By Frank Herbert
Ace; Media tie-in edition, 2021 (Original, 1965)
Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction and fantasy novel Dune is the story of Paul Atreides, heir to a dukedom on the planet called Arrakis. But young Paul soon learns that not everything is as straightforward as it seems to be — or as he might think it should be.
In a word, this book is mysterious. But that’s part of what makes it worth reading. Although there is a glossary at the back of the book, the reader doesn’t need to know every little detail to get the sense that Paul — and his family, for that matter — are part of something bigger than themselves.
Dune can also be described as a hero’s journey. In literature, a hero’s journey is defined as a story that involves a protagonist who goes on an adventure, is victorious in a decisive crisis, and comes home from the adventure changed or transformed. Other examples of a hero’s journey are Homer’s “The Odyssey” and the Harry Potter series.
Dune, however, might not be as clearly defined as a hero’s journey as the other examples are. It’s muddier, so to speak. Which actually makes sense when the reader recalls that Arrakis is a desert planet covered in sand, with almost none of it’s own water to speak of. The Fremen — the indigenous people of Arrakis — don’t waste time recycling their sweat and other bodily fluids to make water.
What’s that saying? “Some people are born great, while others have greatness thrust upon them?” Well, whatever the words happen to be, Paul is someone who has greatness thrust upon him. And as scary and intimidating as that might be for a 15-year-old (Paul is 15 in the beginning of the book), he quickly grows into a natural leader. The legendary person some say he was always meant to be. Paul is a character that readers can admire. The fact that Paul is able lead a people and make moves to act or counteract other big players in the story is nothing short of impressive.
This book may be a bit slow paced, but that’s not to say it’s unsatisfying. It leaves the reader wanting more. Luckily, there is, in fact, more. There are a series of appendices (including the aforementioned glossary) that provide information about the world of Dune in the back of the book, as well as five other books that complete the series.
— Marialena Gallagher
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