It’s been a week since I last posted, did you miss me? 😀
Today, I’m going to review two books that I finished in September. Dune & Woven in Moonlight. Woven in Moonlight’s review will be out later today!!
So let’s get into it.
It took me a week to read Dune, the novel that is arguably some of the best science fiction the West has to offer.
I’d actually read around half of this book a few months ago, but didn’t bookmark the page *oops* and because I was really busy at the time, I eventually forgot most of it.
But recently, I made the wise and not lazy decision to pick it back up and start from the beginning. I am SO glad I did, because I both absorb and understand the material a lot better.
So now, at Wishing Upon a Star, I bring you my honest thoughts on this book! Happy reading 😊
Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for….
When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.
A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.
What Worked For Me
- Dune is told from several perspectives. We are given insights into so many different characters’ minds — one character does not have an entire chapter dedicated to them, rather, Frank Herbert hops from one head to the next within paragraphs.
- This might sound confusing, but the transitions were done so smoothly and flawlessly, I couldn’t even tell they were there.
- The prose is not overly flowery or descriptive, yet isn’t simple or basic. It has a crisp, down to earth tone, but has several shades of mystique to it.
- I also really liked how each chapter began with an excerpt from the Princess Irulan’s writings. It was so relevant and provided even more background knowledge of characters and worlds in just a few concise sentences.
- This novel has four major factions, all with their own motivations and goals.
- You have House Atreides, the “good guys (but not really)”, where our main character Paul comes from, and whose family moves to the planet Arrakis — a desert planet of sandworms and spice, treachery and deceit, loyalty (if one can find it) and hope.
- You have House Harkonnen, the sinister villains who desire power and wealth through the Emperor’s favor and CHOAM benefits.
- You have the Bene Gesserit, a female society who have great skills of perception, used to place their sisters in seats of political power.
- You have the Fremen, natives of Arrakis aka Dune, known for their survival skills and their extraordinary fighting capabilities.
- These four parties all contribute to the plot in huge ways, and add so much more intrigue and suspense than if there were only two main sides.
- The reason Dune felt so real and authentic has been established due to Herbert’s excellent worldbuilding.
- Everything, from the Fremen’s stillsuits (those are way more complicated than you’d believe) and rites to the Bene Gesserit’s reputation to the various Houses fighting for power and wealth, is explored thoroughly — but not to the point it reads like a textbook.
Structure of the Plot
- One could say the story goes something like this (mainly in terms of plot arc, not character arc):
- Section 1: Arrival at Dune & Adapting.
- Section 2: Betrayed & Scattered.
- Section 3: Adapting Again while Others Gain Power.
- Section 4: Acceptance with the Fremen & Stepping into Prophesied Shoes.
- Section 5: Rivalry is Real & Dealing with the Larger Problem.
- The pacing was really good, not too fast and not too slow.
What Didn’t Work For Me
Melange — more commonly known as the Spice
- Literally everyone is fighting over the spice — it is the pathway to ultimate wealth.
- It’s the reason so many characters do the things they do…if that makes sense.
- BUT it never fully explained WHY the spice is SO important.
- Wikipedia informs us what the spice is capable of, but I hardly saw that in the book.
- Cinnamon flavored spice coffee sounds delicious and all, but it doesn’t seem to really boost the characters’ wit or intellectual thinking (besides, *spoiler not spoiler* Paul is trained in the Bene Gesserit way and is a Mentat and is the Prophesied One, so…what was the point?).
One Important Complaint
Paul’s father Duke Leto and Paul’s son Leto BOTH DESERVED WAY BETTER.
I will not get over this, no thank you.
It’s just so…AARGH.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
A world is supported by four things. The learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing without a ruler who knows the art of ruling.
Paul continued to stare across the basin. He inhaled, sensed the softly cutting contralto smell of sage climbing the night. The predatory bird—he thought of it as the way of this desert. It had brought a stillness to the basin so unuttered that the blue-milk moonlight could almost be heard flowing across sentinel saguaro and spiked paintbush. There was a low humming of light here more basic in its harmony than any other music in his universe.
And that day dawned when Arrakis lay at the hub of the universe with the wheel poised to spin.
Hopefully you find these excerpts interesting, and will think about reading Dune because of them, if my review hasn’t! Never underestimate the power of great, impactful sentences (honestly, when Six of Crows first came out, it should’ve just marketed the book using quotes)!!
Some language, not too strong as it’s “olden day”, and a mild amount of suggestive dialogue & thoughts. Violence — fighting, bloodshed, talk of it as well.
Final Star Ratings and Conclusion
Actual rating: 4.7 / 5.
Dune is a well paced, well thought out novel that blends political intrigue, culture, and desire of cultivation in a stunningly told story upon the authentic desert planet of Arrakis. For a science fiction book, the characters are astonishingly in-depth and convincing as well.
Thus concludes my review of Dune.
In the comments below, let me know if you’ve read this book or are planning to! Did you like the points and quotes I brought up? What is YOUR favorite science fiction novel?
And if you’d like to see me review a book of your choosing, head on over to my Contact page for more details!