Book 1 of the Dune Saga
by Frank Herbert
Science Fiction/Space Opera
Post 2 in my Favorite Books series
Dune is ofttimes described as having weak character development, and since characters are what make people love books, I know a lot of people who never even get through twenty percent of this epic classic. I can’t even argue. When I recommend Dune to someone, and they tell me weeks later they just couldn’t get into it, I just shrug and say I understand. It’s a lot. It’s dense. There are a lot of characters adding their opinion to a convoluted story that takes it time.
I never had a problem getting into Paul’s head. He’s one of my favorite characters of all time, next to John Conner and Anakin Skywalker. Not necessarily because of their actions on page and screen but because of how much we can discuss the possible inner workings of their thoughts and actions. We can dive deep into the psychology of the human mind using these three as a focus. To know the future, as Paul and John do, to see the necessity of horrific circumstances because the alternatives are worse and have to decide on that path…I’m not sure I would ever get out of bed. Sure, this pair isn’t exactly parallel, but I feel their trauma is very similar.
Throw in a unique, complex, but logical system of politicking with family vendetta and rich history, and I’m hooked. I especially love the pointed use of religion and education to lead persons into specific roles, namely seen through Jessica’s education of Paul. Her Bene Gessirit roots show us the power of this all-female group I still find fascinating. Their behind-the-scenes work makes them more powerful than the petty lords of government. It is this that makes me sad when I hear contemporary readers speak of how patriarchal the book is. Besides that it was written in the 60s (so yes, but…), there are nuances here that speak to a richer world that goes beyond a capitalistic engineered scale of equality. Not to mention, if speaking on the book as a parallel to current culture, we might think of how the figures behind the curtain pulling the strings of public figures are of more import than the faces we see. I would much rather be the powerful rather than play at power given to me through the sufferance of others. By this argument, who’s really the most powerful group in Dune’s Empire?
Dune is not my most re-read book, but it is up there. With every read, I pick up something I missed or took in a different way than last time. It is this, I think, more than anything else, that makes Dune a book that will forever remain at the top of my favorites list.
Share your favorite books with me in the comments!
Read the first post in this series here.