BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Paul Atredies leads a Freman uprising on the planet Arrakis, in an attempt to free Dune from Imperial control.
PROS: Incredible worldbuilding, sympathetic characters, great storytelling.
CONS: A couple of would be mysteries are spelled out near the beginning, Herbert dwells a bit too long on the religious aspects surrounding Paul Muad’Dib.
I won’t bother summuraizing Dune as I’m sure most of you have already read it at least once. This is my second time through, after about a 20 year period. I remember thinking the book took awhile to get going and lasted a bit long, but overall that it was good. Let’s tackle the first part. Many people consider the first 100 pages or so of Dune to be slow going, being mostly setup. This time through, I didn’t find that to be the case. I breezed through the first part easily and was intrigued and interested by everything that went on. Maybe I’ve changed as a reader, or matured. Whichever, I can see how some people might not like the setup, being mostly politcal intrigue, but I found it unexpectedly accessible.
We all know the story. House Atreides is betrayed by a trusted advisor to House Harkkonen, thus giving control of Arrakis back to Baron Harrokkonen. Dune is the story of how Paul molds the Freman into his holy army and regains control of Arrakis for House Atreides. Here, Herbet has created a very detailed universe, complete with a long and involved history. This shows through the story and gives Dune a very believable and lived-in feel. Paul’s life on Arrakis has, in some ways, been directed by the Bene Gesserit, but in the end he goes beyong their control and rejects them. Paul is a very likable person, in some ways caught up in events that he struggles to overcome, eventually leading the Freman in open revolt as their religious and military leader. This part of Dune is also very involved and interesting. The only thing that slowed it down for me is that Herbert tends to dwell on the religious aspects of Paul’s character, which, for me, dragged the story down a bit. The other niggling thing has to do with the political intrigue that permeates the story. Unfortunately, Herbert has the Baron tell us exactly how he is going to bring down House Atreides and who the traitor is. I found this to be disappointing, as I, remembering the movie, expected to have the traiter revealed during the course of events on Arrakis.
BOTTOM LINE: Even with those two minor quibblies, I found Dune to be a deeply involving and engrossing story. One which fully deserves its ‘classic’ title.