Book: Dune

Author: Frank Herbert

Publisher: Ace, republished in 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0441172719

ISBN-10: 0441172717

Related website: http://www.penguin.com (publisher)

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Older teens and adults

Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

Herbert, Frank.  Dune (published in 1965 by Chilton; republished in 1990 by Ace Books, an imprint of The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group USA Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY  10014).  In the 72nd year of the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, fifteen year old Paul Atreides lives with his father, Duke Leto, and mother, the Duke’s consort Jessica, on the planet Caladan.  The Emperor orders Leto to take over the desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune, from Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and the Baron’s nephews Glossu Rabban and Feyd-Rautha.  Arrakis is the sole source of a vital resource in the empire known as mélange or “the spice,” which is sold by the powerful CHOAM Company and transported by the Space Guild.   Among the great houses of the Landsraad, the Atreides and Harkonnens have been enemies for years.  However, it is all part of a plot between Shaddam and Harkonnen to kill Leto and destroy his family.  After the Duke is murdered, Jessica and Paul, though presumed dead in a sand storm, escape and join an oppressed people on Dune known as the Fremen who, because of some special powers in which Paul, who takes the name Muad’Dib, has been trained, accept him as Lisan al-Gaib their messianic leader.  What will happen to Paul and Jessica?

Set more than 21,000 years in the future, Dune won the first Nebula Award and shared the Hugo Award.  As to language, the “d” and “h” words are found frequently, the term “a**” is used of a person’s rear end, someone is called “lizard turd,” a little bawdy humor occurs, and there are some oblique references to sex but nothing  openly vulgar or obscene.  Concubines are mentioned several times.  Jessica is the Duke’s concubine and only woman though they have never officially married.  Paul keeps his Fremen wife as a concubine and his only woman though he officially marries the Emperor’s daughter.  The Baron is definitely portrayed as a homosexual, although the LGBT crowd has complained that the book’s only portrayal of a homosexual character, the vile pervert Baron Harkonnen, is negative.  According to the Afterword, Dune is a modern-day conglomeration of familiar myths, has words and names from many tongues, and is based on themes found in a variety of religious faiths.  I noticed concepts drawn from Islam, Judaism, and even Christianity.  Early in his newspaper career, Herbert was introduced to Zen by two Jungian psychologists, and throughout the Dune series Herbert employs concepts and forms borrowed from Zen Buddhism.  In spite of these things about the book that I didn’t really care for, I generally enjoyed the story.

Dune was published in 1965.  The original Star Wars came out in 1977.  Was George Lucas influenced by Frank Herbert?  Besides their mutual interest in Buddhism, both stories have an evil emperor, his evil henchman, and a young hero who ends up being related to the evil henchman, plus the Jedi-like Bene Gesserit with special powers and the Imperial storm troopers known as the Sardaukar.   The book was the basis for a David Lynch 1984 feature film and a six-hour miniseries on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2000.  Herbert wrote five sequels of the Dune saga: Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune.  A series of followups, including prequels and sequels, that were co-written by Kevin J. Anderson and the author’s son, Brian Herbert, started in 1999.  A trilogy of Dune prequel novels called the Prelude to Dune series: House Atreides (1999), Dune: House Harkonnen (2000), and Dune: House Corrino (2001), was followed by a second prequel trilogy called the Legends of Dune, consisting of Dune: The Butlerian Jihad (2002), Dune: The Machine Crusade (2003), and Dune: The Battle of Corrin (2004). After publishing their six prequel novels, Brian Herbert and Anderson released the Dune 7 project with Hunters of Dune (2006) and Sandworms of Dune (2007), which complete the chronological progression of the original series.  Next, they release a series of novels called Heroes of Dune focusing on the time periods between Frank Herbert’s original novels: Paul of Dune (2008) and The Winds of Dune (2009); the next two installments were to be called The Throne of Dune and Leto of Dune (possibly changing to The Golden Path of Dune).  In a 2010 blog post, Anderson announced that the planned final novels of the Heroes of Dune series had been postponed due to plans to publish another trilogy: Sisterhood of Dune (2012) and Mentats of Dune (2014). In an interview Anderson stated that the third and final novel would be titled The Swordmasters of Dune.

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