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Sci-Fi Fantasy

Dune By Frank Herbert

(Dune-was the first novel to win the Nebula Award (1965) and also shared the Hugo Award the following year (1966)

Sand DunesDune is an epic sci-fi fiction book of immense power and scale. I don’t know whether I can do it justice here but I’ll have a go.

The book is about a Royal Family of the House Atreides which has been forced into moving from their home planet on Caladan to take up the rule of Arrakis. Caladan is a planet similar to Earth with oceans, seas and abundant greenery. Arrakis or Dune is a barren planet where water is so scarce it has become a currency among it’s native people.

The family is made up of the Duke Leto, his partner the Lady Jessica, a Bene Gesserit Witch, and their son Paul. They fear they are walking into a trap set by their deadly enemies the Harkonnens. The family is supported by a small group of faithful retainers.

Arrakis is important for one thing only, the spice, melange a powerful drug upon which the universe is dependant. Melange is only found on this Arrakis.

So the scene is set, the power of the novel is in the way Frank Herbert weaves the characters in and out of the plot.

Into this weave comes some very powerful forces:-

Shaddam IV, the ruler of the Imperium who works to maintain his hold over the Landsraad, a consortium of the Great Houses of which House Atreides is one of the strongest.

The Bene Gesserit order of women, referred to as witches because of their almost supernatural powers, are admired and feared by many. They hide their true purpose in life which is the selective breeding of pure bloodlines. To separate humans from animals.

The Mentats who are trained in pure logic to an nth degree, advise the leaders on tactics devoid osentiment.

Sand DunesThe mysterious Spacing Guild whose minds fold space and control the monopoly on trade and travel and last but not least the Fremen, natives of Dune, an entire culture trained to military order.

So the House Atreides arrives on Arrakis knowing it’s walking into a trap. The trap falls despite the Duke’s best defences and it’s left to the young Paul and the Lady Jessica to take the House into exile and throw them onto the mercy of the Fremen Dune is a very political novel and seeks to explore the myth of the Messiah.

Needless to say the Young Paul Atreides, groomed by his mother in the Bene Gesserit ways, falls into the role of Messiah in the ancient prophecies of the Fremen.

I really enjoyed this epic event. From the simple tale of a boy avenging the death of his father to the complex twisting of a universe dependant on spice. Each element in the story is beautifully crafted and very plausible. The role of Jessica is nearly as important as Paul’s and gives immense depth to the Fremen culture. Although the ending is quite weak it leads the the way for many sequels.

By The Hermit

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