Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: Dune

53732Title: Dune
Author: Frank Herbert
Genre: Science fiction, classic, adult fiction

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad'Dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family--and would bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream.
A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what it undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

I have no idea why it took me so long to read this. I consider myself a fan of SFF, and this is definitely one of the big names in science fiction. I'd heard so many great things about this book, and it definitely didn't disappoint.

Dune is a story of political intrigue, prophecies, revenge, and revolution. It is a coming-of-age story for Paul Atreides, as well as a sort of Hero's Journey. It is also a work of social commentary, on everything from religious fanaticism to environmentalism. Dune centers around the events unfolding on the planet Arrakis, a desert planet known for being the only source of the drug spice or melange. Water is so precious here that people don't cry for their dead; instead, they extract the water from their bodies and allow the dead to support life. I don't want to give away any of the plot, since the twists and revelations are half the fun, but hopefully all of the above has piqued your interest.

What blew me away with Dune was how thorough the world-building was. The snippet I mentioned above about harvesting water from the dead was just one little detail of many that delved into how the scarcity of water would affect the culture of those who live on this planet. There were so many clever and insightful tidbits and rituals pertaining to Arrakis, and I appreciated how much thought Herbert put into this world. I also really enjoyed the almost supernatural powers different characters had. The Mentats were almost like human super-computers, and the Bene Gesserit's true purpose and the lengths it was willing to go to fulfill it was very intriguing.

All of the characters in this novel were incredibly complex. My favorite was Lady Jessica, concubine of the Duke and mother to Paul Atreides. She is a strong presence in the entire book, and she is certainly not the usual pure and benevolent mother figure. She counsels and guides her son, but she also makes mistakes and has weaknesses. She lies and manipulates, but she also fiercely protects those she cares of. I also really liked Paul's development from a young naive boy to the Muad'Dib. There was a moment where Paul realized that he was more powerful than his mother (and when his mother began to fear him), and I thought Herbert did an excellent job of conveying the weight of shattered innocence from both sides. My only complaint with the characters was the similarity of some names. It was hard for me to keep Halleck and Hawat straight at first, and there were a lot of characters with multiple names so it was hard to remember who was who. Oh, and speaking of names, Paul's love is named Chani. This name was so distracting to me because it means cow dung in my native language. Awkward.

But Chani was an intelligent and resourceful young woman, so I'm not going to hold that unfortunate name against her :)

One word of caution - although a lot of things happen in this book (it's a book about espionage, betrayal, revenge, and revolution after all), don't expect a lot of action. I know it seems paradoxical, but this book is almost entirely conversations between different groups of people. You piece together events by sifting through the dialogue and the thoughts of various characters. I wouldn't call this a fast-paced novel even though the game keeps changing. It's more of a rich, multi-layered story that gets woven together more and more rapidly as you go.

I highly recommend this classic!

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1 comment:

  1. I have to confess that I never made it through the whole Dune series. I really enjoyed the first book, but some of the later books were just a little slow for me and I eventually put the series down. Someday I'll pick it up again, though. Like you, I feel like Dune is one of those "required reading" types of series if you're a SFF fan. (For the record, I wasn't able to get through The Hobbit either - cringe!).

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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