Updated: Sep 15, 2019
Dune – Frank Herbert
I’m kind off disgusted with myself that I have never read the classic book Dune before. The film is one I grew up watching with my Dad and also the different attempts oat mini-series based on this and other books in the series, but never quite got around to reading the source material.
So, I decided that now is the time and I’m really glad I did. I can now see why all the adaptations of the book, including the film, which I really quite enjoy, never have hit the mark fully and always seem to be lacking something. It’s because they are! The book is so much more detailed and encompassing that it must be nearly impossible to create this world on the screen, though I am now really looking forward to seeing what Denis Villeneuve creates in the latest adaptation.
Anyway, back to the book. Frank Hebert is a master maker of worlds, Arrakis, House Atreides., House Harkonnen and the Freman are created with such care and diligence that each aspect springs to life, as you venture along the life journey of Paul Muad'Dib Atreides.
The book is split into three sections, the first two are gripping reads, but to be honest the third is a bit rushed and mystic for my liking.
Part One: Dune, creates the back story, the rivalry between the two main houses, the scheming of the Emperor, the importance of Arrakis and the spice it introduces. This is a financial as well as honour-based war. You are introduced to Duke Leto and his Bene Gesserit concubine/life partner Jessica(it all gets a bit mystical whenever she’s about), their fifteen year old son Paul and the Duke’s Lieutenants, Gurney Halleck, Duncan Idaho, Thufir Hawat, Dr Yueh, all with important roles to play in the story – Patrick Stewart played Gurney Halleck in the 1984 film and I heard his voice every time the character spoke. Also, to the opposition, The baron, The beast Rabban and Feyd (Sting in the film and had trouble getting his image out of my head whilst reading) and Piter De Vries, a whole mixed bag of evil!
Part Two: The Prophet, focuses on the aftermath of a betrayal and the consequences for each of the characters, it introduces the religious side of Arrakis and most importantly the Freman, natives whose way of life contrasts drastically will all that we’ve met before. Among them are Chani(again if you’ve seen the film, I could not get Sean Young with Blue Eyes out of my head for this character) and Stilgar, the leader of a tribe of Freman and the man voted most likely to kick everyone’s butt in the Freman end of season awards.
Part Three: Muad'dib, this is where my issues start, not only does Paul Muad’dib go slightly religious zealot crazy as do everyone else – except Gurney Halleck/Patrick Stewart but it rushes through the story, one minute Paul is talking about training everyone in the weirding way(which is never fully explained in the book as to what it was, so I think the film took license to create a shouty weapon) and suddenly he is running the place, defeating the standing Harkonnen army and about to launch and attack on the all the remaining baddies. His sister has turned from being a foetus into a four-year-old bossy boots (Alicia Witt’s version in the film is just superbly creepy and I love the actress to this day because of this). The fight at the end is over in about four pages, I mean they described him and Jessica climbing a rock face in more detail earlier in the book. There are many events that happen in this last section and all seem rushed, the final chapter was over in about 90 pages out of 560. This did disappoint me as I was so invested by this stage, I felt really let down.
So, reading this book brought up(as you might be able to tell) the age old, do you read the book or watch the film first, or do you bother doing the other one if you’ve done one of them, will it ruin one or make it better? In my opinion, I’m glad I watched the film before reading the book, I’m glad I knew the film inside out because the book then built upon the world I already had in my head and I was able to vividly imagine everything that occurred. I also understood why the film was sometimes disjointed. Not only that I watched the film first as a ten-year-old and this book would’ve gone right over my head then, I mean blimey some sections went over my head now!
I can see why this is a cult favourite and I am looking forward to reading the follow up books, though maybe not just yet. I think I need a little lightness in my reading life first. Also, there’s only so many descriptions of sand a man can take.
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