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Dune by Frank Herbert

Review by SS

The World
This is a sci-fi novel, where many planets have been colonised and settled by people. One of these planets is Arrakis, a desert on which the nearly total lack of water is its distinguishing feature. Its conditions are extreme, and if not for the spice which grows on Arrakis, humans wouldn't have bothered with the planet in the first place. But as it is, Arrakis is a key point in politics and power, because it is the only place where spice can be found.

The Characters
The Atreides family (Duke Leto, his concubine Jessica and their 15 year old son, Paul) have been given stewardsip of Arrakis by the Emperor. The Fremen are the natives of Arrakis, a tough, elusive people who are able to survive their (almost) waterless planet. The former stewards of Arrakis, the Harkonnens, aren't happy with losing their hold and seek to regain control of Arrakis.

The plot
The Fremen have a prophecy of a messiah; the humans have been trying to genetically create a "super" human. Paul could be either or both or none. This is a more political-minded story (ie dealing with the machinations between houses and balances of power rather than, say, straight out fighting for the sake of a quest), of the struggle between the Houses and the Emperor.

This book moves fast. Within five or so pages you are already on Arrakis, and this pace is more or less consistant through the book. At first this was off-putting, but there are so many events that it keeps you occupied. There are lots of terms introduced that are not really explained fully (but there is a glossary at the back), and some words I don't think I ever really understood, not being used to sci-fi. Perhaps this is because it's an older book, but I felt that Dune lacked a little warmth in the characters. It still portrayed the chracters well, though. This was much better, by the end, than I'd ever expected after the first few pages.

Rating 3.5 amulets

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