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.
When stewardship of Arrakis is transferred to his house, Paul Atreides must travel to the planet’s dangerous surface to ensure the future of his family and his people. But as malevolent forces explode into conflict around him, Paul is thrust into a great destiny beyond his understanding.
And in this game of power, only those who can conquer their fear will survive.
Justin M. Woodward
Justin M. Woodward is a dark fiction author from Headland, Alabama. He has released several books and has appeared in anthologies alongside names like King and Gaiman.
You can follow Justin on Twitter @justinmwoodward