by Frank Herbert
A Duke and his family are sent to govern the planet of Arrakis. On that desert land dangerous sandworms travel just below the surface, water is a precious commodity and the native people, Fremen, are seen as the enemy. Arrakis is the only planet to produce melange, a valuable spice that is in high demand. Shortly after arriving on Arrakis a betrayal throws the Duke’s household into chaos. His concubine Jessica and their son Paul are in danger and attempt an escape.
I struggled with this one, reading a bit and then putting it down for a week or two while I read other books. I thought the concept was interesting and enjoyed parts of it, but I felt like there was a lot of unfocused meandering which was hard to follow. I love novels that dissect the roles of leadership and question where real power lies, but that aspect of the plot was lost in the shuffle of a story that was trying to cover too much ground.
The novel is a unique combination of Sci-Fi, political commentary and philosophy, but that mixture comes across as a bit dry. There were some exciting action-packed moments and some interesting forays into social commentary, but it wasn’t enough of each to make it work for me. I did like seeing Paul’s transformation throughout the novel and Jessica’s training and special set of skills, but I felt like the flow of the book was hampered by the constant shift away from our main characters.
BOTTOM LINE: I wanted to like this one more than I did. I’m glad to have read one of the books that is held up as a pinnacle of the Science Fiction genre, but it wasn’t a huge hit with me. It felt stale and distant, more like I was reading a history book about something that had happened.
“‘A world is supported by four things...’ she held up four big-knuckled fingers. ‘the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valor of the brave. But all of these are as nothing...’ She closed her fingers into a fist. ‘without a ruler who knows the art of ruling.’”
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
“The vision of time is broad, but when you pass through it, time becomes a narrow door.”