Dune – Review

Dune by Frank Herbert

Illustrations by Sam Weber

Published in 1965; 2015 Edition by The Folio Society – Fourth printing 2016

Pages: 576

Genre: Science fiction

 

Disclaimer: This review will be different from the norm in that it is split into two parts: a standard, albeit shorter, book review and a specific review of this Folio Society edition. I am endorsing this product through my own volition and belief in its high quality.

 

Part I: The Story

“In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul.”

There are books in every genre that surpass their contemporaries and create a new threshold that transcends the general attitude toward genre stories; Dune, by Frank Herbert, is one such book. A heroic tale that carries elements of Greek tragedy, the hero’s journey, politics, philosophy, and a myriad of other topics, Dune is well-renowned for the impact it has had not only on science fiction, but literature as a whole. Following the fiery downfall and phoenix-like rise of Paul Atriedes and his family, Dune mixes together stories of survival, religious zealotry, and prescience to create a tale like no other.

Paul Atriedes is the protagonist; the fifteen-year-old son of Duke Leto Atriedes, he is being groomed in all manner of espionage and self-defense in order to survive in the world of the Great Houses. The book begins with him about to move to the planet of Arrakis; a desert-covered world rich in malange spice, which is the most valuable substance in the galaxy. The House Atriedes has just taken control from another great house, the Harkonnens, and their tragic tale begins shortly after taking residence.

Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is the nemesis of the Atriedes and plans to destroy the family with the help of the Emperor, though this must be done through subterfuge since the Emperor cannot openly move against any one of the Great Houses. Paul is attacked and, after the death of his father and many household guards, must flee with his mother into the desert; there, they meet with the locals, called Fremen, and build a guerrilla force in order to take the fight back to the Harkonnens.

Dune captured and honed the appeal of political intrigue long before A Game of Thrones, making the reader distrust and question the loyalties of characters. There is one scene in particular that highlights this aspect of the story; during a dinner party in Duke Leto’s honor, there is a play-by-play of the political maneuvering and doublespeak used. There is a warning of a traitor in the midst of the Atriedes, and though the reader knows who it is, the tension of whether the characters will discover them before it is too late is well-built.

Herbert went far and beyond in his quest to build a believable world, creating different religious and cultural sects based on those from our very world. One of the most interesting are the Bene Gesserit; a sect of women who selectively breed Great Houses in order to create next evolution of humanity; send agents to plant prophecies among local populace to safeguard members who may go there one day. The amount of foresight and patience required for such an undertaking is absolutely mind-boggling, which is only one of the many aspects that set Dune apart from other science fiction novels.

Part II: The Book Itself

1. Frontispiece
Frontispiece

This edition features absolutely gorgeous illustrations by Sam Weber; each brings the characters to life and typically show images from passages that are already well-described; the images then give them more depth and detail. The Folio Society’s edition of Dune is bookended by an introduction by Michael Dirda and an afterword by Frank’s son, Brian Herbert; both give further insight to the book and its author, with an especially interesting viewpoint from Brian since he is both the son of the author and the inheritor of the Dune series. The book also contains appendices written by Herbert from the original printing that add to the amount of world-building in the novel.

2. Double Page Spread
Double-page spread of a dust storm on Arrakis

Here are some specifications taken from The Folio Society web page:

  • Bound in buckram, printed and blocked with a design by Sam Weber
  • Set in Dante with Helvetica Neue and Black Tulip display
  • 576 pages; frontispiece, 11 colour illustrations and a number of black & white tailpieces
  • Endpaper map by Martin Sanders
  • Pictorial slipcase with design by Sam Weber
  • 10˝ x 6¾˝
  • Second-printing
  • Original appendices included as follows, including the ‘Terminology of the Imperium:
  • Appendix I
  • The Ecology of Dune
  • Appendix II
  • The Religion of Dune
  • Appendix III
  • Report on Bene Gesserit Motives and Purposes
  • Appendix IV
  • The Almanak en-Ashraf
3. Spine
Spine of the book and one side of the slipcase

I first read Dune many years ago after going through some of my father’s books and finding his copy (pictured below); though it didn’t immediately become my favorite book, I did enjoy the experience and when I saw this lavish edition made by The Folio Society, I knew I had to get a copy (and I was able to courtesy of my tax return this year). There is so much that is appealing about Dune that it was difficult to write my summary/review because I couldn’t even begin to encapsulate the amount of wonderful things about the book. I wasn’t able to touch on Muad’Dib, the relationship between Paul and his mother, Jessica, or the ecological sentiment behind the novel, but as Frank’s son Brian says in the afterword, there are many layers to Dune and each can be focused on during a reading, which is why the book is so ripe for revisiting. If you have read Dune before and didn’t see what all the fuss was about, I would encourage you to give it a second chance.

Dune - Paperback
My father’s paperback copy of Dune

Verdict: 5 messianic science fiction fables out of 5

Recommended for: Fans of science fiction, those who enjoy stories with political intrigue, people who like arid landscapes, and those who want a beautiful edition of an influential science fiction tale.

Not recommended for: Anakin Skywalker, fish, those who dislike science fiction, or those who dislike cinnamon.

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26 thoughts on “Dune – Review

  1. Pingback: Music Monday: “The Crimson Path” by DVNE – The Past Due Review

      1. I’m a big fan of the original six with the disclaimer that book one is probably my least favorite of them. It’s a bit hard to get into (though ultimately worth it). The Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson books started out promising enough, but went on for way too long and become formulaic fluff without anything really interesting to say.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Troy, sorry to intrude and I’ll keep it brief as possible:

        Brian and Anderson’s Dune books are real tripe. If you need the ending to Dune, read their Dune 7 duology and the first 2 trilogies they put out (Legends of Dune and Houses of Dune), but they’re really mediocre quality and not once does any of the genius of Frank shine through.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Brian since he is both the son of the author and the inheritor of the Dune series”

    More like barbarian plunderer and pillaging rapist than inheritor.

    I’ve seen other reviews of this particular edition and each time I am SO tempted to buy it. The problem is, I pre-ordered the Grimnoir Chronicles trilogy in limited edition format and that pretty much ate up my book budget for 2-3 years. Considering that the Grimnoir is about a year late from their estimates and the first book JUST went to the printers, it’s going to be a while before I actually get them. And once I get them, it’ll be another year or two before I can justifiably claim I need some more specialty books, even to myself 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This one’s really a beauty… But pretty damn expensive as well 😉 I settled for “The Once and Future King” and now I’m considering “The Norse Myths”, but these books can be bought only one at a time 😉

      Liked by 3 people

      1. piotrek

        One of my favourite books ever, one of the most important s/f books ever, and one of the proofs that Christopher Tolkien is a unique treasure of a son most great writers can only wish for 😉 Personally, I’ll never go beyond book 3, but only the first one I see as truly great.

        And the Folio edition of Dune is so wonderful, it was my first Folio and, ex aequo with American Gods, my favourite 🙂 I feel guilty each time I buy one, but not for long 😉

        I’m looking forward to your post about Folio!

        Liked by 3 people

  3. That edition is so gorgeous. I’ve been tempted even though I’m not that interested in the book – I will read it one day, as both my parents love it. Also I should probably read the folio society book I ordered earlier this year first, it’s been sitting on my shelf and looking nice since… (Eugene Onegin)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. andrewmfriday

    As a middle-school kid, I found a paperback version of Dune in a used bookstore—the same cover as the one your father had. I can honestly say the book changed my life. It was the first grown up novel I ever read. It fertilized my love for science fiction. It inspired me to write some fiction of my own as I entered high school. I’ve read it over more than any other book.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have often thought how interesting Dune is in as much as the author lived on the Olympic Peninsula near Port Townsend, Washington. The Olympic Peninsula is famous for its temperate rain forest.

    Liked by 2 people

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