Dune Book summary

Frank Herbert

Overview

About

 

Dune is widely regarded as one of the best books of American Science Fiction. It was published in 1965, and it is the first book in a series of books that take place in the Galactic Empire. Dune follows the tumultuous journey of Paul Atreides, a teenage nobleman, who forges a bloody path to the throne of the emperor before reaching his twentieth year. This book has captured the imagination of several millions of readers, and it has been adapted into various formats for that very reason. The most recent adaption of the book occurred in 2021. The film Dune is based on the first part of the book, and sequels are planned for the other two parts of this book.

BOOK COVER

Plot Summary

 

Paul Atreides is the fifteen-year-old heir of House Atreides of Planet Caladan. He is the son of Duke Leto, an honorable man, who has been asked by the Emperor to take over the fief of Arrakis, which had been ruled by House Harkonnen until then. Paul’s mother is the Duke’s concubine, and a Bene Gesserit woman, who has been trained in the mystical ways of that secret order. Jessica takes Paul to meet Reverend Mother Mohiam, a high-ranking Bene Gesserit, who tests Paul’s mind and abilities. Jessica seems to believe that Paul is the Kwistaz Haderach, a messianic figure that the Bene Gesserit have been trying to create by mixing the best bloodlines of the universe. Mother Mohiam warns him that Arrakis will claim his father’s life and that he will have many trials ahead of him. Paul’s power of premonition promises him a meeting with a beautiful woman in Arrakis, and a lot of ill feelings, but nothing else. Paul’s father has ensured that Paul has the very best of teachers in the universe in various important disciplines, while his mother has taught him the way of the Bene Gesserit.

Paul and his family arrive on the desert planet of Arrakis, where water scarcity forces the natives to recycle their own body’s moisture. The natives Fremen have their prophecies about Paul that have been planted in their religion by the Bene Gesserit for several centuries. On Geidi Prime, Baron Harkonnen prepares to launch a secret attack against House Atreides. He intends to sneak in a force of the Emperor’s elite Sardukar using a traitor he has planted in the Duke’s inner circle. The traitor, Dr. Yueh, lowers the Atreides' defenses and invites the enemy into the city. However, he plants a poisoned tooth in Duke Leto’s mouth, giving him an opportunity for revenge, and Yueh manages to secure some safety for Paul and Jessica. Leto fails to kill the Baron with the poison-filled teeth, even though he kills several other important members of the Baron’s retinue. Paul and Jessica are shielded by the Imperial Ecologist, Keynes, but the Sardukar catch up to them and they only manage to escape by going into one of the feared sandstorms of Arrakis. Paul and Jessica find shelter among the Fremen, and the prophecies of the Bene Gesserit in the Fremen culture aid them in gaining important religious positions.

Paul remains among the Fremen for over two years after his father’s death, and in this time he comes to fully realize his powers of premonition and the potential of the Fremen. Paul remembers his father’s intention of using the hardy troops of the Desert to weather the attacks of even the Imperial Sardukar. He learns the ways of the desert and teaches them the subtleties of modern warfare. Jessica becomes a Reverend Mother for the Fremen and bears the Duke’s daughter, Alia. She is born a full Reverend Mother because Jessica goes through the ritual while she is still pregnant with Alia. Paul marries Chani and has a son with her.

Paul begins to ready his attack against the Harkonnen forces as soon as he discovers a weakness in their defense. Before the attack, Paul decides to test whether he is truly the Kwisatz Haderach. The ritual leaves him comatose for three weeks, but he is ultimately able to prove that he is indeed the same figure that the Bene Gesserit had awaited for several centuries. Paul’s powers allow him to understand the true source of power in the universe, which is spice, and the space travel that it enables. Paul and the Fremen use the sandstorms of Arrakis to catch the formidable forces of the recently arrived Emperor unawares. Paul then wins the support of the Spacing Guild by demonstrating his ability to destroy the spice production on Arrakis. He then unseats the Emperor, bans the Bene Gesserit, and marries the Emperor’s daughter, Princess Irulan, to install himself on the throne. Yet, Paul worries that the fierce Fremen will unleash a bloody religious war across the universe.

  • Author(s)

    Frank Herbert
  • Publication date

    1965

  • Language

    English

  • Classification

    Science Fiction

  • Pages

    658

Keywords

Space, Coming-of-age

Publisher

Chilton Books