Title / Dune
Author / Frank Herbert
Publication Date / 1965 (first published)
Star Rating / ★★★★★
Goodreads synopsis: Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender’s Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.
Melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable – and rarest – element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world Arrakis. Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe. When the Emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens fight back, murdering Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Lady Jessica, his concubine, flee into the desert. On the point of death, they are rescued by a band for Fremen, the native people of Arrakis. In order to avenge his father and retake Arrakis from the Harkonnens, Paul must earn the trust of the Fremen and lead a tiny army against the innumerable forces aligned against them.
I am going to start off this review by stating that I loved this book. It’s been on my shelf for quite some time now and I finally decided it try it out. I think I thought it would be quite dated and that I would struggle through it, but I was wrong. Also I apologise for the format, my review writing juices are not flowing right now so instead of doing a full written review I am going to use bullet points. I hope you don’t mind. Let me know what you think, whether this format is OK etc. Anyway back to the review.
Yes it is dated – it was written in the 1960’s after all. It is a science fiction classic for a reason. It is still very accessible to the modern reader and it can be enjoyed by a variety of ages and readers. I didn’t have a big issue with the writing, although the speech is perhaps a little outdated. Once you are a few chapters in though, you should be used to it.
The setting of this book is one of my favourite things about it. Unlike a lot of science fiction that I read (to be fair it’s not alot) this book is set exclusively on one planet, Arrakis. This desert planet is a really interesting one, and it is probably now one of my favourite settings. The world building is phenomenal. There is so much detail, but it is all interesting and relevant. I never felt bogged down by the amount of information.
The women are very much secondary characters, but that is probably a result of the time it was written. I still really enjoyed their characters (especially Jessica, Chani and Alia) and they still play quite an important role in the book.
As a whole, I would have liked more character depth. I feel that perhaps it was sacrificed abit so Herbert could focus on the world building. Having said that I did really enjoy the characters.
The plot is pretty straightforward and follows a kind of ‘Chosen One’ pattern. It is very enjoyable and I was engaged throughout the book – it never dragged for me.
It is interesting to read a book that laid the foundation for alot of science fiction books. It is a groundbreaking work that set out themes and ideas that can be seen in modern sci-fi.