Book Report: Dune by Frank Herbert (1965, 1990)

As part of my ongoing project to up my geek cred, I went ahead and read Dune, too (in addition to Lord of the Rings) this year. I’ve been exposed to the mythology before. The 1984 David Lynch film starring that guy who looks like a grown-up Matthew Broderick was in heavy rotation on Showtime back in the days when I was trapped in a trailer in Murphy, Missouri, for days on end, so I saw it a couple of times back then, but not in the last 20 years. Then, there was the time I bought a first edition of the book (not a first printing, mind, but definitely a hardback published by Chilton) for a buck and sold it on Ebay for $150. Granted, I did not read the book, but I was somewhat steeped in its publication history if nothing else.

When I first picked it up, I wondered if I was still reading the Lord of the Rings. I mean, it’s chock full of intrigue and every once and again it breaks into a verse of poetry or song. Also, it’s broken into books within the book. More subtle similarities that I’d go into if I were really that into it or if I were seeking and advanced degree.

Except this book is American in nature. The language is more accessible, and the writing is not as, erm, textured. Additionally, the main character is less of a cipher and the intrigues play out in real time instead of having a wizard show up every decade or so to tell you that intrigues are going on, and the cipher must do something to play his unknown role in it.

The story, of course, tells of Paul Atreides, son of a Duke whose father is double-crossed and killed by the Emperor and another royal house on the dismal outpost of Dune, the only place in the universe where one gets melange, the spice that extends men’s lives. Paul joins the natives, becomes a native leader, and plots his revenge.

So the book flowed better than the trilogy, and I got through it quicker. My greatest disappointment is that the third book-within-the-book starts really jump cutting. Whereas the first two portions of the story take place in a pretty limited time frame, the last third of it starts skipping whole years and starts telling of battles that happened instead of, you know, having battles happen.

So I enjoyed it enough to get through it. I also bothered to read the appendixes (which did not number in the hundreds of pages), but I skipped the glossary, though, having muddled through the language in the text.

I’ve like to think I’ve upped my geek cred slightly with the read, but I’m not going to hunt out the sequels any time soon. Besides, I’ve spent a lot of time this summer on four paperbacks, and I need to start making some little ding in my several thousand books of backlog here.

Books mentioned in this review:

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1 thought on “Book Report: Dune by Frank Herbert (1965, 1990)

  1. The miniseries version of the book produced by the Sci Fi Channel back in 2000 is quite good. If I remember correctly, it’s reasonably faithful to the novel.

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