Friday, 23 March 2012

Dune (Dune Chronicles # 1) by Frank Herbert - Book Review

Title: Dune (Dune Chronicles # 1)
Author: Frank Herbert
Publisher: Hodder
Publication Date: 2005 (1965)
Pages: 562
Format: Paperback
Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Source: Birthday Gift

This Hugo and Nebula Award winner tells the sweeping tale of a desert planet called Arrakis, the focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, the "spice of spices." Melange is necessary for interstellar travel and grants psychic powers and longevity, so whoever controls it wields great influence. The troubles begin when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don't want to give up their privilege, though, and through sabotage and treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet's harsh environment to die. There he falls in with the Fremen, a tribe of desert dwellers who become the basis of the army with which he will reclaim what's rightfully his. Paul Atreides, though, is far more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a very long-term genetic experiment designed to breed a super human; he might be a messiah. His struggle is at the center of a nexus of powerful people and events, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium. Dune is one of the most famous science fiction novels ever written, and deservedly so. The setting is elaborate and ornate, the plot labyrinthine, the adventures exciting. (Goodreads Synopsis)

This is one of those books always talked about and hyped, so I felt it was time to give it a try. Unfortunately, I don't understand the excitement over the piece.

I came to this book not having seen the film, with no knowledge of the story. I had no expectations, aside from my husband telling me how much I was going to like it. To his dismay, I did not.

I really dragged myself through this one. I didn't care about the characters and the constant POV jumping almost left me dizzy and exacerbated. It just felt like I'd seen it all before: young boy is set upon but grows up to be a saviour, developing amazing powers along the way that are never fully explained. There was just nothing about this story that jumped out and grabbed me. Same old, same old.

To be fair, while I read some fantasy, I don't read a lot of sci-fi, so perhaps that has some bearing on my feelings towards this book. I felt very detached from the world and its peoples whereas a lot of the fantasy I've read (such as Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones) has some grounding in 'old England' with knights etc, giving me a point of reference for hierarchies etc.

In the end, I gave this book two stars as I did make it to the end and, while it was not my cup of tea, I know it does have a strong fan following. I would probably only recommend it to true sci-fi fans, though, who don't mind constant head jumping.


  1. 2 stars!! WOW! I have been meaning to read this too.. and since it's a classic I feel like I really should. Good review!


  2. Ah... I'm sad you didn't like it. It's actually less sci-fi and more social/ecological commentary. That's one of the things that makes it a love or hate sort of thing, I guess. I saw the movie first, so I had a pretty good idea of what the basics were when I read it, but I liked the book much better than the movie. If you didn't like this one, though, don't go on to the other ones. They get less and less sci-fi and more and more commentary.