Book Review · reading · science fiction

Book Review: Dune

I read Dune because a Friday flash reminded my commentators of Dune (it was probably the sand worms). I’d heard of Dune (who hasn’t?) but I haven’t read it or seen the movie. I didn’t see the movie mostly because someday I planned to read the book and I try not to mix mediums.

So, having finished, I still don’t know what to say about it. I mean, I loved it. It was very engrossing and I never really wanted to put it down.

The world-building is amazing. The world is realized so well, I am amazed. There is philosophy, adventure and religion. There are political and social conflicts. There are conflicts that involve economics and science. There is a culture shock/clash between the desert people and hero’s own people. I loved the political and culture stuff most, I think.

I can’t summarize Dune. I can tell you the plot (a Goodreads/Amazon blurb would do as much) but that can’t touch the story. In these reviews I like to talk about what I liked best and I can’t do that either. I don’t know what I liked best. There are a lot of scenes I can see myself reading over and over and over again (the whole book, in fact).

Having said that, there are maybe three things that struck me. POV, the little snippets that began each chapter and the prophecy thing.

The POV was less tight than in current books. Pretty sure it’s in third person omniscient and I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a book written in it. I think that’s why there is more head hopping in Dune than I am used to, but it was never too much. Which is to say, I never minded. Not sure if the published world would allow such head hopping today. I suspect not. Still, it was fine in this book. Maybe that’s just an indication of the skill of the author, huh? Either that or changing publishing trends or both.But the way he wrote, I think third person omniscient was right. I can’t picture this book in third person limited or first person POV.

I’ve seen the little snippets that begin each chapter in other books. It’s usually a couple of lines from a historical document or a personal diary or something. But I’ve never understood it before. It’s usually interesting, but it never did anything to enhance my understanding of the story and sometimes it ruining plot surprises. The snippets (I don’t know what else to call them) in this book? They sometimes changed the way I read Dune.

I had a hard time with the prophecy. The desert people’s prophecy about him is supposed to have been planted by his mother’s people. But his mother’s people themselves have a prophecy about him, and yeah, I had a hard time swallowing prophecy in a science fiction book. Than there is the main character: Paul. I had a hard time with his ability to see the future, even if it is in a limited way. Other science fiction books have psi powers, but it’s usually telepathy or telekinesis or empathy or something like that. Seeing the future? Not so much.

Grade: A


16 thoughts on “Book Review: Dune

  1. It’s not just Paul who sees the future in Dune. The spice/melange is an essential commodity because it allows pilots to see the future and steer their FTL ships around potential trouble.

    Seeing the future should actually be easier than full time travel, which *is* an accepted sci-fi trope. You don’t have to send a vehicle into the future and bring it back in one piece, after all, to merely see the future. Why should religion have all the fun, just because they call it “prophecy”? 😉

    1. I knew that. 🙂

      And truthfully, even though time travel is an accepted trope, there are times when I have difficulty with it, too. Usually they go into the past, but going into the future? There was one story I read where they could go into the past, but they would be stuck there, because time travel devices only move one way. But usually I just smile, nod and move on. LOL

  2. So glad you enjoyed Dune! It’s a book that makes you think about a lot of different things, which is probably why you have a difficult time nailing down what you liked the best. And if you re-read it at a later date, you will find new things to love and think about that maybe to didn’t notice or resonate with the first time.

    1. Yes, that’s true! The world is wonderfully complex. I am counting on that. I figure a year from now enough time will have passed so that I can reread it.

  3. Those chapter headers are called epigrams 🙂

    As for the clairvoyance, I think Herbert was a bit affected by the time period in which he wrote the first book the Dune series. Also, he was breaking from the traditional FTL constructs/tropes in that movement between the stars required a humanoid mind to accomplish, especially as there were no computers. In the place of computer models the navigators opened their minds to temporal possibilities, the innumerable lines of possible future that they could choose from, choosing the one and making the real.

    This clairvoyance, sadly, became Paul’s own doom in the future books as he quailed in the face of the most self-destructive path, but the one that the people of the galaxy needed. It would be left to Leto in the future lay the groundwork and make the ultimate sacrifice.

    1. Ohh I learned a new word today! Thanks

      Thanks, I was wondering if I should read the other books. I’ve heard they are not as good as the first Dune. I think I will now.

  4. Dune is one of my favorite SF books, ever. Such a layered, nuanced, subtle story. every time I read it I get more out of it. I just read it over the summer, and now I want to read it again!

  5. We actually own this book (and others in the series) but I’ve never read Dune; I will have to get around to it!

  6. This is one of my hubby’s very favorite books. He even bought a second copy so we could read it together–which hasn’t happened yet. One day. *sigh*

  7. Reading your review makes me think I’ve seen that movie, if I did it was a long time ago, that its become a vague memory for me now. Perhaps Dune should also be on my reading list. Makes mental note! Thanks for the review!

    1. You might have, the Dune movie came out in 1984. Just looked that up on wiki. There was talk of another Dune movie, but the studio canceled it. So sad.

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