DUNE by Frank Herbert – Book Thoughts

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.

Frank Herbert, DUNE

With all the Classics that I’ve read lately, with the exception of Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury or Kurt Vonnegut, I found that the writing style is quite verbose and hard to follow. However, with all the Classics, once you’ve made the effort to read through the tome and navigate the language, you find that you have experienced something valuable. As a reader, you feel the depth and the immense vision all these writers had. How progressive they were, even during their time.

It is difficult to read J.R.R Tolkein, Frank Herbert, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy. But oh my gosh, all the unabridged classics Ive read so far, have felt so good once I read them.

Dune is the first book in the 5 part epic sci-fi series written by Frank Herbert first published in 1965. I bought this beautiful edition of the book and read it to be on time for the second movie adaptation starring Timothee Chalamet. The book is 600 pages long, and this edition also has a foreword by his son and lots of Appendices.

Thoughts on Dune, the first book:

1. The plot is expected. In fact, right at the beginning you know what is going to happen in the end. The rest of the story is about the journey and the world building and introducing the readers to the world of Dune and how Muad’dib comes to power.

2. The world building though, oh my gosh. I cant imagine the vision of Frank Herbert, and how he thought of such a rich world in 1965. He has covered it all so deftly in the first book itself – the ecology of Dune, the philosophy and religions, the trade and commerce of Arrakis along with other planets that form a part of the Guild (us Earthlings are a part of that too..heheh), of the political structure, I mean, I was simply mindblown by the world building 🙂

When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.

Frank Herbert, DUNE

3. I was also blown over with the philosophy of the book. The mind as a source of extreme power is key to this story. All through the book, the author hints at the power of the mind, in controlling oneself and in controlling others. You wonder, whether there is truly some magic that is at play, or is it years of training and selective genetics that has created the leaders and their supernatural abilities. You wonder, if the prophecy created Muad’dib, or did Muad’dib use the prophecy and religious beliefs of the Fremen and the Bene Gesserit to further his accession to power.

There should be a science of discontent. People need hard times to develop psychic muscles. — Muad’Dib

Frank Herbert, DUNE

4. Now coming to the characters – I think for me, this is where the first book fell short of my expectations as a reader. I’ve read some very good fiction and for me, the depth of a character and their character arc is very important. However, except for Lady Jessica, Stilgar, and the cruel Baron, I found most of the other cast unimpressive and almost flat. The worst disappointment was the main protagonist – Paul Muad’dib. I couldn’t feel anything for him throughout the book. He felt cold like the night dessert and completely devoid of any emotions. I couldn’t understand any of his feelings and to me, he felt even more cruel and calculating than the evil Baron. I hope they do a better job in the movie. Maybe the later books do justice to his character, but I don’t know if I’ll be reading the other books in the series.

5. There is zero romance in the book and the depiction of women and their role is close to none or mostly negative and inconsequential. Probably expected from the patriarchal society and mindset of that time. Chani is shown as Paul’s soulmate, but oh gosh, their relationship feels stripped down to ‘the mother of my first born’..gahhhh. And Lady Jessica, although powerful, kind and intelligent is shown in quiet a negative light throughout the book – as a conniving witch. 

I’m not sure if Ill be reading the rest of the books in the series. It seems like a huge commitment. Or maybe I’ll just read one book a year – like a five year plan LOL..:)

Bookish Discussion:

Have you read the book Dune or the entire series? What were your thoughts? Who was your favourite character?

The mystery of life isn’t a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.

Frank Herbert, DUNE

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