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Let Me (attempt to) Breakdown Dune For You

Dune: Herbert, Frank: 0074748335380: BooksI’m back! I know I’ve been missed, thank you very much. If you’ve read my last blogpost, you’ll know that I had so much work on my hands (ranging from school work, multiple standardized tests to study for, making sure this blog doesn’t die out, and my own personal hobbies/extracurriculars), but don’t you worry! I’ve finally finished Dune by Frank Herbert. About a few months ago. Yea, sorry about the delay in publishing this post, but here I am! I survived two SAT and AP exams, and now I’m ready to take on the world. Okay, starting with this blogpost first. So, yes, I finished the famous Dune and let me tell you, it has been a roller-coaster ride. 

*WARNING: there will be spoilers 

Pretty much everybody knows that Dune is a renowned sci-fi classic and, wow, it very much lives up to its name. I never really dove into the sci-fi realm before, and by that I mean that I’ve read sci-fi books before, but unintentionally. And by that I mean the YA dystopian novels that are categorized as science fiction on Google. Anyway, Dune was the first sci-fi book that I picked up intentionally, and it completely blew me away! The details, the imagery, the characters, the plot, the general fantastical world that Frank Herbert was able to materialize in his brilliant mind were all so intriguing and left me speechless. I couldn’t believe how Frank Herbert was able to create the world of Arrakis and the characters within it—I honestly spent 90% of the time just thinking “how?” while reading the book. But, speaking honestly, with the brilliancy of the book and all the new vernacular that Herbert had created for the purpose of the story, I can’t say that I wasn’t lost in some parts of the book. I had to keep flipping back and forth from the glossary back to the page that I was reading because there were so many new words! 

Let’s discuss the characters, shall we? I would probably say that Lady Jessica was one of my favorite characters in the book. There was something about her power—quite contrary to her concubine position—that really intrigued me. It’s probably all that Bene Gesserit training that she’s had that makes her seem so cool and composed when faced with unpleasant circumstances (ex. Halleck thought she betrayed the Atreides house; Harkonnen manhunt), but still her courage and her unconditional love for her son makes her such a great character. And, of course, a fan favorite—Duncan Idaho. He’s so great! He’s so loyal and so full of pride for the Atreides House and the fact that he sacrificed himself to save Lady Jessica and Paul was just astounding. I was so sad when he died because a. I didn’t want Jessica and Paul left alone when they were being hunted by the Harkonnens, and b. I loved his character. But after some searching on the internet, apparently Idaho was brought back in the sequels because the readers loved him so much. I’m not entirely sure if that’s fact or fiction, but it sounds like it could be real because honestly, who could hate Idaho? Now, let’s talk about Paul Atreides, the main character of the story. I’ll be honest, I was equal parts shocked and scared when Paul made that transition from a 15 year old boy to a 15 year old man in the span of a few days. After the Duke chomped down on that fake tooth and died, Paul was suddenly shouldered with the burden and responsibility of being the new Duke Atreides, a title and position that he most likely did not expect at the age of 15. And then all of a sudden he was talking and acting like a man older and more experienced than his own mother. That was certainly a positive attribute though, as the combination of both Lady Jessica’s Bene Gesserit training and Paul’s newfound maturity and leadership not only helped them survive that huge sandstorm, but also the very long Harkonnen manhunt. 

Okay, and about that Paul and Chani thing. I liked the match very much—the fact that two confident leaders found compatibility with another was quite incredible; Paul and Chani held respectable positions in their respective communities, but the amount of respect that they held for each other (not to mention their submissiveness to one another) harmoniously balanced their relationship. It definitely mirrored the Duke and Lady Jessica’s relationship, at least for me; the two Bene Gesserit trained ladies and the two Dukes, so similar to their significant others yet so different (which in turn makes them compatible and not to mention, a deadly couple). And, of course, I can’t NOT mention the last sentence of the book. “Think on it, Chani: the princess will have the name, yet she’ll live as less than a concubine—never to know the moment of tenderness from the man to whom she’s bound. While we, Chani, we who carry the name of the concubine—history will call us wives.” WOW. Though I finished the book a few months ago, I still remember that feeling that I got (and the face I made) when I read that last line. Goosebumps all over. Okay, maybe to the rest of you the line may not seem goosebump-inducing at all. But this line holds so much meaning—starting from the beginning of the book, when Lady Jessica was wrestling over the idea of being just a concubine to the Duke within herself and with others when the question of why she was just a concubine and not married to Leto was brought up. Then the same issue was most likely wrestled within Chani’s self, though it wasn’t fully expressed externally in the novel, when Princess Irulan was to be given to Paul to make peace between the House of Atreides and the Padishah Emperor. But, nevertheless, it was indeed the concubines who bore the children and were the wing (wo)men to their Dukes, just as that last line, delivered by Lady Jessica, said. While we’re still on the topic of Princess Irulan, I spent the entirety of the book trying to figure out who she really was. You see, readers of Dune were first introduced to the princess in Chapter 1. And then every single chapter afterwards. There was a short excerpt detailing the lives of the characters of Dune in the beginning of every chapter, almost like they were excerpts from history books, and then at the end it would credit the author which was Princess Irulan. Honestly, at first, I thought that Princess Irulan was perhaps the daughter of Duke Leto, but after I read that Lady Jessica was pregnant and birthed Alia, I was back to questioning who Princess Irulan really was. Then, I reached the end of the book and learned that the princess was actually the daughter of the Emperor, who was to be given to Paul. 

As for the plot, I will say that it was genius. It may seem like your typical kingdom war fantasy book from the outside, but there is so much more depth to it. From the short and sweet moments on Caladan to the long, struggling internal and external battles on Arrakis, the story of Dune was very much enjoyable and made me feel as if I were a part of this journey. Though, I will mention once more, it was a little confusing at parts due to the new vocabulary and the fact that so many things were happening, but nevertheless that’s what makes Dune so mesmerizing. One of my favorite moments was when Gurney Halleck finally reunited with Paul and Jessica—I just remember screaming on the inside (because I was in the car with my family) and feeling so happy and excited for the three of them. You may think that I was overreacting, but this is what I meant when I said that I felt like I was a part of the Dune journey! Though Paul had already built a name for himself with the whole Muad’Dib prophecy thing, he didn’t need much help in the military arena, yet he was still so glad to see his fellow friend (perhaps one of his only friends still alive at that time), and once combat trainer, and was more than glad to accept his help. I really liked that moment as it showed that Paul still had a part of his innocent 15 year old self in him; he was being called the fulfillment of the prophecy and was treated like a king amongst the Fremen, yet he showed a soft and innocent side when he was reunited with Halleck after so much turmoil and disaster. And, while I’m still talking about Muad’Dib and the prophecy, let’s just take some time to discuss how brilliantly Frank Herbert crafted a whole religion! The Orange Catholic Bible, the whole prophecy about Muad’Dib, worshipping the Makers (Shai-Hulud), the jihad, and the whole Kwisatz Haderach thing… there may be more but I’m just blanking right now. I can’t believe that Herbert was able to craft all this (though many say that the religion was heavily based off of Islam, it’s still amazing how he crafted it)! 

What else I should discuss about the book, I have no idea. It has been a very adventurous literary excursion for me, and there are still so many opinions and feelings I have about Dune that I have no idea how to put into words! All in all, I will say this: it’s a very well thought out novel and I am so glad that I read this sci-fi classic. Dune is called a classic for a reason, after all. I don’t think I’ll get into the rest of the series just yet, but, thanks to Dune, I am looking forward to reading more sci-fi books! Though I hope the rest of the genre’s novels are just as well thought out and cleverly written like how Frank Hebert wrote Dune. 


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