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Frank Herbert (author) and George Steinmetz (covers)
Original language:
Ace Books
Novel and science fiction
Dune (1/6)
Publication year:
Original publication year:

The setting of the book is primarily played out on the desert planet Arrakis, colloquially called Dune, and follows the life and exploits of Paul Atreides from he is 15 to about 20 years old. The book is set around 20 000 years in the future. The galaxy is colonized, computers ("thinking machines") are outlawed (in-universe this is as a consequence of what is referred to as the Butlerian Jihad), and various Great Houses — under the general rule of the Imperium — vie for control. The book opens with Paul being tested by a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother, to see if he could be the Kwisatz Haderach, and then follows his family's move from their lush home planet of Caladan to the desert planet of Arrakis, the reason being that House Atreides had gotten the fiefdom of Arrakis from the Emperor.

Arrakis is important to the Empire because of what grows in its deserts: the geriatric spice, or melange, which imbues the eater with somewhat precient vision, and prolongs life. It is also highly addictive, and one of its side effects is that the whites of the eyes become blue. Control of spice production is practically synonymous with control of the Empire.

From there on the story mainly follows Paul and his family's interaction with the Fremen, local desert men of Arrakis. To summarize any more would risk spoiling some story elements.

The book contains a lot of unique terms and phrases which start to make sense as you read the book, but there's also a glossay of terms in the back of the book, at least in the version I have, which really helps.


This is really a book about political intrigue, subterfuge, and plotting, so it might on the surface not seem like a science fiction novel. (Indeed, not everybody considers this to be science fiction, merely having a science fiction-like backdrop for the story.) The main story, however, is in my view clearly science fiction, as it explores the implications of a big idea, namely that of how having precient vision (clairvoyance, so to speak) might function, and what it might do to a person. So to my eyes, it is reversed: this is a science fiction book with a backdrop of political intrigue.

I really liked this book, in particular the parts describing the mystical aspects of imbibing the spice, as told from a first-person perspective. The action in the book is also very well-paced, and the jumping between chapters from perspective to perspective is done well, and avoids confusing the reader (mainly, I think, because each chapter begins with a excerpt from an in-universe fictional book which sets the tone of the chapter).

Has read?
Back of Dune.Spine of Dune.Front of Dune.
Table of Contents:
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  • Book I DUNE
  • Book II MUAD'DIB
  • Appendix I: The Ecology of Dune
  • Appendix II: The Religion of Dune
  • Appendix III: Report on Bene Gesserit Motives and Purposes
  • Appendix IV: The Almanaken-Ashraf (Selected Excerpts of the Noble Houses)
  • Terminology of the Imperium
  • Map

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