Book Review: Dune by Frank Herbert (published by Hodder & Stoughton)
Wow. This classic science fiction novel blew me to the furthest future and back again. It’s a masterpiece. Set in a universe where planets are controlled by noble family houses under the Emperor from the imperial ruling family, House Corrino, it tells the story of Paul Atreides, son of Duke Leto and heir to House Atreides. Paul’s mother is a Bene Gesserit ‘witch’ with unique powers of persuasion that she has taught Paul.
The book opens with the Atreides family preparing to leave their beloved green planet and take control of another, planet Arrakis which is basically a big desert. But it’s also the only place in the galaxy where the valuable substance ‘spice’ melange is mined. This move sets off a chain of events that propel Paul into an entirely new world of spice battles, sandworms and Fremen, the sand people who live in the dunes.
Dune sets out an intricate, fascinating world with just the right amount of technology (I loved the descriptions of the “stillsuits” they wear in the desert to reclaim the body’s water so you basically drink your own sweat and the “buglike” harvester factories for mining which are lifted in and out of the desert by the gigantic “winged devices” called carryalls), of prophesy and psychic abilities (I loved Paul’s mum Jessica and her mysterious powers), of political wrangling (the character Baron Harkonnen is brilliantly conniving and despicable) as well as action, twists and intrigue.
I particularly enjoyed the small excerpts from Princess Irulan at the start of every chapter, which at first made zero sense but then as the book progressed made perfect sense. When I finally ‘got it’, it was a wonderful AHA! moment which made me enjoy the book even more.
The character of Paul grows and matures throughout the book and I particularly enjoyed learning along with him.
My only criticism (and it’s tiny) is that in a couple of places the narrative seemed to head hop a bit too much and I couldn’t work out whose point of view I was seeing things from. Otherwise, a great read!
My rating: 4/5
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