My thoughts exactly...
If you like science fiction tied into a fantastical story of family, and the balance of politics and religion, look no further than Frank Herbert’s Dune. This epic novel covers every area of interest a reader could want. From warring houses of power, love, devious schemes, and self-discovery, all tied together with a string of words so eloquent that a reader can’t help but envision the story in their imagination as vividly as if it were playing out in front of them, this is a must-read book.
At almost 800 pages, it seems like a daunting undertaking, but reading this felt as if time had frozen in place each time that I picked it up. I was ready to delve into this world of twists, turns, and heart-wrenching adventure that had my mind and heart rate elevated with every page I turned. With five additional books to further the plot, Dune is a masterpiece that will hold the reader for chapters on end.
For more of a dive into specifics for those who have read the book, please scroll down to the 🚨 Spoilers 🚨 section to discuss the spice-y details. Plus, don't forget to leave your own review below to tell us your thoughts!
Trigger Warnings and Ratings
While we all love reading books, sometimes they can have some themes and topics that may not be appropriate for everyone. To help figure out if this book is suitable for you, please first take a look at the warnings we have included and choose if this book is right for you!
Dune is considered readable for ages 12+. The book includes heavy themes such as violence, death, sex, and physical assault, so please read the below trigger warnings before choosing if it is the right book for a younger person to read.
Dune contains a lot of heavy themes that may not be suitable for all ages, and may be triggering to readers. To help our fans decide if this book is right for them, we have included this trigger warning list as there are topics that readers may find disturbing.
- Animal death
- Child abuse
- Gun violence
- Sexual assault
🚨 SPOILERS 🚨
Read ahead if you dare, there may be spoilers or sandworms...
Last chance to turn back now
Remember, move with the sounds of the desert... But here we'll get in to the nitty gritty. With so many topics to touch on, I've given you the option to read my thoughts on the characters and a few choice topics of the book separately, in case it's a lot to SIFT through.. ha.. because sand...
The Members of House Atreides
Leader of House Atreides, Mentat, The Messiah, The Prophet, Muad'Dib, Kwisatz Haderach, Emperor, Usul
The enigma himself, Paul Muad'Dib. His journey of self-exploration and understanding is vivid, dangerous, enthralling, and heartbreaking. While it's fun to see the evolution and growth of Paul throughout the story, it quickly goes from anticipation of abilities and cool tricks to constant heart-attack inducing split second decisions and actions. We all love to see a character have great power and wield it, but with such tragedy and heartbreak strewn about at every turn, like the death of his family and friends (specifically of his young child), it's like watching a teeter-totter try and balance the weight of existence during constant debauchery.
Sihaya, Concubine of Muad'Dib, Daughter of Liet-Kynes
A fierce warrior, mastering both Fremen and Bene Gesserit war tactics, she is a force to be reckoned with. She is Paul's chosen partner AND the daughter of a brilliant scientist, with an exceptional understanding of many cultures. Her blended origins provided the perfect bridge between worlds, helping Paul grow and evolve into his full potential. Mastering the Weirding Way as well as the Fremen ways of the desert, I wouldn't want to get in a fight against her. She proves to be an immovable pillar of mental and metaphysical strength as she guides Paul through becoming Muad'Dib, helping him through his spice trance, drinking the Water of Life, planning against the Imperial throne, and even the birth and death of their son Leto. Even though her and Jessica butt heads a lot, the two ladies share the traits of extreme fortitude in the face of seemingly endless perils, as well as a deep love and understanding for Muad'Dib. Chani seems to be a woman of few words, yet to me she is one of the strongest characters we see in Dune.
Bene Gesserit Witch, Reverend Mother, Sayyadina, Mother of Muad'Dib, Lady of House Atreides, Natura-born Daughter of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen., etc.
Well, we start off the book with her letting an old lady subject her son to the pain and trauma of classic Bene Gesserit ways. We slowly see her betrayal of the BG, like in choosing to have a male heir. When I found out that the Bene Gesserit can CHOOSE the gender of their child I was intrigued, and yet it was only scratching the surface of their powers, like the demanding Voice... What wild notions to have such abilities. I personally love Jessica's resolve; she is able to be a demanding presence or completely unassuming when needed. Her complete awareness of situations and her ability to navigate even the toughest situations prove how well she was suited to raise Muad'Dib. Her inner strength and drive is a force to be reckoned with, as she constantly remembers that "fear is the mind killer".
Leader of House Atreides, Father of Paul Muad'dib, RIP
Being the father of a Messiah must be hard work, especially when the world is already set against you. For a man of such power and wisdom, he's gentle and careful with Paul, as well as completely understanding and devoted to Jessica. Though it's unfortunate to see a character as great as him get killed off so early, we all know that the impact of this is what sparks Paul's full ascension to Messiah-dom. I wish we could have seen more moments of Leto and Paul, or Leto and Jessica together, but his death truly sets the turning point for action.
Lady Alia Atreides
Post-humous Daughter of Leto, Sister of Muad'Dib, Accursed One, St, Alia, St. Alia-of-the-Knife
Not only is she born after her father is murdered/commits suicide in a twisted murder attempt and her brother ascends to God status, but she's also exposed to a mind altering poison IN THE WOMB that essentially makes her an adult in a baby's body. OOF. Childhood trauma at it's finest. Throughout all of this, I find her character to be a wonderful addition in terms of being a great element of surprise. She is not only a being wise WAY beyond not even her years, but those around her, but is also capitalizing on her outward appearance to be unassuming, a skill she mirrors from her mother.
The Fremen and the Desert
The Fremen seem to be underdogs but are really just the champions of the desert, spice, worms, and survival. The combination of their beliefs and formidable perseverance in the desert created the perfect setting for Paul to join and create a storm that the Imperium could not weather. I loved how Jessica's Bene Gesserit training overlapped with the beliefs of the Fremen, allowing them the exact leverage they needed to gain trust and help in their moment of need. But, poor Jamis, how was he supposed to know that this little punk from Caladan and his Bene Gesserit mother were so well-trained in combat that his strong, Fremen combat skills would NOT be enough to keep his life? I mean, two outsiders have somehow survived the desert and made it to one of their hideouts. Surely he could win, right? Alas, he gives his life in dying by combat and becoming Muad'Dib's first kill, triggering one of my favorite parts of the book: the moment Jessica and Stilgar harshly address Paul to keep his head cool after the deadly match, and granting Paul his Sietch name, Usul.
We can't forget the worm riding. What an exhilarating rite of passage. I'd say it's way better (and more terrifying) than getting a learners license.
Plus, that's not to mention Spice trances and the Water of Life taking hallucinogenics to a whole new level. The fact that the Water of Life can carry the memories and experiences of past Reverend Mothers to the next is insane, and brings a whole new meaning to generational trauma. Personally, I wouldn't want the voices of anyone else in my head, but the wisdom it brings to each mother, and Alia, is truly priceless.
The stillsuits are also a brilliant invention, yet I still cringe at the idea of recycled sweat and all being the sustenance for each wearer... It's giving me Bear Grylls vibes, but make it sci-fi.
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is one of the craziest antagonists I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. Not only is he cruel, vile, and vicious, but his lineage is crucial to the creation of the Kwisatz Haderach, Paul Atreides. The fact that we go so long into the book without knowing that he is Jessica's father, aka Paul's grandpa, is WILD. His own offspring are his sworn enemies (yet it is unbeknownst to most parties) as well as the cause of his demise, as his granddaughter Alia is the one who Gom-Jabbar's him to death. I usually find that I can put together some of the puzzle pieces earlier on, but I did NOT have "Baron Harkonnen is Grandpa" on my bingo card... It's giving some "I am your (Grand) father" vibes.
Feyd-Rautha is that cousin that you love to hate and have that non-sibling, sibling rivalry with. It's like fighting-to-the-death-over-the-throne kind of rivalry. Or just who sits at the kid's table at Christmas. Same thing right?
Compare and Contrast
I found that Herbert's use of parallel characters to contrast different elements of warfare skills to be masterful. Each side had their own form of building strength through fighting, religion, and intelligence. In personifying these elements through dynamic characters, Herbert explores the difference in how these skills either combat or assist each other. Paul's eventual victory is the result of all three elements being mastered and used in harmony, as by the end we see him as not only a religious symbol (Muad'Dib/ Kwisatz Haderach), but as a legendary combatant (Usul) and a Mentat.
I found the contrasts between a few pairs of characters to be particularly striking and fun to compare: Peter De Vries and Count Fenring compared to Dr. Yueh and Thufir Hawat; The Sardaukar and Rabban compared to Gurney, Duncan, and Stilgar; and R.M. Gaius Helen Mohaim compared to Jessica, Chani, and Alia. The difference between these groups show how love and devotion can carry and guide a person through the hardest of situations.
The Mentats: Peter De Vries, Thufir Hawat
Peter De Vries is a dark representation of human intelligence lacking ethics. His mental strength and capabilities are unreal, yet he has no boundaries when it comes to using his brainpower to hurt others in the name of his cause. This makes him not only unhinged, but terrifyingly dangerous, as he is willing to continuously torture people to get what the Baron wants. Through the continued use of a twisted Mentat, we see a glimpse in to the dark recesses of the mind of the Baron and how he relies on dark methods to do his bidding.
On the other hand, we see the extreme resilience of Thufir Hawat in his complete devotion to the Atreides. Not only does he have the capacity to see the potential for dangers all around and calculate the best plan of action for safety, he also has the fortitude to withstand torture for years to ensure the safety of Paul, including sacrificing himself to save Paul from the poison that he is supposed to use against him.
The idea of a Mentat is a brilliant conception to humanize the mental strength needed for war. By having specialized humans with these abilities instead of computers, Herbert brilliantly brings to life a human element of psychological warfare. Seeing the potential of both good and bad-willed Mentats showcases the power of knowledge being possessed and used to both extremes.
Doctor Wellington Yueh: Suk Doctor, Personal Physician to Duke Leto, Follower of the OC Bible, Traitor?
Best described as a cause of mental whiplash, his story is one of great stress, both mentally and physically. Doctor Wellington Yueh is conditioned as a Suk doctor, yet is mentally imprisoned when his wife is taken and tortured while he is forced to work against the Atreides. Somehow, he is able to find a cunning way to attempt to take the Baron's life, as well as help Paula and Jessica escape, even though he is under extreme duress. His teachings to Paul no doubt helped prepare Paul for the horrors of his journey.
Question: Do these characters with formidable mental capacities remind you of any other well known groups (Maybe Jedi's?)
The Warmasters: Gurney and Duncan, Rabban and the Sardaukar
Gurney Halleck: Warmaster, Baliset Aficionado, Gurney the Valorous
Duncan Idaho: Ginaz Swordsman, Ladies Man, Ambassador to the Fremen, Protector of House Atreides
Gurney Halleck's path through the book had me praising him. Not only was he pivotal in mentoring Paul in the art of war, but also showed a soft side when it came to being a baliset player who could quote the OCB in song or casual conversation. You can't blame him for trying to kill Jessica though. I mean, I spent most of the book thinking she was a traitor too, so I can only imagine his pent up anger. His survival of the attack on Arrakis proves his mental and physical fortitude is something to be revered, and his teachings saved Paul's life in his fight with Jamis. Wise, strong, and a musician, he's basically Arrakis's most eligible bachelor, unless we're counting the late, great Duncan Idaho. I can't say if I mourned the death of Duke Leto or Duncan more, but I can say that his loss was felt for the entire rest of the book. To go out protecting Paul and Jessica, and taking down 19 Sardaukar before being defeated? Epic. If he were to go down with any less of a fight, it wouldn't have been right. His self-sacrifice and combat skills once again saved Paul and Jessica, this time face-to-face instead of through training. All things considered, their open-mindedness and ability to connect is what ultimately saved both of them and the Atreides they so loved, as they handed down their combat skills, as well as adapted to the new situations by learning the Fremen ways. This connection and sense of loyalty reverberates through to all of Paul's actions, as we see most importantly in Paul's fight with Jamis.
Question: Do these men remind you of any highly trained generals or (Galactic) armies?
Saints and Reverends
Religious Icons: Gaius Helen Mohaim, Jessica, Alia, Chani
The Bene Gesserit have many powers rooted in their faith: use of the Voice to get people to do their will, genetic breeding to find the strongest genetic line to produce the closest thing to a God they can manage, the passing down of the personalities and memories of old reverend mother, and the use of mind altering drugs and practices. It's interesting to see the difference of the Bene Gesserit and Fremen beliefs as they both are rooted in the same ideas, yet are practiced in such different ways. While the BG's use genetics and politics to secure their wills, the Fremen use connection and community to strengthen their minds. And though it was the genetic manipulation of the BG's that created Paul, it was Jessica's CHOICE to have a male against the wishes of the BG's, which created the Kiwsatz Haderach of their legend, as well as Muad'Dib of the Fremen lore. This combination of practices created the ultimate weapon and legend of Paul, the exact wish and pitfall of the BG's.
Question: Do the Bene Gesserit remind you of any other sci-fi groups? (I can think of a few Jedi who use a specific voice to get their way...)
I pose these questions to you, Sci-Fi fans:
Is Paul the chosen one? (With a better taste for sand)
How much does Chani have in common with Padme?
Are Gurney, Duncan, Thufir, and Dr Yueh basically Paul's Jedi Masters?
Are the rebels or locals of Tattooine based on the Fremen?
Is Darth Vader basically Baron Harkonnen, once removed?
Read Dune Messiah to answer these burning questions and more:
Will Paul rise above and create peace between the Fremen and the Imperial Throne?
Will Alia become the Accursed One the witches warn about?
Does Chani ever get to be married to Paul?
Paul became the culmination of the best mental, physical, and spiritual teachings of all cultures, the greatest joy and fear for them all. But is that sort of power too much for one man, God or not? I guess you'll have to keep reading the series to find out... Spoiler alert: There is a LOT more sand. Like, a lot, so turn back Ani!
- 4 c. boiling water
- 4 c. cold water
- 6 bags of Tiger Spice tea
*You can swap for Chai, but English Breakfast and Orange Pekoe work as well for a milder flavor!
- 1/4 c. Lemon juice
- 1/2 c. to 1 c. of sweetener, to taste.
*Honey, white/brown/cane sugar, Stevia, syrup, whichever is your go-to!
- Citrus slices
- Mint or Basil
- 1-2oz. Spiced Rum, Vodka, or Amaretto
- Add tea bags to boiled water and steep for 10-15 minutes.
*10 for regular strength, 15 for a little extra punch
- Remove tea bags and stir in sweetener of choice (if desired) to taste
*I prefer 1/2 c. of honey for a smooth flavor
- Once sweetener is dissolved, add cold water and lemon juice and chill in refrigerator
- After an hour, the Spice-d tea is ready to enjoy
*For adults, here is where you can 'spice' it up a little extra with the spirit of your choice. I like Amaretto for a cherry flavor
- Curl up with Dune and enjoy!!
- 2 2/3 c. (350g) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
- 3/4 cup (180g) dark brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup (80g) unsulphured molasses
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
There's a cookie in the oven!
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium sized bowl and set aside
- In a large mixing bowl using a hand or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes or until smooth, light and fluffy
- Scrape down the bowl and add the egg, molasses, and vanilla and mix again on the same speed for another 2-3 minutes. The mixture should be silky, light and creamy
- Pour in half of the dry ingredients and mix on medium-low speed until barely combined. Scrape down the bowl and then pour in the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix again on that same low speed until just combined
- Use a rubber spatula to manually mix together the dough, working in any dry ingredients that may have settled to the bottom of the bowl
- Off to the side, add the sugar and cinnamon to a bowl and mix to combine
- Using a 2 oz. ice cream scoop, or 1/4 measuring cup, scoop out the dough and toss in the cinnamon sugar mixture
- Place about 5 cookies on the large baking sheet, evenly and well spaced apart. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden brown and the center is pale and puffed. The cookies will darken, flatten, and settle as they cool
If the cookies spread a bit too much, use a fork to nudge in the sides right when you pull the cookies from the oven.
- Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for about 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Continue to bake the rest of the cookies and then enjoy!
How many of these fun facts did you know? Did we miss any? Let us know when you submit your review!
Dune is frequently described as the “world’s best-selling science fiction novel”.
Frank Herbert originally published Dune as two separate serials in Analog Magazine.
The author wrote 5 sequels: Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse: Dune.
David Lynch first adapted Dune to film in 1984. The second film adaptation released on October 21, 2021, by director Denis Villeneuve.
The Sci-fi Channel made a Dune mini-series in 2000. They also made a Children of Dune mini-series sequel in 2003.
Herbert was heavily inspired by Lesley Blanch’s The Sabres of Paradise about mid-19th century conflict in Caucasus between Islamic tribes and the Russian Empire. He borrows terms/words from both sides of the conflict in the novel.
Herbert says he was inspired by the use of mushrooms for many factors in the book, such as spice and sandworms.
Herbert won a Nebula Award for Best Novel in its inaugural year, 1966. He also tied for a Hugo Award in 1966 with Roger Zelazny’s This Immortal.
Reading Dune started my Sci-Fi renaissance
Abarat by Clive Barker
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