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Dune by Frank Herbert

Review by Louis

Seems like I must be one of the few people who hadnít already read Dune a long time ago, but I recently rectified that. *g* Itís certainly a classic sf book which is why Iíve been meaning to read it for so long.

The World

Far into our future. Humankind has populated space, religion is much altered and the main power consists of the balance between the Padishah Emperor and the other noble houses who rule fiefdoms consisting of planets and make up the Landsraad. Most of the action takes part on the desert planet of Arrakis (Dune), with some others mentioned and some minor action on Caladan, another planet.

The Characters

Duke Leto Atreides and Baron Vladimir Harkonnen are the heads of rival Houses. Paul Atreides is the son of Duke Leto by his concubine, the Lady Jessica (he canít marry her for political reasons). Other than that there are various retainers of both Houses and natives of Arrakis who feature strongly, as well as some other nobles, the Padishah Emperor, and his Truthsayer, a Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserit. Two organisations, besides the governmental structure are the Guild (who have a monopoly on all space travel) and the Bene Gesserit (who are like some sort of a mystic cult. Hard to explain as they arenít quite religious but have a very widespread influence.)

The Plot

The Atreides House is ordered to leave their traditional home planet of Caladan and take over the ruling of Arrakis, which has been ruled by House Harkonnen up to now. However, this is simply a trap orchestrated between the Harkonnens and the Emperor to destroy the Atreides. However, there are many more subtle schemes at work on Arrakis than these two groups realise and an extremely interesting and captivating plot emerges as a consequence of the move to Arrakis.

Comments

This is sort of an odd book in some ways. First thing Iíll say is that I really enjoyed the plot. Itís really interesting and there are a lot of twists and turns. It never ceases to be interesting. The story just jumps right in and starts without much preparation or anything really. This is certainly good so that there isnít a really slow beginning or anything. The only thing is, the trend sort of continues throughout the book. The reader is left without a lot of background at times sort of being made to assume a lot of the surrounding details of the culture, or go by some very light references to things. The appendices at the back help in this regard somewhat, but it feels like an excuse to put in stuff he couldnít fit into the story somehow.

Another thing that was sort of unsettling was the way he handled the povs. Maybe I have got spoilt with people giving a chapter to each pov or at least a clearly delineated section per pov, but the fact that you had no warning when the person whose thoughts you were reading would change suddenly could give a few shocks here and there. Thankfully the different groups/storylines were mostly kept separate, although I thought there was sometimes too much focus on one particular side of the story and not enough insight from the other side.

Grade

Overall, it was an excellent book, but with a few irritating problems. Maybe itís just me who disliked those things, but I thought it could have been better written and better organised.

4 out of 5 amulets.


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